Los Campesinos live in New York
- By Ryan W. Neal -
- Jul 03, 2012
It was only 8:37 last Friday, the early show, when Los Campesinos! filed on to the stage at Le Poisson Rouge. They formed a line across the stage, slung the straps of their instruments around their necks, and stood like a firing squad in front of a crowd whose hands featured about as many black X’s as alcoholic beverages.
This image, the now experienced rock group standing in front of a crowd ranging from 15 to 50 just before the opening drumbeat of ‘By Your Hand,’ captured the strange paradox this band seems to have created. While the Campesinos have evolved a more polished and matured pop sound, they have attracted a much younger audience.
The opening notes of Kim Campesino!’s keyboard elicited a round of screams from the teenage girls, and every person sang along to every one of Gareth Campesino’s lyrics. The rest of the band played in the same subdued fashion as the track’s music video.
On the third song they went back to 2008, playing the opening track from their first LP, “Hold it Now, Youngster,” which was notably faster, featured more vocals from Kim, and more contributions from Tom Campesino!’s lead guitar. While the band livened up a bit, the crowd didn’t seem to quite understand what they were hearing. At the breakdown, Gareth had to stop the music and ask (politely, of course) for the boys in the back to stop moshing – it was crushing the young girls near the front of the stage.
“That circle pit thing… its really lame,” he said to the crowd after the song.
Of course, any long-time fan knows Los Campesinos! isn’t mosh pit music, but the whole thing just seemed odd. A more mature sound attracts a younger crowd that is unsure of what to do with your older songs. Not an easy spot for a band to be in.
But at the end of the day, it didn’t really matter. Los Campesinos! didn’t lose that raw, youthful energy that defined their earlier songs, they simply channeled it towards a grown-up sound. The songs may be slower, but are equally as passionate.
“It’s inevitable that you’re going to grow as musicians,” said bass player Ellen Campesinos! after the show. “You want to kind of organically evolve. It’s not, like, planned. It’s natural.”
Each song in the performance was imbued with the same enthusiasm and brazen musical talent that attracted indie fans to them nearly six years ago. So while the teen girls of course loved the show, even the older fans loved what they heard.
“I hadn’t heard their new stuff until tonight,” said 21-year-old Gordon. He said he didn’t like them quite as much before quickly adding that the band still had more than enough energy to keep him going.
And that’s because this band is just plain fun. While songs like “You! Me! Dancing!” inspired frenetic pogoing and crowd surfing, others like “In Medias Res,” made you want to hold your partner close and remember why you love them.
The paradox seems to work for Los Campesinos. The universe hasn’t imploded yet, so they must be doing something right.
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