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On record, Los Campesinos! is a shambling, sarcastic, indie-pop mess, perennially stuffing too many words, delivered in a thick brogue, into too little space - always sounding on the verge of utter disintegration. Live, this formula could be a recipe for utter disaster and drive a band completely off the rails. What Los Campesinos! delivered instead was a well-oiled rock show that went off like a keg party at the end of the world.

With seven musicians onstage their brand of cacophonous indie-rock noise might easily end up muddled and cluttered. Instead, each of the musicians plays a specific role, melding in just the right sound while no two players take the lead at the same time - every note serving to support Gareth's lyrical delivery, which is the key to the Los Campesinos! sound. The band was so tight and their sound so well engineered that, when during certain songs Gareth stepped back from the mic in order to tap off a few notes on the glockenspiel, they were clear as a bell, even in the midst of a full-on rock song.

For a band thats lyrics delve deeply into self-loathing, awkward social situations, and loneliness (always with a biting sardonic edge) Los Campesinos! proved an upbeat, downright happy group of mates. The show was a celebration of awkwardness - band and audience reveling in their collective weirdness; the audience and dance floor a perpetual, pogoing party. With everyone dancing, clapping and singing in unison, the audience's adoration was constantly apparent as its collective supporting vocals often rivaled, even overpowered, Gareth in a way that only added to the atmosphere of utter abandon. At times it felt like a giant band practice - everyone partying, drinking and dancing with pals.

Playing in support of their recently released Hello Sadness, Los Campesinos! also peppered the set with fan favorites from each of their previous releases. In an odd twist, the newer Hello Sadness tracks elicited nearly as much adoration as their older "hits". Amazingly, much of the crowd was able to sing along with the new tracks as though they'd been in circulation for years.

There was much excitement amongst the band members, as this was the night of the airing of their performance on Late Night With David Letterman. There was much stage banter about their experience at the show's taping in New York the previous day and the tour scheduling changes required to enable them to make the taping. After pulling out all the stops and delivering a legendary performance they had a sympathetic crowd as they left the stage with little fanfare after a short encore in order to catch the "Letterman" performance from the dressing room.

-George Dow

Los Campesinos!
January 20, 2012
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA

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