“Are there any couples in the audience tonight?” lead singer Gareth Campesinos asked five songs into Los Campesinos’! set. Now, I’ve never been one to give a “woo” response to a singer’s between-song banter*. Especially if it’s something banal like “It’s great to be here in (name of the city you’re in!)” But this was a special occasion. Since Caitlin had a big event at work on Valentine’s Day, we decided our big celebration would be dinner and a concert the Friday night after**. So, when Gareth asked about couples, I held Caitlin’s hand up and woo’d. Gareth looked out into the crowd at those who responded and shook his head, adding, “This is not a place for couples.”
*I always have been, but that’s why Zack and I make such a great team — we balance each other.
**Not to downplay Zack’s Valentine’s Day surprises for me, though. On the 14th, he wrote out another chalk message for me, this time spanning our entire apartment complex, from our front door to where I was parked in the lot, and he left me a rose, stuffed animal, box of chocolates, balloon and sweet card at my desk at work. Plus, he sprung for pizza and chocolate strawberries with champagne so we could have a relaxing night in after my crazy work day.
It’s not like we didn’t know this going in. I’ve known this band for years, even calling them the best show of Lollapalooza 2008 in a 9.7/10 review on Festival Crashers. Caitlin’s been catching up to loving them the last few months, and in typical Caitlin absorbing-music-like-some-kind-of-super-human-sponge fashion, she already knows most of the lyrics better than I do*. We knew it would be at least a bit odd to sing along to, well, all of their songs. It’s angsty, break-up music**. Gareth could have introduced any of their songs with this couples bit, but I had a feeling he was segueing into their latest single, “Songs About Your Girlfriend.” Let’s just say the song doesn’t put me, the boyfriend of a girl at his show, in a good position. Check the lyrics. Opening line:
You do not like us, ’cause your girlfriend likely does. And all your friends agree on her soft spot for me. I’ll have my hot hands over her soft spots soon, you will see.
*That being said, I remarked to Zack how totally impressed I was that he could recite so many Los Camp! lyrics. He isn’t known for being the most accurate in his sing-alongs, so to hear him rip off line after line of fast-paced wordiness is awesome and, honestly, kinda hot.
**In fact, the band’s angsty-ness has almost been a barrier to entry for me. For me! Of all Bright Eyes-loving people. I sort of feel foolish singing along to music that is so dramatically doomsday, and a lot of it feels disingenuous because I am so in love with Zack and not encompassed by anger at exes. However, the cleverness of the lyrics, the upbeat and catchy melodies of the songs, and the overall awesomeness of Los Campesions! are too much to deny.
Did I mention that, to help set the romantic mood, I’d arranged for a horse and carriage to pick us up at our apartment before dinner as a surprise? Unfortunately, it was a drizzly night in Austin and the horses don’t go out in the rain, but still*. We had fancy drinks, two desserts and dinner at The Driskill beforehand. Caitlin wore a fancy dress and I braved the rain, alone, to fetch her concert clothes after we ate, so she wouldn’t have to get wet.
I’m not (entirely) trying to brag about what an awesome boyfriend I am**, I’m just trying to explain how we tried to make it quite a romantic evening leading up to Los Campesinos! Now we’re changed for the show, (OK. I just unbuttoned my dress shirt and everything else was the same) and a few songs into our big night, the singer is calling us out for being at his show as a couple. I mean, he does have a point. Their last three albums are called Hello Sadness, Romance is Boring, and We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. Did it taint the night? Did the message of the music make us feel less affectionate?
*Poor Zack was totally devastated when this fell through. I had a hunch that he was planning something like this, and more than anything I was just so moved by the gesture. He assures me that before next Valentine’s Day, he’ll be getting me a horse & carriage.
**He should. He really was the perfect gentleman, particularly with the fetching-clothes-in-the-rain part. It allowed me to wear cute heels with my dress.
Please. Not for one second. It was amazing. We sang along from the opening notes of opener “By Your Hand,” to the endless “One blink for yes, two blinks for no!” chant of the perfect encore that is “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks.” We danced. We jumped up and down. We smiled when there was a particularly harsh line towards the opposite sex. We debated whether or not Gareth looked like a (very charming) troll*. We danced some more. We added to Caitlin’s concert t-shirt collection. And you know what we did the next night? We came back and saw Los Campesinos! again. In the rain. It’s you! It’s me! It was dancing!**
*This was more Zack’s inclination than mine, possibly due to the aforementioned “Songs About Your Girlfriend?” I do feel a bit trollish myself, however, in the photo below, but the shirt rocks.
**They were seriously so good that there was no doubt in our mind leaving the first show that we’d be back. It was an energetic show and the end of their tour — true music fans can’t miss that.