Camp Cope Live (Sydney Opera House)

There was electricity in the air at Melbourne trio Camp Cope’s performance at the Opera House on Wednesday night. There has been quite a buzz about the group in the media too. The positive press around the all-woman trio is well deserved as the quality of their take on “alternative/indie rock” rises above most of their contemporaries on Triple J, for example.

The trio of vocalist/guitarist Georgia Maq, bass player Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and drummer Sarah Thompson have also won headlines for their rebellion against the sausage-fest that is the Australian music scene – especially rock, which likes to think of itself as anti-establishment.

Despite their growing popularity, they were booked to play in the afternoon at the 2017 Falls Festival, an event that was light on female representation. They address this issue aptly on The Opener from their 2018 album, How to Socialise and Make Friends. The final line of the song is, “Yeah, just get a female opener, that’ll fill the quota”. Indeed. 

Camp Cope’s progressive stance was evidenced before a chord was struck on Wednesday night when a female Aboriginal elder welcomed the audience and Camp Cope, to country. The trio entered the arena without a word and began the show with a cover of Green Day’s Warning. This is a band with a social conscience. Several songs were dedicated to the cause of violence against women and the LGBTI community.

It was a great performance, the band was tight and note perfect, with Hellmrich’s bass the dominant force. Her bass playing carried the melody as much as the rhythm, and the production was flawless. 

Maq’s vocals soared wonderfully and at times, combined with the poignancy of some of the lyrics, the performance was quite moving – especially during set highlight, I’ve Got You, a song about Maq’s late father, which she played solo with her acoustic guitar as accompaniment. On record, I find Maq’s vocals sometimes don’t quite suit the quieter numbers, but she was on point last night. Perhaps all the touring as honed her craft. 

The set list was evenly split between songs from the band’s brilliant self-titled debut and the newie, How to Socialise and Make Friends. Unfortunately, the new album doesn’t reach the heights of the debut – the old sophomore album curse strikes again. How to Socialise and Make Friends is not a bad album by any means, it just doesn’t capture the raw emotion of the debut and as a collection of songs it doesn’t quite match the first album. 

Maq introduced their most popular song, Lost (Season One), by saying that she feels a lot better in 2018 than she did when this early Camp Cope song was written. Good for her, but she still delivers it with passion, like it was penned yesterday.

Other set highlights stood out due to clever lyrics and were wonderfully performed. Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams is a catchy rocker with a most memorable chorus, “The only thing that stops a bad man with a gun, is a good man with a gun, the lies they use to control you”.

Special mention must also go to the gorgeous, Flesh and Electricity. They more than did it justice live and I can’t get enough of its chorus, “I’ve become desensitised to the human body/That I could look at you naked, and all I’d see would be anatomy/ You’re just bones and insecurity/flesh and electricity to me”.

Camp Cope put on a cracking show for the packed Concert Hall and in doing so gave a big up yours to all the cock-rock dinosaurs. 

Image: Camp Cope last night. Photo by Daniel Boud

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One response to “Camp Cope Live (Sydney Opera House)

  1. QUITE the review! Thank you. I definitely want to see / hear more of them now. Women with a viewpoint, decent lyrics on issues that matter AND they can play their instruments – who’d have thought? I’m slightly hoping they’re ugly too – just because I’ve always thought there should be a hashtag for female musos that goes something like: #musiciannotmodel. Let their music speak for them, regardless of their appearance – god knows most of the cockrockers can look and dress however they please – you don’t have to be beautiful to be a male muso apparently. I won’t name names. Thanks.

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