Caamp is comprised of three friends from Athens, Ohio. They describe themselves as a “folk trio… making beautiful noise.” This summary perfectly surmises the group and the infectious joy they brought to the Fillmore in San Francisco on October 21st.
Written and photographed by Makaila Heifner
From the beginning of their set, I couldn’t help but think, “Yup. These are some down-home boys.” Their ease and charm is simple and doesn’t beg for attention; instead their incredible musicianship communicates a new sense of honesty and humility that seems almost foreign in contemporary music. They just seem like the kind of guys you’d find in a dive bar and play pool with.
Throughout their set, it was easy to see their love for the music, each other, and their fans. Taylor Muir, the frontman, coyly smiled as he sang. Closing his eyes, he drew you into the music and offered a part of himself that seemed so intimate I almost felt the need to look away.
While there were slow moments, they still found a way to get everyone moving while still appreciating the soft strum guitars and Muir’s raspy and emotive voice. The band successfully livened up the room as their sound seemed to seep into every crevice of the theater. Songs like “Peach Fuzz” and “All the Debts I Owe” had the entire crowd up and dancing. Although Caamp started as a duo between Muir and Evan Westfall (banjo, backup vocals, drums), the addition of Matt Vinson (bass, guitar) allowed the band to expand their musical horizons and incorporate more rock elements into their music. Their folk roots are still alive and well, but Vinson’s contributions have steered the band into a new direction of southern rock. The energy of the band invited everyone to stomp their feet and holler. Although we were in San Francisco, it almost felt as if we were transported to a small dive bar in the country, away from the sounds of the city for a brief moment.
Even their love songs had a wonderful tender sway to them. The live rendition of “Misty” could make even the most cynical of singles believe in a fairytale ending. The banjo’s chords echoed throughout the Fillmore and felt like a ripple, the first set of waves that a stream endures as you dive in. The same ripples you feel when you fall in love. All evoked by a banjo and the soft yet raspy crooning of Muir.
The entire night had an air of magic, melded with serendipity and humility. Muir, the lead singer, took a moment to remind the crowd, “No matter what’s happening out there. Just remember tonight. All of you, all of us, complete strangers, were able to come together and make some noise and stomp our feet. Together.” The crowd roared back, you could nearly feel a shared sense of community and love radiate throughout the room.
I’ve told friends that Caamp seem like the soundtrack to black coffee, cigarettes, and falling in love on a Sunday morning. Their show solidified this belief. And as their song “Down the River” promises, I hope they do consider coming to stay in San Francisco.
Edited by Chandler Le Francis