Camp A Low Hum 2010

Camp A Low Hum 2010

It was the best of music festivals; it was the blurst of music festivals. It was interesting. It was another mind-bogglingly well-organized, loosely-policed indie rock festival in the middle of nowhere (this time located on an abandoned agricultural campus in the vicinity of Bulls, NZ) from Blink, who runs the A Low Hum record label. I don’t have the time to talk about all of the cool (and stupid) stuff that happened, so I’ll hit 1) the highlights 2) the lowlights 3) a cool story.

Gaywyre was my favorite performance
– Dent May and his Ukulele charmed the crowd Stephin Merritt-style
– I said hello to Swedish indie rock legend Jens Lekman while he was eating dinner, even though he was wearing a strange all-white outfit. Jens Lekman’s performance was not well received. Certain persons at the show were too young and dumb to be there. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Jens Lekman was great.
– I cleaned up after Luke Buda’s toddler after he spilled some hot chocolate. Luke Buda (from Phoenix Foundation) looked stressed. His kids were wearing industrial earmuffs. Smart!
– Daedalus rocked the Monome and came across as a super nice, friendly person.
– One of the stages was an old empty indoor POOL! Bands played in the deep end!
– The rambling, decaying campus was beautiful and wonderful, with loads of old buildings to explore and side events happening

– Most of my pictures came out radically under or overexposed; there must have been something wrong with the film. I’m used to a lot of crap exposures with the Holga but not like this. Tragedy. So sad. A sad tragedy.
– There were a LOT of drunk youngsters there and what looked like one security guy who was in waaay over his head. I’m glad no one died. There were broken bottles everywhere even after Blink pleaded with everyone to put glass in the recycling bins. Maroons!
– No showers for three days
– Rainy weather on day 1
– Sound in the pool venue was pretty crap honestly. Sounded like a band playing from the bottom of an indoor pool.
– A fair amount of not-great bands.

Okay, so there was this thing at Camp A Low Hum called the D.I.C.K. Mixtape swap. Simple: You bring a mixtape or cd, you turn it in to the main festival office, and you get to take a stranger’s mixtape home. Okey dokey! I made my cd, turned it in, and got something entitled “Taranaki Sweetheart” in return, complete with a complimentary bag of lemons. ! The Taranaki Sweetheart tape was (is) actually an amazingly great mixtape – we’re talking hella obscure hipster stuff, snatches of movie dialogue… COOL.

Well! A surprisingly nice ROI! But the story doesn’t stop there. The lemons and tape came in a clear plastic bag with the mixmaster’s name written on it. (We all had to put our names on the bags… I disagree with this cause I think anonymity is more fun… but I digress…) When I got home, I couldn’t stop myself from googling the Taranaki Sweetheart creator’s name. And Lo! and Behold! My savant-like mad Googlin skillz revealed that the creator of my mixtape most likely was a friendly-looking married Belgian gentleman working as a web developer on the top floor of MY VERY BUILDING.

The story continues! Read on, dear reader!

So then I used my savant-like mad photocopyin skills and blew up the tiny Taranaki Sweetheart artwork up huge, to A3 size. It was mostly a newspaper clipping of a really old woman next to a deer, and the picture looked really satisfying when large (as blown-up newspaper pictures are wont to do). Then I wrote “THANKS, IT WAS AWESOME” on the large artwork, and put one copy up in each of my building’s two elevators. These antics filled me with glee and anticipation.

Barely able to work, I went to check on my elevator posters one hour later and was dismayed to see they’d already been taken down. This filled me with rage and a desire to turn into a sullen goth. What a world full of wet-blanket narcotics officers!

Days went past, then a week. I used the stairs to get to my floor, as I normally do.

And then, one magic day, I decided to treat myself to an early morning elevator ride…



As the elevator door clicked shut behind me, and my heart raced with excitement… The PHONE IN THE ELEVATOR STARTED RINGING. This made my heart nearly jump out of my chest. I thought “OH NO I’M IN THE MATRIX” (this is actually what I thought) and then I thought “CREEPY WEB DEVELOPER PERSON MUST HAVE SOME KIND OF HIDDEN WEBCAM IN THE CEILING TECHIE PEOPLE CAN DO THAT AND THEN PATCH IN TO THE ELEVATOR PHONE LINE OMG I’VE BEEN REVERSE GOOGLED BY A PROFESSIONAL” Then I heard the noise of someone picking up the telephone, and heavy breathing. “Hello?” I squeaked, right before the door opened and I ran into the safety of my office.

When I tried to breathlessly communicate to my workmates that I had almost been sucked into the matrix by a mad IT genius from Belgium they said I was “crazy” and that the whole thing was “probably a coincidence”. Huh. They obviously haven’t paid due diligence to The Pelican Brief. Or Amelie.

I took a picture of the thank you sign for posterity, and also so that I can feel great whenever I look at it.

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