I always expected that it would be tricky to get decent Internet connections on this holiday, and I was not wrong. Once we’d arrived in La Serena, it was revealed that the USB dongle type Internet connection thing was inoperable; The Windows PC it was tried on, would spew forth tons of virus warnings whenever you tried to run the connection software.
I plugged it into my Mac, and installed the software, which seemed to go OK, but then the only signal I could coax out of the device was GPRS, instead of a HSPDA or UTMS signal, and thus it was slower-than-dialup slow. Not ideal. We took the device down to the Claro shop at the Mall, where it all functioned perfectly. Great.
Then magically, the next day it started working. Whoop. I managed to share it via the wireless on my laptop, so at least Fran and I could use it then. Later I replaced the virus checker on the PC, (turns out Avast was giving false positives), and all was well again.
It’s a bit like on Baywatch
After having an awesome and huge lunch consisting of Humitas and a (deliciously sweet) giant watermelon, we took the bus down to another part of the beach, where there was tons of activities going on, such as bouncy castles, beach volleyball, kiosks with Internet right on the beach, girls in small bikinis giving away free ice cream. Yep, it was alright.
Despite this beach being much less over-run with jellyfish, (and far more over-run with smoking hot South American babes) it didn’t stop some people getting into trouble. We saw at least two instances where the surf rescue helicopter flew out over the water, dropped in a scuba guy, and then fished him and another person out of the (incredibly calm and un-dangerous) surf. I think there’s a general consensus that Chileans can’t swim for shit. The fun really came when then helicopter decided it was cool to do super low passes over the beach, sending beach umbrellas in all directions…
We finished up the afternoon by having pizza and beers at a place called Huentelauquen Pizzeria, which was a restaurant where half of it was shaped like a giant Pirate Ship. No photos of that because I didn’t have my camera with me (and cameras with big lenses on them are creepy at the beach, right?) and all the photos of it I can find on the Internet are wildly out of date 🙁
The pizza was alright, the beer was better, and for the first time in about as long as I could remember I felt totally relaxed and at peace with things. I was finally On Holiday.
Good idea / Bad idea?
While in this state of relaxation, and listening to the house band belt out a rendition of “Pretty Woman” I wondered if they should make a prequel to that movie. Where it’s 2 hours of Julia Roberts doing awful things while turning tricks with sweaty old men, and Richard Gere sits in board meetings getting rich. Should I start making my pitch to Hollywood now?
So for our last day in fair Christchurch before Fran and I headed off on our grand South American adventure, there were two things to take care of: Soundday and an overnight trip to Barrytown.
This was one of those big gigs put on in Hagley Park, by Fabel Music / RDU / City Council. There were a whole bunch of act including P-Money, Don McGlashan etc, but we were there pretty much for Sleepy Age, who were one of the first acts. We had been allocated a number of backstage passes, but as per the usual story there weren’t as many as there was supposed to be, so we did the old trick of sending someone out with two passes, and bringing someone in, and then using that pass for the next person. Once you are backstage and it looks like you’re supposed to be there, nobody ever asks any questions 😉
Once backstage, there was a variety of food, watermelons, egg and bacon sandwiches, beer, red bulls etc. This was very welcome at 10 in the morning, as I’d had very little sleep the night before (hur hur), and even less to eat.
Sleepy Age played an excellent set, and I managed to get some decent photos and a bit more video (which will have to wait before it can be uploaded)
We hung around for a bit longer – it was a nice sunny day, and frankly very pleasant just sitting around, but the later bands were quite boring so we decided to leave, and pick up the rental people mover that we had hired for the purpose of going to Barrytown.
The idea behind the Barrytown roadtrip was to see F in Math and The Show Is The Rainbow play the community hall there. It seems like an odd place for a gig, and it is, but other big bands have played there, like Trans Am (who I saw there with Dan G and Marc) and Shellac etc. Bang Bang Eche were also supposed to play, but Zach ended up having to do something else that weekend instead.
There was a bunch of people who had said they were keen to come, and some of them couldn’t make it in the end, but we managed to get Fionn, Netta, Hollan, T’Nealle, Fran and myself all in the people mover by about 8pm. By this point we were already about 2 hours behind schedule if we were to make it to Barrytown before the acts started. To top this off, supposedly it had been arranged back at CALH, that we were to be bringing the PA for the gig, but had never been entirely confirmed.
It’s probably about 11:30pm by the time we finally arrive in Barrytown, seemingly not quite as lost as we thought we were… and the hall is completely shut, and there’s just a bunch of people drinking outside the pub. Oh, looks like the plan has gone completely awry. A couple of people check inside the pub to see what’s going on, and Darren (aka TSITR) is there just having drinks while a busload of German backpackers are in the middle of a pimps and ho’s night. It turns out that a) the promoter of the gig did nothing at all, so the hall wasn’t open, and nobody knew about the gig, and b) we were supposed to be bringing the PA!
Luckily we had borrowed a very small PA and thrown it in the back of the people mover. So it looked like the show could go ahead! Oh, wait, no microphone. Damn. Still the Barrytown pub looked like a fun place to have a drink. Along with Darren, F in Math was there, along with Polka Dot Dot Dot (for some reason). A bit later on (and after spending $10 on wedges, chips AND a jug of beer), the barman rocks up with a mircophone, which apparently he’d found by phoning up all his mates to see if they had one. The show was ON!
Darren played, and then F in Math, only about 3 songs each, the backpackers didn’t quite know what to make of it, but it was spectacular.
Fionn and T’Nealle jumped on Facebook on the PC in the bar(!) and invited everyone they knew to the Polka Dot Dot Dot show that had just been organised about 30 minutes prior.
We all wandered down to the beach at about 2am, as it was still wonderfully warm out (probably about 20 degrees still) and hung out there for quite a while.
As Netta had work the next morning, we had to head right back to Christchurch without sleeping, and it was my job to drive the return leg, despite having been up for ages by this point, and not really slept the night before. Oh dear.
None of us had really eaten anything either, aside from the wedges, but very much to our surprise and delight, Greymouth has a 24-hour bakery called the “Do Duck In” which had delicious pies and pastries, which we gratefully shoved into our eager faces at about 3:30am.
The drive back was uneventful, aside from that the crazy Japanese CD player would only play 2 discs from all the ones we had, and both happened to be Australian country bands, and that I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at the wheel at least twice, depite stopping a few times for quick power naps. Frankly, we’re probably lucky to all still be alive…
I was originally going to write heaps about Campus A Low Hum, but it’s now two weeks later, sitting in a room in South America, and the details are a little fuzzy.
Campus started out wet. It had been raining fairly heavily all of the day before, and this continued for much of the first day. Pitching a tent in the rain, is not fun. Also cellphone reception, typcially for Camp, was about nil, so getting hold of people to find out where they were (we had arrived a bit later in the day) was impossible. It turns out that it would have been useful if we had, as the others had managed to steal a couple of the dorm rooms that seemed unoccupied, even though they were apparently all sold out.
Went and saw some bands at that point, DZ (from Brisbane) were particuarly good, and I caught the end of Bandicoot, all of whom looked like they were 12. Turns out they are 15, so I wasn’t too far off.
Some of the bands were playing down the deep end of an emptied out swimming pool. Great idea, and good for getting a decent view, but unless the room was packed, the acoustics were terrible.
First night dramas
So on the first night, pretty much everyone got over-eager on the drunky water (and whatever else), and it was pretty messy. At some point in the evening I found myself in the Renegade Room, with a band that was just about to start. By a few seconds into the first song, everyone was on stage jumping about, I found myself operating the high-hat pedal, while myself and a few others worked the hat cymbal…. I didn’t see it myself – there was too much chaos, but apparently midway through that song, the guitar player collapsed unconcious from having had waay too much to drink earlier, while the rest of the band played on, not aware of what was happening.
Once we realised what had happened, we’d put him in the recovery position, worked out that he wasn’t dead, and went for help. We found one of the people on the gate, who radioed for the medics to come. When they arrived, we got the guy onto a blanket (as the next band was setting up around him) and moved him outside. During this, he threw up on Fran’s hand. Awesome.
So we wait around for the ambulance to show up from Whanganui, which takes ages, and they finally take him away. Apparently at this stage, Fran decides she’d had enough playing grown-up, and wants to go have some fun. She goes to the gym stage, and is there for about 10 minutes before she decides she’s tired and wants to go to bed. She turns around to tell Netta this, and some monstrous fool at that very moment throws a monitor speaker wedge down on her foot. I come on the scene I guess a couple of minutes later, as Fran is sitting outside with her foot up, looking very hurt, and somewhat pissed off. So myself, Josh, and a bit later, D-Rad, carry Fran over to the Camp office, where we wait again with the medics, this time for an ambulance for Fran, and this time one coming from Palmerston North. It arrives finally (around 3am by this point) and takes Fran away. I think I headed to bed myself then.
It turns out that Fran waits for something like 7 hours in Palmerston North hospital to even get seen by a doctor, who then proclaims: “Well I’m not an expert in reading x-rays, but I think you’re foot is not broken”. It seems to me that the one thing an emergency room doctor should be good at, is reading fucking x-rays. Mental Note: Never ever get hurt anywhere near Palmerston North.
I slept fairly well that night, I think it was due to how much I’d had to drink. The following night I laid awake for hours, sober (which was the problem right there), trying to sleep through everyone partying it up around me. Turns out we’d mistakenly camped in the ‘party’ zone instead of the quiet zone.
There was a roller disco in the gym on the second night, that’s pretty much the only thing I remember now.
On the third morning I wake up, and hear music and sounds coming from the gym building (which was next to the camp area) so I pop in to have a look. Dan Deacon (one of the acts) is hosting a Physical Education session/class with probably a couple hundred campers. Fran is watching from the side (still on crutches) so I go to look. There is an interpretive dance off. Then everyone is called to go to one side of the gym (me included), and one person from each side is picked to sprint from one end of the gym to the other and back, and then tag somebody. They both then have to sprint back and forth, tagging someone, so eventually everyone is sprinting back and forth at once. I got tagged third. FML.
As Zach was turning 21, and I was turning 30, we decided to have a combined 51st birthday party in one of the dorm rooms. There was cake, Bratz cake, and very shoddily made Long Island Ice Teas. We were even joined by Darren aka The Show Is The Rainbow for cake and drinks, and tales of how he messed his knee up during a show. At some point Zach and I bundled up DZ in a room and talked at them for ages about Nethack. Good times.
Bands on the last day
The last night of Camp is usually the best for seeing bands, and this one was no exception. Earlier in the afternoon, Sleepy Age played in the Renegade Room, well received by all. I got some HD video of one of the songs and put it up on youtube:
Gaywire also played, who are an 80’s metal band (in the truest sense of the word) from Lower Hutt. They were really awesome, and everyone was getting really into it. I think half the crowd were enjoying it for it’s super sense of deep irony (goddamn hipsters), and the others were enjoying it becuase it was just damned good music. I fell into the later group. I also ended up stage diving during their set, still wearing my full suit (I was planning on going to the Camp prom later, but didn’t end up staying for that because it was a bit lame, and I ended up seeing other stuff).
Die! Die! Die! were also awesome, which I found surprising because the other couple of times I had seen them I had decided they really weren’t my cup of tea at all.
We had to leave quite early on the last day, to catch our flight back to Christchurch, and DZ ended up grabbing a ride with us. Both of them managed to sleep the entire drive back into Wellington, waking up pretty much just as we were getting to the airport, lucky sods.
So last weekend I went and saw Johnnie and The Johnnie Johnnies, who I’d seen before (and really enjoyed) but the discovery of the night was easily The Barons of Tang. Aside from having a great name, they are what happens when you get a gypsy folk band, and then sit them in a room, and put on Mr Bungle, and Slayer’s ‘Reign in Blood’ for an afternoon.
The result is purely magical.
Oh, and downstairs from my apartment, there’s now an ice-skating rink: