Live Review: BC Camplight
Online Music Editor Tom Bosher reviews a live performance from BC Camplight at The Phoenix.
After listening to BC Camplight’s latest album Shortly After Takeoff I was eager to see what Brian Christinzio would offer up as a performance live. The quality of production and songwriting on that album is simply astonishing and I was keen to see how he would perform his songs live, as well as seen his general demeanour and energy. Safe to say, he and his band crushed it.
The warmup act Holiday Ghosts were a great start to the evening, with a fun energetic vibe like a ’60s cover band but with their own danceable and kooky songs.
Whilst we all love a good warmup, I won’t keep you from the main event. Brian Christinzio came onto the stage with his signature cowboy hat and rocked the mic, informing us he’d had some fish n’ chips he was swiftly regretting considering what he was about to try and do.
Kicking off with ‘I only drink when I’m drunk‘. With a rip-roaring western guitar and ethereal vocals this track established the magnitude of their sound, almost asking for a bigger venue than the Phoenix. I always love to see multiple synths on stage, it’s always a good sign, and with Francesca Pidgeon multi-instrumentalising on guitar, synth, singing, cowbell and tambourine, we knew we were in for a musical treat.
Going to sit in front of a piano centre stage, Christinzio claims the spotlight with confidence, ease and humour. He’s been out of live performing for a while but you wouldn’t have guessed it from how well practiced he and the whole band were, and his ease in interacting with the crowd. His witty lines come through his songs of course, but seeing him live confirmed he was a truly spontaneously funny guy.
Christinzio talked about how singles he dropped during some ‘period’ of ‘crises’, were unfortunately titled ‘Cemetery Lifestyle‘ and ‘Back to work‘. I will always sign up to some light-hearted cynicism and this guy has it pouring out of him. Not to mention he was just casually swigging from a bottle of gin throughout, talk about a mood.
Playing a mix of bangers from his critically acclaimed Shortly After Takeoff, as well as some oldies worked perfectly, and the pacing of the set list was class, aided by the break in the middle where he let the rest of his band go off stage and sung us ‘I Want To Be In The Mafia’ solo behind piano. This was the emotional peak of the set for sure, he prefaced the song by asking ‘anyone been to a mental institution, and got a couple hands from the audience. ‘Oh…okay then’ I thought, ‘we’re gonna go there’. As he sung the chorus “I wanna put a hit out on my brain”, you really felt him resonate through everyone, it sounds cheesy but it’s true. He moves is way up the piano to higher and higher keys to really squeeze our hearts and play off the still comic lines like “in the evening I’d take off my sweatpants Adjust my chain and put on some other sweatpants”. He’s authentic to the core, and this song really cemented that fact, it was a real highlight.
As the band return, we see Brian and everyone rejuvenated, energy levels soaring, they start hitting us with more anthems, ‘Shortly After Takeoff‘ and ‘I’m Alright In The World‘ – easily one of my favourite singles this year. The guitarist shreds over all these tracks, and Christinzio who could easily just sit at his piano, really embodied the energy levels, getting up and waving his stool about, at one point the seat even falling off. A result he championed.
Not to mention playing the piano with his feet and the stool itself. He would go over to the drummer and politely ask if he could hit the crash at the right time, you always love to say interplay between the musicians, it makes it feel so much more cohesive and spontaneous as a performance. With stellar transitions using synths, it was simply a class show from them all.
I’ll end my review by quoting someone from the crowd “you make very good music”, to which Chritinzio responded “wow thanks, straight from the Exeter gazette”. Well I’m not the gazette but I feel like Exeposé’s close enough. You do make very good music.