Granted, the twee-leaning indie pop made by the Welsh seven-piece, Los Campesinos! might not be your cup of Earl Grey, but if you hate them there is a high probability that you might be an asshole. These kids are hater-proof. Hating them is like hating the easter bunny, or wearing coats made of greyhound, or booing people at the Special Olympics. Trust me. I interviewed them before the show Tuesday night and you probably won’t find a nicer, more self-deprecating and unpretentious band existing anywhere on earth.

The band spoke with the dazed exuberance of NCAA Tournament #15 seeds finding themselves in the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. A sort of shell shocked surrealism engendered by being in strange sunny Los Angeles, staying at a fancy hotel down the street from the Scientology Celebrity Centre, being brought complimentary platters of hummus and pita before their initial West Coast performance. It must’ve been weird.

The thing is, these guys aren’t supposed to be here. Well, technically they probably are. They’re a talented group of kids, all in their early 20’s, and they released a pretty killer first EP, Sticking Fingers in Sockets. But about a year Los Campesinos! were just a bunch of British kids away at school in Cardiff, doing what normal college kids do, drinking, studying, obsessing over music, taking gargantuan bong rips from 3-foot water pipes (maybe). One day on a whim, they decided to form a band with fame and fortune the absolute last things on their mind. Things progressed, a rough demo was cut, uploaded to Myspace and Drowned in Sound. And the next thing they knew, Los Campesinos! turned into the latest Internet’s latest darlings, called everything from the last “great indie band” to superbly crafted indie pop in practically every online music magazine.

Actual Campesinos: Huge Fans of Los Campesinos!


You get the gist, these kids are indie-to-the-core, which on paper makes them sound extraordinarily irritating. And if you listen with a cynical ear its easy to point out the possibility that Los Campesinos! may merely have stumbled onto the secret formula to winning online music crit hearts: a touch of Arcade Fire, a pinch of Architecture in Helsinki, a dash of Pavement, mixed with wry wit and a keen sense of irony . Heat. Serve.

But watching them live, any sense of resistance you have to their ADD-addled twee skronk melts away. The seven of them bash at their instruments with wiry punk-rock energy, pogo-ing across the stage in a drunken youthful stagger. Sure, they wield the by-now predictably odd array of varied instrumentation: glockenspiels, xylophones, melodicas, violin, but the thing about these guys is that they’re just trying to have fun and it’s hard not to get swept away in their sense of enthusiasm and exuberance. Of course, they do the little things right. Clever lyrics belie their inexperience, Gareth and Aleksandra Campesinos! sing some melting, gorgeous two-part harmonies and shirtless drummer Ollie Campesinos! bashes his drum kit with an electric mayhem-type abandon. Plus, they have a few really cute girls in the band and let’s be honest with ourselves, that never hurts.

On “We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives!” Gareth Campesino! sings about “a balance between pretentious and pop” with a British marble-mouthed yell. Indeed, it’s this blend of self-awareness without inhibition, intelligence without self-righteous snark that makes Los Campesinos! so likeable. They’re the underdogs and they know it, but rather than worry, they’re laughing at their miraculous fortune and just trying to have a good time. Change is good for bands. Everyone needs to evolve. But I hope that no matter how big Los Campesinos! get they maintain their sense of innocence and wonder at actually getting paid to make music for a living. Their first full-length drops on Arts and Crafts in February and it’ll be interesting to see whether or not, they’re able to build on their impressive debut. Either way, I’ll be rooting for them. Way more than that fraud the Easter Bunny.

Buy Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP

MP3: Los Campesinos!-“We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives”

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