Tuesday’s Los Campesinos! show at the Casbah took on a distinctly laid-back vibe after lead singer Gareth Campesinos explained to the crowd, “This will be a Behind the Music-type show. It’ll be like being at one of our band practices!”
But if the music was any less tight or less enthusiastically performed, it was pretty difficult to tell, although that may speak to the infectiously energetic nature of the songs themselves. From the opening notes of the band’s single “By Your Hand,” the crowd was hooked and dancing. As the set progressed, Los Campesinos! went from stiffly staring at the back wall to laughing and joking with the handful of inebriated patrons catcalling or chanting inane things like, “Ginger, ginger…” or “Flute, flute, flute.”
There was reason for Los Campesinos! to be less than thrilled with playing at the Casbah, as they had just played there last February. But with the exception of drummer Jason Campesinos, who sulked behind his drum kit all evening, the band flew through its catalog. Gareth even remarked at how quickly the show seemed to pass by as Los Campesinos! powered through one aggressively joyous anthem after another, with only a heavily accented “fanks” from the Welsh Gareth to bookend the songs.
What was most noticeable about the Los Campesinos! live set was the amount of power many of their songs packed when cranked to 11. While “Romance is Boring” is one of their poppiest and catchiest songs, the live version amped the muscularity of Tom Campesinos’ heavy power chords into a sneering anthem of disillusioned romance. Likewise, the hysterical screaming at the crescendos of songs like “Miserabilia” and “We Are Beautiful” forced the crowd to headbang while chanting things like “Shout at the world because the world doesn’t love you / Lower yourself because you know that you’ll have to.”
And as the previous snippet suggests, Gareth’s spewed mouthfuls of lyrics were the evening’s highlight. Although it was difficult to make out some of the complex wordplay, it was incredibly entertaining to watch Gareth and keyboardist/frontwoman Kim Campesinos dramatically act out the lyrics and even perform some synchronized choreography together. Overall, the show was exactly what one would expect from Los Campesinos! — lighthearted, overly sentimental, filled with moments of desperation, and a really, really good time.