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Transmission
« Phish Bringing the Freak Show to the Circus? Review: Jack's Mannequin @ HOB, 1/25 »

Concert Sat Jan 28 2012

Review/Photos: Los Campesinos! with Parenthetical Girls @ Metro 1/27/12

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Somewhere between the time this reviewer saw Los Campesinos! at Lollapalooza play a side stage in the middle of the afternoon in 2007 and last night, the band seemed to have gain a much rougher crowd. Though their songs haven't gotten all that rougher, their pop songs with an edge now inspire moshing and crowd surfing, which seemed just as jarring as it was unlikely for fans who just wanted to hear the songs.

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On a better note, the sold out crowd was so into it they were singing every word with emphasis/crescendos where it mattered, softer tones for more delicate ballad like spots and spontaneous mass clapping where the songs called for it with a push. If you've ever been to a show where the band has to cue the audience to join in the fun with hands and singing, you'll realize quickly that it's either a dud audience or a dud band. There were none of these cues needed for Los Campesinos! however, because the fans knew the songs cold and were singing them with a passion indicative of years of growth with songs, even though there was just as much love for the newer songs from the fourth full length from 2011, Hello Sadness, than there was for some of the older tracks. (Full setlist can be viewed here)


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The band itself is quite accomplished in their playing, though lead singer Gareth Paisey seemed slightly less animated than in years past. Probably the funniest moment was when he expressed appreciation of the crowd love but reminded people to be careful when moving about. To be honest, seeing the band live and hearing their records can be great fun but even when they are singing "Songs About Your Girlfriend" or how "Romance is Boring", it makes you wonder how fellow Welsh band Joy Formidable was able to pull off an even stronger sound with less than half the members (Los Campesinos! has 7 with Joy Formidable having only 3). There is a great deal of skill in coordinating all of the different musical elements in the songs but at the same time, their sound is much less astounding overall and their performance, though great compared to many bands, was lacking to the one Joy Formidable put on 12/14/11 at The Metro as well.

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In some ways, it's also possible that Gareth Paisey also merely seemed less animated when compared to lead singer Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls who played in front of projected visuals of Andy Warhol screen shots and assorted old film stills. The four piece plays visceral pop with a delicate vigor in a way that only a band who covers The Smiths and numbers their EPs with their own blood could be capable of. The band has gone through some changes with some lineup changes (most notably with Rachael Jensen leaving) but the band seems to have fully recovered in a way that makes you realize as long as Pennington is involved, the songs will work live and on record. He caressed his mic like a maniac, danced with the crowd in a constant enchantment and sang lyrics that seem so utterly personal they couldn't possibly be as catchy as they sounded.

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Pennington talked about his bit part in Portlandia, meeting two cats named after Twin Peaks characters, and how quaint Los Campesinos! are but mainly in his 45 minutes on stage, he impressed the very young crowd with his sense of timing and oddness that somehow makes you feel like all of the abnormal things about you are okay. In a slight way, Pennington's stage demeanor is a little like a much more subtle Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal except there's something more real and vital in Parenthetical Girls, a little less like a concept and a show and more like a way of presenting inner turmoil in a way one somehow can dance to. Though they've always had a small devoted following, they really do deserve a larger fan base for all of their talent. Highlights of the set included "A Song for Ellie Greenwich" "Entitlements" "Careful Who You Dance With" and "Stolen Children" though their cover of "Handsome Devil" is always quite a gem.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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