Some are shivering, in equal parts from anticipation and cold, some studying the graffitied bricks and others simply talking when we eventually traipse into the Cockpit. The atmosphere offered is tangible: a preconceived notion of teen rebellion is evident as adolescents with borrowed IDs relish buying alcohol and surreptitiously adjust their denim jackets in the hopes of looking like they are supposed to be here.
Joanna Gruesome, Los Campesinos!’s support act, are met by only a small yet animated crowd when they begin their set. Unfortunately, technical difficulties meant lead singer Alanna McArdle was drowned out by the fresh talent on guitar and bass. A band in its early stages, they did well to match the energy seeping through the doors as the audience grew. In the crowd, Los Campesinos!’s frontman and lead singer, Gareth Campesinos!, could be seen blissfully singing along.
Taking the stage to raucous applause and screams the Los Campesinos! family, after six years of performing, are a cohesive machine with a fan-base to prove their age and undying devotion, filling the venue close to its capacity. Beginning their set with ‘As Lucerne/ The Low’ from their new album No Blues (only released this October) was perhaps a brave move, but by the second song, ‘By Your Hand,’ a favourite with all, the crowd were led into throes of ecstasy that were prolonged throughout all their signature songs; from ‘Death to Los Campesinos!’ to ‘Songs About Your Girlfriend’ to the single that was largely responsible for their recognition, ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ It is clear the Welsh-formed band are familiar and comfortable performing live, gently shoving crowd-surfers away from the front of the stage without losing their cool and playing their last song, ‘Baby I Got The Death Rattle,’ with a choreographed performance, their backs to us.
Songs were fragmented with brief comments from lead singer Gareth, or else the occasional anecdote. His consistent thanking of the audience after almost every song revealed that this is a band not completely sure of how they acquired such a wealth of young adoration, but are entirely grateful for it. Los Camp were remarkably good live, not only technically, but in engaging emotionally with their material, directly at the mercy of a live audience.
My friend remarked mid-way through the set that they were, ‘still pretty much a failed band.’ ‘Failed,’ perhaps, in that commercial success has not been reached, but just the number of individuals who stood ears and hearts ablaze from beginning to end, is testament to a band that can, quite plainly, never ‘fail.’By Nadia Husen