Los Campesinos! – Live in 2024

While Los Campesinos! have a great well of songs you know & love, they’re also still making more, and playing more....
Los Campesinos! : Live
Los Campesinos! : Live

“We never wanted to be seen as a nostalgia thing. If you’re coming here for nostalgia, just don’t come…” So said Los Campesinos! lead singer Gareth Campesinos near the end of the band’s set at Warsaw (QRO venue review) in Brooklyn on Saturday, June 15th. He had noted that they’ve been a band for 18 years, and had asked who was seeing them for the first time, getting a surprisingly large response of first-time fans. Because, while Los Camp have a great well of songs you know & love, they’re also still making more, and playing more.

Tom Campesinos

The Cardiff-born act came over to America in the run-up to July 19th’s All Hell, their seventh full-length. There are of course those long-time fans who miss when the group (and they) were young, Gareth the impish leader of aughts-era collective that included violin. But band members change (only Gareth and guitarists Neil & Tom remain from ‘Charter Campesinos’), sounds change, lives change, and all of that looking back can blind one to what’s great now – not to mention what’s been great between then & now.

Neil Campesinos
Gareth Campesinos

Of course the crowd went crazy for Campesinos classics off of 2008 debut full-length Hold On Now, Youngster… (QRO review) such as “Knee Deep at ATP” (which has outlived that festival, All Tomorrow’s Parties) and “You! Me! Dancing!” But LC don’t have to rely on their oldies (those were the only two Youngsters of the night), instead making a set list that covered their whole career – including relatively later songs that have since become classics in their own right. Title tracks from We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (QRO review), Romance Is Boring (QRO review), and Hello Sadness (QRO review) lit up the big room, similarly with “Avocado, Baby!” (No BluesQRO review) and “I Broke Up in Amarante” (Sick ScenesQRO review). And special note has to be made of the moment in “The Sea Is a Good Place To Think About the Future” where Gareth just let the American crowd sing the line, “Never kiss a Tory boy / Without wanting to cut out your tongue again”, because we all know who not to vote for in the upcoming elections…

Kim Campesinos

And there were Hella new songs as well. Los Campesinos! have already put out two singles, indeed started this night with “A Psychic Wound”, and later gave “Feast of Tongues” its live debut – after a false start because something wasn’t working. Gareth apologized, saying they wanted it to sound good, “But it’s not going to be perfect – nowhere near perfect…” He was pleased with how many people knew the new, and was interested in what parts would get the big responses, or what the crowd would sing along to when lead and back-up vocals differed (it was the back-up, which he congratulated the crowd on, but noted that others might do it differently, “So don’t get cocky…”). The night also held two more live debuts, of songs that aren’t even out yet, “kms” that saw singer/keyboardist Kim Campesinos taking lead for the wry tragedy, and the big LC! explosion “0898 HEARTACHE” to go into the encore break.

Crowd Campesinos

Upon returning, Gareth noted that there is a “strain of indie-rock discourse” that sees acts make a point of not doing encores, but he said that those who don’t do so, “Because they’ve got no fucking good songs…” This many years in, Los Campesinos! might have someone who minds their sleeping children while they play [making your correspondent who saw their first-ever NYC show – QRO live review – feel old…], but they’ve also got so, so many great songs – and are still making more.

Los Campesinos!

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