Saturday, 8 September 2018

Gig Review: Camp Cope at The Dome, London 4/9/18 (by Emma Prew)

It’s always exciting when a band from outside of UK makes their debut on our little island. You know the anticipation is especially high when a DIY tour is booked and the London date – Boston Music Room – sells out within a couple of hours, then gets upgraded to a larger (also DIY) venue – The Dome – which also sells out crazily fast. That’s exactly what happened with Australian indie-punk trio Camp Cope. Thankfully we knew about the gig and got tickets in time. This was going to be a special night!

Joining Camp Cope at The Dome and opening the show were London’s own Fresh. I’ve seen Fresh live a couple of times but it had been well over a year since the last time – and in a much smaller venue, on a smaller stage. In that time they’ve released their debut album and more recently a brand new 7 inch. I must admit I hadn’t listened to their recorded stuff all that much but I was so impressed by their performance at the Dome – especially those harmonies. The foursome seemed wonderfully comfortable on stage as well as looking like they were just having the best time playing together. Even a broken bass strap didn’t phase the band – they just carried on playing the song, with bassist George patching the strap up with gaffer tape between songs. Standout tracks included Get Bent and Fuck My Life, from their debut album, and I really liked the new songs they played from their soon-to-be-recorded second album as well. What a great start to the night.

I thought it had been a while since I’d seen Fresh but next up were Caves, a band that I hadn’t seen live for four years. Understandably, because of this, I was very much looking forward to seeing them on this tour. I’m please to say that the trio haven’t lost it! All the raw energy and intensity that I recalled from seeing them live in the past was very much still there. The dynamic between guitarist, Lou, and bassist, Minty, is just a joy to watch. They were joined by Bob Barrett, of too many other bands to list (someone, maybe me, should make one of those Rock Family Trees of all the bands Bob has played in), on drums who has played with them on their last couple of tours and fits in perfectly. Highlights of their set for me had to be the tracks from their 2013 album Betterment, particularly the singalong-inducing I Don’t Care. Lou has one of the best voices of the UK punk scene for sure. Caves were on board for the whole UK and European tour with Camp Cope and Lou expressed just how happy they were to have the band finally playing over on this side of the world – and how important Camp Cope are for the scene. I believe that.

The Dome had been reasonably well packed out for the two support bands but now it was looking like a sold out venue for sure and anticipation levels had reached their peak. It was no mean feat for Camp Cope to sell out a venue the size of The Dome on their UK debut and finally the wait was over as Georgia, Kelly and Sarah took to the stage. As a familiar bass riff opened their first song, we soon realised that the first song of their set was in fact not a Camp Cope song – it was Warning by Green Day. (Side note: Warning, the album, is my favourite by Green Day. And what?!) It was certainly a surprise but it was also an excellent cover. Or at least a cover up until the first verse when the trio switched into their own song, Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams – arguably one of their most popular songs – from their debut album. It felt pretty bold to play one of their biggest ‘hits’ so early on but the song was greeted with such a wonderful crowd reaction that there’s no denying it paid off. The Dome audience was enthusiastic with its singing and you could tell how special it was for so many people to be able to see Camp Cope live for the first time. It was special for the band too and Georgia humbly expressed just how grateful they were to be there – not only to be in London and the UK in general but to have sold out such a large venue. The band’s set was perhaps a reasonably short one – less than 10 songs – but tracks such as How To Socialise & Make Friends, The Face Of God, UFO Lighter and Lost (Season One) sounded brilliant in a live setting. Camp Cope’s songs are more thought-provoking and powerful than particularly upbeat or lively but that just made watching the threesome all the more engaging to watch on stage. Georgia also had plenty of stories to tell in between songs that were both informative and humorous. It made her seem very down-to-earth and like there was no barrier (physically or mentally) between the crowd and the stage – just how a punk show should feel. Unfortunately the end of their set soon came around but Camp Cope finished with a bang. Ironically named as a set closer, The Opener received the biggest reaction from the audience – myself included – with a huge and passionate singalong reverberating around The Dome from start to finish. I’d heard of Camp Cope before they released The Opener last year but it was listening to the song for the first time that really made me perk up and pay attention to this band. The subjects Camp Cope speak of are so, so important. We knew it when listening to the band and we knew it when watching the band play live, it’s time more people did too.

‘It's another man telling us we can't fill up the room, It's another man telling us to book a smaller venue, “Nah, hey, c’mon girls we're only thinking about you”, Well, see how far we've come not listening to you.’

This gig review was written by Emma Prew.

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