Los Campesinos! are a cathartic band. Songs about failed or non-existent romances, sorrows and misgivings, and occasional joy all provide inspiration for lyrics that are carried out with impeccable wit and set to catchy, chaotic pop. Gareth Campesinos is the heart and soul of the group. He subjects the audience to pure emotion. He doesn’t invite you to join him, rather he imposes his will on the listener with the conviction of a thousand burned lovers. His experiences are the experiences of youth. There is bliss, there is despair, and there is dancing. Lots of dancing. I came to the Neptune with my friends Keelor and fellow blogger Vincent expecting to see an energetic and passionate display that would leave me humming tunes for the next week. What I did not expect was an experience that may impact me in a profound way.
The transition to college life has not been as seamless as I had hoped. I find myself enjoying classes and social interactions, but I have not truly found a community to immerse myself in. I have not found a social fabric in which I feel at home. I miss my friends from high school and haven’t made any friendships at school that replicate those of the past several years. This is a realization that I have been hesitant to embrace for months. I find ways to convince myself that I am truly happy. Some weekends I go home to see friends who are still in high school, friends who are critical parts of my life. The type of friends that I would do anything for. I haven’t found a foundation like that at the University of Washington. Many things are going well for me, but I can’t say that I feel as content as possible. I haven’t put myself out there as much as I should. I have been waiting for a social life to find me without doing as much as I can to find one that makes me function as best as I can.
After the concert Vincent and I went out to grab something to drink. We reveled in the performance we had just witnessed, but conversation inevitably shifted to romantic interests. Vincent prodded me, and it’s a long story that I won’t bother you with. This led to an exploration of who I am and how I have acted at college, what my social life is and what I want it to be. Sports analogies were brandied about with reckless abandon, as per always. What differed in this interaction was the depth that was reached. Mostly, Vincent spoke and I listened. The man is wise. The man is my brother. What I realized tonight, what I have been thinking about for a few months but have been afraid to acknowledge, is that friends and relationships are not just handed to us. They are cultivated in different ways. Sometimes they come from forced proximity, while other times they come from concentrated choices and efforts. What I am missing is this effort.
Los Campesinos! latest is a record entitled Hello Sadness. The band, as many others do, embraces all that is sad and uses creativity as a way to portray this feeling while simultaneously overcoming from it. Gareth wears his heart on his sleeve and provides kids with anthems to cling to. I don’t want to have to be one of those kids. I don’t want to wallow in albums like this as a method to cope with something that isn’t working in my life because I want my life to be as happy and grand as possible. Or maybe I do. Maybe I do want to break free of my comfort zone and put myself in situations that allow for experiences like those sung about by LC. I want to be vulnerable to heartbreak because to have experienced and to have lost is better than to never have experienced at all. Like I would tell Vincent, I would rather be an NCAA basketball team that makes it to the tournament and loses in the Sweet Sixteen as opposed to a team that doesn’t make the tournament at all. After all, there’s always next season. For me, next season starts now.