Archive for the 'atp' Category

ATP Pavement, Day 3, May 17, 2010

Day 3 of ATP began at 8am with the guys in the chalet next door singing along to Flight of the Conchords very loudly (and out of tune). Not quite the morning lie-in I was hoping for, but it at least had us out of bed early enough for The Ledge to watch Neil Young’s Greendale on ATP TV and for me to get my hands on an elusive copy of The Observer – something which usually proves difficult at Butlins.

Tim Chad and Sherry @ ATP 2010 curated by PavementBy early afternoon we were ready for some music so we headed up to Centre Stage for the entirely unironic ’70’s country soft rock stylings of Tim Chad & Sherry, featuring members of Silver Jews and Lambchop. It was, umm, well….what I fear the next My Morning Jacket album is likely to sound like. I hope not. It’s a huge step backwards in the evolution of music and one which makes me think of rednecks in pickup trucks drinking Bud Light in their white string vests in the summer Atlanta heat.

Next up was Wax Fang on the Main Stage. Not knowing what to expect after the brilliance of their version of Purple Rain, I can’t say I was particularly smitten. It seems Wax Fang are a little more interesting as Prince and the Revolution than as themselves. It was perfectly competent anthemic rock – but I don’t find competent anthemic rock all that inspiring. We quickly abandoned it to head upstairs for The 3Ds – one of those Flying Nun bands that The Ledge has been dying to see for about 20 years, and one of the few who had so far eluded him.

The 3Ds @ ATP 2010 curated by PavementI was expecting a jangly Flying Nun band heavily influenced by Sonic Youth. I could hear the jangly guitars, but the Sonic Youth influences were masked by the sheer volume of the sound the 3D’s were making. I was quite amazed that they appeared to be a band comprised of a guy found drinking cider in the park, my 50-something 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Ruffin, and a guy who failed an audition for The Ramones. They sounded great, however, taking us right back to the great lo-fi, guitar-driven indie rock of the late ’80’s/early ’90’s. They weren’t particularly charismatic, but they have some great, immediately catchy tunes.

After the 3D’s, we headed back downstairs to watch The Dodos, a band we’d enjoyed at the Night & Day about 18 months’ ago, but whose new album we’ve not heard. The previous performance was sat down and very folky. Yesterday they were, despite being an acoustic guitarist, a drummer and a xylophone player, incredibly rocky. The new songs sound very similar, if harder, than the old ones, all slightly off-beat indie pop. I enjoyed ‘Jody’ off their first album, but as we wanted to catch a bit of Boris performing Feedbacker, we departed about halfway through for Centre Stage.

Imagine my dismay when on the way up we spotted the signs for Steve West of Pavement giving a course on stone masonry at the “Bob the Builder Stage.” We were already too late! Pavement had joked about it the previous evening, saying they wanted a masculine masterclass to counteract Kelly Deal’s knitting masterclass from the previous year. We thought it was just a joke. Oh well. Only at ATP…

As for Boris, they were rather boring. I think The Ledge enjoyed the 15 minutes we watched, but I thought they would be a bit less by-the-book post rock. I hate post rock.

The Clean @ ATP 2010 curated by PavementDownstairs we found a good spot to watch The Clean, the other Flying Nun band that The Ledge had been waiting 20 years to see. They were even better than The 3Ds – catchy, immediate and full of smiles and friendly banter. I must admit that here at Indie Credential Towers we have a serious soft spot for post-Smiths, melodic, lo-fi, guitar-driven indie rock and this fits the bill 100%. I always love The Ledge’s old Flying Nun albums and I’m baffled at how The Clean have eluded me for so long. They were perfect!

The Fall @ ATP 2010 curated by PavementFinally came the day’s headliner, The Fall, always an interesting, if somewhat difficult live act. I’d only seen The Fall once before when they were an hour late on stage and a complete shambles live. It was a terrible gig which hadn’t made me want to see them a second time. However, I’d heard some reports of great recent gigs, so we decided to give it a go and were not disappointed. Although we only recognised one song, Festive 50 winner ‘Theme from Sparta F.C.,’  the driving, repetitive guitars and keyboards kept us mesmerised, despite the lack of familiarity. Mark E. Smith and band tore through the 70 minute set without pause and a rapt, but subdued crowd, at least where we were standing.

Our final set of the weekend was a brief trip back up to Centre Stage to watch The Raincoats who sounded pretty much like I expected – quirky, friendly post-punk female pop songs which, at least to me, seem to be a huge influence on Fiery Furnaces. We were so exhausted by this point, however, that we abandoned the set for a pizza, a glass of wine and our beds, wary of the long drive in the morning.

So, another May, another triumphant ATP and one that has left me extremely excited for our return for Bowlie 2 in December.

Wax Fang perform ‘Take Me With U’ at ATP

Posted by JustHipper on 17th May 2010 at 6:05 pm | comments (90)
File under all tomorrows parties,atp,dodos,Festival Reviews,Flying Nun,john peel bands.

2009 Festival Roundup: ATP vs. T in the Park vs. End of the Road

Look ma, it’s a post!

We’ve been pretty quiet this year, in part because we’ve just been very busy, but also because we haven’t really been all that inspired by anything – since Pains of Being Pure at Heart, that is. We have, however, just been to 3 of the most disparate festivals we possibly could have attended, all of which were good and bad for incredibly different reasons, and I thought it might be nice to provide some vague assessment of the pros and cons of the lot.

The Frogs at ATP 2009The Breeders-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties was our fourth visit to that festival so we knew what to expect – that is to say, wonderful indie-snobbery, comfortable tiny chalets, overpriced alcohol and bar staff who apologise for the red wine not being chilled, and lots of interesting-sounding bands we’ve never heard of on at unsociable hours of the morning. This year the lineup was particularly tasty – The Breeders, Throwing Muses, Teenage Fanclub, Bon Iver, Kimya Dawson, Deerhunter, Times New Viking, Shellac…all of whom failed to disappoint. Less exciting were Wire and Gang of Four (The Ledge disagrees about Gang of Four) – two bands we love but who I found uninspiring live. We’ve always enjoyed more of the obscure bands at ATP than we’ve disliked and this year was no different with brilliant sets coming from Whispertown 2000, The Frogs, Dianogah and Melt Banana.

The best thing about ATP and the thing which will keep us going back in future is, in fact, these gems of discovery as well as the ability to check out bands we’ve heard about, maybe know one song but whose albums we’d probably never buy – Melt Banana being a perfect example – and getting to experience their unusual and entertaining live sets. It also helps that it’s possible to get a decent night’s sleep without worrying about someone torching your tent….

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at T in the ParkIn July we went to T in the Park for what was my fourth year and The Ledge’s second. Sadly, it didn’t remotely live up to previous years due to a poor lineup and a rather threatening atmosphere in the campsite. I’ve been shouting about how great T is for a while now, mainly because of the variety and number of bands on and the friendliness of the people we’ve encountered while there. Sadly, this year both were lacking. Although Nick Cave put on an amazing show and we really enjoyed The Twilight Sad, Elbow, Foals, James, Pet Shop Boys and Squeeze in particular (and, I’m embarrassed to admit, I found myself dancing to Blur as well…), it felt a bit like a nostalgia-fest. Gone was the wonderful Pet Sounds stage and all its indie variety and nothing replaced it – unless you count the tiny Futures stage which had very little to offer beyond Broken Records (clashed with something), Danananananaacroyd (or something like that), and The Twilight Sad. Back at the campsite for the first year I felt unsafe. We had our tent knocked down, we were kept up by people – who didn’t even have camping tickets – walking around shouting about what they could steal from empty tents and someone tried to steal a light from our tent – while we were inside the tent using it! It wasn’t nice and I doubt any of us will be going back again.

T Model Ford at EOTR 2009Finally, we found ourselves drawn to the End of the Road lineup (and the low cost) and we weren’t disappointed. Although I could have done without the extortionate prices on site (and what’s wrong with just selling chips or jacket potatoes? I don’t need an authentic Goan fish curry that costs £8 while I’m running between stages) and I can do without  parents who think bringing 6 year old kids to the barrier for the headline act is a good idea and that the people behind them should just know not to push, overall it was a friendly, well-organised, incredibly clean festival which produced a fair few amazingly intimate performances on secret stages and in smelly tipis. The Hold Steady were good as ever, Neko Case was note-perfect, and has a clear career path into comedy should she ever decide to go that way, Fleet Foxes handled the heckling well, The Leisure Society completely charmed me and I didn’t realise how much I’d missed Hefner til we saw Darren Hayman.  Plus, we got to be extras in a scene for a film about a fake band called Swipe.

Maybe it’s a sign of age (or extreme indie snobbery) that I’m growing increasingly frustrated with and bored by the big festivals in favour of the comfort, civility and ecclecticism of the smaller boutique festivals, but this year the little guys really outdid themselves both line-up wise and in sheer enjoyment.

Video: The Leisure Society covering “Cars” at End of the Road Festival

Video: Scene from Tamara Drewe of Swipe splitting up on stage, filmed from the crowd at End of the Road Festival as the scene was being shot

Posted by JustHipper on 26th September 2009 at 4:37 pm | comments (9)
File under atp,End of the Road,Festival Reviews,mp3,t in the park.

The Ledge’s top 10 gigs of 2008

  1. Leonard Cohen @ Opera House, Manchester, 18th June
  2. Bon Iver @ Manchester Academy 2, 15th September
  3. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds @ Manchester Apollo, 24th November
  4. R.E.M. @ T In The Park / Lancashire County Cricket Ground, 13th July / 24th August
  5. The National @ ATP, Minehead, 17th May
  6. Stereolab @ Club Academy, Manchester, 17th December
  7. Eels @ Bridgewater Hall, 27th February
  8. The B-52s @ Manchester Academy, 22nd July
  9. Silver Jews @ Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester, 27th May
  10. My Morning Jacket @ Manchester Academy 2, 27th June
Posted by The Ledge on 23rd December 2008 at 5:49 pm | comments (3)
File under atp,bon iver,eels,Leonard Cohen,Lists,manchester gigs,my morning jacket,R.E.M.,stereolab,the b-52's,the national.

Gig Review: ATP curated by Explosions In The Sky, Butlins Minehead, 16th-18th May 2008

Ok, let’s get this over with. We’ve kind of lost our blogging mojo for the minute but ATP deserves at least some sort of write up.

This was our third year running at ATP and yet again it was a cracking weekend. Any negative comments you may have read further down the page were really minor quibbles and did not affect our enjoyment of proceedings one jot, mainly because we got to see Battles on the Sunday night after an act of generosity that came completely out of the blue. More of later, if I remember.

Dinosaur Jr, Centre Stage, ATPWe arrived. It was raining. We got the chalet next door to the one we got last year. We headed for Centre Stage to catch the festival’s opening band, The Constantines, and their solid, blue collar indie rock went down very well. The singer gave himself a haircut during the gig. Not sure why. Japanese post-rockers Mono were up next on the same stage were loud and completely unspectacular, but not a bad warm up for Dinosaur Jr, playing the first of their two Centre Stage sets. We thought we had a good spot at the front until they wheeled on J Mascis’ four Marshall stacks that were to form a cocoon around the aging slacker legend. I moved to get a better view while JustHipper made do with catching glimpses of the great man when he approached the mic to sing. It was a great set dominated, not surprisingly, by Mascis’ searing guitar work. There was a good range of material on offer from set highlight “Forget The Swan” through to MTV breakthrough “Feel The Pain”, but there was slight disappointment at the end when the encore suggested on Mascis’ huge setlist (at least 3 pages of A4 with really big lettering – Mascis must be almost blind as well as almost deaf) didn’t materialise.

Phosphorescent, Reds Stage, ATPThen it was off to the Skyline Pavilion where curators Explosions In The Sky made their one and only appearance, their great conceit for the weekend being a complete lack of activity on the other two stages while they were on. Now I, unlike JustHipper, like a bit of post-rock now and then but I’m not massively familiar with the Explosions’ back catalogue and found myself unable to really get into it and giving up after about half an hour. It would have been nice to have something else to go and see but instead it was Burger King and beer and the DJs in the Crazy Horse. Before long we were in the Reds bar watching The Octopus Project from afar as JustHipper complained that she was “all post-rocked out”. So was I, but they sounded a bit more interesting and varied than the curators. I’d heard enough of Phosphorescent to know that I desperately wanted to catch their set and, although I was practically dead on my feet at this stage and my companion made it through just one song before hauling herself off to bed, I stuck it out and was rewarded with a quite brilliant set of atmospheric folksy blues with plenty of excellent vocal looping from Matthew Houck (turns out it’s just one guy). I made a mental note to rush out and buy his latest album. Three weeks later and I still haven’t; but I will.

Okkervil River, Skyline Pavillion, ATPSaturday morning began with the discovery of The Yacht Club’s buffet breakfast: £5.99 and you won’t have to eat again until teatime, though I think it lasted me through to 10pm on both Saturday and Sunday. After a game of pool I stayed in the Sports Bar to keep up my record of having watched every FA Cup final since 1976 while JustHipper enjoyed A Hawk And A Hacksaw on the Pavilion stage. Portsmouth’s victory was followed by what was probably the set of the weekend, for me, by Okkervil River whose ramshackle intensity translated brilliantly to the big stage. They seemed so much tighter and more focused than the couple of times I’ve seen them in club venues and they sounded positively epic, easily filling the huge space and no doubt gaining a number of new followers in the process. The electrifying “Black” and the gorgeous “A Girl In Port” were the undoubted highlights with Will Sheff in terrifically manic form, though the addition to the line-up of The Wrens’ Charles Bissell, albeit temporary, is a masterstroke, his taut, masterly guitar work perhaps the catalyst for their improved performance.

Next we had the first real clash of the weekend with And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead playing the Centre Stage while Iron And Wine played the Skyline Pavilion. Having seen Iron And Wine in Manchester a couple of days before we opted for Trail Of Dead, usually an uncompromising live proposition though they have certainly lost their way with their last two albums. A couple of the oldies sounded great but the rest failed to hold our interest so we returned to the Pavillion to catch the last 20 minutes or so of Iron And Wine which seemed to consist of just one song: the 3 hour version of “The Shepherd’s Dog” that had got many peoples backs up, including ours, at the Manchester gig. Iron And Wine in extended folk jam mode is not much fun at all.

The National, Skyline Pavillion, ATPA Boxer-centric set from The National rounded off proceedings on the Pavilion Stage. It was captivating stuff and it was great to see them playing to such a large and enthusiastic crowd. The normally reserved Matt Berninger even ventured to the barrier for some Bono-style audience-milking. The Boxer songs sound so much better live, retaining the dark atmospherics of the record but when they break loose, like in the closing stages of “Start A War”, they take you places that the album doesn’t quite manage.

I can’t say I remember too much about Western Keys on the Reds Stage later that night, except that I quite enjoyed them. Poised somewhere between indie rock and Americana, they had pedal steel duelling with Charles Bissell’s taut, angular guitar work. I hope that Bissell guy was on double time. It was midnight and we were, again, dead on our feet. Battles would have to wait for tomorrow night.

Jens Lekman, Skyline Pavillion, ATPSunday started with the breath of fresh air that is Jens Lekman. For me at least: JustHipper’s dislike of the Swedish pop maestro is legendary and she sensibly stayed well clear. With the bright sunshine filtering through the canopy of the Pavilion Stage and plenty of festival goers weary from the exploits of the past two days, it was the perfect conditions for Jens and his female-heavy backing band to spread some joy and blow away some of the cobwebs. The joyous “The Opposite Of Hallelujah”, with its excellent segue into “Give Me Just A Little More Time”, and the lengthy, ever-expanding story-song of “A Postcard To Nina” were memorable moments and Jens will have undoubtedly won over a few more fans. Not JustHipper, though, who I met up with to watch Polvo on the Centre Stage. We’d not really heard any Polvo before – they’d just reformed after about 10 years – and though they played perfectly serviceable ’90s indie rock, we decided to make our way back to the Pavilion Stage half way through to watch the last half hour of Beach House, whose laid-back dreamy pop was much more accommodating.

De La Soul, Skyline Pavillion, ATPI stuck around for Silver Jews while JustHipper made her way back to the Centre Stage to get some Atlas Sounds that almost sent her to sleep. The Joos were wonderful with David Berman on fine form, freed from guitar duties and able to prowl the stage at his leisure. Cuts from the new “Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea” nestled comfortably alongside older classics such as “Trains Across The Sea” and “Smith And Jones Forever”. Berman entertained the crowd by reading out conflicting articles from an Irish farming newspaper. Seriously. Next it was back to the Centre Stage to see if seeing Animal Collective live would induce some sort of epiphany and I would suddenly realise what all the fuss is about. Nope, it’s never going to happen. Animal Collective bore me to tears. Back at the Pavilion Stage De La Soul were entertaining a sizeable crowd and were great fun until we started to realise that they were overrunning and that Broken Social Scene’s set would probably be curtailed as a result. In the end they incurred our wrath by being 30 minutes late getting off the stage, although I found out later that they were 30 minutes late coming on, so not entirely their fault. Broken Social Scene, Skyline Pavillion, ATPBroken Social Scene were certainly worth the wait, cranking out superb versions of “7/4 Shoreline” and “Ibi Dreams Of Pavement” early on and then getting an (inevitable) cameo from J Mascis, along with members of Explosions and The National, among others, for a tremendous “Backed Out On The…”. There was a strange hushed singalong for “Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl” with the ever-enthusiastic Amy Millan leading proceedings while the closing “Major Label Debut” was a great way to finish things off. They may have only played for just over an hour but it was a wholely edifying set.

Battles, Centre Stage, ATPIt remained for us to grab a pizza and then join the queue for Battles on the Centre Stage. In a farcical move, people who had got to the Centre Stage early to be sure of getting to see the band, were cleared out of the venue after Lichens’ set finished and had no option but to join the back of a very long queue to get back in. Most of them probably didn’t. In another twist, people who got turned away from Battles’ performance the previous night were given blue wristbands and allowed to the front of this queue. Fair enough, but where were our wristbands? We didn’t try to get in last night but surely we should have had preference above anyone who did see the band’s first set. Then, just as we were bemoaning the whole shambles, a girl appeared out of nowhere and asked if we wanted a couple of blue wristbands that she had spare. Thus, we made our way to the front of the queue and into the venue, taking up a decent spot at the barrier. We would have probably got in anyway but that girl really made our weekend. Anyway, Battles were quite incredible and enjoyed perhaps the most enthusiastic crowd of the weekend, which wasn’t bad for the early hours of a Monday morning. How they do what they do, I don’t know. Their set was a mass of complex loops, samples, vocal trickery, live guitars and incredibly tight and energetic drums. It was a great end to another great ATP weekend, and I’m sure we’ll be back for more next year.

Dinosaur Jr – Forget The Swan

Phosphorescent – Cocaine Lights

Okkervil River – Black

The National – Start A War

Jens Lekman – The Opposite Of Hallelujah

Silver Jews – Suffering Jukebox