It was another Friday night at the Bowery Ballroom, and possibly my last concert in a concert-filled year. Things have winded down over the last few weeks, and with finals looming, that's probably for the best. Los Campesinos! was one of my discoveries over the summer, and after being unable to get into their Mercury Lounge show, it was really nice to see this date at the end of the year. I had the pleasure of interviewing the band right before things kicked off, and look for a feature soon. The openers were, as is often the case, unknown to me, but that's hardly a bad thing. Tom Vu was also there.
Birmingham, England trio Johnny Foreigner began things with a bang. Complementing ragged guitar and bass with yelps, the band played like a more concentrated Los Campes!, although perhaps without the pop sensibilities. Admitting that they didn't have material for a full forty minute set, the band bantered good natured with the crowd, talking poorly (but jokingly, we hope) of their hometown and kidding that the next song was a "power ballad)." The problem is, nothing in their catalog really resembles anything like that, and I'd like to see the band get a little more accessible without losing their characteristic chaos.
MySpace: Johnny Foreigner
The Spinto Band
Delaware's the Spinto Band brought cheery - perhaps too cheery - power pop, saturated with sing-song choruses in which anywhere from two to four members sang. Despite the twinkly guitars, there was usually a solid undercurrent of drum and bass, given their vaguely twee sound a decent backbone. It was satisfying at first, but the samey songs got a bit tiresome. Unfortunately, their stage presence only exacerbated the experience. They talked nonsense about replacing words that rhymed with "spray" with "spray," and quite unnecessarily demonstrated how to do so. Not really the city to demonstrate this in, I'm afraid, and the rest of the crowd seemed pretty nonplussed. I'm pretty sure there's much fun to be had with this group, as evidenced by the big cheer went up during one of their songs, but I think I'll stick to the albums.
MySpace: The Spinto Band
Official Site: The Spinto Band
The seven member strong Los Campesinos! filled the stage, and their songs filled the venue. Prior to the show, I was a bit worried that they wouldn't have enough material, and while the set lasted less than an hour, I think we all left feeling satisfied. Los Campes! have a sound that won't appeal to everyone; I wouldn't blame you if it just isn't your thing. But the band brings such a great enthusiasm to the stage, and that their songs, energetic to begin with, before as infectious as ever. There was a sizable crowd to the left that was really getting into it, not really moshing, but just hopping up and down. Ever so often I'd glance over, and there would always be at least a few people in motion, growing in number if the song was particularly lively.
Without diminishing the irreplaceable atmosphere of a live concert, I think that the crowd's reaction is as great a testament as any to the power of the internet. Correlating online buzz with a packed crowd isn't terribly unique; much of the venue selection is based on this calculation. But it's incredible that a band would go from MySpace to playing in front of crowds around the world in such a short time, and to their credit, they're all clearly very grateful for it. Singer Gareth was extremely humble and thankful, but his timidity in between songs didn't affect his energy, as he moved about the stage and eventually went into the audience. Harriet's violin playing was especially nice, as on record, giving their cacophony the perfect highlight. She also sang with keyboardist Aleks, providing some pretty harmonies that softened Gareth's more accented delivery. They've got a great dynamic, and I'm sure they'll be back next year to bigger and more excited crowds.
MP3: Los Campesinos! - Don't Tell Me To Do The Math(s)
MP3: Los Campesinos! - We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives
MySpace: Los Campesinos!
Official Site: Los Campesinos!