CAMP COPE // Setting Sail on Winter’s Seas

CAMP COPE with We Set Sail + Muddy Chanter + Marville + Hanny J – 29 May, 2016 – Crowbar, Brisbane

As we approach Crowbar this evening, it seems that Brisbane is on the cusp of a proper winter’s night.

Revellers have turned up nice and early, sporting beanies, hoodies and rosy cheeks, as local songstress Hanny J warms up the crowd upstairs in Crowbar Black. While she belts out some heartfelt acoustic ballads to a small but enthusiastic group of onlookers, we wrap our lips around a lager to get the inner party started.

Camp Cope_04_Photo Charlyn Cameron



Camp Cope // Photo: Charlyn Cameron

Moving on, we venture downstairs and take up position as local duo Marville take the stage. Straddling a fine line between an inverted White Stripes or perhaps some version of Spiderbait without a bass player, Marville are an interesting beast. A throwback to the visceral 90’s grunge and garage circuit, it’s certainly a sound that we can picture bouncing off the back of pubs and pokies room walls two decades ago. Guitarist and vocalist Ash Kerley throws down some savage, distorted riffs on tracks 9-Iron and 100% that would make Josh Homme beam with pride, weaving them into vaguely melodic grooves that get some already inebriated heads bobbing. Drummer Doug Palmer gives his kit some serious tough love, with his cymbals and high hat splashing bombastically into the mix. However, Palmer’s percussive enthusiasm appears to be a bit too vigorous, as he breaks his snare mid-set and calls out an S.O.S. Thankfully, Camp Cope’s Thomo comes to the rescue, clad in a jacket and hoodie from behind the stage like some backline caped crusader. With instrumentation restored, the band finish off with some more sombre numbers, the light/heavy dynamics of which let Kerley’s voice truly shine, and give us some early Distillers and Nick Cave vibes. Very nice.

Muddy Chanter_01_Photo Charlyn CameronMuddy Chanter // Photo: Charlyn Cameron

As we’re still trying to overcome the remnants of a dastardly flu, we decide that perhaps beer isn’t the best of friends tonight, and make the switch to something of a higher proof. Knocking back a vodka on the rocks and embracing the Siberian fire in our belly, a track from Pantera’s The Great Southern Trendkill comes over the speakers during the changeover. Next up are local lads Muddy Chanter, who seem to have benefited from their supporting role for a sold-out show, as the crowd has swelled into a noticeably sweaty throng. The boys launch into the indie single Poco Cholo, as guitarist Luke Morgan informs the crowd that the song is available online no less than three times. Their performance is a bit haphazard to begin with, with vocalist BJ Vaughan and bassist Math Jay—who cuts the spitting image of Neighbours’ old resident radical Toadfish—almost tripping over one another awkwardly onstage. By mid-set they hit their stride and the crowd reciprocates with some casual dancing up front, and although their sound seems to oscillate between bratty, surf punk and bouncing melodies, it’s the slower jams that really stick. Tracks like Interview of their self-titled EP feature solid bluesy riffs that could easily be a lounge-singer’s wet dream, all before dropping into huge, grungy choruses and playful ‘woah-ohs’ that bolster the band’s set. With a bigger stage, and some sharper song writing, these guys will surely be ones to watch.

Camp Cope will certainly have a strong turnout next time they stop by, and we couldn’t think of a group more deserving.

Looking for a change of scenery, we head back upstairs and vigorously polish off another vodka double, as Weezer’s Hash Pipe blares over the stereo. At this point, the crowd is virtually piling up through the doors and spilling out into the street. We mingle with some friends, reminiscence on the nature of archaic music habits like taping songs off the radio or actually buying CDs, before taking position downstairs once again for the start of We Set Sail’s set.

We Set Sail_01_Photo Charlyn CameronWe Set Sail // Photo: Charlyn Cameron

Everything about this band screams of guitar porn and a borderline fetish for pedalboards. Their shimmering soundscape evokes many images, but perhaps the strongest is one of Explosions In The Sky and Mogwai conducting a séance in the midst of a glorious coke-bender, fuelled by a perpetual love for Mid-Western 90’s emo, as the ghostly apparitions of Texas Is The Reason and Mineral dance loftily across the ceiling. Daydreaming aside, the Brisbane gents rip through a short but tight set, including new song Snails of their forthcoming record and tracks from 2013’s Rivals LP, including crescendo bangers Understanding Human Architecture and Every Story has a Beginning, a Middle and an End. Old songs get some love also, with New Seas from the group’s 2011 demo receiving a play through, along with its stirring JFK sample that cheekily sports the group’s namesake. Guitarist and vocalist Paul Voge engages in banter between songs, mentioning the last time Camp Cope played Crowbar, to some eager hollering from the crowd. Everyone is understandably excited for tonight’s main event and as their set draws to a close, We Set Sail are a fitting primer.

Camp Cope_02_Photo Charlyn Cameron

Camp Cope // Photo: Charlyn Cameron

Waiting for tonight’s headliners to kick off, we notice how packed the room actually is. It’s great to see a sold-out show in Brisbane, in place of Sydney or Melbourne, and the demographic here is a diverse one. Older folk in jackets and scarves, rub shoulders with the wild and young in Violent Soho and The Smith Street Band long sleeves. With the venue packed to the brim, Melbourne girls Camp Cope take the stage and rip straight in with the opener Done from their recently released, self-titled album. Early in the week, vocalist Georgia Maq made a mention of some troubling issues with her voice, and the unfortunate postponement of shows for later in June. Thankfully, tonight’s gig does not suffer from any such problems, with G-Maq’s strong and powerful range ringing loud and true to the back of the room. As the group, rounded out by Kelly on bass and Thomo on the kit, move into the melancholy Flesh & Electricity, the trio’s guitar-driven catharsis recalls the very best of the Poison City catalogue, going hand in hand with label mates like Jen Buxton or Lincoln Le Fevre.

Camp Cope_05_Photo Charlyn Cameron


Camp Cope // Photo: Charlyn Cameron

G-Maq addresses the audience before the rousing and meme-baiting Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams, telling the women in attendance that the song is about the struggles of being a woman in this modern world, pleading for them to “Get up front, because this one’s for you.” The chorus might speak of control in the negative sense, but Camp Cope are the only ones exerting that this evening, as they hold the captivated crowd in the palm of their collective hands. During the plaintive West Side Story, it appears that some sort of fracas has developed in the front row, and at the song’s end G-Maq implores for the knuckle-draggers to “just chill”, which they mercifully do.

Camp Cope_07_Photo Charlyn Cameron

Ripping into the banger Lost (Season One), the call-and-response from the crowd is palpable, with their chants sometimes overcoming the mix. When G-Maq reflects on kids from her high school doing “horse tranquilliser” and wanting to “act like they’re too cool” in Stove Lighter, we think that there’s probably some in the audience who could easily relate to such a predicament. As the notes of Trepidation ring out, the set moves to its climax all to quickly for the crowd, who emphatically chant for an encore and are all too glad to it see it acknowledged, when the band returns for a quick closer. As we join the single file line up the stairs and out into the cold, we contemplate how fortunate Brisbane was tonight to have this show, which given G-Maq’s vocal issues, could easily have been cancelled. But with their earnest and infectious songs, and a strong live set to boost, Camp Cope will certainly have a strong turnout next time they stop by, and we couldn’t think of a group more deserving.

Camp Cope_01_Photo Charlyn Cameron

Camp Cope // Photo: Charlyn Cameron


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