Summer Camp - Captain's Rest, Glasgow
Summer Camp in Glasgow: it sounds like a treat for some, a punishment for recalcitrant Mormon missionaries otherwise. Whichever group you fall into, a quick hop on the Underground out West is always a treat. We make a mental note to come back to the Captain's Rest and try their tasty looking menu.
But first, Oxford's Fixers. Fresh from touring with Kaiser Chiefs, the five piece are squeezed perilously tight on the Captain’s small stage, the gentleman on the bass frequently risking hitting his head on an overhang. Another threat is suggested by a guitar worn dangerously high - no prospect of serious rocking out then - but their sophisticated electro pop proves surprisingly effective. Although Jack Goldstein’s falsetto wears over the course of a set, tracks like ‘Black Gold’ and ‘Majesties Ranch’ should pull in the curious as they seep out from festival tents this summer. An album, We’ll Be The Moon, is set to drop in May via Mercury, where Fixers’ subtleties should become more apparent.
The duo of Summer Camp are supported only by a drummer so it’s very much down to Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey to carry the show, a feat they - mostly - succeed in. Welcome to Condale was one of our Albums of 2011, a smart, varied collection that managed to condense 21 years of pop music (1964-1985) onto one CD. Not all of it works in these smaller confines - we really need to be at T4 on the Beach with two or three (but not four, that would imply record company largesse) budget-stretching dancers making some shapes at the back, rather than relying on rear projections of song and dance numbers from the movies: Dirty Dancing, Mary Poppins, The Breakfast Club, et al. in order to really sustain the rose-tinted, Teen Wolf pop fantasy that SC are so in thrall to.
But the back and forth between Warmsley and Sankey delivers, especially when the pace picks up a little and the latter’s unusual voice (unusual in that it’s strong, stronger than the album suggests, verging on cruise liner entertainer-strong at a time when cool/indie pop vocalists tend to be cute or wispy) silences an occasionally chatty crowd - most notably on the intro to ‘Done Forever’. A new tune, ‘Life’, a promising taster for a forthcoming EP, delivers a Hi-NRG boost and when they pause for an entirely acoustic interlude (complete with audience walk-through) their confidence shines.
But whether the background hum frays patience (one punter down the front gets pretty short shrift), an expected encore fails to materialise (even the soundman seems surprised) and the balloon bursts just a little bit. A pop group struggles to overcome the mundane reality of life on the road. Sounds like the premise for a brat pack movie right there. Anyone know what Ally Sheedy’s doing these days?