Los Campesinos!/ Titus Andronicus
Logan Square Auditorium; Chicago, IL

Chicago is a special city to Cardiff’s Los Campesinos!. As noted by lead singer Gareth, Chicago is not only the first U.S. city they ever played, but may also be the first American city they sold out a gig in as well. He even noted that this show, at Logan Square Auditorium, contained the largest crowd they've ever performed for. Perhaps that is not only why they put on a thrashingly solid performance, but also why they were sticking around the city afterward: a way of saying thank you.

Titus Andronicus, Glen Rock’s finest, started out the night with a poem and a crazed holler. Frontman Patrick Stickles looked as though he was channeling the recently-passed Lux Interior through his screaming and gyrating. At one point, he brandished a $25 guitar -- which he claimed he bought with a guy in Madison who was also from Jersey -- before running straight into “Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ” without any loss of intensity. The band enjoyed themselves as well, at one point randomly breaking into a “Wipe Out” cover. The only downer: Their repeated emphasis on the merch table suggests that they too are suffering through this horrible economy. They closed their set with the eponymous “Titus Andronicus,” which Stickles capped by stage-diving while singing.

Los Campesinos!, in this outing, sounded tighter yet noisier, no doubt a combined product of their recent tour with LA noise makers (No Age and Times New Viking) and the excited crowd that was already stoked by Stickles and crew (the former of which would stage dive again during “Miserabilia”). They mainly stuck with songs from their most recent album, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, which gained more strength live. Lead singer Gareth initially seemed reserved, but eventually upped the ante set by Stickles by entering the crowd and running around singing “This is How You Spell…” Gareth’s female foil Aleksandra especially stood out tonight, her voice much clearer and more confident than I've witnessed in the past.

The crowd reacted well, peaking as Gareth and guitarist Neil climbed on the monitors for closer “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks” -- they were ready for the inevitable falls, whenever they’d come. The band returned the favor by asking for suggestions on things to do the next day, and then ending the night with previous opener “Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats.” If nothing else, as the guitar loop was shut off at the end, sticking around seemed like a good idea.

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