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Live Review: Chronophonium 2015

Live Review: Chronophonium 2015

Tuesday 13th January, 2015 10:43AM

Light rain fell and houses gave way to bush on the drive inland from the Thames Coast to Chronophonium, where cheery volunteers tied yarn around wrists and directed traffic with beatific calm. In the dense wall of native trees surrounding the valley, the rifle shots of deer hunters began to ring out while Richard, the lovely man with a penchant for scrap metal whose land we were camped on, test-drove an ancient tractor amid clouds of blue smoke.

Everything seemed to be running as smoothly as the river that encircled the property. There were murmurs, though, that the Thames Coromandel District Council wasn’t happy, and ominous references to 'the two Marians' evoked images of staunch sheilas in matching polar fleece. However, the organisers had the good faith of Richard, not to mention a well-organised team and fire in their bellies to fight the Council’s threatened prosecution.

Artists – notably Nymphets, a fashion and art collective associated with the festival since it’s early days – set up installations in the trees, the stages were given some final flourishes, and soon people were checking out whose outfits were 'on fleek'. Bands weren’t scheduled until the next day, so it was a reasonably early night, but by morning a local paper had worked itself into a tizzy, trumpeting ‘safety concerns’ ‘BW riot’ and [subtext] ‘fucking Aucklanders’.

Many scheduled acts were late to arrive on the Friday, resulting in the timetable quickly becoming out-of-date, while acts who had arrived on time were effectively punished by being moved to much earlier spots on the bill, although trash-punks Dad Jokes were able to kick-start the crowd even at midday. Last-minute changes resulted in our party missing French dream-pop Francois and the Atlas Mountains, but it was hard to hold a grudge when the consolation prize was Tawahinga creating beats while Nympets' designer Rose Thomas danced in a one-piece swimsuit. Further treats included Princess Chelsea infusing the valley with gothic magic and I.E. Crazy, back with a full-ish band after a long period as a lone ranger, playing a dramatic set at dusk. Noise control did show up during the evening, but events were able to continue at a lower decibel.

The second day of music got off to a flying start by opening without rain and with the mournfully ethereal horns of Huf. The day’s schedule featured a fair amount of indie rock, and while acts like Floridian brothers Tonstartssbandht, with their distorted classic rock and weird time signatures, and Auckland-based outfit Ha the Unclear with their sinister pop ballads, managed to stand out from the crowd, Hang Loose and Traps PS might have benefited from a time slot less flooded with distortion effects.

The stages were within spitting distance of each other, aside from the slightly further off ‘free stage’, where many of the event’s treats were to be found, from banjo-plucking dreamboats Pales to a Christchurch industrial noise rock act, and the only bummer was missing so many acts due to clashes with bigger shows at the main stages. Not long after midnight, just as Girls Pissing On Girls Pissing took to the free stage, events came to a crashing halt as law enforcement confiscated amps and scattered timid music lovers to the four corners of the campsite, where they commenced making their own fun with acoustic music and general partying into the wee hours.

Other highlights included inspired covers by Shacklock Meth Party (‘Summer Wine’), Fuyuko’s Fables (‘Pure Imagination’), and Bargain Bin Laden (‘Falling’, AKA ‘Twin Peaks theme song’) not to mention Centre Negative’s tortured yelping over Finn Brothers recordings. Auckland-based bands were in the majority, but the musicians themselves were from all over the country. And while international acts graced the festival with their presence, they didn’t feel like the main event, but rather as though they were joining in on the fun of what was originally conceived as, and continues to be, a celebration of the most unique and most overlooked music in the country – one that we can only hope will live on to brighten the New Zealand music landscape in the years to come.

Chronophonium 2015
Friday 9th and Saturday 10th January, Tapu, Coromandel




Words by Louisa Kasza and photos by Hazel Gibson


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