Camp Cope have one primary artistic directive: identifying civility. They may let you know if they respect you, but they’ll sure as hell berate you if what you’re doing is morally unsound. Sexism, racism, classism and elitism line their music with an actionable passion meant to transform the mindsets of their oppressors. They’re building a community to break down bigotry, all the while championing feminism and other visions of equality.
According to Camp Cope’s 2019 set at Boston’s ONCE Ballroom, their live musical goals are no different. While they intend to give the oppressed a voice, they know that the only way to win a battle against common injustices is to obtain acceptance from broader groups that represent their adversaries. In other words, what better way to tackle challenges like gender equality than with songs and banter that challenge men to champion the issue?
Camp Cope began their set at the ONCE Ballroom in traditionally reverent Australian fashion. Before playing a single note, they asked everyone to pay respects to the native people of their homeland (Melbourne) as well as the native of people of this land (Boston). After a moment of silence, lead singer and guitarist Georgia McDonald (aka Georgia Maq) casually muttered “…now let’s rock.”
Before they could get in any sort of groove, Georgia Maq’s’s amp blew about 30 seconds into the set. She announced the problem to the crowd, stopped playing, and frantically went to grab a roadie to help find a solution. Despite the technical difficulties, drummer Sarah Thompson and bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich continued to loop variations to the opening of their 2016 single “Keep Growing”. Oddly enough, this variable loop proved a very important underlying point about the band as a whole: Hellmrich’s unbelievably catchy basslines combined with Thompson’s upbeat, uncomplicated drum patterns are endlessly entertaining. The audience could have stood around absorbing Camp Cope’s comfortable instrumental aesthetic for hours.
After the amp was fixed, there was a unspoken sense of relief throughout Camp Cope’s set. It seems silly that songs preaching such combative subject matter would be relaxing, but their early technical difficulties loosened the band’s demeanor to a state of anxiety-free entertainment. Georgia Maq looked more confident and assured, while Hellmrich and Thompson’s drum and bass arrangements poured on the overwhelming feeling of contentment, togetherness, and rock-n-roll serenity.
There was perhaps no greater sense of contentment then when Camp Cope brought out a guest guitarist for their closing song “The Opener”. This allowed Georgia Maq to focus primarily on her stagecraft as a singer, and boy did she let loose. She swung her hair in circles, jumped incessantly, and yelled louder than ever as if to contextually mask specific audience members as the sexist tour manager “The Opener” so spitefully reviles. The rest of the band grinned from ear to ear watching Georgia Maq’s antics showing that they were all too familiar with her fiery personality. Although their 2018 album How to Socialize & Make Friends is technically about boldly standing up for yourself while others try to keep you small, this set was a window into the band’s fun personal culture and how they truly are a tight knit community of like-minded friends.
Check out the playlist below containing the entire live set performed live by Camp Cope at Boston’s ONCE Ballroom.
Favorite Live Tracks: The Opener, Stove Lighter, Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steal Beams, Keep Growing, Flesh and Electricity