Tooting Tram & Social – July 17th
Los Campesinos!’s old-school, DIY ethos couldn’t be reflected more accurately than in the choice of venue for tonight’s show. Seeing as it literally has no stage, we’re guessing the Tooting Tram & Social isn’t particularly accustomed to hosting gigs of this magnitude. The place is rammed, it’s the hottest day of the year so far, there’s no air-conditioning, and support band Playlounge might have just blown up one of the PA speakers during their blisteringly paced warm-up slot (either that, or we’ve gone partially deaf due to their eardrum-bursting decibel level).
It’s all a bit rough and ready, but frankly, the show is all the better for it. When Los Campesinos! take the stage/floor (they’re essentially at eye-level and can only be seen by constantly standing on tip-toes) with opener ‘No Blues’, they sound curiously disparate compared to recent shows. Their latest long player has seen them opt for a more epic, anthemic, festival sing-along feel, full of huge, swelling ambience and a clarity not before seen on their records. However, tonight, the slightly weak PA gives their sound a decidedly lo-fi tinge, with hints of distortion and warmth permeating through every note; and it bloody well suits them.
It’s not as ‘No Blues’ heavy a set as most were possibly expecting, with plenty of old mainstays thrown in for good measure. ‘Romance Is Boring’, ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’, and ‘Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks’ are all met with euphoric approval from the sweltering and sweat-drenched die-hards, and new numbers ‘For Flotsam’, ‘Avocado Baby!’ and ‘Cemetary Gaits’ are given new life thanks to the slightly shoddy but unintentionally awesome sound here at Tooting Tram & Social.
It all combines to create this strange, pseudo-house party sort of atmosphere. A massive house party with your mates’ amazing band playing in the corner of the room. It’s messy, it’s sweaty, it’s a bit unprofessional. It’s fun, basically. And, at this stage in Los Campesinos!’s career, that’s exactly what they’re trying to do too. Singer Gareth ends the night with a moving comment emphasising what a show like this means to them now. ‘We all have other jobs now, so we don’t see each other very often’ he says, ‘so being able to get together with your mates again and play a show means so much to us now.’ Let’s hope there’s plenty more to come.