“It only took us about 20 hours to get here, so we’re not leaving until the cops come,” said BC Camplight’s Brian Christinzio as he took the stage at Loppen with his backing band. It might have been overstating things a smidge; the set is only an hour. But there is a joyous abandon to it.
As a recording artist who builds his songs around dreamy, retro textures, BC Camplight’s live performance is an interesting mix of recreating that warmth and gauze and poking through it with occasionally jarring clarity. It takes different forms. On “You Should Have Gone to School,” Francesca Pidgeon’s backing vocals add more heft coming from a strong female singer than the thin falsetto of the recording could. Christinzio’s solo performance of the sentimental “When I Think of My Dog” (actually about his dog Frankie) is an unexpected display of his accomplishments as a pianist. These flourishes at the piano are matched by the odd growl or skip along scales in a much lower vocal range than he normally sings. It’s as if he’s simultaneously reminding us that his performance is not some flawlessly mixed record, but also that, if he wanted, he could be a very different kind of singer.
Most of the songs from the evening come from BC Camplight’s most recent album, Deportation Blues. People are dancing to the existential crisis of “I’m in a Weird Place Now,” the more relevant-than-ever ode to Theresa May, “Fire in England,” and the scorching, repetitive chime of “I’m Desperate.” Christinzio has confined himself to the space behind his piano, flanked on either side by synth rigs. There are many times throughout the evening where he hints at the kind of dynamism he would have if he were on a physically larger stage, but instead we have to content ourselves with his energy, his witticisms, and his constant removing and replacing of his sunglasses. He reveals that a new album is on the docket. Four albums and 14 years on from his debut, he makes us believe that there still is a lot more to look forward to.