I wrote this ages ago, so I probably should (finally) get around to posting it!
Well, another All Tomorrow's Parties has come and gone. It's got to be my 5th or 6th time at the festival, but this time it was different; Instead of making our way down to Rye/Camber in East Sussex, it was off to Minehead in Somerset.
For the first time, I took the train to the festival. Whoops. It started well enough, but due to a train breaking down in front of us, we had to wait for about an hour, thus missing our connection to Taunton at Reading. After checking schedules and with the personnel on hand, we were instructed to get the Penzance train which was going non-stop from Reading through to Exeter and to then double-back as this would be the fastest way to reach our destination. Well, apparently not. Once we were underway, the train manager on the Penzance-bound train informed us someone at Reading should've checked their timetable a bit more closely. Gah. So, off we went to Devon. We saw some lovely scenery and chalk horses en-route. Then, once arriving in Exeter, we didn't wait long to double-back on a stopping service. Once at Taunton, we had to get a bus to Minehead. This too was a bit of a disaster. We ended up in The Great British Queue™ waiting with several hundred people for buses that didn't come when they were meant to. All things considered, people were in good spirits, with ghetto boxes booming Melt Banana
and general merriment all around. It was amusing though to watch the local Taunton people react to the hundreds of alt/indie/punk kids waiting for a bus to Butlins. I'm sure it must've looked very odd. We got there eventually, about 4 hours later than we should've, thus missing the first few bands.
I did manage to catch the last few songs in Flipper
's set (including Krist Novoselic - of Nirvana fame - on bass), but unfortunately I didn't see enough to say if it was any good or not. Melvins
' twin drum attack was fierce! Deerhoof
were their usual quirky and charming selves. Bardo Pond
weren't as good as I'd hoped (but okay) and Charlambides
were absolutely gorgeous. After that, I pretty much collapsed back at the chalet, as I'd had a long day of travelling and had a very busy week leading up to ATP. This did mean I missed The Dead C
who I was curious about, but I really couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. I did spend most of the first night wandering around on my own, as I had no mobile signal and couldn't find anyone. I made the mistake of separating from Joe early on as we wanted to see different bands (and didn't bump into any of my other friends), but that was fine. The vibe of ATP is such that you always talk to people, and among others, I met a lovely couple who'd come all the way from Seattle just for the festival.
Saturday began with a walk into Minehead, which was a lovely surprise. The beach was lovely, we hiked up a hill through a forest and had time to look through a few local shops (including a great deli, a traditional sweet shop and a dedicated cider shop - hell, it's Somerset so no surprise there!). Bands on Saturday included The New Blockaders
& The Haters
, who were the first proper 'noise' band. Their work has had a disproportional influence in the genre, so I went along out of general interest. It was abrasive. Next were Hair Police
, who made a whole lot of chaos into actually something quite cohesive. Gang of Four
didn't disappoint and were just as good as when I saw then at Primavera a few years ago. In my opinion, Flaherty, Corsano & Yeh
gave one of the performances of the weekend. Dinosaur Jr
were very LOUD (6 guitar amps and 4 bass amps!!), but fun (I'd not heard Feel The Pain in dog's years!). Sonic Youth
's performance was phenomenal; I've seen them four times now and this was the best set I've seen to date - they were tight, had great sound and played a nice mix of old and new stuff. In fact, a lot of the new stuff from Rather Ripped sounded better than it does on the album. There was some attempts at clubbing afterwards, but we were thwarted by more queues (more on that in a bit).
We awoke on Sunday to weather most foul. Thus there was a lot of chilling out in the chalet watching the ATP-curated TV channels (who knew that Johnny Rotten
had been on Judge Judy standing accused of ripping off his tour drummer!?!), and then hanging out in the pub for a bit. Bandwise, I saw Bark Haze
who is Thurston Moore and Andrew McGregor. This outfit certainly allows Thurston to indulge his more experimental side, and the slashing of guitars was actually very enjoyable. I also caught some of Aaron Dilloway
a former member of Wolf Eyes
, who plays with tape loops, voice and other bits of wire. This too I enjoyed. Negative Approach
were a welcome change of pace to the experimental bands, with their brutal, nihilistic punk. It was fun! It was also neat to see the Wolf Eyes entourage and Thurston Moore rocking out on the sidelines clearly having just as much fun as the rest of the crowd. I know I saw Monotract
as well, but can't remember too much about them - noisy stuff with a bit of structure, but clearly they didn't make much of an impression on me. I tried to see both Alexander Tucker
and Six Organs of Admittance
but was thwarted again by The Great British Queue™. Iggy And The Stooges
were fun (including Mike Watt
on bass!) with Iggy stage diving and encouraging active stage invasion, which was taken up by lots of people including Santa Claus (or his heir apparent). The funniest part of that set was Iggy moving around the punters on the stage while singing, and every time he passed an attractive young woman, he'd stop mid-sentence to say 'hey baby'. Jackie-O Motherfucker
were okay, but didn't blow me away, and Be Your Own Pet
gave a storming performance (their drummer is incredible as is the front woman!). I didn't make to see MC5
as, again, circumstances didn't allow. There was actually time for proper clubbing/disco going on Sunday, and hanging out in a friend's chalet, before it was time for bed in the small hours of Monday morning.
As many of you know, I have waxed on ATP for a long time now, and one of the best things about this festival was the fact that you could see the big named acts in smaller than usual capacity, and the relaxed vibe about the whole thing. Bands/artists mixed with punters, and it was great. However, in the move from Pontins to Butlins a lot of that intimacy has been lost.
The Queues Of Doom were a nuisance and I could've really done without them. Frankly, bits of it were utterly shambolic - Melvins, Deerhoof, Gang of Four and Dinosaur Jr all had to play extra shows because of the sheer number of people who failed to get into see them, and there was also a last minute wristband scheme for MC5. You know, I'm not saying organising something like this is easy, but you shouldn't have to put on extra shows. Having enough capacity so everybody can get in to see something (more than once there were queues in all three halls) should be part of basic planning, no?
On the other hand the facilities at the new venue are much better, the town is really close and the chalets are much nicer even if they are further away.
Despite the blips it was a great weekend.