Camp A Low Hum 2012 – Part Two

Spring Break at Camp A Low Hum 2012
Spring Break at Camp A Low Hum 2012

Continuing our review of Camp A Low Hum 2012; a 3 day music venue set in the scenic natural reserve camping ground Camp Wainui; nestled in the hills of Wainuomata, Upper Hutt.

Parties tend to run all night at camp, so sleeping can be a bit tricky at times. However I arose fresh, but a little sweaty in a sun-drenched tent. The weather had improved markedly over night, so I enjoyed walking around the camp in the sun, putting together a make-shift camping breakfast, drinking (a lot of) water and planning my strategy for the next two days.

Strolling down to the lagoon I was welcomed by the lovely, reverb-laden voice of Whanganui’s Castlecliff Lights. A tremendous vocalist who entertained the crowd with her sultry voice, layers of acoustic guitar and even some tastefully utilized melodica. A nice way to start the day.

Dead at Camp A Low Hum 2012
Dead at Camp A Low Hum 2012

While eating breakfast I happened to meet a young Wellingtonian named Flo Wilson, who mentioned she was performing a renegade slot later that morning as Foxtrot. These shows pop up through-out the festival, with makeshift poster adverts placed around camp to entice the festival goers, along with word of mouth advertising. You often find the best parties at camp are these renegade shows! Flo performed a solo set of songs based on vocal manipulations. She utilized loops and even an old tape player to create a particularly unusual sound; including a surprising cover of the Velvet Underground’s ‘Waiting for my man’.

After a dash to the Wainui shops and back, I sprinted to the lagoon to witness what promised to be the classic pool party of the festival; the appropriately named Auckland pop duo Spring Break (James Dansey of the Sneaks and Ryan McPhun of the Ruby Suns). Spring Break are hilarious; hamming up their performances with skimping (and soon to be discarded) outfits, dancing and singing like a 1980’s era Prince covers act. With incredibly catchy songs with that get stuck in your head for days (‘No Tango Dinero’, ‘Do You Want Me?’), I can’t imagine anyone walking away from their performances without a smile on their face.

Jon Lemmon at Camp A Low Hum 2012
Jon Lemmon at Camp A Low Hum 2012

Brutal Melbourne rock act Dead revved up a sizable crowd gathered on the lawn. With just bass and drums the duo showed incredible chops, releasing a pulsating, distorted sonic attack on a crowd just barely waking up (at mid day!). It would be a hard act for Christchurch act Dance Asthmatics to follow in the noisy room, but the 4-piece led by Stephen Nouwens (also front-man of the rather more shambolic BnP) showed why they’ve become a bit of a crowd favourite back home; with drummer Brian Feary pulling out some slinky drum beats, and talented guitarist Joe Sampson letting his fingers do the talking.

I didn’t get to see a great deal of Adelaide act Terrible Truths at the lagoon, but Wellington musician Jon Lemmon (playing as a duo with supplementary vocalist Ben Bro) brought a smile to my face playing a set of dancey, blissful numbers in the forest. Dressed in all white and with long hair, Lemmon led the crowd through his songs like he was commanding his faithful (‘I love it when you sing along!’ he proclaimed). His recordings and also appearances with former Christchurch act Wet Wings, never cease to impress me.

The Shocking and Stunning at Camp A Low Hum 2012
The Shocking and Stunning at Camp A Low Hum 2012

After a more conventional minimalist dub performance from Melbourne’s Absolute Boys and a couple of songs from ‘Holy Fuck’ vocalist Brian Borcherdt, I made my way back to the forest to catch (ex-Christchurch) Wellington sorta-prog duo The Shocking and Stunning. With Sam now possibly New Zealand’s finest drummer, and involving, enveloping keyboards from Jack Hooker they really do live up to their name.

Rackets at Camp A Low Hum 2012
Rackets at Camp A Low Hum 2012

Sydney downbeat R’n’B producer Guerre was next on the lawn, with some tasty, smooth songs with a real understated quality. Understated is something that popular auckland rock group Rackets are not – their songs are full of big, catchy verses and punky bravado, but I was surprised at just how pop and accessible they’ve become recently – they could very well be New Zealand’s next big thing, and if the attention they’ve been getting of late is anything to go by they’re well on their way.

The Phoenix Foundation we’re probably the most prominent name on the festival’s bill; making their first appearance at the festival since 2008 to a large audience on the big stage – which included their children in the front-row. The group ran through a familiar set of songs, stopping only for some somewhat awkward between song banter. I got a little tired and wandered off for some food, stopping off at the ‘Karaoke Dick’ van; a rolling Karaoke machine set up near the camp kitchen. Witnessing Teen Wolf’s Bradley Artesque run through his own take on Biggie Small’s ‘Juicy’ was a delight!

All Seeing Hand at Camp A Low Hum 2012
All Seeing Hand at Camp A Low Hum 2012

Things got very very fun from this point on; I was glad to have stuck to all water! Melbourne dance-duo Forces absolutely tore up the forest with their authentic retro house tracks; I swear for a period I was witnessing Bomb the Bass the beats and bass were so catchy. With my eyes wide open and my heart racing I was enticed into the noisy room where an intriguing trio had set themselves up in the middle of the room. With Alphabeathead adding colour on the turntables, All Seeing Hand are based around bombastic drumming and truly absurd vocals, the crowd simply lapped it up.

Wellington metal crew Beast Wars showed that camp isn’t all about skinny indie kids. Dominating the big stage, vocalist Matt Hyde couldn’t resist joining the dozens of kids that flung themselves into the crowd. After watching a rather under-whelming Vice Cooler in the forest running through Hawnay Troof material I stopped by the noisy room and witnessed an odd site – Brooklyn duo Prince Rama leading a small crow through their own home-filmed Yoga excercise video!

Beast Wars at Camp A Low Hum 2012
Beast Wars at Camp A Low Hum 2012

Auckland group Poor You Poor Me advertised themselves around camp as containing ‘the least interest members from…’ a variety of New Zealand groups; but I really dug their very later performance at the lagoon. With violin and gang-vocal singing, they had a nice party vibe going to keep the late-night punters warm. I ended the night with a repeat performance from Spring Break – this time crammed into a sweaty noisy room. Things got a little dubious towards the end of their set as clothing went flying and the crowd hit the stage, all great fun though. What a terrific day!

Click here for more photos. Days 3 to come.

[published in an edited format for the Christchurch Press 24/02/2012]

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…

The Sneaks

Another great Auckland rock act to emerge from the mid 00s. The Sneaks have a enough fucking around, get to the chorus mentally, throwing up ridiculously catch pop songs that seem to emerge from a writhing mass of noise and fury – their single ‘Kuzai Heart You Girl’ is one of my favourite songs, and an instant party on the dance floor.

Sporting scientist coats and mysteriously knob-twisting (the group possess a rather nifty sine-wave generator) the 4-some consists of James Dansey (Keys And Vox), Daniel Ward (Drums), Matt Rayment (Bass) and Martin Keane (Guitar and Effects, Vocals) and released their schorching 14-minute, 6-song debut ep on Rob Jeffersons’ newly established some confusion label. Around 2005 Matt Rayment left the group, and the remaining trio carried on, releasing their Sophmore EP ‘Peep Sounds’ and self-titled album in 2007 before relocating to England.

The trio of Dansey, Ward and Keane continued playing shows in the United Kingdom, and were soon supporting the likes of Lawrence Arabia in English and European tours. A further EP trickled out in 2010 as the group returned to New Zealand.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • You All Suck Ep [2005 Some Confusion Dazed001]
  • Peep Sounds Ep [2007 Some Confusion Dazed002]

  • The Sneaks [2007]
  • Today EP [2010]
  • Bubble Gum America / Duane Leinan [2011]

See-Also

Voom, the Sneaks and The Undercurrents @ the Dux de Lux [21/03/07]


At the Dux de Lux [21/03/07]
So after catching Hot Fuzz (a cop film from the makers of Shaun of the Dead – Fantastically funny) we made it down to the dux in time on a lazy wednesday night to fill out the crowd a little; i guess $15 is probably a little steep on a wednesday…

Anyway we caught most of the Undercurrents, and there set was excellent; i love it when they’re restrained and mellow, all those lovely textures come rolling out, showing off their quality tunes.
speaking of which, its no secret the Sneaks are one of my fav NZ bands due to their knack with quality, catchy pop songs. They rocked through a class set of tracks like ‘Godzilla’, ‘Kuzai Heart U Girl’, ‘You Suck!’ and ‘Hot Amyl Nitrate’ as a bunch of us fools jumped around in front of them; so much fun and apparantly the albums out soon! choice!
Voom were Voom. A couple real good crowd-favs, but im always left feeling a little passive with those guys. Still ‘Be Your Boy’ is a great track and with the new lineup they;re certainly tighter than a ducks bum.
see more photos from this show at flickr

The Tutts

Auckland 5-piece pop-rock group who exploded in 2006 thanks to the annoyingly catchy riff and video placement of their single ‘K’, which was omnipresent through-out the year. The group released their sole album Get in the Club in 2008 before splitting in 2010.

The group (comprised of Scott Allen (Vocals/Synth), Mat Robertson (Guitar), Dan McLaughlin (Guitar/Synth), John McNab (Bass), James Percy (Drum) toured with fellow synthy indie-popsters the Sneaks, drawing attention on the orientation tour.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • K CD Single [2006 Isaac Promotions tuttscd001]
  • Get In The Club [2008 Isaac Promotions tuttscd002]

See-Also