Los Campesinos! carry the rare distinction of bearing a name that can elicit looks of confusion when dropped in conversation during, say, your morning Uber pool ride, but put that name on a marquee and it fills rock clubs.
Indeed, the Cardiff-spawned indie rockers in the last 20 days have seen sell-out crowds in Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Toronto. Tonight’s show in Brooklyn? Sold out, too. The tour climaxes tomorrow (March 11) at Boston’s storied Paradise Rock Club.
“Boston being the last night of tour, we’ll have to ensure we expend every last bit of adrenaline,” fronter Gareth Paisley tells Vanyaland Thursday.
The strong reception for the live dates, not to mention the septet’s triumphant recent LP Sick Scenes, is a pleasant surprise for the band, which is now in its 11th year and whose last American tour was an increasingly remote five years ago. Paisley admitted the veteran band had harbored doubts.
“There was a long period of time where we weren’t sure if people would be excited for more Los Campesinos!,” he says, “but from the moment we took the plunge to make a new album, and the subsequent touring announcements, the enthusiasm… has really reaffirmed what this band means to us, and evidently to a lot more people.”
He explained to Bandcamp last month that his lyrics for the new record — the band’s sixth — document “the confused no-man’s land of growing older,” particularly in the context of his ongoing mental health concerns. “31 and depression feels like a young man’s game,” Paisley sings in the album’s appealing, mid-tempo swayer “5 Flucloxacillin.”
That’s not exactly the sort of stuff that is a lead-pipe cinch to sell out ticket inventories, but there has always been more exhilaration than exorcism to a Los Campesinos! live show. Paisley feels fortunate to be able to see his scrutable, honest lyrics resonate with fans, and thrills to the spectacle of audiences shouting them back to the stage.
“I think the hyper-specificity of our lyrics is what connects with a lot of people,” Paisley says. “I don’t think many bands sing with the openness, honesty and detail that we do.”
He calls audience reaction to the new material “overwhelmingly positive,” and listens to the new album provide evidence as to why. A four-year break between recording Sick Scenes and its predecessor, No Blues, gave the band an opportunity to come to the new album refreshed, and as a result the set feels particularly agile and light. Uptempo pogo anthems including the back-to-back album highlights “Sad Suppers” and “I Broke Up In Amarante” betray nothing that suggests the band’s vitality is flagging. And Paisley’s characteristic wit and woes — expressed in a bracing bouillabaisse of relationship failings, depression and soccer metaphors — are as compelling as ever.
Sick Scenes was financed in part through the surprisingly brisk sale of commemorative soccer-styled band jerseys Los Campesinos! sold to mark its 10th anniversary (they had aimed to sell 100, but ended up moving that number in jerseys 10 times over). The record has given the band its second highest UK chart position, a respectable 83 in its first week according to Wikipedia. The band returns to the U.K. after the Boston show to prepare for a strand of eight dates there at the end of April.
Los Campesinos! have been raising money for Planned Parenthood during the U.S. tour, so bring some extra bucks to help them help all of us. Bit-tune/emo upstarts Crying, which released the terrific and buoyant LP Beyond The Fleeting Gales on Boston’s Run For Cover Records last year, open the show.
LOS CAMPESINOS! + CRYING :: Saturday, March 31 at the Paradise Rock Club, 967 Commonwealth Ave in Boston, MA :: 7 p.m., all ages, $20 :: Advance tickets :: Facebook event page :: Featured photo by Owen Richards