Image: Camp Cope by Ian Laidlaw – supplied.
Friday May 26 – Early Show
Backed by a halo of blue and gold light, singer and guitarist Georgia Maq began Camp Cope’s set solo, with a performance of ‘Song For Charlie’ to a crowd awash with goosebumps. The sombre and deeply respectful opening seemed fitting for the austere and at-times intimidating venue, and made for a precursor of what was to be a night of music both uplifting and full of sorrow.
Joined by her bandmates and with excitement at playing such an iconic venue palpable, Maq immediately kicked off a new song. Led by a jaunty bassline from Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich, the track ran through themes from stalker ex-boyfriends to gender inequality in the music scene. These sentiments of well-meaning (read: condescending) sound guys and booking agents telling the band to book smaller venues, capped off by Maq yelling ‘Get a female opener and that will fill the quota!’ brought cheers from the audience.
The audience themselves seemed just as part of the night as the band they were watching. Some formal seated gigs for punk acts can feel forced and strange, whereas the night was more of a warm and communal coming-together of two groups, each appreciating the other’s presence and input and remaining incredibly respectful of what the other had to do. The humbled crowd sang all the way through Camp Cope’s set, from the political ‘Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams’ to harmonising throughout the bridge of ‘West Side Story’.
Nearing the end of their hour-long set, a second new song formed the pinnacle of the night. Sarah Thompson’s drums were loud and triumphant as they sounded through the Drama Theatre, pumping blood and vitality through the songs. Hellmrich’s bass was ever-melodic and Maq’s lyrics cathartic and personal. A resounding chorus of ‘Just get it all out / Put it in a song’ summed up the mental processing and understanding of Maq’s songwriting that make Camp Cope’s songs as personal as they are universal, and brought the austerity of the Opera House to its knees.