Actually the yous that were dancing with me to Los Campesinos! weren't you, probably, since no one I knew was anywhere near the place last night. But I couldn't help it, Los Campesinos! are just so intoxicating, and far better live than on record, like all true dance bands.
It's so easy to make a bunch of interesting noises on record these days that I hardly notice anymore. But when you have two guitars, a bass, a violin, a kid's xylophone, an ocarina, and some keyboards and drums all going at once right in front of you it's a rich and dense sound. Their strength is their strangulated-sounding front man, who bangs a single drum or the xylophone with the beat you can only get from a frantic youth's flailing natural rhythm. The beats were swinging, dancing, crazy beats, unconfined by computerized counts or mechanical tempo.
They're from Cardiff, Wales, as they remarked last night at one point, and are quite young and beautiful, though not hollywood beautiful. Gareth, the singer who does the least else, sings in a gasping, strangulated yelp that sounds like a drowning boy fighting for his last breath of air to punch out just a few more arch verses. I was fascinated to see he looked very little like I suspected he would, being a strong, fit looking kid with red hair and a pleasant face. He acted like you might think, though, rather shy and maybe even uncomfortable, preferring to sing to the band or the floor at times. He was still a dynamo, wanging on his drums and stuff, flailing around, caught up in the frenzy.
The other singer, Aleksandra, was shockingly thin - I hope not sick, though she did have plenty of energy. Her voice is a little soft for a live show but she sang well otherwise, and played keys and an ocarina.
It was ridiculously easy for them to whip up the rather jaded-looking collegiate crowd, despite the evident inhibitions preventing the cooler sort from succumbing to the bounce. Los Campesinos are very good at dynamics, since they seem to be almost consciously against any mechanical beat. Maybe you can program Pro Tools to build to a crescendo, but a real crescendo has the uncertain pulse of life in it, the barriers of machine being more rigid than the permeable osmosis of a room of people being swept away.
I knew I would find myself dancing, but the kind of wild up and down bouncing and twisting they inspire is something I don't feel hardly ever. It was almost like the old New Wave beats, a little faster than normal, a little more out of control and intoxicating. Plus what they were all playing was dense and so full of ping-ponging counterpoint and swing that it was a frenzy. Dionysius was in the house.
Not every song was killer, but they were all at least novel and interesting. Listen to their live favorite and you'll get a tiny taste of the greatness I saw last night: