Monday, June 2, 2008

...when is this f'n show going to start?!

Wed 28 May – Los Campesinos!

I travel a great deal for my job. Typically it is meetings all day followed by working dinners or catch up work in the hotel at night. Sometimes I get a chance to do something fun in the evenings.

So, I get called up to Minneapolis and a quick search shows me that Los Campesinos! are playing at the Varsity Theater in the Dinkytown section of Minneapolis. A call to the box office confirms that there are tix available, the doors are at 8:00 and the show will start at 8:45. I had heard reviews of the Los Campesinos! SXSW performance and their latest album and I was really looking forward to this.


I love the chance to see bands that I have not seen. I really like this when I do not have their albums and my first experience hearing them is live. This is a real excitement for me. In the past I have been lucky enough to see Drive-By Truckers, Centro-matic, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and a few others in settings just like this. So, this was going to be another great opportunity just like those.

The Varsity Theater is a really nice venue. It was an older building with open seating/standing. Around the room there were raised couches and chairs almost like small island living rooms and the middle of the floor was wide open.

Quickly on the bands, Jeffrey Lewis and the Jitters were the opening band. I had never heard of them until they announced their name at the start of their set. They are akin to Kimya Dawson but with a male voice and drums. I would suggest if you like Kimya Dawson you would like this group.

Los Campesinos! were a great big group with dueling guitars, a tight rhythm section, a violinist, and pair of lead singers who trade off leads, keyboards and glockenspiels. The sound was a non stop onslaught which included great hooks, danceable beats, noise, distortion, hand claps, and sing-along choruses. The sound in the room was decent, but it struck me that the mixing engineer may have been struggling either with the room or with the number of instruments he had to control. It was not bad sound, but it was not great sound (especially for a room that appeared very manageable.)

Did I love it? No. Was it interesting? Yes. Will I buy the album? Yet to be determined.

So, where did this all break down? How did this picture perfect opportunity to become their next big fan not work out?

Simple. The opening band started after 10:00pm. By the time Los Campensinos! took the stage it was after 11:00. The room was no more filled at 10:00 or 11:00 than it was at 8:30.

I know I am old. I also understand that I am not included in any demographic a new indie band may target. Perhaps the target demographic wakes midday and does not go to work or class until 3:00pm. That is all fine. It just seems odd, that when all of the band members are there, that they would choose to have their audience stand around for 90-120 minutes waiting for them to take the stage. I felt a little disrespected. I was waiting for a band to start a concert, not for a child to be born or my transmission to be rebuilt. What is the sense in keeping people waiting that long?

I went to the show looking forward to writing a review of the great show I had just seen. I was ready to buy the album and start telling my friends that they NEEDED TO HEAR THIS BAND, but in the end, I left feeling mistreated. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.

Maybe I am just too old.

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