Beginning their North American tour after the release of Magic Gone this past week, Petal brought wonderfully inclusive, empowering pop with a lot of heart to their first of two sold-out shows at PhilaMOCA. Perfectly balanced in terms of sound throughout the night, and playing a tight set, they curated a set of songs from their new album, interspersed with speaking on feeling left out of spaces and lack of comfort being oneself. Co-headlining with Camp Cope, and with Slingshot Dakota opening, together they crafted an amazing night celebrating female and queer artists, with songs that highlight those same messages. Also, I saw a dog give birth.
Slingshot Dakota (or “Slingy D” as they are sometimes known) opened for night one with a set of heavy pop. Listening to their music previously, I had assumed they played with a full band incorporating guitars, synth, and drums, but was shocked to learn that all those sounds were created by drum and keyboard duo Carly Comando and Tom Patterson, with Carly pounding out sounds using pedals to camouflage her keyboard, showing off her musical dexterity. Meanwhile, Tom was the most delighted drummer I’ve ever seen, and I would be too if I had a giant corgi displayed behind me, as they did for their set.
Camp Cope began their set shortly after, the Melbourne trio traveling halfway across the globe to play songs from their killer 2018 album How to Socialize & Make Friends, as well as older songs from their debut and split EP with Philly’s own Cayetana. Their music is rich in punk influence, with biting lyrics that reflect on relationships and sexism in the music industry. I’ve heard comparisons to Hop Along, but Camp Cope doesn’t bother obscuring their words with metaphor, instead captivating with the specific experience of their words. On “Keep Growing,” singer-guitarist Georgia Mac sings, “No, that’s not me in the back row no more/ So I’m not gonna walk like I’m in your shadow anymore”. They closed on the opening track off How to Socialize, appropriately titled, “The Opener,” which demands to be listened to on a loop.
Worth noting here, during Camp Cope’s set, they projected footage from the documentary “Precious Puppies,” hearing “awww”s from the audience while the bashful pups ran around, then becoming more educational as it covered the duties of service dogs and performance puppies. It also sparked laughter during their second song during a brief birth scene. In total, I learned a lot. Maybe too much.
Petal took the stage for the final act of the night, Pennsylvania’s very own Kiley Lotz backed by a full band and pulling double-duty guitar and synth. Despite having more members than the other acts, their set was more intimate, only briefly dipping into heavier hitting songs like “Better Than You” and “Tightrope” before drawing the audience in with a quieter set. About four songs in, the full band exited the stage and Kiley performed solo, her guitar lightly distorted and her words similarly thinly veiled, confessional lyrics presented without irony or shame, proudly expressing her identity.
When chatter began during one of her quieter songs, Kiley took a second for the room to silence before resuming, later saying she was “using a little bit of her preschool teacher” from back when she taught. She took the time to speak on marginalized minorities being allowed to occupy space, and coming to terms with deserving respect within her performance space. Ultimately it proved effective, and the audience could enjoy her music unimpeded by rudeness.
Petal’s set diverged from the canine-centric visuals and displayed nature scenes from a Disney documentary, depicting babbling brooks, lizards devouring butterflies, and insects battling for food. The entire band returned for the final few songs, closing on a few more heartfelt tracks from Magic Gone, busting out the synth for “Stardust” and “Something From Me,” tracks that appear on the latter half of Magic Gone. The album is split into two halves: Tightrope Walker and Miracle Clinger. The divide in performance helped to capture the same sense that the album held, that of tension and release, of intense emotion but, ultimately, balance. Kiley spoke briefly on being able to welcome her family to the show, and how grateful she is to present herself as queer and perform songs that reflected this without judgement. Though tour was only just beginning, it felt like the conclusion to a difficult journey for the artist. The visuals followed suit, the butterflies emerging from their chrysalises as the final portion of the night began.
Petal and Camp Cope will be touring the US with openers from Sidney Gish and Oceanator through July. If you happen to be attending one of their shows, be sure to donate to the fundraiser for the memorial of Antwon M. Rose II, who was killed by an East Pittsburgh Police Officer. More info here.