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.
By 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.
I 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.
Downstairs 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!
Finally 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.