by Taylor Jacobs
Despite playing in the heart of Boston, Ohio-born band CAAMP brought the Midwest in its truest form to the Royale on Dec 7th.
In 2013, childhood best friends Taylor Meier and Evan Westfall formed the band that came to be known as CAAMP. The duo began performing at various coffee shops around Athens, Ohio, later adding Matt Vinson as their third member. CAAMP released their first self-titled album in 2016, which features Meier’s distinctive, raspy voice in ten upbeat, banjo-driven songs. Since then, they have released two more albums: Boys (Side A and Side B) in 2018, and By and By in 2019.
Even though CAAMP has certainly made waves within the modern folk genre, it’s hard to put a label on their music. Although CAAMP’s first album is folk at its core, their second and third albums have classic rock elements with more guitar-heavy songs, featuring the addition of Vinson on the bass guitar. However, the group maintains their classic sound, and proved through a diverse setlist that their old elements blend effortlessly with the new.
CAAMP opened with “Hey Joe” from Boys, which sports underlying classic rock elements woven into their iconic folksy sound. The crowd, mainly a sea of flannels, resorted to the standard sway and head bob at the beginning of the set. After playing a few songs from Boys, the trio made sure to bring back some favorites from their self titled album, such as “Vagabond” and “See the World”—resulting in less head bobbing and more dancing.
Columbus-based violinist Liz Fisher joined the trio for the night. The rustic sounds of Fisher’s fiddle, paired with Meier’s mellow vocals, took the spotlight during “Strawberries”—and the crowd responded appropriately. Returning to their initial sway, everyone sang along to the stripped-down acoustics of the sweet, romantic tune. Fittingly, about halfway through the set, the band put the Ohio State/Wisconsin game on in the background as they played through a few more songs from their newest album. The crowd happily sang along to recent hits such as the reflective, more vocally hushed tune “By and By,” and the lighthearted, drum-guided relationship song, “Peach Fuzz.”
CAAMP ended the night with three encore songs, including a cover of Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere,” “Going to the Country,” and the classic, “All the Debts I Owe.” Meier belted out the final, iconic tune to the audience, who sang—or shouted—back the lyrics with just as much passion. As the song ended on final, seemingly melancholy line, “I’ll be back someday I hope / Oh, I hope / Oh, I hope” there was a heartwarming touch of nostalgia in Meier’s fading vocals. In the glow of the Ohio State game on the stage of the Royale, CAAMP proved that their midwestern roots can bring any crowd together—and that their catchy folk tunes can convince even the most reluctant flannel wearers to give up the head bob and dance a little.