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.