BC Camplight


“I think we’ve got just enough time for one more”.

Brian Christinzio, AKA BC Camplight, mumble-growls from somewhere deep within this thick trucker beard, from out beneath a black baseball cap that reads “Cape Lookout”, from behind the blackest of black sunglasses. And that’s all fine – it is Black Friday after all – except… he’s only played one song. But that’s how Bri rolls: surprisingly beautiful, unhinged and yet elegiac songs delivered in an unexpectedly high, Brian Wilson-esque register, interspersed with between-song bants that pepper an emotional set with chuckle-making brevity, even when the crowd join BC in a rousing chorus of “Fuck Boris”.

Brian’s black is a contrast to the pubescent pink of the middle room of Yes. It’s the third time I’ve seen him, each in a different room and this is perhaps the most intimate room yet: BC can reach the ceiling with his hand, which he frequently holds on to for support; either that or the bottle of vino calapso that he swigs from liberally – one hand on the bottle, one hand playing piano – or the mic stand that also doubles as a crutch; at other times head butting it away when it’s not needed. Or maybe it’s like Tom Waits says, and it’s the piano that’s been drinking all along. Certainly someone has. It’s an evening of contrasts: for a big man he has a voice that gets high… higher than the low level ceiling, for sure and the songs are deceiving complex and complicated… each a sonic shrink appointment.

Only an American could get away with a sports jacket and baseball cap combo. BC Camplight is from the Philly scene that gave the world Kurt Vile and the War on Drugs (the good one, not President Bush’s crap one) but BC camped out in Manchester for many years because someone on Twitter said it would be a good idea. Which, of course, it is. After some early recording in the States for One Little Indian, two albums followed for Britain’s Bella Union: 2015’s How To Die in the North and last year’s Deportation Blues. (Yep, BC got evicted from the UK, then came back in on an Italian passport… just in time for Brexit). Most of the set is made up of those two albums, although he does reveal Bella Union have signed for another album and there is a new track aired tonight – ‘Only Drink When I’m Drunk’… all Buckfast and Ace of Bass. From HTDITN comes the set opening, ever fabulous, ‘Should Have Gone to School’, the Beach Boys-esque ‘Thieves in Antigua’, and ‘Just Because I Love You’, which contains a lyrical puzzle ironically similar to that posed in ‘God Only Knows’. From Deportation Blues comes the eponymous title track, and the full range of Christinzio chaos, from the lyrical lunacy of ‘I’m In A Weird Place Now’ to the canine lament ‘When I Think Of My Dog’. The band has a loose loucheness and the sax/keyboard/backing singer hip twitches as she looks into the middle distance in a way that is utterly hypnotic.

The Pink Room is very… pink and very packed – BC Camplight sold out two nights and claims he was hoping to ‘phone in’ tonight’s show. But he’s far from doing that. He’s up, he’s down, he’s playing piano with the piano stool and then with the bottle of wine. The piano, stage front, seems more like a pretend box around a synth, but the performance is authentic, wrapped up in black cap and shades, with the black dog stalking Brian just behind. He admits to being insecure, to being a douchebag, to finding it funny “playing in front of… people”. Today is the day after Thanksgiving (do they have a Boxing Day for that?) and Brian tells us that he’d been a good boy and phoned his mum who, for some reason, asked him about groupies. “What the fuck would I know?” he replied. Self-questioning, perhaps, and uncertain but hopefully the ground in this city feels solid beneath his feet, Brian singing “There’s something about, Manchester town” in ‘I’m In A Weird Place Now’. “It’s good to be home,” BC adds at another point, “this is everything to me, this town,” and before he ends the set he repeats “I love you Manchester… so fucking much,” amusingly subverting that sentiment with an additional call to the merch stand: “Buy some shit on your way out”.

“Won’t you welcome a stranger into your world,” Brian sings on ‘Deportation Blues’, and while this country may very well be going down the toilet, the Republic of Mancunia will always do just that. So fuck Boris and welcome the weird and wonky Life of Brian, currently waving the EU flag around. He’s not the messiah but he is a damn fine songwriter. The set ends with a rallying call to arms: “I’m gonna show you a prime example of songwriting right here,” says Brian, “then we’re going to kick you all in the groin and everyone leaves happy”. You know what… he’s quite right. He does. We do. And my groin still hurts two days later.

BC Camplight: Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Simon is a writer, broadcaster and countercultural investigator. Over the last 15 years he has written for everyone from The Guardian to Loaded magazine, presented television for Rapture TV and hosted radio programs for the likes of Galaxy. He has also found time to earn a Masters Degree in Novel Writing and write three books (a collection of journalism, a guidebook to Ibiza and one on financial planning for young people – the most varied publishing career it’s possible to have) and establish and run a PR company, Pad Communications, looking after a range of leisure and lifestyle clients.He currently splits his time between researching his PhD at Leeds University, looking into various countercultural movements; consulting freelance for PR clients; writing for the likes of Marie Claire in Australia, The Big Issue and the Manchester Evening News, where he reviews concerts, theatre and is their Pub & Bar Editor. He is also broadcaster, appearing regularly on Tony Livesey’s late night 5Live show for the BBC, and also for BBC Radio Manchester Gourmet Night food and drink show.Simon’s main focus has been music and travel. His career has included editing Ministry of Sound’s magazine in Ibiza for two summers and also writing two long-running columns for DJmagazine – ”Around The World in 80 Clubs” (which took him everywhere from Beijing to Brazil, Moscow to Marrakech) and “Dispatches From The Wrong Side”. A collection of the latter was published in the UK and US as the book Discombobulated, including tales as varied as gatecrashing Kylie Minogue’s birthday party, getting deported from Russia, having a gun held to his head by celebrity gangster Dave Courtney and going raving in Ibiza with Judith Chalmers. He has recently written for the likes of Red magazine, Hotline, Clash, Tilllate, Shortlist and the Manchester Evening News. Pad Communications has recently consulted for clients as varied as Manchester nightclubs and New Zealand toy companies.On a personal note, Simon is a Londoner who left the capital at the age of 18 and never looked back. He sees himself as a citizen of the global dancefloor having lived in Sydney, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Amsterdam. However his life is now rather more sedentary. After all his adventures he bumped into and subsequently married his highschool sweetheart from their North London Grammar. They now live in Stockport with their four children and four chickens, trying to live the good life. Simon recently turned 40 and is steadfastly refusing to have a midlife crisis – as in, growing a ponytail and buying a shiny red sports car.OK, maybe he’ll buy the sports car…