Camp Cope / An Horse Hard Luck Bar, Toronto ON, June 10

Camp Cope / An Horse Hard Luck Bar, Toronto ON, June 10
Photo: Stephen McGill
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"I think we're ready to rock now," Georgia McDonald, lead singer and guitarist of Australian punk band Camp Cope (pictured), said softly into the mic. The band took the stage alongside fellow Aussies, An Horse, last night at Hard Luck Bar.
 
They opened with "Jet Fuel Can't Melt Steel Beams," from their 2016 self-titled album. The lyrics, which everyone screamed along to: "The only thing that stops / a bad man with a gun / is a good man with a gun," was perfect foreshadowing as to what the audience was in for. This wasn't just a night to listen to some tunes, it was a night to think critically about not only the problems in the music scene, but the problems in society as a whole.
 
McDonald, whose stage presence was delightfully awkward, thankful and just all-around appreciative to be there, took an opportunity to address the micro-aggressions that coincide with being an all-girl punk band. She explained that she's always being asked to comment on sexism in the music industry, gender issues or sexual violence at shows. "Ask the men," she said, in which the audience responded with a booming cheer.
 
It wasn't just the near-flawless musical performance that they gave, but the emotion, intimacy and the way the three women engaged with each other on stage. Drummer Sarah Thompson constantly teased McDonald between songs, adding that extra air of likeability.
 
The band ironically closed with "The Opener," a politically charged track about misogyny in the music scene, and after a lengthy applause, An Horse took the stage.
 
The crowd was smaller for An Horse, as about half the venue cleared out, but the duo still played a seamless set. They opened with "Horizons," which appeared on their 2009 album, Rearranged Beds. For their first tour in six years, they sounded polished and well-rehearsed, with fluid transitions between songs. Drummer Damon Cox performed with an overload of energy and precision, but the set seemed rushed, lacking the personality that Camp Cope had delivered prior.
 
While An Horse had a strong and loyal fan base in the crowd, and vocalist Kate Cooper performed with no falter, it was evident that a lot of people showed up just to watch Camp Cope smash the patriarchy. Maybe they were just testing the Canadian waters or riding the waves of a recent album release, but moving forward, Camp Cope can fill a room; they're more than able to be a captivating headliner.

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