A huge blue and green globe hung overhead when Vampire Weekend took the stage Tuesday at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. The band, which has single-handedly revived the usefulness of the old ’80s term “college rock,” epitomizes an omnivorous, globally aware brand of indie music directed at the student body, many of whom grew up with their tricky blend of exoticism and sing-along simplicity.
It’s been six years since Vampire Weekend’s last visit to Boston. Their first six years — their debut came out in 2007 — were a whirlwind of hype. The past half-dozen have seen a regrouping, with the departure of cofounder Rostam Batmanglij, leaving the spotlight to singer-guitarist Ezra Koenig, and the arrival of four new touring members.
Though they formed in New York, “to this day, sometimes in other countries, people think we’re from Massachusetts,” Koenig told a full house of admirers, who embraced his band like one of their own.
From the near-ska jangle of opener “Ladies of Cambridge” (“I’ve had dreams of Boston all my life”) to the baroque pop of the world-weary ballad “Step” (which brought out a constellation of cellphone flashlights), the band balanced its love of place with a youthful urge to get away. “Sympathy,” one of several songs showcased from new album “Father of the Bride,” their first for a major label, paired a thumping flamenco rhythm with keyboard-triggered choral voices. On “Diplomat’s Son,” the band veered off into a partial cover of the reggae classic “Pressure Drop.”
Deft new guitarist Brian Robert Jones shared a precise flurry of notes with Koenig on the Grateful Dead-ish “Sunflower.” Bassist Chris Baio, working overtime with his funky stomping and strutting, took the lead on his own song, “Sister of Pearl,” which he dedicated without further comment to former BU (and current NHL) hockey coach David Quinn.
The set, well over two hours, was jam-packed, with instantly memorable new songs (“This Life,” “Harmony Hall”), unforgettable older ones (“A-Punk,” “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”), and a nice cover of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” Koenig reserved the bulk of a half-hour encore for requests; hardcore fans wearing bucket hats — the band’s quirky rule about who gets to choose — called for impromptu versions of “Giving Up the Gun” and a Japan-only release called “Arrows.”
Koenig, who has taken his share of criticism over the years as leader of one of the few contemporary rock bands to stick its neck out, seemed to bask in the adulation. “It’s been a helluva night,” he said before launching into one more high-water mark, the pounding summer’s-end anthem “Walcott.” A roadie tossed two more large inflatable globes, about the size of zorb balls, into the mass of delirious dancers. They were only too happy to have the whole world in their hands, however momentarily.
Opening act Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, a 20-year-old guitar prodigy from Clarksdale, Miss., seemed an odd fit for the bill, but his powerful voice and blues-riff mastery suggested a newcomer to watch.
With Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. At Agganis Arena, Tuesday