Summer Camp: Live at Efes Snooker Club, Dalston, 17/11/11

The first thing to point out is the remarkable scenario in which I found myself standing outside the Efes Snooker Club on Stoke Newington Road, wondering why the front was boarded up and the windows covered with brown, worn-out newspapers.  Turns out there are two Efes Snooker Club on the same road.  The correct one, where Summer Camp were playing, was at the other end of a very long street.

In the tiny, dank, dark, and strangely captivating venue, equipped with pool tables and lone gamblers on the slot machines, completely unperturbed by the music, we are initially treated to the sounds of Theme Park, a London based band who play a lively funky guitar rock warm-up act, who are highly entertaining.

When the headline act take the stage, they slalom their way from the back of the venue, coming down the stairs, with an acoustic rendition of Better Off Without You, the crowd are wonderfully compliant and urge silence, as lead singer Elizabeth Sankey makes her way to the stage (without a microphone), meeting the eyes and singing to captivated male audience members, while band member and real-time lover Jeremy Warmsley plays on, unfazed.  When they finally make it on the stage, a quick swap of instruments, and lead single off debut album kicks into life, with dreamy synthesiser and catchy guitar hooks.

Sankey more than holds her own, with her powerful croons, swirling all the way around Efes, while Warmsley builds up a sweat in this humid environment, working hard, supporting up his girl with a variety of guitars, synthesisers and chorus backing vocals.  The trendy London duo appear right at home, in this hipster haven.  Despite having a live drummer, the bands reliance on a drum machine, adds a depth to the sound, and injects further life into a very lively set including the title track, Ghost Train and Veronica Sawyer, a delightful number from the Young EP.  The songs are all accompanied by projected 80s photo albums and movie reel of all your favourite films, everything from Teen Wolf to Jailhouse Rock.  There’s a clip from Dirty Dancing where Patrick Swayze is doing his thing, and it fits so incredibly well the music, you feel like you are having the time of your life (groan).  The expecting crowd laps up the band’s obvious and ironic use of these clips, confirming their retro/nostalgic sound.

Sankey taps into the Dalston mindset by saying: ‘We’ve being looking forward to this ever since…we booked it.  But on a spiritual level we’ve been looking forward to it for a while’.  SO SHOREDITCH.  While individually the duo work hard and focus their energy on the audience, there are flashes of fantastic on-stage chemistry between Sankey and Warmsley.  Occasionally their eyes meet, and Sankey occasionally swans over and slings an arm around Warmsley as they duet, and it really is a joy to watch. Summer Camp are quite clearly enjoying themselves.  From Sankey’s I Want You to Warmsley’s Brian Krakow, the band race through their hour long set.  The certain highlight is yet another acoustic version, of my favourite song on the album Losing My Mind.  Again the crowd encourage silence, and it really is a charming few minutes, getting the biggest cheer of the night, all captured rather shakily by yours truly (see below).

The film reels, the intimate set, the sounds and the chemistry has made Summer Camp’s debut outing since the release of Welcome to Condale a highly entertaining evening.  They even find time to sign my poster at the bar after the set, in which I more than hold my own in conversation, and avoid using the phrases such ‘I love you’ ‘you’re amazing’ and ‘you’ve made my week’   Though privately I know they have.



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