Thin Lips, Oceanator
2125 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19103
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Camp Cope have become somewhat of a force in music since forming in a Melbourne backyard over home job tattoos a few years ago.
Shortly after the release of their acclaimed self-titled debut album, Camp Cope launched the It Takes One campaign to say enough is enough: no more sexual and physical assault at shows. The widely-covered campaign continues to drive conversation around safe spaces at live music events, including the implementation of an ongoing safe spaces Hotline initiative at Laneway Festival in Australia.
They’re a band whose work far extends that which happens on stage, or in the recording studio. They use their resilience and strength to fight for the betterment for the music industry and related communities, and have proven that they aren’t afraid to put their heads on the chopping block to do so.
They share this experience on their acclaimed sophomore album How to Socialise & Make Friends (2018). It features the standout opener ‘The Opener’, a rally cry which called the music industry to task on its sexist and inequitable structures, and ‘The Face of God’, a harrowing account of sexual assault at the hands of someone whose art you admire, a song that “proved to be the most fearless and powerful thing the Melbourne trio could possibly do” (Noisey).
On their sophomore album, Sarah Thompson lays powerful drumlines that rise steady, laying a foundation for Kelly Hellmrich’s driving, winding bass riffs (that exclusively centre around the G and D strings - much to the dismay of men in basements around the world). Their watertight rhythm providing the platform from which singer and guitarist Georgia McDonald stands with strength and ferocity, taking listeners on a trip through the pages of a personal diary, thriving in the uncomfortable and the unspoken.
The album received widespread critical acclaim, topping a slew of end of year lists including Brooklyn Vegan (#1 Best Album of 2018), Pitchfork (Best Rock Albums of 2018; ‘The Opener’ #24 Best Song of 2018), Billboard (#16 Best Rock Album of 2018), Bandcamp (#23 Best Albums of 2018), Stereogum (#41 Best Albums of 2018), The Guardian (Best Albums of 2018), and NPR (‘All Songs Considered’) Listeners Top 100 Albums of 2018), to name a few.
To see the sheer emotion in this album live is something else. As a band who cut their teeth playing every house-show and night at The Old Bar they were able to, one of the most defining qualities of the band is their ability to transform any venue to be just as intimate. Whether it’s headlining Sydney Opera House or The Bowery Ballroom, The Bootleg Theatre or an NPR Tiny Desk, their close friendship brings the audience in – both in on the emotions that permeate their set and in on the personal jokes – as if they were playing just for you.
And you can feel it, too. The energy at a Camp Cope show is rare. Not just because they write good songs that have the audience on their feet. They’re a band that takes action – they say no, they stand their ground, they take up space, and the audience can feel the power from those words. They unite in a space that is truly equal as they scream back every word, arms in the air, veins pulsating. You can feel it in the air. It doesn’t just feel a show – it feels like an uprising.
Only two members of Philadelphia trio Thin Lips are related by blood. Nevertheless, when three people stick together for over a decade through endless tours, countless band incarnations, and hundreds of recording sessions, they may as well be considered family. At the very least, they will be seen together on major holidays; but instead of hiding presents under a tree, they’ll probably be playing a basement show in Duluth. This is the case for Chrissy Tashjian, Kyle Pulley, and Mikey Tashjian, known collectively as Thin Lips.
Spend some time with the Tashjian siblings individually and you will quickly notice their admiration for one another. They’re a long way from covering Korn songs in their parents’ basement after school, and now the pair in their early thirties can’t stop talking about how proud they are of the adults they’ve become--Chrissy ever the admirer of Mikey’s sympathetic heart and boundless goodwill, Mikey continually praising his sister for her relentless support of the queer community, as heard on the opening track of ‘Chosen Family.’
Enter Kyle Pulley, Thin Lips’ in-house recording engineer and lifelong Tashjian tourmate. Pulley grew close to the Tashjians during an extended stint at Big Mama’s Warehouse in North Philadelphia, a music collective that functioned as the original location of his burgeoning recording studio, The Headroom, and as a home base for Kyle, Chrissy, and Mikey’s first band. It was here that the trio learned to live together, cook together, and write together.
Naturally, the next step was touring. Eventually, as Chrissy, Kyle, and Mikey’s laps across America became more frequent, they realized that their once modestly-sized chosen family was growing across state lines. The love and tolerance they had learned in the warehouse was not insular; in fact, the trio began discovering like-minded communities of queer artists and musicians tucked into every corner of the country.
Fast forward to 2017, and Chrissy and Kyle are demoing songs for Thin Lips’ second LP ‘Chosen Family’ on a laptop, chopping up pre-recorded drum samples and arranging guitar parts. Whereas the songs on Thin Lips’ first album ‘Riff Hard’ were raucous, punk-driven affairs, this new batch of songs sees Chrissy focusing on purposeful, sharp guitar hooks; stripping away the gutsy solos and leaving more room for Kyle and Mikey to add thoughtful details to their expertly calculated rhythms. Chrissy and Kyle’s extended pre-production also led to the addition of some tasteful keyboard and synth lines throughout the record, most notably on the enormous chorus of “Smoking Is For Quitters.”
The recording process for ‘Chosen Family’ included assistance from longtime Tashjian co-conspirators Frances Quinlan and Joe Reinhart. The addition of Quinlan in the studio saw Chrissy, Mikey, and Kyle adding some unique flourishes to their rock-solid arrangements, like layered slide guitars on “Gaslight Anthem” and casually operatic background vocals on “So Stoned.” Reinhart, who mixed the album, helped the band create their most dynamic record yet by shaving off the rougher edges of their past releases and facilitating a clear, detailed sound.
Thin Lips show their age on ‘Chosen Family,’ perhaps most on “A Song For Those Who Miss You All The Time.” You can hear their decade of experience in the playful precision of Mikey and Kyle’s rhythms, in the clever push and pull of Chrissy’s singular guitar lead against the vocal melody, but also in Chrissy’s weariness as she reflects on the death of her younger brother Billy: “You were free of everything that holds us in our place.” There is a special power in the ability to name and identify life’s daily barriers, and to believe in the possibility of freedom from those barriers. Chrissy and Thin Lips have that power, and they use it to keep moving. They write songs, they make records, they go on tour, and they keep moving. And on ‘Chosen Family,’ they sound free.
Immense amounts of wonder and power are often found tucked away in the most dark and unpredictable parts of the ocean. In much the same way, immense amounts of wonder and power can be found throughout Brooklyn, NY solo artist Oceantor’s work-- even in the most dark and unpredictable moments.
Elise Okusami has been a musician since the tender age of 9 years old when she first learned to play guitar. Her current force of nature quality is clearly inspired by a lifelong intense passion for music. In the 4th grade, soon after learning guitar, Okusami started her first band with her brother and a few friends. She hasn’t slowed since then, also having drummed for multiple projects in New York. As she eventually grew into her solo musical endeavor, Oceanator, Okusami has exemplified the sheer power of her project’s namesake through and through.
The influence of her upbringing in 90’s grunge and punk is evident in Okusami’s introspective songwriting. This thoughtful lyricism is put into practice through brooding post-rock ballads like “Coming Home” and “Tell Me” and intense yet danceable synthy indie tracks like “Not Around.” Additionally, Okusami can often be heard engaging with some of the most deeply moving and existential questions of life in her work. A prime example of such a question would be ‘What does it mean to be human?’, which can be heard being contemplated in “Inhuman.” While there surely is a range to Oceanator’s stylistic approaches from song to song, the tremendous powerhouse nature of the project is felt consistently throughout each and every song on Lows.