Camp Cope at The Uptown Nightclub, by Patric Carver
Camp Cope (photo: Patric Carver)

"Does anyone see an old man wearing eyeliner?" said Camp Cope's Georgia McDonald as she peered out into the crowd at the Uptown Saturday night. McDonald is speaking of 47-year-old Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, whom she tried to evoke by playing an abbreviated version of the local trio's "Warning." Cope had invited the frontman to the show, but he had declined, as evidenced by his apparent absence.

Cope looked like one of those bands that were just born on the stage. Comfortable, but not pristine, they ambled about and giggled at their own jokes to a degree that was charming. Some bands try to manufacture this and it comes off as grating, but they beguile with the best of them. Honestly, though, they could have had the stage presence of a dry sea sponge, and I'd still be singing their praises. The vocals were strong but digestible, tender but unrelenting. There was a smidge of PJ Harvey in there, mixed with a little bit of Kim Deal (without all the screaming). Their voice sounded adjacent to something so familiar but unplaceable, like when you see a coat made out of the same fabric that your grandmother's couch was upholstered back in your childhood — the pattern and texture look so familiar but unrecognizable in its new form.

Overall, their sound has two main overarching feels: some of it held the dragging romanticism of Kirstin Hersch's more melancholy moments, while other songs were emboldened with a more bass-heavy pop reminiscent of Hole (without all the depravity). Terrific stuff. Stuff that almost went extinct in the late '90s. Bless this trio of angels for bringing back a sound that takes up space.

Camp Cope was in good company that night with two solid openers: An Horse and Oceanator. An Horse played this beautiful synthy intro to one of their songs that sounded very reminiscent of Devo's "Mr. B's Ballroom." There was a very Jane Weidlin /the Primitives overtone to this band both in terms of their sound — with occasional Betty-Boop-like squeals and squeaks coming out — and the general impression of casually not caring what anyone thinks of them while still being flawless. Good stuff.

I only got to see the last half of Oceanator's set, and I won't make that mistake again. Standing on the sidewalk outside of the Uptown after emerging from my Lyft, I knew I'd made a mistake. The sound was heavy and promising, and when I got inside the club only revealed itself to be even more. It was as if they were shoegaze band that took their vitamins, the richness in their timbre requiring more than a steady diet of ennui. Whereas most shoegaze bands drift, they seemed to have a very clear destination in mind. I loved it. Their vocalist has a voice like a less strained and exasperated Poly Styrene. Don't be me. If you have a chance to see them, drop what you are doing and go.

It was great to see the Uptown pretty full of patrons, but with a night of music this good it's hard to believe that it would be anything but packed. I've never been one to embrace the ideas usually batted around when people discuss "self-care." Face masks and bath bombs and new workout pants don't heal me. However, this night of rock was just the salve needed to soothe my soul.

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