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AAA Music | 23 September 2020

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Los Campesinos! @ Electric Ballroom

| On 25, Mar 2012

London, 22nd March

Its couple’s evening down at one of Camden’s most prominent indie meccas. Tonight sees a regiment of skinny jeaned, plaid shirted boys with asymmetric fringes either joined at the hand or hip with an equally fashionably dressed paramour, or awkwardly trying to instigate the first, tentative hand holding session with their “best mate”. The whole sorry sight would set me seething with anger if it didn’t already send me seething with jealousy but it must be asked, why in the name of all that’s holy have they chosen a band so obsessed with romantic failings, the crippling awkwardness of unrequited love and the pain of rejection to take a prospective shag to see? The only answer I can think of is an attempt to lower the expectations off the poor soul they’re trying to woo, although I personally would consider that a mite too canny for the average suburban wannabe Shoreditch dweller. Well, at the very least, the music that fascinates in how love can fuck you right up is damn good, Los Campesinos!,  the Cardiff based octet that sold this 1100 capacity venue out can sure as hell play them, and the 1100 people packed into the ballroom love them with all their hearts.

Seriously not kidding on the last part, rarely does a song go by without the opening notes being bellowed along to, let alone the lyrics, and when they don’t, you can be certain that the following song will cause a frantic, venue wide pogo as well. In fact I can’t really think of a better venue that I’ve been to for this band, its intimate enough for the riotous punk numbers like You! Me! Dancing! (Complete with the intro to Smells Like Teen Spirit for good measure!)to really go off but big enough for they’re more widescreen stuff not to feel suffocated. It doesn’t hurt that the stage is only just big enough for the eight of them, making it all the more ridiculously entertaining to see frontman Gareth Campesinos! flail around like an epileptic Bambi, safe in the knowledge  that one misplaced limb and drummer Jason wouldn’t be the only band member with a broken nose (sustained during post-show horseplay in Bristol, the scamps).

Fittingly enough for a band enamoured with the traditional concept of “Indie” this is a gig for fans and fans only, we get the songs, we get some rather funny between song banter, and… not much else. For a fan that’s enough, and good lordy they show how satisfied they are, it’s quite honestly one of the most animated crowds I’ve ever been in but unfortunately, if you’re not there as a dyed in the wool Los Camp! lover then one might feel slightly short changed. Not through any effort of the band, they’re clearly giving one-hundred and twelve per cent up there but  if these songs aren’t snapshots into your love-life that seem to speak for you and only you (Conveniently forgetting that the Crombie attired fellow next to you probably feels exactly the same) then one might feel as if they’re missing something. However, I never said that listening to 17 minor indie-pop classics in a row performed less than six feet away from me wasn’t  an outrageous amount of fun, so check them out if you can.


Will Howard