(Yes this is a horribly late post. But if You Ain't No Picasso can do this, so can I)
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. On one side, it was the middle of August on a hundred degree night, at an outside venue, and I saw all three hours of it right under the stage spotlights. On the other side, I was about to see Los Campesinos! for the second time on their last our with keyboardist Aleks along with two of the most buzzed about bands this side of the blogosphere. Pretty obviously, the latter one out on the mood for the night
Smith Westerns opened the set. Once again, I feel bad about talking down on such a buzzed band (see my take on Harlem). But the Smith Western set just wasn’t impressive. This is the sort of thing I should and do love; short, distortion heavy indie rock influenced garage rock. This could just be because they aren’t a live band yet, or weren’t good at this particular set, but nothing stood out. The set blurred into a mush of generic indie rock. Now there were moments of interest, but in the end, it wasn’t a memorable set.
The Girls set was a lot more interesting, however. Interesting being the key word here. To put into perspective what I’m talking about, the band came out onto stage looking like they either came from the worst hangover ever, or they were perpetually stoned always. Then, lead guitarist Christopher Owens proceeded to take off his boots and play the whole set of slow lo-fi indie rock in red high heels! When you look past all these “quirks”, the set was actually quite impressive. The band managed to live up to the hype with me of course being a sucker for lo-fi anything. With the album still being a few weeks away, it was hard to know any of the songs, but a definite highlight was the 7-minute “Hellhole Rat Race” evolving into a noise fest so loud that I think Sonic Youth might have even been jealous. If there was any real complaint, it wasn’t with the show, but with Girls being there. There was nothing wrong with the band, but a band that worked a that pace opening for the speed and intensity that is Los Campesinos!, they just felt a little out of place.
However, no of this mattered for in the end, for the night was owned once again by the greatness and wonder that is Los Campesinos! Yes, go ahead and roll your eyes again at another one of my gushy indie rock fanboy letters to Los Campesinos! I. Don’t. Care. Pop Tarts Suck Toasted has The Antlers; I have Los Campesinos! All the pain, emotion, and energy that exists in their albums translates directly to the stage. Gerath’s cries and screams of agony, Aleks brief inserts of sanity. She will be missed. It’s nice to see the band cares more about their fans than themselves. Despite giving an interview a few months back about how embarrassing songs were to them, they still played kick ass versions of “International Tweexcore Underground” and “You Throw Parties, We Throw Knifes”. The band also wound up playing two new tracks from their just finished new album. “Who Fell Asleep” is a slow building jam before fore erupting into pain which is apparently about molesting a nun (Gareth’s words, not mine) and “Rips”, a tight “All Your Keyfabe Friends” number. The rest of the set was a wonderful balance of Hold on Now Youngster and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed tracks, with the band even pulling off a complete cover of Pavement’s “Box Elder” this time. The guitars shredded, Harriet’s violin was prime, and Olie was once again shirtless. It was just a great show best summed up with this exchange that happened near the end of the set
Fan: Don’t leave! Gareth please! Stop Aleks! Don’t let here leave us!
Gareth: Oh, I think that just did it. I think you just guaranteed her leaving.