10 Years Of ATP Festival - 11th - 14th of December 2009
Written By: Bruce Goodenough, Tom Moffat and Doug Freeman j.mascis & the fog were simply fantastic, from the first riff, I was grabbed.
With j surrounded by a wall of speakers, it looked really cool, but I was surprised he can still hear. Great gig with the fans very appreciative and the Dinosaur JR track at the end sealed the deal. j and the fog were on top form and formed a great way to kick start the weekend.
After watching J Mascis wig out in spectacular fashion it was time to head over to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. As a recent convert I was really looking forward to seeing their performance of their debut album Fever to Tell, especially after seeing them play a ‘normal’ gig a few days previously which was brilliant. Coming on over half an hour late (which we have since been told was not their fault, van breakdown or something) they came to face a hostile crowd (or as hostile as an ATP crowd can be!) which seemed to spur lead singer Karen O on. Unfortunately, as I was standing fairly far back the sound was pretty awful and they lacked the punch I was hoping for. Still, ‘Maps’ rung out around the ‘Michael Barrymore My Kind of People’ stage with the majority of people getting involved in the sing along. I’m sure it was great; I was just in the wrong place and so left after they had played the album to indulge in some power drinking at the chalet.
This would be my undoing.
Six Organs of Admittance were one of the few bands I hadn’t seen and was really looking forward to. Unfortunately due to the aforementioned power drinking I was ruined by the time I got to see them and can’t remember it. Still, more sober people than I claim they were brilliant, and as on record they are brilliant I come to the conclusion that they must have been, well, brilliant. I had a marvellous time; that I do know. I’m just livid with myself for being in such a state.
My memory is not too great for Edan either, who I also think is a treat on record. I do remember thinking he was pretty balls though, playing a DJ set which was not like his latest release (which would have been brilliant) but instead a load of funk (which wasn’t as good as it sounds.) Sort it out Edan, where’s the glitchy hip hop?
Luckily I was coming out of the booze ridden black hole by the time Tortoise hit the stage, and I can say that they were outstanding. Despite starting to feel a bit withered their hypnotic brand of instrumental lounge rock (post rock if you really want I guess) was completely mesmerising. Not being one for song titles I couldn’t tell you any particular highlights, but the whole show had me in a trance and completely sorted me out.
After the boozeageddon of Friday night I couldn’t think of a better way to start of Saturday than seeing Papa M perform ‘Live from a Shark Cage’ (that’s an album for the uninitiated, not actually David Pajo performing in a shark cage!) Easily one of my favourite albums ever this was a real treat and he completely did it justice. Last time I saw him perform songs from the album he was solo, but this time he was backed by 2 others helping him build some of the tracks up much more into mesmerising soundscapes. ‘I Am Lonely With Cricket’ was a particular highlight, and even though he didn’t actually play the whole album it was still an incredible gig. The aural equivalent of having your balls massaged by Sarah Michelle Gellar while Megan Fox dabs your brow. I can’t think of a better way to nurse a hangover.
Afrirampo; this Japanese duo, are as much comical as they are entertaining musically, their set began with a good 10 minute session of shouting in their native tongue, at one point they were definitely performing an elaborate ‘happy birthday ‘ message to ATP but I have no idea about the rest of it. Eventually they decided to play some music, which was nice, and surprisingly brutal. Slamming 2 piece destructo-core with occasional, stereotypically delivered female Japanese yelping. Sadly the sound on the pavilion stage was not great, but in a more intimate setting I bet these would have destroyed the place, and I was proved right by their cameo during lightning bolt on the Sunday night.
Mudhoney started with a slow ’the lucky ones’. I was a bit unsure of what to expect, but straight after they were rocking like no others and are a great live band with energy to boost. The highlight of the night ’touch me, i’m sick’. showed no signs of slowing down and they rocked, leaving you feeling in a party mood.
This period of the day possibly went down as my finest 4 hours ever spent on planet earth, I had just witnessed Shellac destroy the centre stage , followed by the mighty Aston Villa destroy Manchester United on their home turf for the first time in 20 odd years. Then proceeded straight to the pavilion for one of my favorite bands, Battles, with the promise of new material, it does not get any better than that…
Battles started with a couple of new tracks, that sounded not dissimilar to their ‘mirrored’ material complete with the comedy vocal stylings of Tyondai Braxton, which I admit I am not that keen on. However, some of their new tracks had a definite Dr. Dre feel to them harking back to their golden EPC/BEP period. All in all, an absolute winning performance made better for me by the presence of hot chicks ‘getting on down’ in my area of the crowd, aaaah yeah! I look forward to this new record dropping at some point in 2010.
The timing of The For Carnation was not ideal, half 12 on a Saturday for something so slow and depressing? Still, as a big fan I couldn’t wait to see them as I never thought it would happen. They were brilliant, much like Tortoise the previous night I found them completely entrancing. I was surprised to hear a number of new songs played (I believe) which I hope means they have properly re-formed. The new numbers seemed to have a slight Lambchop feel to them, and dare I say were more upbeat (relatively of course). Another great performance in what was turning out to be a great weekend of bands at the top of their game.
A little note to ATP now - whoever decided that it would be a good idea to put Sunn O))) on at 2am Saturday night/Sunday morning needs to be SHOT. Recent years have seen Aphex Twin & Squarepusher bringing the party in that slot and that is exactly what it needs. 100% fucking party. I am partial to a bit of Sunn O))) but not in the motherfucking party slot of the weekend. Come on Barry Hogan - sort it out. I watched about 5 minutes to reinforce it wasn’t what I wanted then walked off and attempted to get my fix from Belle & Sebastian’s DJ set. That didn’t do it either so it was off to the Crazy Horse which helped but then, well, I can’t remember what happened so it was probably a good night.
Shellac are a tough one to review. Much like a wank, it’s pretty much always going to be great, then occasionally it’s just that little bit better. Well Saturday’s performance was just that little bit better. Shellac are just an incredible live band. End of. Each song is delivered with such honesty and passion you can’t fail to be moved. Playing songs from throughout their career Shellac are on seriously top form today. The expected Q & A between songs is amusing as ever (although it is disappointing to hear that Bob Weston doesn’t masturbate over how great Shellac are - I would) and Todd Trainer hit’s the drums like no other man. Steve Albini still always holds my attention the most though, delivering his vocals with such anger he genuinely seems pissed off with you, the listener. I honestly can’t fault their performance one bit, much like I imagine having a god cum in your ears would sound like. Oh, and then they went and played again on the Sunday and surprise surprise they were brilliant again. Maybe not quite up to Saturday’s standard, but then I am more than willing to lay the blame on me for that in being totally withered by then.
A special mention also goes out to the glorious Arsenal sticking it to Liverpool at Anfield which provided a nice break from watching bands. I know my co-reviewer; the marvellous Doug from Nanook was particularly enjoying that.
Modest Mouse; I was slightly worse for ware during this performance, however I thought they were brilliant. The sound of the live band, complete with 2 drummers, was a lot heavier than on record. I am a massive fan of ‘the moon and Antarctica’ and the live versions of the handful of tracks from this album were very enjoyable to behold.
I was really looking forward to The Mars Volta as they are possibly my favourite band; well they are definitely responsible for my favourite album at any rate. To my surprise there had been another line up change, I was aware of the departure of Pablo Hinjos , his guitar parts are now been played by the roadie on the side of the stage but to my horror, Thomas Pringden was also absent. As a result of this the Volta played exact album versions of their greatest hits with a minimal ‘jacking off’ content, making it a very special performance for me. I have never seen Omar Rodriguez actually play his guitar parts before and it was amazing to behold. The downside to this personnel change, however, was that the new drummer was great but is not the drumming behemoth that is Thomas Pringden and as a result he couldn’t really cope with some of the ‘Bedlam in the Goliath’ material he attempted , which was a bit cringe inducing. To his credit though he really slammed through pretty much everything else, particularly Viscera Eyes and Via L’Viaquez. Overall fucking brilliant, best TMV performance I have witnessed to date.
After seeing Lightning Bolt at Release the Bats last year I really wasn’t too bothered about watching them again. Fair enough I wasn’t at the front “where you really experience it, man” but it did sound like a fucking mess. Imagine my surprise when going to see them again that they were actually incredible. I dunno what they did differently (play songs maybe?) but they were spot on to close the weekend. You know the guy at the end of Robocop who drives into the toxic waste - well that’s how it felt watching Lightening Bolt - brilliant. Add to the mix some Japanese Girls in hot pants flinging themselves screaming into the audience (thanks Afrirampo). Relentless, pounding, and just plain silly at times Lightning Bolt are a joy to watch. Well done on closing off a cracking ATP.
Overall Rating: 10/10 best festival ever!