The Gig: Los Campesinos
Where: Lee’s Palace, Toronto, ON, Canada
When: 22 January 2012
In One Word: Britpep
Sunday night in Toronto and Los Campesinos are playing the second night of their double-header at Lee’s Palace. The scene tonight at Lee’s reminds me a bit of a high school gym hall at the end-of-term disco. The geeks are sitting on the benches around the perimeter with back their backs to the walls, while on the dance-floor the cool kids boogie and fumble around a bit in the dark.
Except, Los Campesinos are no high school band.
Since originally forming at Cardiff University, Los Campesinos have gone on to get their Masters at the School of Indie Rock and they by all reports they seem to be making the grade: A growing fanbase on both sides of the atlantic, an appearance on Letterman last Friday, and Ellen Campesinos is pleasantly surprised when I inform her during our interview earlier in the evening that Los Campesinos are on the back page of the latest issue of Rolling Stone, on the chart run-down page, with the band in the top 10 of the College Radio chart.
The turnout for Los Campesinos is healthy if a bit thin; I’ll guesstimate 60-70%, with the first night being sold close to capacity. Either way, not bad for a second-nighter on a Sunday night in the middle of January.
The music of Los Campesinos is scatty, eclectic, jaggy, twinkly, shouty and bouncing with high spirits. I call it Britpep.
Brit |brit| informal, noun: a British person.
pep |pep| informal, noun: energy and high spirits; liveliness : he was an enthusiastic player, full of pep.
And there are guitars, of course. The lyrics are pretty random too but songs about girls, angst and football are delivered with an upbeat, hyper pace. That’s what you get with a seven piece, eclectic indie-pop band.
But how does it all translate live? I’m happy to be with the geeks, as I sit back to survey the scene.
Up on a tightly packed stage, the seven members of Los Campesinos get animated and start coaxing the crowd to do the same. Singer Gareth Paisey does some gentle goading to his punters by making a joke about it being the ‘sabbath’. By the time Gareth is beating his chest to “Every Defeat a Divorce (Three Lions)” a chilled crowd is a bit more livelier, and there are a few more people jumping and clapping along on the dance floor.
Gareth Paisey is the real dynamo on stage, as he shouts and beats out his lyrics, but the real harmony is created in what might otherwise be cacophony as Gareth’s sister Kim provides light, female vocals to the mix. Those vocal contrasts between the shouting boys and softly-singing girls are a hallmark of the Los Campesinos sound.
By the time “You! Me! Dancing!” is played, things have picked up a bit more. That song is Los Campesinos at they’re best. Pure gold. By this point some of the beer-suppin’, hand-clappin’ geeks have emerged from the shadows in the corner of the room and are now cautiously obeying as they get their boogie on too.
Los Campesinos: fantastic on record, but a bit of an awkward high school disco vibe when they do it live. I think that’s what I’m getting at. Or at least on a Sunday night at Lee’s Palace when half the crowd seem to have SAD. Regardless, the geeks and cool kids both leave the show happy enough. Sweet dreams, sweet cheeks.
© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice
By Your Hand
Romance Is Boring
Death To Los Campesinos!
A Heat Rash in the Shape of the Show Me State; or, Letters from Me to Charlotte
Every Defeat a Divorce (Three Lions)
Songs About Your Girlfriend
We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
There Are Listed Buildings
Straight In at 101
You! Me! Dancing!
The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future
Baby I Got The Death Rattle
Ways To Make It Through The Wall
Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks
Pictures of Los Campesinos at Lee’s Palace:
Internet links: Los Campesinos
Los Campesinos interview with Ellen coming soon on Music Vice.
Special mention to cool cats Parenthitical Girls who I missed but spoke to at their merch table. They have some cool pop tunes, check ’em out.