Live review: Summer Camp/Yuck

Notting Hill Arts Club, London Saturday, March 13

Elke Meitzel
Pic: Elke Meitzel
No offence to Yuck, but the line-up’s all wrong. Summer Camp are on second billing, while the scruffy young London quintet lead. It’s an afternoon of London lo-fi, but in two entirely different ways. Contrasting with Summer Camp’s teenage swoon, Yuck sound grungy and late ’90s, not unlike Pavement playing in the flat below. A kind of Dinosaur Jr Junior dinosaur egg, or something…

Even though they boast former members of Cajun Dance Party, they don’t trade solely in nostalgia. Single ‘Georgia’ goes down a treat. Despite harking back to when plaid was hip, there’s a freshness to their sound – if you can decipher it beneath the feedback and fuzz.

Anyway, back to Summer Camp. This is not quite their first gig – there was a properly secret show in Notting Hill a week ago, and an acoustic session not long after that – so we’ll call this gig number two-and-a-half. Sometime NME scribe and angelic cooer Elizabeth Sankey and former electro-folk troubadour Jeremy Warmsley augment their duo with three back-ups on drums, keys and bass, and launch straight into ‘Was It Worth It’. More jaunty than on record, it’s an early ’70s Eurovision groove that clocks in at under three minutes. Blending lo-fi with sugary sweet pop, the eponymous ‘Summer Camp’ is Lomography in sound, a retro-tinged, sweetly sepia snapshot of sun-soaked love. Though the songs are warm and fuzzy, they’re not exactly thematically diverse. Boys/girls/summer/fun/sun seems to be the recurring thought progression, and new song ‘It’s Summer’ follows the same pattern. Samples from ’80s teen flicks add bite, as ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ opens with Heather Chandler’s infamous rant from Winona Ryder classic Heathers before slyly segueing into a doped-up lovesong.

For a band on their second (and a half) gig, it doesn’t show. Sankey and Warmsley share vocals easily, while their drummer drops some “doo-wops”. Finishing on forthcoming single ‘Ghost Train’, Sankey attempts a plug: “Actually, I’m not even going to bother.” She’s right not to. If they’re this jaw-droppingly, miss-your-mouth-while-eating good after only 2.5 shows, there’s no need to chase fans. They’ll come of their own accord.

Ailbhe Malone

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