Camp Cope / Thin Lips / Oceanator Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, April 22
Published Apr 23, 2019It's not often that a show features a line-up that is dominated by women and LGBTQ+ folks, but that's what Melbourne's Camp Cope brought to Lee's Palace Monday night.
Brooklyn-based Oceanator opened the show for a small crowd, and their amalgam of static grunge and surfer rock filled the room. Frontwoman Elise Okusami delivered a captivating, yet humble performance. For their first time in Canada, Oceanator were tight, yet experimental — too good to be an opener, too good for a crowd that small.
The final song of their set, "Inhuman," left jaws on the floor, as the trio broke into a barrage of sound, breaking apart chords and completing their set with an explosion.
Thin Lips, of Philadelphia, played for a larger crowd, as more people poured into the venue. While their set began with a lack of personality, frontwoman Chrissy Tashjian dedicated a song "to all the homos" midway through, which resulted in an excited eruption from the crowd.
By the time Camp Cope took the stage, the venue was near full, almost triple the crowd size of their previous Toronto show last June. Singer Georgia McDonald started the set with a Toronto land acknowledgement before opening with "It's Not For You."
Before playing "The Face of God" a song that directly acknowledges an experience with sexual violence, McDonald explained that women and LGBTQ+ folks are tired of talking about gendered violence and inequality. She encouraged all the men in the audience to go home and have an important conversation with another man in their life about what they can do to support women and end violence against women and LGBTQ+ folks. The audience boomed.
After explaining several times that bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich was very ill (to which the audience responded: "Show 'em Kelly!"), McDonald played two songs alone on stage. The first was a solo, stripped-down version of "Flesh and Electricity," to which the crowd enthusiastically sang along. The next was a new, unnamed song. McDonald warned that if anyone in the crowd recorded it, she would be "very cross" because she didn't know if the song was finished yet. The whole room was quiet; for a track deemed unfinished, she had our attention.
The trio ended with "The Opener" and McDonald invited Elise Okusami of Oceanator on stage to play guitar in place of her. McDonald, who is rarely seen performing without a guitar, moved around the stage and danced with Hellmrich; she crouched down and engaged with the audience as she screamed the lyrics: "It's another straight cis man who knows more about this than me!"
The crowd pushed towards her, creating a community of folks who came together to address the problems in the music scene. Camp Cope created a space where we could yell about all the shit — in that moment, no one was alone.
In that final performance, McDonald was high energy and pissed off — and if that isn't punk rock, what is?