Los Campesinos! at the Paradise

Midway through their set, one of Los Campesinos!’s (not sure to punctuate that) keyboards died. It didn’t break; it ran out of batteries. The batteries they had been using were given them at a previous show by a fan who took them out of his camera so that the show could go on. Gareth, Los Campesinos!’s frontman, apologized to the crowd: “We were going to play a popular song, I guess we can’t play it now.” He then quipped, “Here’s where you go home and write on your blog one of two things- either we were sloppy and unprofessional, or, you got to sit in on a band practice!” A few songs later, batteries procured, the band ripped through the previously skipped “We are Beautiful, We are Doomed.”

This is one anecdote among many from the band’s relatively short career that reinforces their reputation as approachable, affable, friendly, whatever. Music writers love to talk about how Los Campesinos!, and Gareth in particular are a throwback to a different, earlier era of indie rock, one based on community and collaboration rather than isolation, both personal and artistic. The band publishes a cool zine, they were brought up listening to K Records and Sarah Records, they have an active¬†blog, and there’s also the fact that there’s seven people in the band. All of this is easy to talk about, but it always sounds like critical posturing. In recent indie music criticism we have the myth of Justin Vernon going alone into the woods and producing For Emma, Forever Ago, we have currently a growing sense of ‘class warfare’ in coverage of The Black Keys’ rise to prominence, and then there’s Los Campesinos!. They’re nice. They’re fun. They sing about embarrassing things and being bulimic and self hate.

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