los campesinos keep webster hall dancing
  • THURSDAY, AUGUST 06, 2009

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Los Campesinos! are so very enthusiastic. The Welsh ensemble is well-known for bubbling over with shiny guitar chords, bouncy tunes, cheeky lyrics sung too fast to pick out the biting wit from the cheery cavalcade of boy-girl dance-pop. Each band member officially changed their last name to "Campesinos," and yes, that exclamation mark is mandatory. Listening to We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed or Hold On Now Youngster elicits a certain sugar rush, prone to either glassy-eyed grinning or self-conscious wincing. So when I trekked over to Webster Hall on an unremarkable Tuesday night, I wasn't sure whether the show would be too much to take, or just what I needed to hear.

When the merry band pranced on stage and struck the first notes, Webster erupted into a party with no room for cynicism, and the jumping never stopped. Los Campesinos! is a big band, lots of kids with lots of instruments and lots of ideas, and all that energy can sound cramped and overwhelming when it's trying to cram itself through headphones. On stage the melodies got a chance to stretch, take up room, run free and hurtle around the venue, bouncing off the walls. Of course, I had to leap off my photographer's perch atop a conveniently placed speaker, and join in the festivities.

The appropriately named "Knee Deep in ATP" broke tension with earnest schoolkid yearning and "My Year in Lists" carried that peculiar mix of bitterness and delight, singing "I cherish with fondness / the day before I met you." There's something so charming, so completely irresistible when Gareth Campesinos keeps a straight face while rewarding careful listeners with lyrics like, "You said you looked less like the Venus de Milo / and more like your mother in a straightjacket." The kids are not only alright, they're pointedly smart with a knack for making catchy lines out of insightful sentences, anthems out of phrases like "Since we became accelerated readers / we never leave the house."

Fun-loving Campesinos crowd-surfed, climbed the speakers, jumped into the audience, and threw down a simple, genuinely fun show to the fist-pumping, floor-shaking approval of what ended up being a quality crowd for a Tuesday. Well, when New York and Campesino-land intersect, there is no such a thing as a weekday or a school night. In that magical world, it's always summer, the lights are always bright, and as the song goes, "It's you! It's me! And there's dancing!" - Nina Mashurova

Los Campesinos on Tour
Aug 5 - 9:30 Club - DC, Washington DC
Aug 6 - Grog Shop - Cleveland, Ohio
Aug 7 - The Bluebird Club - Indianapolis, Indiana
Aug 8 - LOLLAPALOOZA - Chicago
Aug 12 - The Firebird - Louis, Missouri
Aug 12 - Record Bar - Kansas City, Missouri
Aug 14 - Emo's - Austin, Texas
Aug 15 - Granada Theatre - Dallas, Texas
Aug 16 - Warehouse Live - Houston, Texas
Aug 19 - Launchpad - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Aug 20 - Hocofest Green Music Festival - Tucson, Arizona
Aug 21 - El Rey Theater - Los Angeles, California
Aug 22 - The Glass House - Pomona, California
Aug 23 - Detroit Bar - Costa Mesa, California
Aug 25 - Beauty Bar - Las Vegas, Nevada
Aug 26 - Howie and Sons Pizza - Visalia, California
Aug 27 - Brookdale Lodge Concert Hall - Santa Cruz, California
Aug 28 - Outside Lands Festival - San Francisco, California
Aug 29 - Street Scene Festival - San Diego, California
Oct 21 - Kasbah - Coventry
Oct 22 - Joiners - Southampton
Oct 23 - Phoenix - Exeter
Oct 24 - SWN FESTIVAL: The Gate - Cardiff
Oct 26 - Deaf Institute - Manchester
Oct 27 - University - Newcastle
Oct 28 - Garage - London
Oct 29 - Zodiac - Oxford
Oct 30 - Cockpit - Leeds
Oct 31 - King Tut's - Glasgow

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