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]

Dan Deacon with Golden-Axe at Dux Live

Dan Deacon at Dux Live
Dan Deacon at Dux Live
Baltimore, Maryland based electronic performance artist Dan Deacon has been touring New Zealand for the past week as a lead-up to the magnificent Camp A Low Hum festival in Wainuiomata next weekend, followed around the country by Auckland-based DIY synth-nuttos Golden-Axe.
Golden-Axe at Dux Live
Golden-Axe at Dux Live
Golden-Axehave been quite visible in past year, with their latest release ‘Liquid Bacon’ and accompanying tours up and down the country receiving praise. Monday’s performance was one of their best; the duo costumed as usual in day-glo outfits adorned with CD’s, natty wigs and surgical masks. They sounded terrific, pushing fuzzy synthesizers and distorted vocals through the Dux’s wonderful PA system to a small but intrigued crowd.Multi-Instrumentalist Deacon – who had previously enticed crowds as a solo performer in New Zealand back in 2009, is this time accompanied by an ensemble that includes two additional keyboardists and the thrilling sight of two syncopated drummers (which Deacon himself christened ‘Sushi Boy’ and ‘Pancake Boy’ during the show).

Although Deacon has spent much of the past year producing contemporary classical pieces (such as ‘Ghostbuster Cook: Origin of the Riddler’ – a piece he scored for New York quartet So Percussion), his Christchurch show displayed many of his signature traits. Electric, pulsing and dance-orientated songs, silly high-pitched vocals with addictive melodies and of course the one element that defines a Dan Deacon show – heavy audience participation.

Crowd Dancing at Dux Live
Crowd Dancing at Dux Live
After coercing 2nd-level crowd dwellers down to the ample ground-floor space he set about creating a dance circle to entice the revellers out of their shells. Deacon maintained this approach through-out the night, leading the crowd through dance moves and creating formations in, about and even outside the venue as his talented band flew through a driven, punch set of songs which pulled from the likes of the critically acclaimed ‘Bromst’ [2009] and ‘Spiderman of the Rings’ [2007] albums.
Deacon sets a high-water mark for performance. His infectious positive enthusiasm, catchy songs and accomplished, snappy live band really created a memorable, engaging evening – and I for one cannot wait to see his larger scale festival show. I thoroughly recommend catching one of his shows, or checking out the superb ‘Bromst’ – one of my favourite releases from the past few years.
Click here for the rest of the photos.