Arts & Entertainment Editor
Sold out – the only two words necessary to describe Columbus, Ohio-based duo, Caamp, whose performance on Sunday at Carrboro’s Cat’s Cradle felt like one big community gathering.
Though the show was on a Sunday, the back room was packed with avid sweaty fans of the folk-duo, which consists of Taylor Meier, guitarist and lead vocalist, and Evan Westfall, banjo-player and vocalist.
Meier and Westfall started out as childhood friends, never believing they would be where they are today. Eventually, in 2012 the pair began writing their own music. By 2015, they came out as Camp. Originally, the name fit their easy-going, leisure lifestyle, but the duo realized the name was a Google search issue. While keeping the light feel of their first name, they decided an extra ‘a’ would set them apart from the actual extracurricular activity.
March 2016 saw the duo’s first album – a self-titled set of 10 tracks, all showcasing Meier’s rough vocals and Westfall’s keen banjo playing. The album is reminiscent of The Lumineers self-entitled freshman record and the moody lyrics of Shakey Grave’s entire discography. “These are our songs, our words, our melodies. You can feel what I’m saying, and it’s not supposed to be an act; it’s just us living,” said Meier in an interview with Backdrop Magazine.
Their current tour began Aug. 10, featuring many stops down the East Coast and a few stops in the Mid-West and the West Coast. Audience members were ecstatic to see the show. “We bought the tickets a long time ago,” said Jessica Felicelli, a student at Appalachian State University.
Felicelli’s friend from App., Annie Murray, said, “I’m from Columbus, Ohio and I went to high school with them.” Felicelli and Murray drove three hours from school just to see the show.
Before Caamp performed, Doc Robinson, also a Columbus, Ohio-based duo, opened the show casually as they sipped on their cans of beer during their performance. The sweet voices of Nick D’Andrea and Jonathan Elliot melded together with each song as their part reggae, jazz and indie-pop sound coalesced vibrantly. The band uses simple chord choices, with primarily an upbeat sound.
Their set list was presented well with more of their biggest hits and singles coming towards the end of their performance. After playing, D’Andrea said this was cultivated in a way for more people to hear them since the duo knows many audience members show up closer to the end of the opener’s set.
“Slip Away,” one of Doc Robinson’s single’s off their album “Deep End,” showcased a head-bobbing catchy chorus and Jonathan’s soulful scatting. This turned the audience into a wave of bopping heads, matching those of the musicians.The song that aroused the audience the most was “Chattanooga,” a new song that revealed the bandmate’s honest love for performing and oddly enough, their love for swearing.
After Doc Robinson, a quick interlude transpired, and Caamp came out to a roaring audience.
“I’m a little starstruck,” said Jon Beyle, a previous resident of Columbus, Ohio. “It’s a little taste of home,” he said being nostalgic.
The first impression when the duo performs is not their overall sound, but Weier’s rough and raspy voice, which is somehow harsher in person. For those unaware of his appearance, many would assume Weier is a man in his late 40s, not a 22-year-old.
The next impression that follows is Westfall’s concentrated banjo-playing, which becomes slightly underwhelming as he continues to concern himself with every note – rendering his stage performance as lackluster. Westfall may have had a case of nervousness, but from a plethora of videos, he tends to perform that way normally.
As the band continued their set list, the chilling whistles of the single, “Misty,” had the audience swaying in unison to Meier’s yearning lyrics. Unlike many of Caamp’s songs, “Misty” does not spontaneously crescendo, but instead, it hangs softly in the air like a lullaby.
However, some of the most entertaining moments were songs such as “Iffy” and “All the Debts I Owe.” Both songs begin softly and then climax, leaving the room filled with the imperfect, yet charming cracks in Weier’s voice and the quickened strums of Westfall’s banjo. During these songs, the audience jumped around as if it were the scene in the Titanic when everyone danced to the ship’s folk music, which created a rustic energy, well-suited for the beginning of autumn.
The duo performed two encores for the audience, including “So Long Honey.” The song finished off the show in a sad, yet hopeful tone.
“It’s one thing when a band has a great sound, but it’s another thing when they’re great people,” said Jonathan Elliot from Doc Robinson.
For two small-town boys from Ohio, Caamp knows just how to make one night a memorable one.