Los Campesinos! at the Varsity Theater, 1/29/2012

Los Campesinos! with Parenthetical Girls
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
Sunday, January 29, 2012

Los Campesinos! is an indie-rock band that hails from Cardiff, Wales -- which is pretty far removed from anything Latino-related implied by the name. The seven-piece ensemble drew a pretty big crowd for a Sunday night on their fourth time to the Cities, with Gareth Campesinos! claiming, "We get less and less professional every time we play."

When you hear a group like this for the first time, it's difficult not to compare it to something you may be familiar with. It eventually leads to someone saying, "Oh, yeah, they sound like so and so." With the two girls onstage, Los Campesinos! is comparable to New York's Ra Ra Riot -- perhaps falling a bit short in stage energy in comparison to the U.S. band.

After six years together, LC! has a lot of material to draw from, opening with the energetic "By Your Hand" from the most-recent release, Hello Sadness. Gareth seemed to have a lot of stories and tidbits to share between songs, telling the audience, "Six Years is Pretty Good -- that's the name of our greatest hits."

Los Campesinos! at the Varsity Theater, 1/29/2012
Youa Vang

Each member of the Los Campesinos! uses "Campesinos!" as their surname -- a bit like the Ramones. Although they may be termed as indie-rock, there are similarities to the Ramones in delivery of performances, especially from Gareth in pieces such as "Straight in at 101" and "There Are Listed Buildings."  To have such a large number of people onstage, each band member must prove their purpose and they surely do. Standing out amongst the rest, Kim Campesinos!'s lovely voice is a perfect complement to Gareth's (her actual brother) staccato delivery.

During "Straight in at 101," Gareth noticed the free-standing trees amidst the crowd and freaked out mid-song, ad-libbing some new lyrics to the song.  Aptly dubbing the bathrooms at the Varsity "The Indiana Jones Bathrooms," with their jungle-like plants, Gareth spoke about the various clubs they've performed at in the Cities, adding, "The Varsity has been great; there's nothing I would change about it except the trees in this place, because they really freaked me out."

Either it was a mess-up or just a usual break from the normal intro on "You! Me! Dancing!,"  the band started the song twice, but after a lengthy intro that was building into something epic, they made up for it by truly getting the crowd engaged and dancing. Albeit a little late into the show, "You! Me! Dancing!" was the highlight of the concert, although the melancholy "To Tundra" was a lovely break to the lively pieces.

The band ended their regular set with "Baby I've Got the Death Rattle," another song with a big intro which accommodated the bass drum and Asian-toned guitar.  Los Campesinos! came back on their encore, bringing Gareth out into the audience and finishing the night with the animated "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks" -- a tune that carried the crowd into the cold evening air, which I know to be true since a gentleman serenaded me with the song on the way to my car.

Los Campesinos! at the Varsity Theater, 1/29/2012
Youa Vang
Los Campesinos! at the Varsity Theater, 1/29/2012
Youa Vang

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: Maybe it will take me a few more listens to really get a feel for Los Campesinos!

The crowd: It looked like a shoot for a Howler video.

Overheard in the crowd: "I've never heard a band talk so much about their other shows." in reference to Gareth's ruminations on past Twin Cities shows.


By Your Hand
Romance is Boring
Death to Los Campesinos!
Life is a Long Time
Letters From Me to Charlotte
Songs About Your Girlfriend

We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

There are Listed Buildings

Straight in at 101

To Tundra

The Black Bird, The Dark Slope

You! Me! Dancing!

The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future

Hello Sadness

Baby I Got the Death Rattle

Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks

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