For a lot of people, Los Campesinos!
was always that band that they've heard of but never listened to, and although they're no Broken Social Scene
or Vampire Weekend
, their name has been quietly echoing in our ears for the last decade. They're like everyone's little secret in the indie rock scene, except that the indie rock scene isn't little at all.
I went to the Cardiff-based indie pop-rock act's show last week at Warsaw in Brooklyn, seemingly as the only non-fan. Of course, I had a vague familiarity with their discography, which spans over six albums and three EPs, but I was there for strictly work. To me, one of the most impressive skills a band can have is the ability to win over a person who's unfamiliar with them during a live show. Los Campesinos! had that ability on lock. I may have been a little sleepy that night due to one too many glasses of wine, but they still had me bopping my head and tapping my feet for a solid two hours (which is huge, because anyone who knows me knows that once I'm out, I'm out). They were 45 minutes into the set when Gareth (vocalist) teased that they were about to wrap up the show... Little did I know, another hour followed, plus a hefty four song encore which excited fans even more. I was tired, but the accessible sing-a-long choruses of "I Broke Up in Amarante" and "Romance Is Boring" brought me to life. Enthusiastic fans in the crowd held each other with one arm and threw the other up as they simultaneously sang the wordy lyrics, not missing a single beat, as if they'd been training for this for their entire lives. What I witnessed was pure, loyal fandom.
Los Campesinos! has been around for about 10 years. That means that the fans who were with them since the beginning literally grew up with them. For 10 years, people have been listening - they listened while walking through the halls of their high school freshmen year, while they drove a car for the first time after getting their license, and today, as they become adults and sign the lease on their first apartment. Los Campesinos! have always been there for them, and still are, offering fans comfort like a blanket.
When the lyrics from "You! Me! Dancing!" off of their debut album Hold On Now, Youngster
start to unravel, "To taking props from nineties boy band fashions / All crop tops and testosterone passion,"
we immediately bounce back to 2008. They're relatable - most people have an affection for 90s boy bands - and now, they're also nostalgic. The rambling of an emo frontman would
appeal to me, a closet Taking Back Sunday fanatic who still secretly gazes through the window at Hot Topic every now and then and freaks out when "Timberwolves at New Jersey" comes on. Nowadays there are few bands you can listen to that deliver punk pop imagery like "I can taste the blood on your lips and on your tongue,"
without the embarrassment that comes along with it (try telling people The Used is your favorite band with a serious face), but Los Campesinos! are precisely one of those rarities.
In this case, consistency is probably the key factor in their success. Between all of their EPs and LPs, they have 9 records total and Pitchfork
has graced each and every one of them with at least a 7 or above. Each record sounds fairly similar, enough to keep the loyal fans happy, and for us here in New York, they come around on tour every couple of years. Los Campesinos! have been been doing this for a long time. They won't ever reach Arcade Fire level of commercial success, but their fans can always count on them, and they can always count on their fans.