The Please and Thank Yous
Summer Camp // Chicago, IL // Tuesday, Oct. 13
Summer Camp probably hosts the largest volume to venue size ratio in the history of venues. Save the opener, everyone who played this show played mind-blowingly loudly in the most intimate space I've ever been in. The stage was on the same level as the audience space and bands were free to set up their equipment and interact with the crowd however they liked. It was like I was incubating in the opposite of a sensory deprivation chamber. A recommended experience for sure.
Manqué opened the set intimately by drawing the crowd around her and embarking on a string of simple and intensely personal songs. Sounding a bit like Hannah Jones of the Ghost Mice doing '90s slowcore, Manqué played completely without amplification or pretense with the attitude of someone sharing songs for a group of close friends. Her lyrical melancholia ranged from the sweet-and-silly, i.e. "I think your heart's in the wrong place / maybe somewhere between your spleen and kidneys," to the straight-up heartbreaking: "Please don't break our suicide pact, because if I have to do it alone, I'm not going to be happy." The sincerity was at once disarming and endearing.
Next to take the stage was Sweet Talk, a two-piece who delivered a driving performance. The amplification absolutely overpowered the small space in which they played. The heavily fuzzed guitar vibrated at such a frequency as to make it feel
like there were little worms made of steel wool copulating in my eardrum. It was loud as loud gets and ear-bleedingly good. The band's singer-guitarist slung himself over the mic screaming, while the drummer played fast and shoeless behind.
The Please and Thank Yous infused their set with hints of old-school punk. Without letting up on the loud, they had a more nonchalant vibe in contrast to Sweet Talk's utmost urgency. Their song structure owed a good deal to '70s punk roots, which their singer/guitarist silently acknowledged by wearing a Ramones shirt.
Setting up the room so that they were centered and the audience had to cluster around them in a circle, Slingshot Dakota gave a full-length foreword to their performance,
fraternizing with the crowd by discussing their evening at the Chicago Diner, their awesome waiter Don and the giant peanut butter shakes. With just a drumkit and a heavily distorted keyboard (never has that much fuzz been laid over a synth), they went on to deliver some of the most awesome electropunk I've ever had the luck of hearing. Carly Comando sang over her keyboard while Tom Patterson pounded out pantsless beats (he had on bike shorts) and sang backup across from her. The two (who are also a couple – hooray rock love!) tended to look right at each other while performing song after electrifying song. The music just kept exploding out from these guys – you'd be hard-pressed to find a two-piece deliver a more energetic set.
Reverting to the stage, Cloud Mouth rounded out the night with a solid set. Their sound bordered on the art-punk and avant-garde as they navigated some unusual song structures, but they never veered into the pretentious. The distinct and varied guitar riffs and basslines, as well as the proximity of their guitarist to their bassist, made it feel almost like there was a duel going on, but I couldn't tell you who won. It was a pretty close match. I felt like I was in the presence of a sound too big for the venue, a sound meant to echo in long halls, but at the same time, Summer Camp's tightness provides an intimacy that you don't get anywhere else. There's something about watching bands play a few feet away, especially when those bands are filling the space with sound that makes just about everybody's head explode from awesomeness overload.