It was a night of beer-chugging nostalgia at Los Campesinos!’s London date of their UK tour on Monday, drawing a sold-out crowd at Camden’s iconic Koko venue.
In a string of homeland dates promoting their new album ‘Sick Scenes’, the band put on a steaming show for a devoted crowd, full of indie favourites and emo ballads from their decade-long discography.
With fast-paced, I-hate-my-life verses and chorus chants to scream along to at a house party, the Cardiff-formed seven-piece have already sold out several shows in the UK’s uni towns this year, with tickets snapped up by ex-teenagers eager for a night of nostalgia.
“We’re here to promote something”, drawls lead singer Gareth Campesinos! before the band open with the catchy ‘Renato Dall’Ara (2008)’ off this year’s release. But the crowd fully jumps in with the set’s second song ‘Romance is Boring’, and that effervescent energy continues throughout the night.
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It’s the charged-up camaraderie between those on stage and those in the mosh pit that electrifies this gig, united by songs about days spent in your ‘rat-infested student kitchen’ (Here Comes The Fourth Time) and ‘being depressed, looking rank… and everyone’s a fucking Tory’ (A Slow, Slow Death) – to quote lead singer Gareth Campesinos’ droll introductions. Wiping his fringe from his sweating forehead, it’s Gareth’s sort-of-cocky, slightly self-deprecating style that makes him a great frontman for this tight-knit group (each member of the band takes the stage surname of Campesinos!, giving an inclusive club-like feel to seeing them perform live).
The new material is received well, with ‘Here Comes The Fourth Time’ amping up the melodrama with thumping basslines and bucketloads of teen angst. But it’s tracks from the first three albums, such as riff-heavy ‘Straight in at 101’ and the euphoric ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ that gets fans clutching onto their hearts, grabbing the shoulder of their mate and holding their beer high up in the air, remembering days (and nights) gone by.
Compare their enduring fandom to other long-gone indie poppers gracing the pages of NME in the mid-Noughties, and you might get a feel for the longevity of their music – and how much their fans are willing to stick by them. 11 years after their debut, the band’s earlier material exploring themes of self-harm and unrequited love sounds extra bittersweet, with these quieter songs contrasting well with an otherwise amped-up setlist. This poignant, slower side was showcased beautifully on ‘The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future’, with gut-wrenching lyrics and a build-up to the swaying, singalong finale (and boy, did the audience sing along).
Monday’s night performance was played to a boozy Bank Holiday crowd enjoying the nostalgia of once again hearing the band they cried about their crush to as a teenager. For lyrics so brilliant, and so fast-paced, the sound could have been slightly improved, for first-time fans to clearly hear the clever narrative behind some of the songs. But the majority of this crowd already knew all of the lyrics anyway. This is a band that has its twee moments – with bloopy video game keyboard riffs and heartbreak lyrics – but when you see them live, you can really leave the hipster-cool behind and scream along with them. People do. In fact, this sold-out crowd was really, really into it.