By Ryan Weicht
Photos courtesy of Benjamin Mastrorocco
After their moving indie folk album By and By released in July of last year, Caamp has been touring the country and giving fans the ability to experience their new works live. The three-piece band, hailing from Athens, Ohio, was scheduled to visit Philadelphia last December but rescheduled due to illness. The artists finally hit the stage of Union Transfer in front of a sold-out crowd, denim-clad and singing lively tunes.
By and By is Caamp’s third project, following the Boys EPs (2018) and their self-titled album (2016). Since first uploading their music to Spotify in early 2016, the band’s popularity has taken off. The trio boasts nearly 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify and many more millions of streams on their top songs. Caamp’s music is characterized by folk and Americana styles, and By and By is an extension and improvement of this aesthetic. The album balances the relaxed, occasionally somber atmosphere of some tracks with a lightness that moves along others. All the while, the consistency in the band’s overall sound is never lost, tying the album together.
Marked by a bright blue Stratocaster, sunflower-laden guitar strap, and brilliant red beanie, lead vocalist and guitarist Taylor Meier plays with an earthy grace about him. Meier is flanked by his fellow bandmates, Evan Westfall and Matt Vinson. All three stand in front of a massive banner depicting By and By’s cover art. The setup is nothing elaborate, but still manages to be visually appealing. The greatest appeal, however, is in the surprises the show has to offer. From the advent of a banjo to rousing solos on a host of beautiful guitars, the performers keep the audience engaged. Meier himself is a likeable presence, talking and laughing with the crowd, shuffling across the stage in his boots, turning to play along with his bandmates and even switching to the drums. With smiles and light beer, the performers had a humble and natural demeanor about them.
Caamp’s musical talent is easy to recognize in concert. Meier’s characteristically raspy voice is even more impressive in person, and the singer did not shy away from emphatic high notes and energetic melodies. While Caamp’s recorded music might be likened to a leisurely nature stroll, the band’s concerts are more of a brisk hike across rolling hills. The performers manage to translate their record’s energy into a pace fit for a live show, in large part due to more forceful vocals and lively stringwork. The basswork throughout the entire show was phenomenal, providing an excellent foundation upon which the rest of the performance could be built.
Caamp draws a dedicated crowd to their events, filled with concertgoers who can sing every lyric. Perhaps people go for the folksy spirit, or perhaps for the imagery of hikes, hammocks, and hilltops present in every song. Ultimately, it is clear that Caamp’s aura will carry the band to further success down whichever trail they take.