Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Festival: Camp Wavelength 2015

Camp Wavelength Festival 2015 — Artscape Gibraltar Point

Day 1 — feat. Holy Fuck / Doldrums / Dirty Frigs / Kurt Marble / Zoo Owl / Above Top Secret / Allegories / RAVETAPES

Day 2 — The Wooden Sky / Moon King / Prince Rama / Doomsquad / LIDS / Blonde Elvis / Slow Down Molasses / Etiquette / Most People / Digits / Kidstreet / Mar Aberto SoundSystem

Day 3 — feat. Do Make Say Think / The Weather Station / Loscil / Pierre Kwenders / Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche / Anamai / Scattered Clouds / JOYFULTALK

[These are some general notes on the "festival experience" that were originally gonna serve as a header paragraph of each of my recordings, but they quickly grew a bit too unwieldy for that. If you just wanna check in with the music, so can find my recordings linked above, or all together under the CampWavelength tag.]

After a year with just a minimal offshore presence, Wavelength returned full-bore to the island with the first-ever Camp Wavelength. Formally a reset from the beloved ALL CAPS Island festivals, the event nonetheless drew heavily on the organisational lessons learned from its five-year run, making this feel like a mature, smooth-running machine instead of an unsteady start-up. With the exception of an AWOL food truck, everything went off without a hitch — even the late-night ferry service, which has been more-or-less a nightmare at every other festival that tried it, was a painless experience.

Programming-wise, the festival did a good job of balancing populist draw with boundary-pushing experimentalism, helped to some extent by the degree to which a lot of these bands have grown with Wavelength from being bottom-of-the-bill weirdo experiments to bona fide crowd pleasers. There were only a couple boys-with-guitar duds in the three-day lineup and the headliners were all proud locals (though, it must be noted, one hundred per cent male across three evenings, a mark against a festival that otherwise was ahead of its competition in the equity department).

The vibe was low-key and relaxed throughout — an Island getaway in the best sense, and without the cattle-pen mentality that tends to infect corporate festivals. Security was low-key and pleasingly laissez faire. Contra ALL CAPS' tradition of beachside sets, all the performances were centralised on the main stage — a little sad, given that there were a couple sets that would have went down so well on the lake — but the beach adjacent to Artscape Gibraltar Point still felt like an essential part of the festival experience, both for its use as the locus of the festival's art installations, but also as a joyful chill-out zone. (Props here to watery installations such as Gambletron & Johnny Forever's Radio Flotilla and the wonderful In Synch synchronised swimming performance, as well as Vanessa Rieger's vibe-setting Nightlifeguard station.)

The sectioned-off camping area was full, but otherwise there was elbow room aplenty. Given the wander-y possibilities, it was hard to gauge how many people were attending the festival at any time, but it felt like it was a little undersold, especially for Sunday's especially strong musical lineup. To be sure, though, that meant it was comfortably-uncrowded and extra enjoyable from a patron viewpoint. There are little bits and bobs to be improved upon (my challenge: can we make the festival grounds a smoke-free space next year? Why should concert-goers be forced to breathe stinky toxins at any musical event?) but experience-wise, this was a great success, and the foundation is there to build on this for an already-announced return to the Island next year.

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