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Sunday, 17 June 2012 17:57

Concert review: Los Campesinos! and Yellow Ostrich shake, rattle and indie rock at Plush, Saturday, June 16

Concert review: Los Campesinos! and Yellow Ostrich shake, rattle and indie rock at Plush, Saturday, June 16
Written by Nathan Brand
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Heavy drumbeats pulsated from the outside walls of Plush as early-bird fans filled the restaurant lobby. Standing beneath a chandelier of transparent leaves glowing pink and purple, they glimpsed the final moments of Yellow Ostrich's soundcheck.

When the double glass doors were finally opened, the eager fans rushed the stage as others found comfortable seating along the lower perimeter or in the wrap around balcony above.

The stage glowed a peaceful blue as the dimly-lit crowd welcomed Yellow Ostrich to its first show in St. Louis. Front man Alex Schaaf stood tall and thin with shaggy hair swept across his forehead and a guitar across his waist. To his left sat drummer Michael Tapper and to his right stood multi-instrumentalist Jon Natchez. Ambient noise and pounding drums introduced the band as they looped the opening vocal hook of "Whale."

Though the crowd appeared largely unfamiliar with the band's material, the trio's melodic meandering between breezy afro-beat surf tones and crunchy blasts of chaos garnered big cheers as the audience loosened up. Masterfully looping and layering vocals and a variety of effects, Schaaf and company carried the crowd ever higher as they played on with minimal talking between songs.

The sounds of the set were as if Phoenix met Manchester Orchestra in the eye of a storm. Standing still, everything was soft, easy and melodic, but the band's slightest step in any direction could send tunes into a whirlwind of heavy feedback and bleeding aggressive drum breaks. Three-part harmony and a blasting horn and guitar continued as spot-on vocals highlighted the band's final song.

A majority of the comfortable seating along the walls was now vacant as the crowd, astounded by Yellow Ostrich, anticipated the arrival of Los Campesinos!. The stage was completely unlit as sweet guitar melodies washed over the crowd before the band entered, adding a strong drumbeat and synth tones. After all seven members were on stage; lead-singer Gareth David blasted the audience with emotional vocals straight out of the gate. His demeanor was sharply contrasted by the lazy swagger of his sister Kim on keys and vocals to his left.

As the intensity of the band's performance increased so did the weather in turn. Flashes of lightning in drizzling rain could be seen from the windows above the stage as the band conducted a sing/scream-along with the crowd on nearly every song. Some bounced around and lazily bobbed their head to the tunes while other pounded their chests, throwing open palms of surrender into the air.

Charging into the souls of passionate fans, the constantly pumping drum beats and inexhaustible energy of Gareth David had a majority of the crowd sucked in. Pausing for a time about midway through the set, he mentioned that this was the band's third time in St. Louis and told the crowd how much he appreciated all the love he could see.

Rapidly clapping with the breakdowns of every tune, the emotional exertion of performers and spectators alike did not ebb for one moment. David knelt before the drums and wailed on cymbals as the band played its final main set song. Following a brief exit from the stage, the band returned expressing a mutual feeling of gratitude. Cautioning against the weather Los Campesinos! launched into its final performance of the night before bidding St. Louis farewell.

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