Thursday, May 17, 2007

Well, All Tomorrow's Parties was fun once again, and had the added bonus of sunshine rather than a torrential downpour soundtracking Hair Police or 16 Bitch Pile-Up or Ashtray Navigation's (as per the one last December). This time it was The Dirty 3 curating - such a great idea, to have a band curate a festival and choose all the bands. What makes ATP great above the music too is the attention to detail - the ATP TV/whoever's curating TV channel, compiling all their favourite films and general weird music videos. Again I missed the other delights on offer (crazy golf, go- karting, the all-night cinema, the swimming-pool, the rodeo nonsense, etc.) Once again ATP chose to put on a ridiculously OTT film on Sunday night on the TV after the bands, when you're generally in a less than coherent state; the December fest had an excruciating, explicit Catherine Brelliat film (her of Romance and A Ma Seur) documenting a confused French teenager; this time, it was an equally grim film (the title escapes me) about the Nazi's invading Belarus in WWII, with images of concentration camp victims, general death and destruction, and a young Belorussian boy venting his anger and so on. It's fair to say that laughs were thin on the ground. In fact, it made any of Ingmar Bergman's miesterworks come across like a rom-com in comparison. Perhaps they'll show The Passion of the Christ at the one this weekend, which will doubtless get the party in the Crazy Horse stage going.
A Silver Mount Zion's stunning set on Sunday was the highlight of the festival, a magnificent evocation of exactly how 'post-rock' - whatever that means these days - should be done, with it's seamless mix of violin drones, chamber rock and pummeling all-out attack, Efrim Munuck's strangled sigh trying to make sense of a post-9/11 world, framed against the unforgettable outline of birds flying over the tent. ASMZ's deeply profound and moving set, with it's subtle, mournful lyrics and incendiary, climatic music, was the perfect antidote to blandness and corporatization (ironic, given that they were surrounded by Pizza Hut and Burger King, though that's no bad reflection on ATP); shame that they were followed by the dull boogie-woogie of Cat Power.
Other highlights: the hosts The Dirty 3, Grinderman, Low, Spiritualized, Einsturzende Neubauten (on at 1:30 in the morning!), Felix Lajko, Smog, Joanna Newsom, Papa M. Sadly I missed Suicide's Alan Vega but apparently he was a treat - your crazy grandad running around the stage shouting insults at the audience to a half-genius/half-rubbish techno soundtrack.

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