By Maija Gustin – London
| Friday, February 11, 2011
If you’ve never heard the dizzyingly upbeat and eclectically electric sounds of British band Los Campesinos! (and you probably have – their hit “You! Me! Dancing!” is in a new Budweiser commercial), you may want to consider changing that immediately. I saw them live at Lollapalooza in 2009 and the pure exuberance of their songs came through even better in person.
Imagine my giddy excitement when I learned that Los Campesinos! would be playing a London show just a few tube stops away from my flat. Sure, I’d seen them before, but they were amazing and with a host of new songs from their most recent album, “Romance is Boring,” I was ready for more.
I didn’t know if I should expect something different at a London concert than an American one. When I got to the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire theatre, I was hardly surprised to see a mostly teenaged and young-20-something crowd, albeit holding more drinks than one might see at an American concert. (Many would regret that decision later on). The theatre looked like almost any American one, with a large proscenium stage and an expansive floor space in front.
Opening band Grouplove, which I’d never heard of, were actually really good. I may be biased because I caught the drummer’s broken drumstick that nearly speared my right eyeball, but I really enjoyed their set. It was lively and their songs were pretty catchy. Follow-up band Summer Camp was disappointing in comparison. The best word to describe their set would have to be just plain boring.
It was all right, though, because Los Campesinos! more than made up for any subpar performance by Summer Camp. Until now, the concert atmosphere had been much the same as you would find in America, including the mandatory obnoxious, disruptive, slightly intoxicated audience member who insisted on bumping into me as he “danced” to the slow songs of Summer Camp.
Los Campesinos! brought out the U.K. style in the London concertgoers. One always expects in America a lot of jumping around at a concert like Los Campesinos!, and even some boys trying to mosh, even though they always fail. However, it seems that in London, everyone pushes around. I was quite literally swaying back and forth across the theatre floor for the entire hour-plus set, jumping at times, fighting to keep my feet on the ground at others.
Normally, this would irritate me to no end. Why are you trying to ruin my concert experience by making me focus on not getting pulled under or knocked over the head by a rogue elbow? However, this was not the somewhat-violent and aggressive pushing and pulling of an American concert. Rather, everyone in the crowd was just so happy to be there, so happy to get caught up in this amazing music, that they couldn’t help but jump around. And I was one of them. Suddenly, twirpy little boys trying to mosh turned into a crowd of hundreds just wanting to jump and dance to the music, and the vibe was infectious. I can safely say that that was one of the greatest concert-going experiences I’ve ever had, and I would relive it again in a heartbeat.
Los Campesinos! is better in their home of the U.K. Or, maybe the crowd was just better so my perspective is now skewed. Either way, the British know how to throw a good concert, and we Americans could take a few lessons from our neighbors across the pond. Concerts should be fun, and should be almost other-wordly when they are good. If your neighbor hates you because you keep shoving her for no apparent reason, you’re doing a serious disservice to yourself and to everyone in the room. Have fun, let those around you have fun, and you are guaranteed an incredible experience.