Camp Cope


“Thanks for coming out guys, we haven’t really done much since last time so we really appreciate it!” says Camp Cope leader Georgia McDonald in her distinctive Aussie drawl, to much whooping from the crowd. People don’t care that the band haven’t released any new music since their brilliant 2018 LP How To Socialise and Make Friends, they’re just happy to see the band again so soon after their much smaller Soup Kitchen gig last year, and to hear those powerful, feminist anthems played with as much passion and vigour as the first time round. Camp Cope do not fuck about when it comes to calling out inappropriate male behaviour, particularly in the music industry (they have a collection box for female victims of abuse at the hands of men in the record world at their merch stall tonight), and before the searing ‘Face of God’, McDonald says, “it sucks that we had to write this song, it sucks that we still have to play it, but it’s because men are fucked up.”

The song is the story of a man who gaslights a woman and gets away with the abuse because “you couldn’t do that to someone/not you, nah, they say your music is too good”, and it’s impossible not to immediately think of men like Ryan Adams and the recent allegations against him from multiple women (including his ex wife Mandy Moore and Phoebe Bridgers), his non-apologies, his (mostly male) fans fucking defending him, the shame I feel as someone who owned Adams’ records and has seen him live and professed a love for him, the admiration of the women who have spoken out after putting up with years of abuse, the sheer fucked-up-ness that men think they can do this and get away with it; it’s a lot to process in the space of a four minute song. Yes it sucks that they had to write that song, and others like it on their albums (final song ‘The Opener’ is a rallying call to arms about sexism in the music industry, telling bands made up of women that they should have booked a smaller venue or they are lucky to ride male coattails, “it’s another straight cis man who knows more about this than me”) but it’s brilliant that they did and their message is getting out to an audience who are fully behind it.

This is fully manifested when, after a stunning new song played solo by McDonald on her own on stage, a man near the front shouts something to her. There’s some confusion between me and my mate about what he said, but McDonald didn’t like it, and asks him to leave the gig, before launching into the next song, ‘Jet Streams Can’t Melt Steel Beams’. When it has finished, an obviously livid McDonald sees the guy is still there and says, “seriously, get the fuck out of my gig, just fuck off, I don’t care what you said, I don’t want to feel sexualised at my own gig”, and says the band won’t play until he leaves. Sheepishly making his way through the crowd to the exit, people applauding, it’s a display of everything Camp Cope stand against and is handled in the best way she knew how – to call out his behaviour and get him to leave. Yes, it’s awkward, and yes, it’s really uncomfortable, but it’s absolutely the right thing to do if she felt threatened by his behaviour. Men who feel the need to shout at women on stage should just absolutely fuck off out of gigs, what’s the point, what are you trying to achieve? It’s weird and creepy and you need to reconsider why you’re even there.

It’s not all like this though, honest; it’s a brilliant, rollicking gig complete with an opening Green Day cover (‘Warning’), an emotional tribute to Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit in the form of a cover of ‘Heads Will Roll’, and a fantastic run-through of pretty much every highlight from their two albums and EPs. McDonald’s voice is a thing of raw power, cutting above Sarah Thompson’s thunderous drumming and Kelly Dawn Hellmrich’s rhythmic bass-lines, soaring into the corrugated iron roof of Gorilla’s back room. Camp Cope are an important, opinionated, exciting band who are holding men and the music industry to account, fighting back against the fucked up men who think it’s ok to put women down and abuse them, and the people around them who let that behaviour happen. Their messages should, by all rights, reach the widest possible audience, and I hope their next record propels them to even bigger things, they command it.

Camp Cope: Bandcamp | Facebook