Los Campesinos! revisit their 2008 debut through a lens of survival and celebration | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Los Campesinos! revisit their 2008 debut through a lens of survival and celebration


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“Four sweaty boys with guitars tell me nothing about my life,” smirks vocalist Gareth David, aka Gareth Campesinos! of Los Campesinos!, on “ . . . And We Exhale and Roll Our Eyes in Unison,” from the band’s 2008 debut, Hold on Now, Youngster. The song was a straight shot at the stereotypes of indie-music fans at the time. While other MySpace-era acts have since devolved into self-parody, LC! actually started off that way but evolved into a more serious seven-piece band. They’ll assemble their Thalia Hall set list from that 2008 album, and they’ve already addressed the strangeness of revisiting the emotional space of songs they wrote in their early 20s a decade later with a sense of humor; at a recent show in London, they took the stage to the theme song of pro-wrestling stable D-Generation X (a way-past-their-time act composed of men in their near 50s still trotting out crotch chops like it’s 1998). Since their debut, LC! have slowed down their style; over six albums they’ve changed from abundantly exuberant twee poppers to earnest, reserved, elder indie-rock statespeople (albeit statespeople who are wryly obsessed with both death and soccer metaphors). With any luck, at tonight’s show they’ll squeeze in some songs from last year’s Sick Scenes, a triumph of a record that found David openly musing about the impact of mental illness. And when he sings, “Another blister pack pops, but I still feel much the same / Thirty-one, and depression is a young man’s game,” on “5 Flucloxacillin,” he firmly draws a line between LC!’s youthful heartsickness and the realities of adulthood, where finding relief from such ailments can feel insurmountable when one is contending with insufficient health-care options and policies dreamed up by greedy politicians. It’s all a far cry from name-dropping K Records on Hold On’s “Knee Deep at ATP,” but their continual growth makes this tour seem like a celebration of surviving this long instead of a cynical attempt to cash in on nostalgia.   v

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