Thursday, August 9th, 2007
We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives
Welsh ragamuffin collective Los Campesinos! have had a festival-filled Summer of 2007, what with playing Glastonbury in their native UK last month and Hillside and Lollapalooza more locally and recently, so a cozy, free show at the Horseshoe on Tuesday night almost certainly qualified as a change of scenery. Based on the profile of their recent shows and their signing to local powerhouse label Arts & Crafts in North America, the curious were out in full force to see what the hubub was about, but before that they had to get through the Germans.
Hailing not from the Rhineland but right here in Hogtown, Germans recall the glory days of college rock – that’d be the early ’90s – blending the angular pop of Pavement with the hollered punk of early Superchunk and the noise squalls of Sonic Youth. Striking a near-perfect balance between undeniable melodic hookiness and discordant, in your face abrasiveness, they’re like a frosted mini wheat of indie rock goodness. Constantly swapping instruments as well as passing around parts of a second drum kit (which wasn’t superfluous at all but added huge weight to their sound), the six Germans showcased a lot of material from last year’s Cape Fear full-length and just generally rocked the house in, dare I say, blitzkrieg style? Wholly impressive. Do not fear these Germans. They’re playing a double-header on Saturday, playing the ALL CAPS! outdoor party in Dufferin Park in the afternoon (eye has more info) and the Mod Club that evening opening up for The Wombats . And also check out the video for “I Am The Teacher” below – also the awesome.
It’s easy to have preconceptions about what a seven-piece, co-ed band of youngsters whose band name includes a mandatory exclamation mark and who, furthermore, have all taken on said exclamation as their surname sounds like. And in Los Camposinos!’ case, those broad strokes are fairly bang on but don’t tell the whole story. Yes, they’re ridiculously cute and energetic and their sound is awash in instrumentation, shoutalongs and hand claps, but beneath the surface it’s not at all random or chaotic – I was pretty impressed at how tight and meticulously arranged all the parts and vocals in their songs were. There is a real method and skill to their madness. Lead Campesino! Gareth’s voice and singing style is a little too frantic and histrionic for my tastes and reminds me more than a bit of Kevin Barnes but that’s me – those attributes might well sell him to someone else.
With only a six-song EP to their name, the band presumably interjected some new material amidst the songs from Sticking Fingers Into Sockets, a Pavement cover and profuse thanks to everyone in attendance for showing up. Regardless of how you feel about their style of sugar-buzz, kitchen sink pop – and I’m a little worn out on the style, nothing personal – it was hard to dislike these kids, so cute, bright-eyed and earnest they were. But I suspect they’re best enjoyed in EP-sized dose -a full-length might well be too hazardous to someone’s health.
Photos: Los Campesinos!, Germans @ The Horseshoe – August 7, 2007
MP3: Los Campesinos! – “Don’t Tell Me To Do The Maths”
MP3: Los Campesinos! – “We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives”
MP3: Germans – “I Am The Teacher”
MP3: Germans – “Tiger Vacuum Bottle”
Video: Los Campesinos! – “We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives” (YouTube)
Video: Los Campesinos! – “You! Me! Dancing!” (YouTube)
Video: Germans – “I Am The Teacher” (YouTube)
MySpace: Los Campesinos!
NPR has got a World Cafe session with Great Lake Swimmers available to stream. Chart also reports that the band is soliciting travel video clips from fans for use in a video for the band’s “Passenger Song”, the next single from Ongiara. They’re back home for a show at the Phoenix on September 29 with Ohbijou as support. The Toronto Star has a profile of Ohbijou, who are playing a free show at Harbourfront Centre tomorrow night.
Shows? Sure. Marissa Nadler’s September 7 show has been moved from the Tranzac to Sneaky Dee’s and will no longer be an early gig. Booking issues, dontcha know. Also, Carolyn Mark is at the Tranzac on September 28, Regina Spektor is in town for a show at the Kool Haus on October 11, electronic act UNKLE tries to translate to a live performance October 19 at Lee’s Palace, Enon at Sneaky Dee’s on October 22 and Portland’s Thermals are at the Horseshoe on October 27.
Anyone need or got a lift to Kingston for Wolfe Island this weekend? Drop me a line.