Camp A Low Hum 2012 @ Wainuiomata, NZ
For the uninitiated, New Zealand's Camp A Low Hum possesses more than a fair share of idiosyncratic philosophies – none more prominent than the refusal to disclose the musical lineup before gates open.
There were no huge surprises on the sprawling three-day schedule, with Dan Deacon and Aa all but confirmed beforehand. However, things got confusing as all fuck almost instantaneously. A handful of scheduled bands weren’t able to perform over the weekend for various reasons – whether it be a bicycle accident (get well soon Galapagoose!), or just being a little too affected for a late-night slot. Also, a steady downpour rendered many of the outside stages inoperable later on the opening day. But hey, turns out that the madness only galvanised everybody's party hard mindset.
Melbourne sonic conjurer Wintercoats opened the Forest Stage, with his swirling array of violin loops accentuated by the tree-trunk mounted surround-sound PA.
Aussies Ouch My Face (now featuring Ben from Regurgitator on bass) and Assassins 88 both ruled in the festival environment -makng a natural leap from our country's smaller scale venues into the grander context with atomic aplomb.
Some of the weekend’s many highlights came in the form of discovering shit-hot Kiwi rockers – three-piece Rackets were insane on the opening night and triumphant during the following day, and drum-bass two-piece Hallowe’en crushed it on the Lawn Stage. Solo project Cartoon was initially mind-blowing, with a display of drumming that would make Buddy Rich shit his pants. But the backing track of noise became a tad overbearing for the early PM timeslot.
The daily pool party was a bit of a dud on the first day due to weather, but thankfully the sun was well and truly shining on the lagoon for Ruby Suns side-project Spring Break and one-man party machine Hawnay Troof on the respective final two days.
With Kitchens Floor unable to hop across the Tasman, Kangaroo Skull took to the middle of the otherworldly Forest Stage floor – making a homecoming of sorts to the festival in which the project was conceived. Though minus technically minus one member in Rohan Rebeiro, Ben Andrews was joined by some of the Absolute Boys contingent to create an impressive array of deep house jams. Over the course of the weekend, Ben took advantage of his role as sound guy to reveal his fiendish penchant for mainstream R&B in between sets. And to be honest, it was fucking amazing.
Prince Rama made an unannounced midnight appearance in the Noise Room to lead us through their bizarrely perfunctory aerobics set. Though I barely had the stamina to keep up, it was more fun than their actual set on the following night.
Though slightly more entertaining than their dull appearance at Sugar Mountain last year, Aa couldn’t maintain much interest in their sea of percussion.
New Zealand’s Beastwars do exactly what it says on the tin, forming an at times terrifying display of sludge metal – forming a supernatural synergy with the rising moon.
Though their opening set for Gang Gang Dance at The Corner late last year was barely noteworthy, Forces’ late-night, strobe-heavy stint in the Forest was absolutely incredible. I wouldn't be surprised if they manage to enact the biggest breakthrough of 2012. We'll see.
For many (myself included), Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders guitarist Kirin J. Callinan proved to be the undisputed highlight of the weekend. Lulling the crowd with copious amounts of smoke machine, Kirin ran through a potent mix of Australiana folk and pedal mastery which was nothing short of stunning – ranging from sparse heartbreaking tales to industrial loops, all punctuated with creepily endearing inter-song banter.
Dan Deacon Ensemble did what they do best, typifying the all-inclusive lovefest that is Camp A Low Hum.
In spite of what seemed to be a logistical shitstorm, everything seemed to fall into place perfectly. Magic.
BY LACHLAN KANONIUK
Loved: The setting was goddamn breathtaking, and the sheer volume of eclectic acts was amazing.
Hated: My motor skills diminishing to the point where I’m pretty certain I ruined two rolls of film.
Drank: Scrumpys and Do-Bros. So many Do-Bros.
Photo credit: Felicity Young