"What are all these fucking hipsters doing in my neighborhood?"
June 30, 2010 8:23 PM   Subscribe

Campus A Low Hum is an independent, 3-day, DIY music festival, held in a disused agricultural college in New Zealand. Conceived as a "campaign against crap festivals", Campus performances are intimate, stages are multiple, parties erupt spontaneously, school-like group activities are participated in with gusto – and it's happening again next year!

Campus was conceived, birthed, and almost completely organised by one man – this man: Blink (or 'Ian Jorgenson', as I suppose his mum still knows him) – in addition to his tireless work as an independent band promoter, label manager, tour-make-happener, van driver, fanzine writer, and general Wellington institution.

Some of the things that make Campus A Low Hum what it is:

– Bands are not announced prior to the festival.

– No bands play at the same time, and lots of bands play more than once.

– No corporate sponsors, and no advertising. A good deal of care is taken to not oversell and overcrowd the place.

– The programs! Beautiful in and of themselves: 100-page, bound volumes, one for every single camper, containing the timetable, details on every band, scheduling of special events, and everything you could possibly need to know regarding the (surprisingly great) food, (surprisingly easy) transportation, and (constant, optional) entertainment. *(apologies for the self-link: Tumblr seemed like the easiest option to store and present that many scans.)

– The variety of music! From genteel harmony-rich showtunes to intense electro-sweaters to ostentatious hair-metal to teenage NZ hiphop, to many other places besides. In addition to the many unknowns, Campus has also begun to pull in the odd heavy-hitting indie star (the last one, for example, saw performances by The Dodos, Jens Lekman, and Dan Deacon).

– Not being on the bill is no deterrent to playing, when anyone can book a slot in one of the many Renegade Rooms, knock up some posters in the Arts and Crafts room to advertise it, and just do their thing.

– One of the stages is inside a gigantic, emptied swimming pool. Need I say more? (Empty ---- FULL.)

– Along with all the awesome non-musical activities outlined in the program (including a roller disco, basketball championship, mixtape swap, and Q&A session with Roger Shepherd, founder of the legendary Flying Nun records) fun secrets – like these inflatable bouncy things – just exist around the place to be discovered.

– Full disclosure: I have no connection with the organisation of CALH, but I did perform at the last one. As such, I am in a position to confirm – bands do get paid, but (to keep the ticket cost low) not enough to even cover airfare from Australia. The heartening implication of this: every non-NZ band who plays at Campus is losing money to be there, but has come anyway. That's a special festival, right there.

Other CALH stuff:

A "Highlights Reel" from 2009's Camp.
A news report (recommended if you find NZ accents adorable).
Several accounts of this year's Campus.
A more rum-sodden version of events: the tour diary of revered/loathed Melbourne band East Brunswick All Girls Choir, which includes CALH (see them performing at Camp here).
Jens Lekman, at the Leavers' Ball, being pretty much the most adorable DJ ever.
A Facebook group for people suffering from "post-Camp depression", (a.k.a. the struggle to return to a non-idyllic existence).
Dan Deacon's exhausting musical gym class (as well as his entire pool set).
An entire film's worth of footage, cut together by Blink, taken at the very first Camp A Low Hum in 2007.

Tickets for the next Campus A Low Hum, to be held from February 11 to 13, 2011, went on sale earlier today.
posted by Rumpled (14 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
CALH is how you always imagined a festival could be, but never is.

I've imagined it, I've been to it, in at least 5 different incarnations. Except .. I didn't pay money to be there.
posted by mannequito at 8:50 PM on June 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


150 bucks USD for all the "fun"....


FAIL
posted by shockingbluamp at 9:02 PM on June 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every year I say I'll got to this but I never do. A few years ago I went into hospital the day before and last year I got half way there before turning back for a family emergency, so I would really like to lock this in. Anyone got a spare $200 lying around?

I hope this year's camp(us) is unforgettabull.
posted by doublehappy at 9:27 PM on June 30, 2010


Fail? Seriously, shockingbluamp?

The thing costs a lot of money to put on -- professional PA's and soundguys to be hired, stages to be assembled, bands to be paid, buses rented... it's spectacularly organised, and done as cheaply and effectively as is possible. For the amount of effort he puts into the festival, Blink makes next to nothing from it.

(To be honest, I didn't realise that by not including the price in the FPP, people would assume that the price, when they saw it in the links, was some dirty little secret. Of course it costs money! No sponsorship means that ticket prices have to cover all of the costs.)
posted by Rumpled at 9:41 PM on June 30, 2010


Its not the fact that you didn't put the price, its the fact that you called it 'DIY'.

How can it be DIY if its a paid admission event?
posted by mannequito at 9:51 PM on June 30, 2010


Fair enough, mannequito -- in recent years it has gotten bigger and more tailored than the term 'DIY' really signifies. I'd edit that bit out if I could. It did start that way (a small camp for friends and friends'-bands, with borrowed amps and nobody getting paid), but is now a pretty professional kind of deal.

(Also, I guess I meant 'DIY' partially in the sense that Blink... is just a guy. There's no corporation or money backing him ~ Campus is just something he really wants to exist, and he makes it happen.)
posted by Rumpled at 10:01 PM on June 30, 2010


cool - that is a fair explanation.

I will say that you put a lot of work in to the post, and if I did live in that part of the world, I'd seriously consider attending.
posted by mannequito at 10:14 PM on June 30, 2010


I think people quibbling over the fact they charge for a "DIY" event are pretty out of touch.

I've attended Camp in 2010 and 2009, it was wonderful. My band played a renegade set to a packed crowd of people, including one dude dressed up as Scooby Doo and it was one of the best days of my life.

My Camp 2010 highlight was meeting Daedelus and seeing his lecture on the Monome.

Very much looking forward to 2011!
posted by MrSmuckles at 10:38 PM on June 30, 2010


MrSmuckles: My band played a renegade set to a packed crowd of people, including one dude dressed up as Scooby Doo and it was one of the best days of my life.

You mean...this band? Or this one? [sorry]

I always mean to go to CALH but never made it, my buddy's band played there last year and he had a great time.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:33 AM on July 1, 2010


I smell a MeFi meetup!
posted by hal_c_on at 3:03 AM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Infinite Jest: You mean...this band? Or this one?

Oh no! Definitely this one.

P.S: I already got my tickets for 2011!
posted by MrSmuckles at 5:35 AM on July 1, 2010


hal_c_on: I smell a MeFi meetup!

Heck yes! My band's applied to come again next year, but even if we don't get accepted for the official line-up, we'll probably Renegade it.
To any MeFites who come: I'm the drummer in Parking Lot Experiments -- come say hello!
posted by Rumpled at 8:52 AM on July 1, 2010


Not all festivals can be Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which is a fantastic free festival in San Francisco that is subsidized by venture capitalist Warren Hellman. Even DIY costs money from someone, unless they're all strict freegans playing acoustic instruments.

I've paid over $150 USD to attend "corporate" festivals (vs sponsor-free, like CALH), and I'd happily pay that much for an environment of music and merrimaking without obnoxious advertising banners and bands who could sell their own merch. The main reason I'll pay such money for a festival is because I have to travel 4+ hours to see most major shows. Toss in the wonderful festival atmosphere of music being everywhere you go, even if it's not my kind of music, and I'm a happy camper for a full weekend.

Now I have another reason to go to NZ, thanks!
posted by filthy light thief at 9:15 AM on July 1, 2010


I live in Sydney. My gf is originally from Wellington, so she introduced me to Camp and I went for the first time this year.

It was great. Before I arrived I'd hardly heard of any of the bands on the bill which did not matter because the bill was not announced until we arrived (I'd heard but never seen a few of the Melbourne bands), knew very few people there, had never been to NZ, but had an amazing amazing time.

We camped in a tent in a field, (it's rained as we put the tent up, and took it down, but other then that the weather was bearable) It was possible to camp in dilapidated college campus rooms with no power and mostly no doors. There was no hot water, but cold showers. There was great food for sale, there were free/cheap buses back to town to purchase food and beer etc. Alcohol was not sold on site. There were so many bands playing day and night, and because most bands played twice if you felt like a nap, you could most probably catch that band another time over the 4 days.

Bands played all over the place, with great professional sound, in barns and even in empty pools!

Some bands played 'renegade' style by placing fliers around campus and starting up late at night in rooms where a sound guy was provided. There was a bad prom, a basketball comp, i think there might have even been a roller skating night.

I do think the term DIY is a bit misplaced, but it is a very lofi festival. The price of around $150 is totally fair, it covers seeing all the bands AND 4 days camping in an amazing space with toilets and showers.

I had heard the fest been trash talked by some Australian DIY punk kids who had never actually been to the fest but wanted their own 'not known out of the small local diy punk scene' to play, and were told by the organizer that they were welcome to come play renegade style but would have to pay to enter/camp like all the other punters & renegade bands. I think this bothered them 'shurgs', i think it's a fair policy.


Rates up there with the best festival I've ever been to, a diy punk fest called Belladonna - held in Wollongong Australia a few times in mid 2000s.

I hope to go to camp again in 2011 and actually make a few friends this time.
posted by Burgatron at 3:41 PM on July 1, 2010


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