All Things Gold somehow landed the excellent Summer Camp’s first DC show, with the accomplished Ghost Beach’s electro-popping as the opener, and Gigamesh DJing conversation-dissuasive levels of his remixes in between sets.
Ghost Beach were out first, with two guys switching up between keyboards and guitars playing high-energy indie pop – Glass, CEO, and Cut Copy are obvious reference points (I would say that Foster the People is an obvious reference, but that would put too many people off. They are, however, perfectly Neon Gold). The singer makes good use of a falsetto on the opening track, and plays an accomplished bass on the second song in the set – which is slower, more subtle, but immediately catchy. I don’t know their titles, but I can say with certainty that the third song is called “Crazy Heart.” It’s anthemic, immediately catchy, and a buzzing, electro joy – and, I guessed at the title, writing, “That Crazy Whore.” Yeah, come on, I was close.
“Bones” follows (I wrote, “Bose,” in my notes), and it’s okay, but definitely a quick-trip-to-the-bar track (to find, crushingly, that the Gaffel Kolsch-shaped beacon on the beer taps was a false flag leading to an empty keg). The last track euphoric and fun (“Crazy Heart”?), drenched in fuzzy, but oddly cheap-sounding guitar (that might actually be a problem with the sound tonight, which sounded off whenever they played guitars), but a strong ending to a short but good set.
Gigamesh does an excellent job as a remixer and a DJ, so I don’t blame him, but it really gets on my nerves when promoters think that no one wants to have a conversation between band sets. I appreciated his spinning, really, but I wanted to gather my thoughts, chat with companions, order drinks – everything that you normally do between sets. Not have an ear-blasting disco throw down. Maybe after the main act finishes, go for it, but this was an unwelcome addition to a short list of annoying things that U Hall gets just wrong. The no photography rule, the one good beer on tap being out, the place having the atmosphere and temperature of a black-interior fridge, and staff that treat everyone like a criminal until you prove otherwise, all round that list off. None intractable; all fixable.
The no photography rule bites especially hard during the Summer Camp set. The lead singer, Elizabeth Sankey, is stunningly beautiful, and the backdrop of carefully-selected film clips is entrancing. It’s quite sad I can’t point to pictures of the set. Surely, there can be an accommodation – no pictures of the crowd? I don’t want those anyway. But I wanted to see Farrah or Shauna or Dakota or any of BYT’s amazing photogs to document the set. Oh, and not that co-lead Jeremy Warmsley isn’t a lovely fellow. Just not as lovely to look at. Ahem.
Summer Camp has a live drummer, too – I almost couldn’t see him because of the sight-lines – and it adds an excellent counterpoint to the recorded beats. I love the interplay between them (them – lots of thems – between the two singers, between the live and recorded drums, between the fast and the slow bits), and the songs are so strong in this setting. The warmth of the vocals and the hilariously appropriately video clips (Elvis surf movies, Footloose, etc.) make me forget for a moment where I am.
I can try to approximately the set list. I think they started off with “Rebecca,” with the samples at the start, slow buildup, and then irresistible, storming end. “Brian Krakow” is my guess for next – with Jeremy taking the vocals. It’s a shame – there are technical issues, which clearly stretch Summer Camp’s banter-ability to its limit. The song is a buzzy rocker – and Jeremy proves his abilities as a lead in his own right. They go into “I Want You” next; it’s sort of a Stars-ish track, with Teen Wolf on the screen behind them.
More terrible banter from the band – sorry, kids – before a song that I didn’t catch, followed by the title track off their new/debut album, “Welcome to Condale.” This one really gets the crowd moving, and I’m not one to resist. Jeremy starts off the next one, with Elizabeth taking over half-way through. They then hit three amazing tracks in a row – the slow charm of “Ghost Train,” followed by the frantic, irresistible breakup track, “Better Off Without You,“ closing with the ridiculously charming, dream-like, come-down of “Veronica Sawyer.”
Cheers to All Things Gold for putting it on (boo for no photo passes). A couple tweaks to the venue, and this woulda been a perfect night out.