I haven’t read a beautiful mess, keep yourself warm, a bend in the wave, static waves, or I hold a force I cannot contain
but Emily’s confident in...
Darling I’m having the same predicament. The website I was using before took the videos down due to copyright. I’m still looking and if I do find it...
So, last week, Stacey and I went on a secret trip to Budapest. I say secret, because we hadn’t told many people before we went - not because one of us didn’t know about it. I had been going absolutely crazy through August - Edinburgh Fringe was in full swing and that and the prospect of not going back to Uni this September just made me want to run away… And so we did.
When we heard that LC! were going to be playing in Budapest (on the night they announced that Harriet would be leaving the band, actually), I sat down in front of my laptop and checked flights and trains and my bank account over and over until I’d worked it out. Flights to Bratislava, a train to Budapest and then three days in one of my favourite European cities (I travelled round Europe one summer I was at uni, Budapest was a good place to see).
And two tickets to see Los Campesinos! at the Trafo House of Contemporary Arts, in Budapest. I didn’t realise until the band came on stage, but this would be the first time I’d seen them play without Harriet. Baring in mind that I’ve seen them twice this summer, at festivals (Long Division in June and 2000 Trees in July) and once last year, at a RIB gig in Dundee, I feel like I have a decent-ish ability to review their set… However, please acknowledge that this is just my opinion, and if you don’t agree with me, that’s fine! Not looking for a tumblr war here, from anyone.
The venue was hugely cool; an arts space which had a good sized stage, block (but not stacked) seating at the back and a good floor area - but it was the combination of the acoustics and the atmosphere that made it stand out. I liked it and would definitely recommend it as a place to see live music. Beer was cheap and (bliss!) you could even smoke inside. The first band (Tuung) were interesting, with lots of frenzied dancing and a different sound. Think Stace enjoyed them more than I did, but it usually takes more than one listen for me to work out how I feel about anything…
And LC!. A 12 song set which included all of the usual tracks (Death to Los Campesinos!, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, You! Me! Dancing! etc) as well as the two tracks we’ve heard so far from Hello Sadness (By Your Hand and The Black Bird, The Dark Slope). I’m not going to go through the set track by track, but there are two main things that struck me, post the gig.
Firstly, it was hugely obvious that this was a band who are entirely confident in their sound and where they are. The music was as accomplished as it has been every time I’ve seen them, but the atmosphere was what really lifted this set. Everyone really seemed to be having fun, and it was great to see the excitement which they all had about playing the new tracks. (By Your Hand is as amazing live as everyone has predicted it to be, just by the way). Chatting to them after the gig, they also sounded happy and bright and enjoying being in Budapest. I think it’s really obvious when a band is happy in themselves - it definitely comes through in their set - and I get the feeling LC! were enjoying themselves, which was great to see.
However, the second thing - the thing that I couldn’t help coming back to - is that this LC! gig was unlike any of the previous ones I’d seen. From what I’ve heard, Harriet made the important and probably difficult decision to go back to uni to complete her degree - and there is a part of me that thinks that musically,the band miss her. I couldn’t work out after the set whether it felt like there had been something missing, or something additional. I actually think it was a bit of both.
I’d like to say that it’s not that any song sounded bad (although I’m really not a fan of Miserabilia live; if I could cut a song from the LC! set list it would be this one.) but they did sound… different. Not worse… just different. It’s something that isn’t just ‘no violin’ (before someone chips in with, ‘of course it sounds different, hahaha’) - it’s also the fact that there was only one female vocal, and the band seemed to be pushing harder in some respects. ‘Over compensating’ was one description I heard, and I think I’d agree with that. There seemed to be more drums, the boys seemed to be using more guitar effects and electronic embellishments. The overall sound was a lot busier. Stacey wondered if Tom was using a violin loop track at one point to make up for a lack of one of Harriet’s ‘important’ parts, but somewhat reluctantly concluded that it was probably just one of the aforementioned electronic bits. You know how sometimes a band change a lyric due to age limits or change in circumstances or whatever, and you hear it, and because you’ve heard the song so many times, it just sounds slightly… wrong? Well, I felt (a little bit) like that. The set was still great; just not what I was expecting.
Conclusion? Well, if you’re a long term LC! fan, you might be somewhat surprised if you go to any of the upcoming November gigs; some of the ‘big tracks’ don’t sound as familiar, but when you consider they’re coming up five years old, that shouldn’t really be a surprise. Los Campesinos! aren’t the same band who made Sticking Fingers into Sockets; listening to Hold On Now, Youngster, WAB,WAD and RIB shows the evolution in sound that there’s been since 2006 - and I’m sure Hello Sadness will show even bigger changes. I think that seeing them in Budapest, and the upcoming shows are going to showcase the band as they are now - which if the little I’ve seen is anything to go by, is happy, excited and better than ever before.
p.s. I’m well aware of the likelihood of at least one member of LC! reading this (if my prediction is correct, hey Gareth!) and after rereading and weighing up what I’ve said… I’d like to think that I’ve been as impartial as I can be. I can’t act like I know anything about what’s really going on with 7 / 8 people I’ve met a maximum of 3 times - I’ve written what I feel about the gig above; but that’s just my opinion, like.
In Stacey’s words, which makes my point but, well, more Scottish like: Basically, LC! are different post-Harriet but still fucking awesome. Album’s going to be so much better than we’re all anticipating and any Y!M!D! fan-girls need to go fuck off and settle down. You’re acting like you’re still 14. Get over yourselves. Bands change/mature/lose members/etc etc. You’re naive to think that they are going to write the same album five times in a row. SO yer. There’s my eight quid worth. Just settle down and wait for November to roll around.