17th September | Exchange
The members of the Australian rock trio, Camp Cope, singer, songwriter and guitarist Georgia McDonald, bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich, and drummer Sarah Thompson are musically one of the most well-balanced trios playing in the indie music scene and rival the peak pop-punk era trios that they take much of their influence from.
Their 2018 sophomore album, How to Socialise and Make Friends, is mix of pop-punk fun about boys and high school drama, a gut-wrenching alt-rock confessional about the most personal details of their lives and declaration of the sexism that’s long plagued the music industy. Fitting with the bands social focus on equality, no member seems to overshadow any other. Where mainstream punk bands feel like nothing but distorted guitar or thrashing drums drowning out the bass, and indie bands are lead guitar and vocalist forward, Camp Cope’s sound is interconnected in a way that each part weaves in and out of the forefront.
The band felt at home on stage, chatting with the crowd, which was made up of a hardcore contingent of fans. At times it felt less like watching them on stage and more like watching them at a basement gig or simply the band that plays in your friend’s garage. With that level of comfort came an extreme vulnerability.
McDonald, as lead songwriter, took centre stage near the end of the set to play a song that she wasn’t quiet sure was finished. The intimate moment gave the crowd a deep look into a songwriter who wears her heart on her sleeve and, as she finished with her eyes beginning to well, the difficulty it takes to be personal with strangers every night.
“Playing music in front of people is weird,” McDonald awkwardly laughed after playing ‘The Face of God’, a song in which she describes her abuse at the hands of man in the music industry. It’s a haunting track that buries no leads and McDonald sings, “I questioned everything I did,” and Thompson’s deep drums feel like a dark procession.
Camp Cope closed with their anthemic manifesto, ‘The Opener’, which calls out the inequality, that has only recently come to light, in how few female bands are booked on major tours, heading spots at festivals and generally relegated to, as the title suggests, opening spots. Thinking back to 2015 when a music blogger posted an edited poster of the Reading and Leeds line-ups, displaying only bands that included women, Camp Cope make sure that these facts about the music industry aren’t forgotten and that work is continuously done to balance the scales.
Camp Cope is punk. They want to change things. They will change things through their music and their message. The gravity in every Camp Cope track weighs you down, whether you are a woman and you relate to what they are hoping to expose and abolish, or a man who wants to be a part of the solution.
See Camp Cope perform ‘The Opener’ live at Sydney Opera House here: