NOISE: Camera Obscura eyed

Pub date July 21, 2006

Guardian intern Michael Harkin went to the Camera Obscura show on July 20 and this is what he thought:


Scottish delights Camera Obscura treated the Great American Music Hall to a tidy set o’ fey, pretty pop on Thursday night, putting their immense songwriting abilities on display in the most modest of manners.

Singer-guitarist Tracyanne Campbell led the group through a few slower tunes at the start before playing “I Love My Jean,” a fragile, fluttery pop number that they wrote as a tribute to John Peel, eventually opening up to louder, quicker new songs like “If Looks Could Kill” and “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken.” The snappier bits prompted head-bobbing and sorta-dancing all around. That was a contrast to the back-and-forth sway that otherwise characterized the spectatorship’s movement.

The band seemed like the nicest gosh-darn people you could ever meet. Guitarist and backing vocalist Kenny McKeeve had a particularly friendly demeanor: he addressed the mezzanine sitters by asking if anyone up there could make out the insect bite on his scalp, and uttered the gently surprised reaction, “Thanks so much!” when the stage lights were turned up after his offhand observation of darkness in the room.

More humorous banter came from Campbell, who wouldn’t specify her understanding of the word “jock,” which apparently means something different “where [they] come from.”

Their two-song encore concluded an hour-long (and not overlong!) set with “Eighties Fan,” one of their finest tracks and a song originally produced by Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian, a companion of theirs in the British Isles’ pop canon.

Not to be overlooked are openers Georgie James, who provided the necessary proof that cheery indie-pop has its place in DC (the District of Columbia, not to be confused with Daly City).

Singer and guitarist John Davis was most recently the drummer for Prince-ified post-hardcore squadron Q and Not U. Here, he collaborated with singer-keyboardist Laura Burhenn, letting on no indication whatsoever of his prominent former project with the sheer tightness of their melodic structures and sentiments.