Archive for May, 2010

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.

ATP Curated by Pavement, Day 2, May 15, 2010

Pavement mosaicDay 2 of ATP started well with Horse Guard Parade kicking things off at Centre Stage with a track that could have been written by Calexico (and a lead singer who, from where we were sitting, looked the spitting image of Joey Burns). They played a mixture of country-tinged indie and straightforward indie which was in places extremely catchy and in places extremely dull. I wandered off about 4 songs in, slightly bored, to find a WiFi connection, and returned for the final track, an upbeat number, that I wouldn’t mind hearing again. This is not much of a description, I realise, but beyond the initial Calexico-esque moment, which was great, there wasn’t much that stood out.

After Horse Guard Parade finished I wandered up to Reds Bar to catch the start of Wax Fang performing Prince’s Purple Rain in its entirety. Although clearly just a comedic curiosity, as a member of that generation to whom that film was a formative moment, I thought I had to see at least a few tracks. Wax Fang did not disappoint. They got dressed up in frilly shirts and stupid wigs and pulled poses for the first four songs, the singer hamming it up for the front row in a long, gold coat, before breaking character to point out that they did feel a little silly, and to ask the crowd to please come check out their proper set on Sunday. This certainly softened me towards them as it had been hard to tell whether they were pretentious hipsters being deadly serious or just musicians having a laugh. Knowing it was the latter certainly made the whole thing palatable. Nonetheless, I love The Drones’ live show far too much to have missed it, so I sloped off a verse into “Darling Nikki.”

The Drones at ATP PavementBack down at Centre Stage The Ledge informed me I’d missed “Jezebel,” always a highlight, but as I made it down in time for “Shark Fin Blues” I’m more than happy. The Drones were very much on-form, tearing through a set comprised mostly of tracks from Wait Long by the River and Havilah. They do a great job of starting slowly before building each song to a raging, fiery climax like hellfire being rained down on their enemies.

After The Drones, The Ledge went back to the chalet to watch part of the FA Cup while I went and watched a bit of Blitzen Trapper on the Main Stage. Their laid-back country tunes were justthe thing to enjoy while sitting at the back of the Skyline Pavilion with a drink, but I found myself distracted after about 20 minutes and I abandoned it to join The Ledge (and get some lunch).

Fiery Furnaces at ATP PavementWe made it back up to the Main Stage in time for Fiery Furnaces with whom I have a love/hate relationship. I’ve seen them live when I thought they were amazing, but I find their albums hard-going, mainly because the songs musically sound like they start in the middle and go nowhere. It’s ok for about 5 minutes but eventually becomes infuriating. They were very much on form yesterday, however, and I’m sure I even heard a couple of actual choruses and middle eights. The Ledge dragged me away (not that I took much persuading) to go watch Mark Eitzel.

Mark Eitzel at ATP PavementNow, I’m no fan of American Music Club (The Ledge loves them) and as a result I’d never listened to any Mark Eitzel solo material, so I was surprised to discovered he’s very much a cabaret-style crooner. He was playing with 2 guys with whom he’s currently working in Brighton, and he was on great comedy form, telling tall tales about his life as a Butlins’ performer. Not knowing much about him, it was at times hard to separate the fictional parts of his tales about each song from the fact, but it was highly entertaining, nonetheless. Each song had a story to accompany, which made the musical renditions more immediate, helped along by the fact that he has a really engaging and warm voice. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the set, and despite my lack of familiarity with the songs, was glued to his performance for the full hour.

After Mark Eitzel, I followed The Ledge down to Camera Obscura, thinking I’d probably be irritated and bored with their soulless, sub-par attempts to be Belle & Sebastian and could abandon it to watch Boris before I reached the point where I was tempted to jump on stage and start smashing the equipment. I somehow ended up watching the whole set (mainly because we managed to walk right up to the front and realised we were in a great place to watch Pavement, so didn’t want to move).

Camera Obscura at ATP PavementCamera Obscura are a band that completely lack charisma, stage presence and any form of animation while performing. When you marry this with the fact that they have 2 decent songs – “Hey, Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken” and “French Navy” and the rest of their catalogue consists of songs that want to sound exactly like those two songs but only end up being poor cousins, then you can understand when I say that watching Camera Obscura play live is very much what I imagine being dead feels like. When you watch them for a full hour, you start to understand what being dead for all eternity feels like.

They did, eventually, finish, and thank goodness, because even though I’ve never been a particular fan of Pavement, I did after 17 years, finally understand why everyone else I know is. The only other time I saw Pavement live was at Leeds Festival in 1999, shortly before they broke up and it was boring and lumpen and although The Ledge had me listening a bit to Brighten the Corners, I stopped listening to them after that day. Yesterday’s performance was entirely the polar opposite of that first experience, the band were so full of excitement, it was like watching a bunch of teenagers on stage for the first time.

PavementStephen Malkmus struck rock star poses, playing guitar over his head, behind his back, swinging his guitar up in the air, jumping. Bob Nastanovich was hilarious – not only does he have one of the best screams in rock, but his between-song banter was both funny and surreal (dude, Yorkshire is a county, not a city!). Spiral Stairs didn’t stop grinning through the whole thing. ‘Cut Your Hair’ took me back to the mid-nineties, the crowd singing along to ‘Stereo’ was inspiring, ‘Range Life’ and ‘Gold Soundz’ were perfect and I’ve still got ‘Silence Kit’ in my head this morning. They were rockier and catchier than I’d ever noticed (and I have played the back catalogue through a few times) and I will now be forced to get to know Pavement a whole lot better. The 2 hour set deserves its own write-up, so I’ll leave that to The Ledge to do later.

Finally,we managed to stay awake long enough to watch Atlas Sound at Centre Stage. Bradford Cox was on fine form for his birthday and was both melodic and hypnotic, regaling the crowd with stories about playing guitar behind the Kroger near where he grew up and his trip to A&E in Minehead last weekend after an asthma attack. Unfortunately, I was so tired by this point, much of it washed over me so much more description than that is impossible, though he did play a rather lovely cover of Pavement’s “We Dance” that outshone the version we’d heard just a couple of hours earlier.

Once again I spent a day watching bands with whom I’m only a little familiar or simply have never found entertaining before and thoroughly enjoyed them all (well, almost all). I find myself looking forward today to a lot of Flying Nun (ATP! When are you going to get Flying Nun to curate a weekend? You know it would be amazing!) and Mark E. Smith. Sounds like it’ll be the perfect end to what has been a classic ATP so far.

Posted by JustHipper on 16th May 2010 at 1:17 pm | comments (34)
File under all tomorrows parties,camera obscura,Festival Reviews,mark eitzel.

ATP Festival Curated by Pavement, Day 1, May 14, 2010

Before I begin, I’d like to apologise for the lack of pictures. Butlins seems to think Flickr is an adult site and won’t let us access it to upload any photos. We’ll try and get that sorted if we have a gap in the music!

The Ledge, in particular, has been anticipating our 5th trip to All Tomorrow’s Parties in Minehead because Pavement are one of his favourite bands of all-time. He loves Pavement so much that he decided we were going have heard only that Pavement were curating. As I’m somewhat less keen on Pavement, he should count himself lucky that the final lineup turned out to be so good.

The first band of the day, appearing on Centre Stage, were Avi Buffalo, from Long Beach, as they kept telling us, and who appear to be taking a lot of cues from The Shins. Where the songs tended towards upbeat, harmonic indie-pop with Delgadoes-esque harmonies they were fantastic. They dragged and meandered a bit on the slower songs, however. Basically, where the female keyboard player was singing, the songs were great, where she wasn’t, they were a bit boring. The single, ‘What’s in it For’, which Mark Riley has been playing on 6 Music, is an absolute delight. Although their stage presence was a bit muted, I’d put this down to the fact that they look about 18, are on their first trip to the UK and are clearly still finding their feet. The good bits of the set were good enough that I’d certainly check out an album.

Next up was Surfer Blood on the main stage. Surfer Blood are one of those American west-coast, jangly surfer bands currently emerging alongside The Drums, Vivien Girls, Dum Dum Girls, Girls, Veronica Falls, etc. These guys, however, a clearly a cut above most of the others. The songs were immediate, the band were clearly having a blast and it didn’t take long for them to get the crowd humming along. The one ‘dark’ number was, musically at least, anything but, as the songs danced along quite merrily to lovely, light, folky guitar hooks and keyboards played by a guy with an immense afro which didn’t stop moving up and down through the whole set. I thought they were absolutely brilliant and in a just world, these guys will find themselves with the festival singalong hit of the summer.

Following shortly on was Calexico, also on the main stage. The last time we saw Calexico was in Liverpool over 3 years ago. They didn’t tour the last album, so we weren’t sure what sort of set we would get. It turned out to be a mixture of more recent tracks, as well as a few classics including “The Crystal Frontier,” “Woven Birds” and “Not Even Stevie Nicks”, which even The Ledge enjoyed, despite disliking that track intensely, and which they blended with “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – something I’m sure they did the last time we saw it as well. There were far more straightforward rock songs in the set than expected, and the few mariachi-style tracks, including the classic ‘Minas de Cobre’, were welcome, and as high-spirited as ever. The finish of their cover of “Alone Again Or” was the perfect end to an excellent return.

Finally, Broken Social Scene delivered a fantastic, energetic performance made up of mostly new material. As I’ve only heard the new album once, on the drive down, I couldn’t provide song titles, however, the new songs are far more immediate and a lot more direct than the tracks from the previous, eponymous, album. Highlights of the set were new track ‘All is All’ sung by Lisa Lobsinger, ‘7/4 Shoreline’, one of my all time BSS favourites ‘Superconnected’, ‘Cause=Time’ and ‘Fire Eye’d Boy.’ The band were even briefly joined by Spiral Stairs on backing vocals and mad dancing. In fact, the only downer on the performance were 2 girls who insisted on talking through the entire show, except when they were shouting along to the trumpet parts or singing the wrong lyrics at the top of their lungs. Broken Social Scene are always a force to be reckoned with live, the joyful delivery and the on-stage chaos are always uplifting and as always, the 75 minute show just didn’t seem long enough.

After BSS finished we rushed up to Centre Stage to try and watch Mission of Burma deliver their ’80’s punk classics, but frankly, after about 15 minutes of the P.A. Cutting in and out and the songs sounding pretty much identical, we decamped for some food. I went back to the chalet to sleep and The Ledge went to watch Wooden Shjips – who he said generated a giant mosh pit and were very good, ending the set with a brilliant cover of Snapper’s ‘Buddy’, the first, but surely not the last, Flying Nun classic of the weekend.

Posted by JustHipper on 15th May 2010 at 1:33 pm | comments (110)
File under all tomorrows parties,broken social scene,Festival Reviews.