Thursday, January 23, 2014

Los Campesinos! @ Irving Plaza

Los Campesinos!; Speedy Ortiz
@ Irving Plaza
New York, NY - January 22, 2014

The Cardiff-based platoon known as Los Campesinos! are making a quick jaunt through a few American cities before they head back to their day jobs in the UK. With crowd reaction at fever pitch in a venue such as Irving Plaza, one is surprised that such a band would still require real work but if that's really the case, then that's how it is in rock n roll these days and in a way that's sort of cool. In fact I hope they all have jobs with the civil service!

The enthusiasm for the band makes sense. The deranged-happiness of Los Campesinos! music mixed with their frequently serious lyrics has all the markings of a big time deal. They've been around long enough now that they should be this big if not bigger. From the first time I heard "You! Me! Dancing!" (not surprisingly the punk-dance-stadium-blockbuster hit of the night), there were inklings this band could outlast their peers from both sides of the Atlantic. When "By Your Hand" came around a few years later, there were signs the band was making a progression into other modes of moods and it paid off (and as the second song of the night, it set the tone for the back-and-forth, give-and-take style of the songs played). And now with "What Death Leaves Behind" (which really set the crowd going, indicating the band's recent release, No Blues, might prove to be "the breakthrough record" but you never know with these things), the band is a full fledged musical monster. "What Death Leaves Behind" is very pop, exactly the kind of good version of what kids and overgrown kids like to make Top 10 Hot 100 hits out of, though it is usually cruddier stuff than this. This song is a work of pop art. Equal parts serious and escapist, the band's essence all in one song. And in this live setting, it came off as a rocker, another boost to its credibility.

Speedy Ortiz work from the school of 90's alternative. Pixies personified. Raw Superchunk. It is also completely accessible. Their love of middling network television, however, I cannot acccount for.


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