Concert Review: Los Campesinos! at the 9:30 Club
In its vibrant return to D.C., Los Campesinos! thrills a crowded audience
After being chastised for not attending any concerts in Washington, D.C. during the three years I have spent here, I was given the opportunity to see a high school favorite, Los Campesinos!, at the famous 9:30 Club.
Shortly after arriving at the venue, indie bands Infinity Crush and Crying opened to a crowded house. The soft, somber and sad sounds of Infinity Crush were a contrast to the energetic, raw Crying. However, in many ways, the contrast was good preparation for the main event with its balance of contemplation and angst.
By the time Los Campesinos! arrived onstage, the energy of the crowd - now more fully packed - was electric. Playing a mixture of songs off its new album, “Sick Scenes,” as well as old favorites, lead singer Gareth David greeted the crowd with humor and charisma and, at times, bantered with audience members.
Near the first half of the night, the band played “By Your Hand,” a single off its fourth album, “Hello Sadness,” released in 2011. With multicolored lights and fog surrounding the band and reflecting on the audience, it was impossible not to feel jubilant.
While the audience sang along, the band members echoed the energy of their fans as they danced onstage. Later, when Los Campesinos! played “Here’s to the Fourth Time!” off the newest album, I was struck with the difference in tone and lyricism. Instead of struggling to figure out what love looks likes and feels like, the band instead grapples with the inevitability of aging and the disappointment that often comes with it.
Dancing with other members of the audience, I realized the variety of the crowd were millennials, just like me. When Los Campesinos! was formed by undergraduates at Cardiff University in 2006, I suppose they were in our shoes. However, in ten, eleven years, we’re all forced to grow up, whether we like it or not.
Returning to the angst of my high school years as LC! played “Knee Deep in ATP” and “The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future,” I was struck with the realization of how much both the band and I had changed. Even in “Avocado Baby,” off their 2013 album, the band offers a sort of cynical resignation to the questions of existence rather than pent-up angst surrounding the present and future.
In a rousing encore, the band played “You! Me! Dancing!” and the happiness of the crowd could only be described as exuberant. As I danced and sang, giving away any sense of self consciousness, the lyrics swelled within me, “even if we're undeveloped, we're ignorant; we're stupid, but we're happy.” Growing up indeed can be bittersweet, but Los Campesinos! reminded me that growth can be more sweet than bitter.