Los Campesinos! Live

Friends and Brightonians, lend them your ears.

Tonight, as I enter the building, Los Campesinos! have just taken to the stage, and the bar is unusually bereft of patrons.

Briefly, I consider that perhaps there has been a poor turn-out, but as I breeze straight through the bar and part the double doors to the darkened venue, I’m pleasantly pleased to find a crowd of fans who aren’t content to merely cool their heels at the bar by way of live experience, and are jostling for space at the front of the crowded stage.

This is a night for the kids, for they are here en masse: Gareth’s lyrics masterfully pick out what it is to be a teenager in a confusing, tumultuous world of love, sex, family, hateful days and debauched nights. Los Campesinos! is another in the recent group of bands that have found success, initially from the Internet, which is a main-line directly to the music-loving youth: I don’t know anyone over 25 who doesn’t find Myspazz, at least mildly irritating.

Perhaps, it’s purely because of this young turn out that the bar is so unusually quiet; perhaps everyone’s ID was ‘in their other trousers’ tonight. But of course, Brighton’s ever-bourgeoning live music scene attracts many of it’s maturer denizens out in their droves to witness the next big thing – Brighton is not the kind of town that attracts the staid and the stuck-in-their-ways – and there are lots of lyrical references to warm memories of K Records and John Hughes films, for those who are old enough to remember the grunge era, “And there were conversations about what Breakfast Club character you’d be/ I’d be the one that dies. (No-one dies) / Well then, what’s the point?” Gareth sings mournfully with the gleeful self-depreciation of youth.
No, the bar is empty because Los Campesinos! are nonchalantly kicking arse up there, and no-one wants to miss a second of it.

Sure, Gareth looks bored; They all have the air of a bunch of students playing to their friends, affording practically no concern for their live stage presence as they pass round a bottle of cheap red wine, retreating to the rear of the stage to enter deep discussion, and fussing over the spilling of the aforementioned wine. Anyone would think no-one was watching, by the way they present themselves. But their apparent disinterest, or at least, reserved stage presence, is far from mirrored by the jubilant, euphonious clamour that they casually exude. Aleksandra’s delightful, lilting vocals providing the perfect counterpoint to Gareth’s reedy, punky rants.

The audience need no encouragement to dance with rapturous abandon; deliriously, flailing limbs and dropping crowd-surfers with riotous glee, in the face of near indifference. The band are impressed enough to treat the crowd to fan-favourite, You! Me! Dancing!, however: a tune that they say they’ve stopped playing live, which is a testament to how widely their material has been heard already, when they drop a song from their forthcoming LP from their live set.

Before their final song of the night, Gareth, – the only band member vocal between songs – attempts a short diatribe about the state of the music industry and encouraging communities to support local talent. The kids don’t care, however, and shouts for more music interrupt his address.
I know what he’s talking about though, and I’m with him.

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