and it’s all flailing limbs at the front line

Welsh twee-poppers Los Campesinos! played in Madison, WI to a packed house at the Rathskeller on February 6th, 2009.

The impossibly cute and ridiculously energetic 7-piece ripped through their catalog with the fury of a punk act and the pop sensibility of anyone in the Top 40. There was no shortage of group sing-alongs, due either to the band’s inherent inclusivity or, more likely, their catchy hooks. Los Campesinos!’s smart lyrics reverberated off the arch of the Rathskeller stage, particularly during “Death to Los Campesinos!” and “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks”.

Furthering the all-for-one vibe was the band’s interaction with their fans. Whether diving into the crowd or singing into cheering faces,  Los Campesinos! threw down like a rowdy family reunion. A rowdy family reunion filled with pogoing hipsters and ringing glockenspiels.

Los Campesinos! will be touring the US into April – you can find tour dates here.

For videos from the show, click here.
For pictures from the show (all 172 of them), click here.

accordions make everything better

Madison, WI outfit Crane Your Swan Neck graced the stage for this evening’s Onion Area Band Tuesdays. Running the gamut from solo-acoustic to tambourine-shaking rock and roll, CYSN offered up mish-mash of genres that worked surprisingly well together.

Frontman Randall has made the rounds on the Madison music scene for years, and it’s no wonder why. His voice is that of a grizzled old troubadour hiding under a glossy indie-rock patina. Commanding the stage despite his soft-spoken manner, Randall delivers an engaging performance without the image of pomp and preening his mustachioed visage may evoke.

Of course, Randall isn’t the only thing to make CYSN worth seeing – without the group of multi-instrumentalists with whom he shares the stage, he’d be just another singer-songwriter. Incorporating accordion, violin, clarinet, and keys into the standard rock set-up, Crane Your Swan Neck often has an appealing Eastern European flair about it.  The band is at their strongest when taking this musical approach, though more standard fare like “Please Keep These Angels Away” and “Build Me Up” is rather pleasing as well.

The band will be taking a short hiatus, but will return to live performances at the Forward Music Festival in September.

For photos from the show, click here.