Amazingly, with all the gigs I go to, Koko was yet another music venue I had never frequented (but will be doing so a number of times in the coming months) and now seemed as good a time as any to break my Koko duck having not seen Los Campesinos live for almost 18 months on the ‘Shred Yr Face’ tour in 2008. So long ago, in fact, that that gig actually pre-dates the conception of this blog. On top of that, a group of old work colleagues were all making the trip to Camden for this one so the scene was set for a good night.
After meeting up with said friends, we headed to the venue a little after the doors opened and got in surprisingly easily. The floorhad already been pretty much filled by this point though so we headed up onto one of the numerous balconies that Koko affords and managed to nab ourselves a pretty neat spot. This was one of the things that surprised me about Koko; it didn’t seem the biggest venue in the world to start with but had a good few levels that weren’t too far from the stage at all so it was easy to get a good viewing spot.
As we arrived a little late, the first support band of the night, Islet. These were an odd little band as the four of them flitted between the instruments on stage to give each song a quite different feel. For some of these, it worked really well but for others it’s fair to say that it didn’t. They had a bit of a Dananananaykroyd feel at times I thought and this was even more true when one of their songs saw two of the band take up positions behind drumkits. The vocals were what spoilt their sound at times though with some odd noises and unnecessary shouty vocals at times. I thought they were okay for an opener until their last song which was fantastic with the entire band playing a various assortment of drums and percussion which sounded amazing. A very strong finish to their set.
Next up on stage were the twosome going by the name of Swanton Bombs with just a drummer and singer/guitarist which bought the inevitable White Stripes comparisons from the guys I was with. This was a fair comparison on the one hand as they played a similar all out rock sound interspersed with a bit of blues but on the other, it’s very unfair to ever compare someone to Jack White and his guitar playing. That said, they more than hold their own. The drumming was top notch and the guitar work was pretty darn good as well with the vocals from both guys complimenting this sound really well. Overall, I really liked their frantic sound and may have to look into getting hold of a copy of their album..
So it was finally time for the main act of Los Campesinos to fill the stage, entering the venue to raptuous applause before launching straight into ‘I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed. Just So You Know’, with Gareth instantly showing how good a frontman he’s become bounding around the stage, and this was instantly followed up by the huge ‘Death To Los Campesinos!’ which got whatever remnants of the crowd weren’t already dancing to get bouncing along too.
The sound from the band in the venue was absolutely spot on on the night with crystal clear vocals and all the instruments levels being at near perfect levels so there was absolutely nothing there to spoil their sound. The set itself was a perfect mix of their older material as well as the new stuff. Only a few songs of ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ got an airing thankfully (with that album not being a favourite of mine) with the best songs in ‘Miserabilia’ and the title track getting played.
Of the rest, I can’t really think of a song I would have liked to have heard them play that they didn’t (EDIT: that’s a lie, ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ was the only extra song I’d like to have heard). ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ never fails to get the crowd going when played live and it’s a good job that most of the crowd were in their skinny jean otherwise their choice of trouser may have fallen down with the amount of jumping and dancing going on. The newer songs, such as ‘Romance Is Boring’ and ‘This Is A Flag. There Is No Wind’ slotting in alongside the old tracks flawlessly.
While off stage the crowd were going mental, even up on the balcony where I was, on stage the band were great too. Gareth leapt and bound around the stage like a man possessed, occassionally throwing himself to his knees or joining in with the drumming. Meanwhile the rest of the band got on with their job and played a blinder. There was even time for a bit of chat with the crowd over Gareth’s despair of missing out on the ‘Best Band Blog’ award at the NME awards the week before.
The best was most certainly saved to last with the setlist though with ‘The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future’ being the penultimate song of the night. As I mentioned in my review of the album, I think this is one of their finest moments to date and sounded great live with the contrast in Gareth’s vocal between the quiet and shouty lines working really well. But to finish was my favourite song of theirs in ‘Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks’ with it’s frantic pace and fantastic singalong sections. The bands made the most of it with some trips into the crowd with Gareth getting lost under the swamp of fans at one point before being rescued by security.
And we were even treated to a brief encore with ‘This Is How You Spell “HAHAHA, We Destroyed The Hopes And Dreams Of A Generation Of Faux Romantics” ‘ and ‘Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats’ which rounded the night off brilliantly.
I was amazed at how far the band seemed to have come since the last time I saw them. Every song sounded great and the new material more than holds it’s own against the older stuff. At one point Gareth thanked the crowd for their support and said that he hoped none of the band would ever have to get real jobs again. Based on this performance he has nothing to worry about.
Los Campesinos! – The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future (live)
Los Campesinos! – Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks (live)
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