Surprise! Camp Cope needs no notice before last-minute Troc Balcony gig

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Camp Cope | photo by Joe Bloss of WXPN

When I woke up yesterday, my plans for the evening were about the same as most Tuesday nights so far this summer: Go to work, leave around nine and get home in time to watch the Phillies lose. Then I saw the news that Melbourne, Australia’s best punk rockers, Camp Cope, were headlining a last-minute gig at the Trocadero Balcony — last night. If the punk rock gods were kind enough, I maybe had a chance to make it in time for Camp Cope’s set, the last of a four-band bill.

I made it. It was as great as expected. I am sorry to Kississippi, Who Loves You and Larry Nodder, the first three acts of the night. Work commitment kept me away just long enough to miss you all. I’m sure you were great, and I’m hopeful any readers in attendance can attest to such an assumption in the comments.

Considering my attendance was as impulsive as the show itself, I did not record the order of the setlist. I can recall at least five numbers from the band’s lone LP — “Done,” “Lost (Season One),” “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams,” “Trepidation” and “Stove Lighter” — two from their more recent split with Cayetana — “Keep Growing,” “Footscray Station” — and, as pointed out in this Facebook-comment fan video, one new song. Whatever order those songs were played in doesn’t matter because what they sounded like was near-perfect.

Camp Cope, in the middle of a busy July that has them half way around the world from home touring the United States with the likes of Cayetana, Worriers, Thin Lips and others, made it feel like a night far from spontaneity. The room filled, not to the brim, but to a degree high enough that the short notice was a non-factor. Georgia “Maq” McDonald (vocals/guitar), Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich (bass) and Sara “Thomo” Thompson (drums), the three women who make up Camp Cope, possess talents that will soon reach larger audiences. The band signed to Run For Cover last month.

From the plucks of guitar that open “Done,” the first track of both Tuesday’s set and the band’s ace of a self-titled LP released last year, to set-closer “Lost,” the tiny upstairs venue expanded. McDonald’s lyrics, sometimes softly alluring, often tough and soaring, were not minimized by the vocalist’s admitted lack of energy. Between songs, she said a proper amount sleep escaped her the night before. Visions of Donkey Kong, stemming from time spent at an arcade, filled her spacing mind. None of us would’ve known if she hadn’t said so. She was that good, sounding just as wonderfully polished as the recordings.

Among the rarity of the unplanned gig, the band found comfort in the city and country they temporarily inhabited. McDonald spoke of the similarly less-than-ideal political situation back home — “our situation is pretty much the same, except with a lot less spray tan” — and their love for the Philly bands that have joined them on the road in recent weeks. She told listeners that she’d love to move her when her musical days end (I like to think I speak for most when I say she’s welcome at any point, and that her career is hopefully much, much closer to its beginning than its demise).

For those eight-ish songs, the band supplied crashing volume mixed with the fragile nature of the words they sang. It felt more than right, as if most Tuesday nights would long for something like this, that is if nights of the week had tangible desires. And to top it all off, the Phillies actually won in Miami during Camp Cope’s set. What a Tuesday night it was.

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