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Bringing the music home

The up and coming San Francisco band Kamp Camille took the stage in front of an intimate crowd at Mills College’s Student Union on Nov. 12. Even though the band arrived 45 minutes late because of traffic on the Bay Bridge, the delay didn’t deter them from playing a full 13-song set.

Kamp Camille performs in front of a quiet audience on Nov. 12, 2011. (Jen Ramos)

They opened with “Hotel in Athens,” a song true to the folk Americana genre. The song starts off quiet and sparse — just vocals and guitarist, Nathan Hughes’ acoustic strumming — before the full band kicks in. Lead vocalist Chantelle Tibbs’ voice harmonized smoothly with Hughes’ backup singing.

The fourth song they played, “Prettiest Girl (In the City), could be a radio hit. With its upbeat, melodic sound, Tibbs’ strong vocals, and Nathan Heintz’ catchy keyboard solo, I can see it quickly climbing the charts.

Vocalist Chantelle Tibbs and guitarist and vocalist Nathan Hughes leads Kamp Camille, creating strong harmonies. Image courtesy of Kamp Camille.

When they played “If God Hadn’t Rested on Sunday,” I noticed that their sound was too big for the small Student Union. Their massive sound deserves a bigger venue. Quite literally, though, they shook the Student Union.

The song “Virus” made its second live performance on that Saturday night. The song broke away from Kamp Camille’s electronic Americana sound a bit and had an indie rock sensibility with a dance-able funk bassline. “Virus” was met with roaring applause from the crowd and rightfully so; it showed a lot of promise with its roaring sound. I’d love to hear a studio version of it on one of their future albums.

After a quick cookie break provided by the College, the band launched into “Killing Floor,” slowing the pace down while bringing the concert back to their folk roots. Hughes on vocals harkened to a young Bob Dylan influenced by Josh Ritter, and it created a great mix of old and new.

“This song will put the blood back in your veins,” Tibbs said as she introduced “Big River.” With its soulful sound, vocal harmonies and plaintive lyrics, “Big River” proved to be the climax of the show.

Kamp Camille ended the concert on a quieter note. Their final song “Silver and Blue” featured a duet from Tibbs and Hughes with an acoustic guitar, while the rest of the band watched from the crowd.

The band relies heavily on ambient themes, but that’s not all they should be known for. They incorporate genres such as folk, rock, country, funk, waltz and soul. Their songs come complete with electric bass solos by James Touzel, who, I must say, sported a pretty awesome ‘stache.

The eclectic mix of sounds Kamp Camille created was a refreshing change from the computerized beats and voices often heard on the radio. They’re true to the electronic Americana genre they categorize themselves in (as seen on their Facebook fan page) and then some.

They’re built to last through the ever-changing rotation of Top 40 genres. The power of their live shows can attest to that.