The world of rock n’ roll is an endlessly entertaining landscape of characters, both real and lyrical. One way or another, the misfits, the defiant, and even a few heroes find their way there, delivered via anything from a filthy cigarette-smoke-filled tour van to a blinged-out Maybach, from a geeky nerd who can barely make eye contact with an audience to the dude who ended his 9th grade role as Romeo with a stage dive, making the devil horns sign on his way down. I love them all.

I started thinking about the mix of all these characters last night as I attended a concert by Vampire Weekend at the imposingly-American D.A.R. Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. How perfect, really, that a group known for wryly writing about their rich kid, Ivy-League backgrounds performed at this grand venue, with four golden eagles standing guard at the ceiling and little white stars on every Federal Blue seat. I think of Vampire Weekend a bit like the grandsons of the dissolute, old-money privileged playboy of so many of Ray Davies’ songs -- think “A Well Respected Man,” “House In The Country,” “Most Exclusive Residence For Sale,” “Sunny Afternoon” – with a distinctly modern take on social class. Spinning it further, Vampire Weekend takes Grandfather’s Kinks 45’s, Great-Grandfather’s symphony long-players, Mother’s ‘80s British ska revival, new wave, and punk records, and Father’s world beat and bird call recordings, and makes something out of it all that is completely unique. Absolutely delightful character, out of what most would assume safety, blandness, and uniformity, with a wink of an eye and sparkling, silver-edged, soaring pop songs.

L.A.-based band Abe Vigoda opened the show, and were politely if not overly-enthusiastically received. I think this was not because of the formality of the venue, but that their songs didn’t really stand out. Especially for those of us who have seen more than a few style revivals, Abe Vigoda seemed like some nice young guys who love the ‘80s, do that little tippy-toes Big Country dance thing, have heard The Fall and Echo and the Bunnymen and such, have live drums that copy old Synsonics patterns, a few retro beeps and boops here and there…you know what I mean. They didn’t suck, but there was nothing to grab onto in their live set that was memorable or new, and I don’t know how you can survive long in indie land if you aren’t serving up great songs or great sounds or a great performance or some combo of the three.

All three great things belonged to Vampire Weekend last night, beginning with the opening song, “White Sky.” Honestly, I don’t know how Ezra Koenig hits those big swoopy falsetto notes so well, but he does. I do know how the band [Ezra Koenig (lead vocals, guitar), Rostam Batmanglij (keyboards, guitar, vocals, possessor of the world’s coolest last name), Chris Tomson (drums), and Chris Baio (bass guitar, vocals)] plays so, so well. They are all REALLY DAMN TALENTED, is how. Intelligent without being bores, powerful without bludgeoning force, sweet and fun without sugary soulless pop filler…such a clever mix of influences and getting the most out of each band member. The crowd knew every word to every song, and the people at the very back of the hall danced just as enthusiastically as those in front.

MissSeven sat by my side at her second concert ever (the first being the Soft Pack in January) and her spontaneous responses to Vampire Weekend made me smile – clapping, giddy smiles as she recognized her favorite songs, air drumming, head bopping, singing along, dancing. Our seats up on the side provided her with a good view. My small camera struggles at such range, but I got a few things for ya.

I wondered when the single “Cousins” was released if the band could accurately play it live at its breakneck pace. Answer: yes!

“A-Punk” was the first Vampire Weekend song I ever heard, and I was hooked. They know how to write songs that you want to sing along to and dance to, and that aren’t the sleaze-drip dance-pop that riddles the Top Ten with stank. So many people were dancing during “A-Punk” last night that the floor shook, and I had a little trouble holding the camera still for it. Fun!

Vampire Weekend, because of their whole Richie Rich, popped-collar prep vibe and take on African-style music, polarizes listeners. They have a slew of detractors who see them as spoiled brats co-opting music that they can’t possibly understand or feel, updating Paul Simon’s “Graceland” with skinny jeans and slightly-emo/geek haircuts, and that they are just relentlessly too white-bread. Those of us who love them though find something else, understanding that an image gets your collective band foot in the door, but your top-notch songs keep the door wide open. Take any Vampire Weekend song – any – and give it to another artist to interpret and they will stand up. I’ll say it a million times: a good song is a good song, no matter what.

I had the feeling last night that I was lucky enough to see a band in top form, that golden little piece of time where everything is going right. They are only two albums into their career and I think are very excited by their progress as musicians, and know the directions to take to keep creatively growing. They are, in their very unexpected way, misfits – defiantly making the kind of music they enjoy despite some of the Polarization Bears, and that makes them all a touch heroic to me.

Rock on, you crazy kids. Can you loan me, like, ten grand, too? TIA.