Christchurch Media Club

Also known as: The Winter Garden

Location: 191 Armagh Street, Central Christchurch

Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake and replaced by the Margaret Mahy playground.

Active as a live music venue: 1927 – 2011

Bar Manager: Keith

Bookings:

Website:

Capacity: Around 300 in the main bar and 70 in the ballroom.

All-Ages: Occasionally

The Christchurch Media Club was a large building on Armagh Street, next to the notoriously seedy Centennial Pool. Broken up in to several parts – It had a mid-sized hall with hard-wood floors, a large performing stage and bar (used mostly for Media Club patrons, housing pool tables, darts etc), the smaller ‘Winter Garden’ ballroom where most live performances occurred – which was carpeted and decked out in ornate ceiling alcoves, plus a hallway, toilets and a small kitchen.

Though the main bar gave the appearance of an old tavern or sports bar, the venue had a storied history, with the Winter Garden Ballroom a notable part of Christchurch history.

Opened in 1927 as a cabaret and social hall, The Winter Garden was a sparkling venue in the Christchurch social scene. Originally a dance studio, the building was refitted for its opening with a sprung floor in the ballroom and the addition of a supper room and kitchen. The original décor was deep maroon suede, and there was a large mural depicting nymphs in a sylvan (forest) setting.

Christchurch Libraries

Sacred Heart Debutantes at the Winter Garden

This storied history continued through the 1940’s through 1960’s, with debutante balls and formal diners being a regular use of the dapper, ornately decorated ballroom. Remodeled in a ‘most delicate pink’ in the 1960’s, the venue surely reached it’s peak when the Queen dined here in 1964 – Christchurch Libraries noting:

During this time the venue boasted a 12-piece band – including drums, piano, saxophone, and clarinet. The band dressed in blue, Bermuda-style tuxedos.

Christchurch Libraries

However, as interest in ballroom dancing declined in the 1980’s the venue was purchased by the monolithic Lion Breweries, then passed on to the Trade Union Centre, who in turn leased it to the Christchurch Media Club.

Undercurrents in the main bar

By the 1990’s the lush interior was now vary faded and quite grotty, however it became a favorite location for local shows, particularly of the underground or experimental variety.

With thick carpet, a decent PA system, and comfortable couches – it was the easiest of places to put on a show, particularly if you got on with perennially grumpy barman Keith. It was also a great venue when it came to live music photography, as hopefully my own Flickr photo-stream shows.

Sandoz Lab Technicians in the Ballroom

The fringe music collective ‘Borderline Ballroom’ established themselves with shows in the smaller ballroom with regular shows over the course of the mid to late 2000’s. The Media Club was also a good choice for All-Age shows for a period, as the main bar was essentially a separate venue from the ballroom, as a result quite a few A Low Hum double-headers took place either in the ballroom or across both rooms.

The bar closed in 2009, however the Christchurch Music School MAINZ took over, using it as a teaching space and even hosting some All Age shows.

Unfortunately Christchurch lost one of it’s most beloved live venues when the Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 struck, however the site was incorporated into the wonderful Margaret Mahy Playground – one of the highlights of rebuilt Christchurch.

History

1927: Opened as The Winter Garden as a Cabaret and Social hall.

1960: Remodeled in light pink, ‘Sapphire Room’ added.

1964: Host to the Queen during her formal visit.

1984: Lion breweries buys the venue before on-selling to the Trade Union Centre, who demolishes half of the venue for car parking.

2009: Main bar closes. MAINZ takes over, using the venue for teaching purposes, plus putting on the occasional All-Ages show.

2011: Heavily damaged and eventually demolished post-Earthquake, replaced by the Margaret Mahy Playground.

Contact Details

Links

A Low Hum News – July 2012

D.I.Y. Touring the World
D.I.Y. Touring the World

For those of you who were interested in getting hold of (A Low Hum head guy) Blink’s brilliant D.I.Y. Touring the World book, but were unable to make it to his release shows, he’s now released the book on-line for download using a Pay-As-You-Like set-up.

Check it out here.

‘D.I.Y. Touring The World’ is written principally as a handbook for unknown underground bands on how to tour the world to play music. However, if you’re not in a band, hate music, or don’t even want to tour the world, you’ll still gain some important insight—even if it’s only tips on how to live on the fringes of poverty.

– Blink

Oh and Blink has more big news too:

Firstly tickets for Camp A Low Hum 2013 are now on sale here (Facebook group: here and YouTube ighlights from 2012: here).

Secondly he’s gonna be opening a venue in Wellington:

Holy crap indeed… this is exciting/nerve wracking. I’ve been thinking about it for years, but always found excuses. Well I’ve now bit the bullet and will ride that crazy train for a wee while at least. Yip. After years of bitching about the shortcomings of venues around the world, I am a few months away from opening my own in Wellington. Better be good right?

As well as awesome parties, another function of the bar/venue will be a rehearsal studio – something seriously lacking in Wellington.

As a rehearsal space it will be second to none (I hope); Only one band can use at a time, full backline (drumkit, bass/guitar amps, keyboard stands, etc…) is provided as well as a full PA and prices are negotiable. If your band is super broke, you might be able to exchange your skills or labour with the venue instead of money.

The rehearsal space will be operating from 1 Sept. I will accept limited casual bookings but I am mainly looking for bands who want to set aside a regular weekly spot. So get in touch now and we’ll work out a plan! alowhum@gmail.com

As well as “bands” I’ll offer crazy good deals for those bedroom producers who want to try out a live set, hear their stuff on a bigger PA and/or want a different environment for testing mixes.

There will be more details on the venue in future mail-outs, so keep reading!

And Lastly, big Disasteradio news:

Ok, well, firstly the epic video for DROP THE BOMB is finally here. Made by the SKYRANCH team and set in the same world as the incredible video for NO PULSE. I make a split second cameo in there somewhere.

More exciting than a new video from Skyranch? In just a few weeks time, Disasteradio will be touring through CHINA! I’m really jealous ‘cause I’m not tagging along on an experience few NZ bands get the opportunity to do.

Disasteradio China Tour 2012
July 19th – Beijing
July 20th – Shanghai
July 21st – Wuhan
July 22nd – Changsha
July 23rd – Kunshan
July 24th – Wuxi
July 27th – Hangzhou
July 28th – Suzhou
July 29th – Nanjing
Aug 1st – Zhengzhou
Aug 2nd – Xian
Aug 4th – Chongqing
Aug 5th – Chengdu

If you’re in China or just want to know what’s going on, follow Disasteradio on http://www.facebook.com/disasteradio

Camp A Low Hum 2012 – Part Three

Kirin J Callinan
Kirin J Callinan

I awoke to a wonderful, sunny day in Wainui. Finally the heat that had made the 2009 festival such a delight had returned, although I was still not going anywhere near the lagoon! I had a really relaxed morning, taking in repeat performances from the terrific Guerre, Wintercoats and a little bit of Brian Borcherdt.

I somehow managed to miss Watercolours (the current pseudonym of Chelsea Jade – one of the wonderful voices behind Auckland trio indie-folk trio Teacups) and took lunch during the mid-day slots before catching Perth 3-piece Usurper of Modern Medicine inside the noisy room. Describing themselves as post-rock is a bit of a stretch, but I did enjoy their big bass-grooves, before heading to the forest where solo drumming-based act Sexy Merlin had a few technical difficulties to start his set.

The impressive Bare Grillz played their repeat show out in the harsh sun of the lawn stage, but it was Christchurch’s Sleepy Age I couldn’t miss in the afternoon slots. A fairly packed room saw the indie-pop 4-piece play a solid selection of songs, including the disco-tinged single Décor (which they’ve made a terrific video for) and a couple of songs showing off front-man Josh Burgess’s falsetto skills.

Prince Rama
Prince Rama

I spent a lot of the afternoon chilling at the camp site with my friends, hearing the tongue-in-cheek hair-metal sounds of Razorwyre echoing around the camp. Wellington’s quirky Orchestra of Spheres impressed with hand-made instruments and out-there costumes, and guitar whizz Kirin J Callinan received a rousing reception to a large crowd at the Lagoon.

As the evening approached I was in the renegade room checking out some quality indie-rock. Firstly Auckland’s Grass Cannons played to a packed crowed; bassist Paul Brown somehow kept playing despite suffering a broken arm earlier in the festival.

Christchurch’s punky Trio Ipswich had to call upon Rueban Winter to fill in on drums for the absent Jamie Larson; which gave the group a sloppy but intense feel. As night fell US duo Prince Rama graced the big stage, playing a very theatrical percussion based set – high on atmosphere.

Crowd for Dan Deacon
Crowd for Dan Deacon

Sydney duo Baaddwere super-fun down at the lagoon, heating up the crowd with dancey songs and a whole lot of cheeky screaming; proclaiming ‘You don’t need musical talent to form a band. Just wear a leotard, jump around and scream a lot’.The Dan Deacon Ensemble were probably the head-line act of the festival, and it was an incredible site watching their crowd ripple back in forth following Dan’s dance move instructions and pulsating sound. An over-excited crowd flowed forward too fast for their own feet, causing havoc at the front of the stage.

BMX Rapists
BMX Rapists

The night was a bit of a blur from this point on – US dance act Publicist brought the trance vibes back to the forest, $noregazZm played an exciting repeat show in the noisy room, as did All Seeing Hand at the new ‘screen’ stage (which consisted of a projection screen backed against the hillside covered in native forest) and I ended the festival with the incredible (and incredibly vulgar) BMX Rapists, and popular hip-hop act Tommy Ill – both lighting up the noisy room with enthusiastic performances late into the night.

Absolutely brilliant festival, I can’t wait for next year.

[Published in the Christchurch Press 2/3/2012]

Camp A Low Hum 2012 (just about) Sold Out!

Blink just posted this on the Camp Alow Hum website:

Tickets to Camp 2012 are now sold out! BUT there are still chances to get tickets.

A) I have held onto 20 tickets. To get one of these tickets you must have been to a minimum of two previous camps or have already booked travel (flights/buses etc) and prove you had paid for travel before today or send me a super sob story – you need to email me ASAP alowhum@gmail.com to get one of these 20.

B) There will no doubt be some people who can’t make camp and need to sell their ticket for whatever reason. I will start a waiting list and if a current ticket holder emails me looking to onsell their ticket, you may be able to get a ticket this way. Obviously no guarantees that you’ll get a ticket, but you may as well be on the list. Email: alowhum@gmail.com and put “waiting list” in the subject line.

C) A current ticket holder may look to do a private sale. There will no doubt be people selling their tickets on the Facebook event page

For information about ticket transfers, read below before purchasing or selling a ticket.

Info on buying/selling tickets

If you buy another persons ticket to Camp, that is totally cool, however there is a simple procedure. Once you have purchased you need to ask the current holder of the ticket to email: campusalh@gmail.com with their name and ticket number, they need to also email me your name and email address. I will then email confirmation to you, the new ticket holder.

Tickets may not be sold for more than face value ($228 if they paid by credit card). If tickets are sold on trademe, they must have a “buynow” of $228 or less. If somebody tries to sell you a ticket for more, please let me know and I’ll get in touch with them to refund at standard amount and sell their ticket to you. I won’t tolerate people trying to profit from selling their ticket.

Campus A Low Hum 2011: Day 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey sorry things have gotten a bit quiet around here lately… I’ve kinda run out of steam over the last day of camp. I remember Hold Dear being cute, the sun being barely escapable – which made watching Lowtide almost unbearable, though Toro Y Moi in the garden shade was a treat.

Some time around then James Dansey (who had been absolutely unstoppable last night, climbing the walls as the frontman of the Sneaks) lead a trio of B-Ballers to glory in the 3-on-3 competition, Teen Hygiene one-upped themselves by laying on the steel roof of the bike sheds (must have been a million degrees up there!), and I hung around the terrifically laid-back Ocean Floor, as their set was delayed on the main stage.

The Pool!
The Pool!

The rest of that afternoon is a bit of a blur, I don’t think I really resurfaced till the phenomenal sequence that went like this:

Lawrence Arabia on the main stage! Holy heck I love everyone of his songs, and I’m clearly not the only one… I had recently saw him play a request show in Lyttelton and was surprised at just how many songs I can croon along too…

B-Ball
B-Ball

Next things were taken to another level with Spring Break ripping it up in the pool – Ryan and that man Dansey (yet again) handing out necklaces and getting the crowd nekkid and sweaty.

Must have missed Orchestra of Spheres, and I heard the Golden Awesome suit their name, but I couldn’t really get in to Leno Lovecraft‘s pool performance, though I think that was mainly due to the sound, his recordings are ace.

Caribou
Caribou

Next though was what I was waiting all camp for, Caribou! One of my favourite current artists, Dan Snaith is INCREDIBLE! He played keys and as 2nd drummer with an absolutely blisteringly hot live band, running through the bestes songs like Sun, After Hours, my personal favourite Melody Day and an incredible rendition of Odessa that had me dancing like a maniac with my girl Joey. What a way to wind up a festival…

I caught a bit of Four tet, and there were parties all night before an early morning shower set in, bringing things to a close once and for all. I missed last year, but man I was glad I came back – Camp is my favourite time of the year.

Ps. as a side note – at Wellington airport on the way home, hanging out with Joey, Charlie, Jos and Dove – we caught Dan Snaith walking around looking lost.. and somewhat lonely… The four of us cracked jokes(‘Where’s my bandmates!?’ etc) , but we just wanted to hug the guy…

Campus A Low Hum 2011: Day 2, Part 2

The Coolies
The Coolies at Campus

Hey back to the camp reports! missed a whole heap of bands on day 2 – Nudge, Royal Headache, the usually fantastic Sam Hamilton and No Zu before catching a little bit of Karl Stevens’ new bluesy outfit the Drab Doo Riffs.

Bachelorette got a great crowd as she played a set with Hamilton robot band the Trons. things took a while to get going but it was a choice set; including a fantastic cover of the Tall DwarfsNothings Gonna Happen‘.

Glass Vaults were totally chill in the pool, but I missed Rat vs. Possum on the main stage. Unfortunately i’ve lost track of a bit of what went down, some renegade shows went down (including my fellow camper Jos playing a chip-tune set, and the always entertaining Cosbys – both in the renegade room) and there was much revelling…

The Cosbys
The Cosbys at Campus

Things really kicked in to gear next, the Coolies absolutely ripping shit to shreds in the barn. Main their new material rules, totally free form, creative and brutal – I LOVE the new generation Coolies, can’t believe i haven’t got the new LP yet…

Parking Lot Experiments
Parking Lot Experiments at Campus

Parking Lot Experiments played to a big crowd in the pool, completely overwhelming and yes fun once more -these guys really were one of the highlights of Campus for me, and I even managed to catch one of their shows when I got back home to Christchurch.

My Disco
My Disco at Campus

In previous years and in previous A low Hum tours I’ve been front row centre for My Disco. However I’m one of those lame ‘I like your early stuff better’ kind fans as I reckon their earlier LP ‘Cancer’ is their best – it’s so minimal and sharp, I just go nuts when they play that stuff… So yeah their new material doesn’t really sit so well with me. The guys are still amazingly talented, but they’ve lost a bit of that minimal, incredibly tight sound…

Disasteradio!
Disasteradio! at Campus

Luke Rowell is an A Low Hum legend; and he showed it with a stonking, chock-a-block Disasteradio! set in the pool, surrounded by laser lights and stage-invading fans. Oh man, total love-fest of cheezy awesome synthy sounds. Great fun.

The Sneaks
The Sneaks at Campus

Again I missed a couple official outfits – Dunedin kids TFF and the Wilberforces, PlusF in Covers, Blinks DJ Set and All Black Wolf at the party stage, but the Sneaks MORE than brought the party. Those guys are seriously my favourite party band of all time – i was jumping around like mental in the stage area of the Renegade room as Dansey was climbing all over the crowd and letting himself go. There are few bands with so many great songs (Kuzai Heart You Girl, North Shore Pussy, No Sex, Thowback etc etc) that bring such joy and fun to their shows… Thats what camp is ALL about!

Campus A Low Hum 2011: Day 2, Part 1

Day 2 was EPIC.

Camping!
Camping!

Had the occasional brief encounters with the early bands – Melbourne duo Freddy Fudd-Pucker, Tantrums 2nd set, Karl Stevens other new band Heart Attack Alley, Dear Time’s Waste from Auckland, Great Earthquake once more and Orchestra of Spheres; but didn’t really settle in until Grayson Gilmour hit the main stage. Seems like he was playing a variety of new songs, based around his piano and emotive vocals – cool stuff; though the sun was definitely taking its toll on those of us braving the main stage.

Thankfully the FANTASTIC Old Loaves from Wellington were then playing in the Barn. Hot damn these guys are great. i described them at the time as kinda like the Gordons, but I guess maybe more straight forward and with a pretty brutal edge. Really really dug these guys, and they got a great crowd response from the fellow Christchurch lads in the crowd.Next up Wet Wings had a go at the full line-up, with Matt scobie joining Darian, Lucy and Jon in the Pool. there was even time for a little dancing this time around.

Wet Wings at Campus
Wet Wings at Campus

Saw a little of Mothers of Darkness – a pretty straight forward band; but headed off pretty early, I think this time around catching a renegade room double of No Aloha and new outfit Etiquette. Although No Aloha will be faimilar to Christchurch and Wellington audience (and features basically the Insurgents performing new songs). Etiquette are a brand new band with a few familiar faces; and I must admit I took a shine to this new band immediately. Mark turners a pretty great front-man, and with catchy call-and-response vocals I was an instant fan.

Teen Hygiene at Camous
Teen Hygiene at Camous

Teen Hygiene seem to have a gimmick – their drummer likes playing ‘high’; though not in the typicalsense; he’d stacked up a giant drum riser in the barn, and later better that by playing on the roof of the bike sheds (in scorching sunlight). Seem like a pretty straight ahead rock band out of Wellington.

I missed Alphabethead, though I believe I did later see him (along with James Dansey of the Sneaks) clean up in the 3-on-3 b-ball competition. Next band I didn’t catch were Lowtide – and Aussie shoegazey outfit notable for their use of twin bassists. Good stuff; with cool twin vocals too.

Low Tide at Campus

After a painfully sunny day though, the beast was to come once the sun came down…

Campus A Low Hum 2011: Day 1, Part 2

The Gym at Campus
The Gym at Campus

Ok so I kinda flaked a bit on the first day night… I did however manage to catch High Places, who had some odd sound issues and a bit of a disjointed feel. Nice stuff but not quite the same as their Christchurch show with Dan Deacon a while back.

High Places at Campus
High Places at Campus

I briefly saw the rather preppy Melbournaties Butcher Blades breaking out some dance beats in the pool, but missed Sydney’s Royal Headache in the barn catching some AMAZING Karaoke near the bike sheds. Shit got serious when a karaokist fell head first out of the van, monitor beneath them! Ah well!

Karaoke at Campus
Karaoke at Campus

There was no way I was gonna miss Toro Y Moi on the main stage. Chaz was really getting in to the swing of things around camp; lining up for morning cafe bites, attending the DIY synth workshop and generally chilling out – pretty appropriate considering how chill his music is. Great support band too; playing a really relaxed but funky set – a great way to end an evening.

Toro Y Moi at Campus
Toro Y Moi at Campus

Yeah I’m a piker, I didn’t catch any of the late night acts (Captain Ahab, Trjaeu and Delaney Davidson) or the Wellington Hip-Hop party  (Tommy Ill, Totems, Crackhouse 5) in the gym, but the next day would proof to be a real beaut.

Campus vids from Simon Ward

Holy Crap!, demented music video god Simon Ward has already posted a ton of handycam clips from camp straight to his Youtube channel; a whole heap of awesome stuff here including the mighty Peter Crabb ripping in to R Kelly’s Ignition (Remix) in the Karaoke van:

The Parking Lot Experiments

Peter Crabb performing R Kelly

Old Loaves

Campus A Low Hum 2011: Day 1, Part 1

Kitsunegari
Kitsunegari at Campus

Day 1 started with a series of laid back acts, Melbourne-based loop-pedallist Great Earthquakes the first official performer on a little embankment near the campus’s stagnant pond. Christchurch’s Wet Wings followed with their own beautiful, haunting songs. The core duo of Darian and Lucy were flanked by Jon Lemmon on keys, the trio giving a very stripped down and percussion free performance.

I missed quite a bit of the brunch slots (including Portland, Oregon’s The Ocean Floor) for the sake of acquiring more food, but I did make it back in time to see one of the highlights of the Festival – Melbourne Based Parking Lot Experiments. I’d describe them (at least live) as an incredibly upbeat Dodo’s; and a whole lot of fun.

Scul Hazzards played another brutal set before Liam Finn hit the main (assembly) stage, backed by his brother Elroy on drums. I felt this line-up change didn’t really suit Liam’s music; he seemed more drawn to playing in a drawn-out manner; and without the explosive effect of his loop-station performances. Ah well.

Auckland-based Kitsunegari were anything but drawn out, however they were a complete shambles; with a broke guitar half-way through their first song! The group are a new and young outfit comprised of at least one former Bandicoot.

The first pool act I got to see were the exceptionally cutesy James Duncan and Chelsea Jade (also of the Teacups), with lovely, wispy vocals by Chelsea and the occasional Suicide-style synthy bit from James.

Missed a few more acts as the day got hotter, venturing around Campus and exploring the likes of the Gym and the main camping area before I caught awesome duo Coasting in the barn. I was completely unaware former Coolies drummer Fiona Campbell has been drumming for the Vivian Girls, and here she was whipping up a storm with fellow Brooklynite  Madison Farmer. Nice tight, surfy songs. Cool Cool.

Pond
Pond at Campus

Melbourne 4-piece Tantrums seemed a little more gothy than their recordings give on, but they seemed to have some nice, relaxed electronicky stuff.

Speaking of Electronic music; former garden city lad Pikachunes tore it up with great big anthems in the pool; I really dig the likes of video indie-hit Just a Boy, and found myself singing it most of the night.

Sharpie Crows are the opposite of an electronic band, though now their drummers gone their frontman Sam Bradford was behind a drum machine type thing while his bandmates wailed behind him. Holy heck how much does that guitar fella tremble?

Ctrix
Ctrix at Campus

I missed Wellington’s Secret Knives, the photogenic Perth act Pond were unmemorable, and I can’t say CTrix is my favourite chip-tune artist (despite using a trusty old Amiga for the majority of his sounds), but it was certainly shaping up to be a great night with High Places and Toro Y Moi (and others) to come…