Los Campesinos! Camden, Sunday

In all of music history, there aren’t too many bands where ALL the members of the band have the same surname. The Ramones. The Osmonds. The Fureys and Davey Arthur – almost…

So what are the odds of seven – SEVEN!  – people in one band, completely unrelated to each other, having the same surname?!  Mad!

As if that wasn’t enough… Los Campesinos! all met at Cardiff University – but none of them are Welsh!

They’re a band I’ve only been vaguely aware of down the years – I only really knew their jolly-sounding “You, Me, Dancing” but I’ve heard great things about their live shows.

So – a couple of weeks ago I was on Twitter  and up pops a tweet from Los Campesinos! announcing a lunchtime warm-up gig for their UK tour at the Barfly in Camden. This is a first – a gig I attended because I was on twitter at the right time! And they’re only charging a fiver, which I really appreciate – they could easily have doubled that, given their cultish level of popularity, so hurrah for Los Campesinos!

I’m still quite tired and emotional from the previous evening spent watching Airborne Toxic Event (more on THAT in the next blog entry), and a lunchtime gig is not ideal but still…

Sunday in Camden is always a great place to be anyway. So I head over on the tube, full of families heading to Regent’s Park and the museums for a day out. The market is teeming, as always. Cooler than the West End, with better shops and better – and cheaper – food, it’s no wonder people congregate here on a Sunday.

Now, the core of the music I listen to is modern indie, broadly speaking, so I’m pretty used to being the Oldest Guy At The Gig. People generally assume I’m either a parent of one of the band or I’m selling drugs but under normal circumstances it’s the evening and it’s dark and nobody bats an eyelid.

This is slightly different.

Its daylight and there is a queue of about 200 students and teenagers down the Chalk Farm Road, with me at the end trying not to look dodgy. The queue starts shuffling forward like the bit at the end of the Benny Hill Show in slo-mo.

Now, indie fans are a pretty friendly bunch. They can be a bit quiescent, leading to a slightly dull audience reaction, but on the other hand you’d be hard pressed to start a fight. An incident at the bar illustrates this. There’s three of us waiting to be served. The barman, working on the principle of age before beauty – points to me. I say “no – he was first” and point to the chap on the end. He in turn points to the guy next to him, who then points to me again.

This could have ended in jostling, maybe even fisticuffs at a metal gig but indie kids are not natural fighters and have a strong sense of irony if nothing else. We all smile and nod wryly at each other. Morrissey would be proud.

And I get served first in the end anyway. Hah!

So, the band play a blistering, tight set of around an hour (couldn’t swear to it, who puts a stopwatch on a gig?)

I really like this band. I really like singer Gareth Campesinos!’s onstage banter, funny and sarcastic but also – crucially – just a little bit self-effacing.

Always good to see an articulate and funny frontman, not quite in the Steven Adams league but then who is?

I’m not familiar with the band’s oeuvre but odd lyrics filter through making me keen to check out the back catalogue. There’s intelligence here as well as tunes.

Quite a few from the new album “Hello Sadness” (yeah, the Morrissey vacuum has been well and truly filled here)

They play their Hit (“You! Me! Dancing!”) somewhat reluctantly, with singer Gareth informing the crowd that “we have to play this – its like if you went to see the Dandy Warhols and they didn’t play Bohemian Like You”. Well, not quite, mate. The Dandy Warhols don’t really have any songs other than that one. Whereas Los Camps! are well on their way to creating a really good body of work.

And the importance of the words is recognised by the band in that you can hear every bloody word Gareth sings / says.

These lyrics are unique. There are echoes of Morrissey, the Broken Family Band “and The Beautiful South (no greater praise imho). Hard to pick anything out specifically but the odd phrase leaps out at you causing a “Huh? What did he say”? reaction. Always a good thing.

The tunes are sometimes not all that, but with the lyrics and the sheer drive of a band with huge numbers helps create a groove which gets them through just fine.

Three quid for a Subway Italian Salami and a bottle of water.

Two pounds for a diet coke.

Five pounds for a Los Campesinos! Gig? Priceless.

Setlist

By Your Hand

Romance Is Boring

Death To Los Campesinos!

Life Is A Long Time

A Heat Rash In The Shape Of The Show me State; or Letters From Me To Charlotte

Songs About your Girlfriend

We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Straight In at 101

To Tundra

Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #1

The Black Bird, The Dark Slope

You! Me! Dancing!

The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future

Hello Sadness

Baby I Got The Death Rattle

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