Another night, another awesome show at the Christchurch Polytech Students Assoc.
Last nights Flying Nun birthday special saw the return of HDU; with support from Christchurch local Delaney Davidson. Delaney has just come back from Australia, but played a great set of memorable songs in his distinctive countryfied style, mixing things up with a dance contest, and building his sound using well-orchestrated loops and hand percussion.
HDU were simply epic. They played a vast set of songs that ran the line from intricate, delicate numbers to full-on blasts of pure energy. Great to see these guys back in Christchurch once more, and the crowd simply lapt it up; getting very enthusiastic as the set went one. Just a simply stunning exhibition of sound. Aces.
With a lot of people at the Bats show at CPIT (as part of the Flying Nun 30th anniversary), it was a quiet night at Darkroom. However both the River Jones and Ipswich put on a great show.
The River Jones have a post rock / math rock type of sound (ala Unwound or even Christchurch’s own A Flight to Blackout, particularly in their later incarnations) with an absolutely bombastic drummer and an underage vocalist/guitarist. Expect these guys to make a mark in the future.
Ipswich are a bit of a rising star in the local scene, with their self-titled EP now available and group playing shows around town quite often. The boys threw in a couple Flying Nun covers from the Bird Nest Roys and the Skeptics along with a set of catchy sing-shouty originals.
I didn’t manage to catch Dakroom’s 2nd show (the fantastic Bachelorette), however saturday nights show with Hannah Harding and duo French for Rabbits was a mellow cracker.
Hannah was vamping it up with low-key but sultry Jazz-flavored acoustic numbers, bringing an electric guitarist for the first few songs and toying with the crowd.
I hadn’t seen French for Rabbits play live before, but I’m a fan of Brook Singer’s material and I dig the French for Rabbits recordings. Needless to say they were slick as a live act, Brook really letting her voice shine.
New local outfit Ipswich performing at the Brewery (Christchurch, New Zealand). Really impressed by these guys, with a huge bass-driven sound; very sonic. Guitarist Steven is also in up-and-coming group Psych Tigers.
Been quite a while since I’ve seen (Christchurch’s own) Von Klap, and I was taken aback by how subdued their performance was. With a new drummer sitting in the started slow and a little too plain, but Tim and Bobby eventually got things rolling later in the set.
Returning to their home-town for the release of debut album ‘Constellation’; O’Lovely have slowly gathered a strong following across New Zealand. Now with a touch more shoegazey vibe than their Christchurch days.
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…
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 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.
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…
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
After a painfully sunny day though, the beast was to come once the sun came down…
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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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?
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…
Nervous energy and frantic organizing till midday day
Flying to Wellington, getting lunch and some food for camp
Long drive up the Kaptiti Coast through the Horowhenua, into the Manawatu, through Bulls and eventually to Flock House Setting up the tent in near darkness.
After all the preliminary stuff was out of the way it was time to check out the not-really scheduled day 0 bands, one of the first being the excellent noisy local brats Street Chant, plus London-based aussie noise-rockers Scul Hazzards.
Didn’t have much of a late night, but I did hear the much-hyped Leno Lovecraft from the tent and he sounded pretty flash.