Camp Cope


Last night I went to see Spike Lee’s new film Blackkklansman, and it’s pretty brilliant. It’s very funny, and, as you might expect, it packs a hell of a social conscious punch in it. I also felt extremely uncomfortable as a white man, in a cinema full of middle class white people, during one scene in particular where the story of a black man being lynched is juxtaposed with a KKK initiation ceremony where the new members holla and whoop whilst watching Birth of a Nation. It was a good uncomfortable, the kind of uncomfortable that makes you think deeply about your race’s role in the repression and murder of another race, the kind of uncomfortable we should all feel when faced with the horrors of what we have done (and in some cases continue to do).

A very similar feeling comes over me during Aussie band Camp Cope’s set, around three songs in when singer and guitarist Georgia McDonald starts to introduce ‘The Face Of God’ by addressing the men in the room. The song is about sexual assault in the music industry (and in general) against women and queer people, and she tells all of us that we should go home and have a conversation about how we, as white, cis men can stop it from happening from our privileged position. It’s a rousing interlude, and it’s greeted with a loud, communal-solidarity cheer from the whole sold out crowd packed into the Soup Kitchen basement, before the trio launch into the song and sound, rightly so, very angry. McDonald unleashes her raw vocal, more of a roar than a melody, as she shouts, “He said I did something wrong/That somehow what happened to me was my fault/You can see it in apologists and hear it in the songs.” It’s the most powerful song of the evening, and the message hits home hard.

The band are here on the back of their brilliant second album, How To Socialise & Make Friends, the title track of which goes down a treat tonight, but the set is heavy with songs from their self titled debut album and interim EP, all of which are screamed back at them, word perfect, by a very into-it crowd. ‘Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steal Beams’, ‘Lost (Season One)’ and ‘Keep Growing’ all go down a treat, Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich’s bass lines bouncing around, Sarah Thompson’s simple but effective drumming propelling them forward, and of course, McDonald with that voice to let rip. I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that they don’t do more from their latest album, and as such the gig never really catches fire for me, but ‘UFO Lighter’ and an incendiary ‘The Opener’, ironically closing the set, about the lack of female bands represented in the industry because male bookers cant be arsed to give them a chance and just make them the ‘token opener to meet quotas’, are both rip-roaring.

Each of their songs has an important message about women being equal and not being made to feel like shit because of their gender, and they are performed with a rightful amount of vitriol which results in a very cathartic experience, even for this white cis man. In the wake of Me Too, Camp Cope are a shining example of how people who have been repressed should shout about their experience with the aim of highlighting injustice and trying to make things better for everyone, whilst encouraging those who are in a more privilege position because of their gender, race or sexual orientation, to shout with them. And shout we must.

Camp Cope: Official | Facebook