Published on January 31st, 2012 | by Shelby Mongan
Los Campesinos! with Parenthetical Girls @ Metro – 1/27/2012
The first birthday I had as a resident of Chicago was celebrated with tickets to see a band that I had just started listening to at a place I had never seen before. I was hooked on the music and the venue almost instantly. Fast forward two years and I was back at the Metro in Wrigleyville to see Los Campesinos! again. The Cardiff-based seven piece band are currently touring behind their newest album, Hello Sadness. Between a solid record, the fuel from lead singer Gareth’s break up with twee darling Rebecca Taylor (from Slow Club), and a band that is known for energetic live performances, the Friday night show promised to be something special.
Before LC! took the stage, I was treated to Parenthetical Girls as an opener. I had never heard of the band before that night, let alone listened to them, so I didn’t know what to expect. The band is inevitably from Portland and has been making music for about eight years. Their music was the perfect experimental indie pop appetizer to LC!, but I would have just as easly loved them as a main course. A nice touch to the set was the screen hung behind the band playing vague clips from various movies and videos. Vocalist Zac Pennington played the engaging frontman with a tendency for jaunts into the crowd. I found myself laughing along with his stage banter, a trait not necessarily required but certainly appreciated. All in all, I was quite impressed but not surprised to see a solid set from a seasoned band.
After a minor fan girl moment (in which lead singer Gareth stood behind me for the tail end of Parenthetical Girls‘ set and I got so starstruck that I all but literally ran away to shoot from the opposite side of the balcony), Los Campesinos! took the stage. I think it’s interesting here to note the crowd at Metro. Rarely do you see a show with such a stark difference between the crowds of attendees. It was a strange mix of the kind of high school sophomores that I would have killed to be when I was a tween, and 20-somethings — most a few years older than me — who appeared to be just tolerating the younger crowd. Such is the environment of an all ages show of this sort. Still, age differences aside, everyone there absolutely loved the band. There was a palpable energy of a great love for the music that night, not just for the new songs but for the entire LC! catalogue. It’s those sort of shows, populated by rabid and devoted fans, that become the favorites of bands and fans alike.
During his banter, Zac Pennington pegged headlining Los Campesinos! as being a band of quaint
people, thanks in large part to their accents. On stage, though, LC! is anything but quaint. Even the slowest and most poignant of their songs are emphatic and full-bodied. There isn’t joy in their performance so much as there is energy. Each lyric is sung with as much emotion as it had when it was first written. It also doesn’t hurt that their catalogue as a whole, especially as their live staples, are characteristically danceable.
I for one was surprised slightly by their set list. I’ve become accustom to bands playing mostly new songs, with a few old favorites thrown in. While Campesinos’s set wasn’t exactly half and half, it did feel like there were a large amount of old songs being played. This would normally frustrate me, especially with as much love as I have for the new release. Instead, hearing many of my old favorites was like snuggling into a perfectly worn-in sweatshirt before dancing the night away. And I don’t care who’s complaining, Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks is still a perfect closer.
I can’t possibly offer any complaints. This is a seasoned band playing the energetic show that they’re known for, delivering to the surprise of no one. My favorite part of the show, of course having nothing to do with the music, was seeing a jackass in a Scooby Doo costume crowd surf onto stage and spend too much time dancing before getting kicked off. It would have been just an amusing anecdote, had Gareth not torn him to shreds and trashed him to the audience in between songs, saying he must have seriously low self-esteem. Gareth ain’t gonna take no shenanigans, apparently.