Los Campesinos! / Frankie & The Heartstrings / Johnny Foreigner

I have a shiny new "Witicha Recordings Ltd." pencil, which has been used to record for the sake of posterity the continuing chronicles of Johnny Foreigner and Los Campesinos!'s occasional visits to London. Together this time around! With unknown (to me) interlopers Frankie & The Heartstrings! Fabulous!

I arrive early, not wanting to miss JoFo's set. My waterbottle gets confiscated by guards outside the venue. Bastards! How am I going to hydrate now? Go in, buy Guinness, move to dark corner and fume. Guinness hardly sipped before Alexei and friends take to the stage. Their opener I do not recognize, but follow up "With Who, Who And What I've Got" was recently released on the webz (go download!) and is bloody good. Hits follow: "Eyes Wide Terrified", "ShutUpAlright", "Spindarella", "Every Cloakroom Ever". Alexei tells us "Criminals" is about how rubbish London is, and how it's embarrassing playing it in London. It isn't. Gareth Campesinos! takes over singing duties for (I think it was) "Bullring". Looked pretty nervous and hid behind Kelly most of the time.

Should say I've never seen the band play a tighter set. Maybe less drink was had backstage, or maybe I was more lucid, but the playing was spectacular. Musicianship in a noisy pop punk band? Go figure.

Guinness finished by the end of the set. Cup abandoned, gents beckon. A note for the manager of the Garage: fix yr gorram taps! Out feeling filthy and suspicious of every gent in the room. Go to the charming people selling merch and procure myself a JoFo tee in resplendent black for a respectable £10. Wichita CDs are going for a fiver, and I browse. I own digital copies of like five of them already and nothing else catches my eye. Sorry Wichita.

Frankie and his Heartstrings roll out. A lot of them look like they belong in the 1950s. The music sounds like it does too. Frankie, who no question receives the award for hunk of the night, strikes me as more of an entertainer than an artist, but what do I know? Retreat to the sidelines and respectfully await the end of the set.

The Campesinos take an age to tune up, tho there ARE loads of them. Ollie's replacement is a tattooed young gentleman called Jason, who seems to know his way around the songs alright, although they hardly require Junior Foreigner levels of eight-armed awesomeness. "In Medias Res" drifts us in, "Through The Wall" tears us all up. Clarity dissolves. By the time "Beautiful, Doomed" is played, I'm screaming along with everyone else. "You! Me! Dancing!" finds me grooving passionately with my overarm satchel. Top came off just before I melted from the heat of a hundred jumping bodies. Gareth says some heartfelt words about the label that allowed them to switch sound and tone, from twee to noise. JUST DON'T CALL US TWEE! rings the alarm. However, the encore revisits "Tweexcore" and "Parties, Knives". Charming, though after a main set packed with new material, they really do sound like b-sides.

Thrilled, spilled, danced around. A good evening. Out and away. A text makes me smile. Home. Give the goody bag to my sister, who is well enthused. Keep a badge. And this pencil. Thanks Wichita.

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