Live: Los Campesinos! Break Post-Valentine’s Day Hearts at Bowery Ballroom


Los Campesinos
Bowery Ballroom
February 15

On Sunday, the second of their two-night, sold-out stand at the Bowery Ballroom, Los Campesinos! played their parts. The Welsh seven-piece, who look like they just walked off the cover of Dear Catastrophe Waitress, sing songs about girls with coffee breath and their lack of use for Calvin Johnson; they cover early Pavement nuggets, and suggest, by way of diffident haircuts and a certain useful enthusiasm, a genre all of their own: tweemo, by way of musket and sextant.

For anyone who threw up a brick on Valentine’s day, Los Campesinos! were here to tell you that you weren’t alone. When Gareth Campesino, lead singer and glockenspiel attacker (capable, he boasted, of some “avant-garde shit”) asked if anyone had been dumped on Cupid’s big day, he seemed almost hopeful that someone would step forward. (Oddly–for a room full of people clearly ready to have their hearts broken–no one did.) Their music, on record, is a cacophony full of nice touches. Guitars, fangs showing, go up against cutie-pie keyboards and strings. Gareth has a shout about crying on bathroom floors; Aleksandra Campesinos corroborates the tale, or gives the other side of the story, depending on the song.

Despite the Campesinos’ penchant for heartache, they certainly enjoyed themselves. Though the band had apparently suffered an equipment meltdown the previous night, things moved at a smoother pace on Sunday, as the septet darted through their two 2008 albums, Hold On Now, Youngster and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, dedicating the latter’s “Miserabilia” to a “Cat Power circa 1995” and interpolating Pavement’s “Box Elder” into the beginning of “You! Me! Dancing!”

After a having a good moan about losing his passport and the ensuing apparent indifference of the New York Police Chief to his plight, Gareth Campesinos led his band to an increasingly energetic finale (featuring a stage-diving performance of “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks”). You didn’t exactly marvel at the young singer’s announcement that he would attempt to inhabit his 18-year-old self to play their early “We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives.” He had been acting like that all night.–Chris Ryan

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