After announcing the end of the band, I’ve thought many times about what Camp Cope has done for the Australian music landscape. A band of strong and incredibly resilient women, they’ve taken the scene on head-first since their beginnings in 2015 and generally smashed it out of the park. With that in mind, as a straight, white male, I’ve always felt my opinions on the band and what their music meant for the Camp Cope community, for the most part, shouldn’t matter. And to be honest, it really doesn’t. And to that, I attended Camp Cope’s final show at the Sydney Opera House with my girlfriend Megan, who I’ve asked to provide an insight into what the band means to her, how she’ll remember the band and what this last show did for their legacy.
Playing a set that spanned their three albums, we were reminded of all the times we’d seen the band as a couple and well before we started dating. From festival sets in the stifling summer sun, to headlining shows in sold-out theatres, Camp Cope always had their community at the forefront of why they were making music. A sisterhood and haven for anyone seeking a connection to like-minded friends, the Sydney Opera House show was a triumph for the band and everything they’ve been through over the past eight years.
Opening with a short documentary from the last time they played the venue, my girlfriend was thrown back to a time when the lessons and messages of Camp Cope’s music were incredibly pertinent to her life as a young female. From opening track “Done” on their debut album through to “Blue” from their Running With The Hurricane release, Camp Cope’s themes will always leave a lasting impact on their friends and fans alike. With Georgia Maq flying back from her base in Los Angeles for the show, you were reminded how brilliant she is as a musician and frontwoman. Openly talking about their career, Georgia had an impact on everyone in the concert hall as she regaled about the band and what they achieved in their time together.
An early highlight was “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams”, dedicated to all the dumb cunts the song is evidently written about. Moving more into their most recent songs, the hat trick of “The Mountain”, “The Screaming Planet” featured a guest spot from Julia Jacklin, and “Caroline” were a clear winning ten-minute stretch for the show.
The back-to-back run of “Lost (Season One)” and “Anna” was something special. As the band’s first single and then Georgia’s favourite Camp Cope song respectively, it was clear the impact these two songs had not only on the trio but everyone in attendance.
The energy levels and vibes of the room increased as Georgia took the chance to go sans guitar for a few songs, from the classic “How to Socialise and Make Friends” through to “Keep Growing” and “Jealous”. An anthem for personal growth and prioritising yourself, “Keep Growing” is a song my girlfriend holds dear, inspiring confidence and self-assurance as she’s navigated adulthood and grown alongside the band.
With the night coming to its final stages, the band were in full flight and everyone in the room had a feeling they were witnessing a historical moment that hopefully won’t ever be forgotten. With Sarah “Thommo” Thompson crushing it on the drums and Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich slaying it on bass, the warmth and respect between the band was evident to all in attendance. Their bond and connection made the set feel like a family reunion between the band members and everyone else in attendance, with tears shed, laughs had and a general positivity that would be hard to be matched.
“Sing Your Heart Out” was a special moment in the set’s concluding moments, as family and friends of the band came out to join on backing vocals for the last chorus, while “Running with the Hurricane” featured Georgia running through the crowd as energetic as ever. A song about pushing through the worst of times, “Running with the Hurricane” honestly feels like it could be the anthem for a new generation of young women ready to make their impression in the world.
With the night entering its final song, the band left the stage leaving Georgia to sit behind a grand piano and play a ten-minute version of “The Opener”. Never to be repeated again, “The Opener” and its legacy is a testament to the impact Camp Cope has had on the Australian music community. Taking the chance the yell ‘Show ‘em Kelly’ one last time, the rest of the band, ably supported by friends and family returned for the last three minutes of “The Opener”, crowning the night with the best possible ending every fan could have asked for.
Camp Cope might no longer be an active band after this show, but their presence and impact will remain. They may or may not realise it, but the effect they’ve had on their fans has shaped the lives of many. I genuinely feel like Camp Cope will be looked back on as one of the great Australian bands that will impact on so many young people in the future. Their stories and music remain undefeated. Thank you Camp Cope.