Los Campesinos! at Arts Club (27 Apr ’17)

A return to the Arts Club for Los Campesinos!, who I had seen once before, at the O2 Academy 2 in March 2012, a couple of years before I started this blog.

That time had been part of a tour in support of fourth album Hello Sadness, with their sixth long player Sick Scenes having come out earlier this year.

Somehow I had managed to miss out on picking up the new record ahead of this gig, which is unusual for me, but I was able to give it a couple of spins online so at least I vaguely recognised some of the new songs.

Prior to the gig, I only actually owned three of their records, the first two from 2008 and 2011’s Hello Sadness, so there were quite a few numbers played that I was not all that aware of. In fact, only six tunes of the nineteen came from the albums in my collection.

They’ve been ‘tarred’ with the twee brush by many, but there’s nothing wrong with that In my opinion. You can certainly compare them with the likes of The Pastels, Art Brut and Camera Obscura.

I just had enough time to head to The Dispensary for a suitably enjoyable pint of Jarl before going to the Arts Club in sufficient time to check out the merchandise stall before support act Sløtface came on.

Sløtface

Their name used to be (and is still pronounced) Slutface, something that may well limit their potential audience.

They kicked off with the vaguely punky pop Try off forthcoming debut album Try Not To Freak Out, due in September, and I was immediately reminded of the likes of Joy Zipper and Veruca Salt.

One of my favourites was Empire Records, title track to an ep from last year, while the music got more varied with the Talking Heads-funky Bright Lights.

They looked a pretty geeky bunch, apart from the pogoing Gwen Stefani-esque American-accented singer Haley Shea. Guitarist Tor-Arne Vikingstad innovated with the use of a mike stand instead of a bottle for some slide work on Nancy Drew.

Haley Shea

The rest of the band is Lasse Lokøy on bass and drummer Halvard Skeie Wiencke.

Overall, they sounded like a band to look out for, although none of the musicians really stood out from the music, with Haley clearly the star of the show. New single Magazine was sadly one of the least inspiring tunes to these ears, but I shall keep them open when their album is released later this year.

The set ended with the bordering-on-anthemic Shave My Head, leaving much of the crowd enthused.

After the usual short break, it was time for Los Campesinos!, who emerged to Early Whitney by WHY?.

They kicked off with Renato Dall’Ara from the new album, with the set jumping around across their history as new numbers were scattered in amongst old favourites.

Highlights from the new numbers for me were 5 Flucloxacillin and especially A Slow, Slow Death, which was introduced by lead singer Gareth David in a self-deprecating manner, suggesting it wasn’t likely to be a big crowd pleaser. Well, it certainly pleased me.

Los Campesinos!

The audience was quite young, with a very large number of them singing along to pretty much every word, not just those down the front but all over the venue. Curiously though, there was far less dancing or moving around than at a typical gig.

You can check out the band’s set-list by looking at the Spotify playlist at the bottom of this article. One notable thing about them is their often great song titles (a bit like early The Wedding Present, The Smiths or, in a totally different way, The Fall).

For the uninitiated, examples are Cemetery Gaits (one for the Smiths fans), Knee Deep At ATP and Straight In At 101.

Los Campesinos!

After the usual brief time off stage, they returned with my (and many others, no doubt) favourite Los Campesinos! song, You! Me! Dancing! from their debut album. I enjoyed this from over at the side by the bar, where Sløtface’s singer Haley Shea was dancing away to it as well.

After an audience vote, they closed with I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know off Romance Is Boring, not a song I knew, which beat out We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’s Miserabilia. A good end to the evening’s music.

I was handily positioned to the side of the stage by this time, so joined the front of a rapidly-lengthening queue to snap up a copy of Sick Scenes from main man Gareth, a very nice man. It’s a fine addition to their canon, having subsequently had the chance to listen to it properly (rather than just online). I may have to plug the holes in my collection sooner rather than later!

Tonight’s t-shirt

I wore my yellow Go-Betweens tee, fellow indie pop heavy hitters. There were a fair few band t-shirts in evidence, but the only ones I could identify (apart from those of the headliners) were Fish Tank and Sonic Youth.

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Playlist

Here is some of the music from the night on Spotify:

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