Saturday, 17 May 2008

Life's A Pitchfork (and then I write about it in excruciating detail)

ATP Vs Pitchfork was, to be honest, always going to be a sugary pill compared to some of the feedback flavoured odysseys of the past; I'm fairly sure I at least had a passing familiarity with near enough every band on the bill. But this was a good thing, really, as not having to take the music too seriously meant we could take advantage of the fact that nature seemed to have decided it would for once smile on what is almost certainly the only beach-based festival where nobody is really expecting to go to the beach. Dear reader, it was hot. The water was blue. The sky was azure. Sandcastles happened. Swimming occurred. By the time you'd made it through to sun up, the temptation to continue partying was as unavoidable as it was un-indie. Explosions may have had the line-up that was better for you, but I'm pretty confident we had more fun. Oh yes. Here is the standard blow by blow account...


The drive down - Smooth as the proverbial, except having all decided to studiously make sure we got to the festival in time, it took an effort of will to stop pulling into a country pub and sacking off indie Valhalla for the reliable one-two of the English countryside and pissy lager. We resisted, making it to the Rye branch of Costcutter, the supermarket with the name so ironic it genuinely borders on being actually insulting. While inside a sort of Laura vs Mark and Adam food arms race ensued, the lady stockpiling ever more exotic salad ingredients, the gents piling on assorted cuts of pig. Though ultimately in the McDermott camp, I was naturally happy the moment we'd secured an adequate stash of cheese. On the way out we saw Glass Candy sitting at the station... Johnny was wearing a Glass Candy t-shirt, which I think maybe set the Italo-disco revival back by a year or two, bless 'im.

Vampire Weekend - My feeling about Vampire Weekend is that they're basically a shit band, only they write good songs, so therefore I let them off. FOR NOW. The non air-conditioned main room of Camber Sands Pontins offers up a fair impression of a blast furnace on a hot day, and thus it made it easier to be irritated by their Sting-isms and the fact their preppy indie-pop is only marginally more ATP-ish than, I dunno, the Kooks. That said, Mark and Adam greeting them with such virulent disdain that it actually pushed me back towards liking them, as I thought they were being kind of unfair. In hindsight it was kind of fun, but I was a bit disorientated, they were kind of the wrong band, they didn't play a couple of their better songs, and maybe they'll make more sense 2am at Primavera.

Shit And Shine - Are kind of just five drummers (fact fans - there were five, I know there are only technically four) bashing out the same figure in sync, plus added feedback, but it's pure, trancelike, shamanic stuff... could listen to it for probably days, plus the band made for a fine spectacle - props to the lady drummer's super-enthused facial expressions, but man of the match award to the guy dressed seemingly dressed as both a rabbit and The Mask.

Fuck Buttons - I of course like Fuck Buttons quite a lot. They did not disappoint, especially with the last song, a newie that seemed to be about twenty minutes long, and mostly consist of all U2's best syth lines sucked in, raved up and blasted out. I do realise my obsession with Fuck Buttons sounding a bit like U2 is maybe somewhat daft.

Red Kross - Old men playing muscular, melodic, not very exciting indie rock. There seemed to be a groundswell of goodwill toward them, which I didn't really get...

Ween - ...maybe it was because unlike their main stage counterparts Ween, Red Kross did not purport to be playing a three hour set. To be honest I know almost nothing about Ween, so maybe it was a blessing, but we wandered in somewhere before the two hour mark to find it was all over. Weak Ween, weak.

Glass Candy - Certainly chemical processes came to a head during this set, meaning my memories are not crystal clear. My general observations, though:

a) They sound pretty close live to on record, which surprised me for some reason, I thought it'd be a bit dirtier

b) Ida No is a really good frontwoman, punk energy, disco moves. Which I guess makes perfect sense, but still surprises me how seemlessly they made the move to disco.

c) Gooooooooooooooooood dance music

d) Johnny Jewel had changed t-shirts, and had thus clearly been aware how uncool he was earlier

Later - we stayed for quite a chunk of the Hot Chip DJ set... from what I remember it was a sort of average, soul-tinged thing which didn't do much for their names as DJs. I actually heard quite a lot of people grumbling about it the next day, but I guess I wasn't expecting that much... anyone whose heard Made In The Dark will be aware calling them masters of dance music may be pushing it a little.

Anyway, me, Laura and in particular Mark were spannered. Dancing was a definite secondary concern next to talking complete shit to people, my two most cogent memories being amazement at how sweaty Laura's hair was when the rest of her was basically quite normal, and me and Laura hanging off each other giggling while informing Tamsin what a great ass she has. And she really does.

Mark pulled one of all-lady drum orchestra Leopard Leg. We assumed he'd buggered off to make the beast with two backs (not a leopard, then), but upon retuning to the chalet at four/fivish, we found him conked out on the sofa, oblivious to the chemical joy raging through his dead, sluggish system.

A beach trip ensued for some of us... in light of what happened the next night I can't really make any amazing claims for it, insofaras we didn't particularly hit it off with the randoms we met around a beachside campfire, merely chatted lightly. But aside from the Gareth from The Office style guard at the front gate threatening to ban Laura from the site if she crossed a certain invisible line (she'd lost her wristband earlier), it was all good. We played frisbee with a man who appeared to not be a festival-goer, but hanging out at a beach at 6am in the hope somebody might play frisbee with him. A generally lonely pursuit, but paid off this one time. Me and Laura went paddling. Felt like being bitten by sharks made of ice. Got back to the chalet about half an hour before the start of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, the watching of which had been declared as our goal for the 'night'. It is amazing how much your priorities change at half seven in the morning. We went to bed.


Earlier - An interesting phenomena I've noticed at indie festivals is that while the attendees are by and large the sort of people who make a point of sun-dodging as much as physically feasible in the real world, they get all squeally and super excited when it happens at an ATP or variant thereon. This of course makes total sense, and was exactly what we did, hittin' the beach with a couple of tinnies, a bucket and spade, and enough gumption to power a battleship. Well, maybe not, because the group 0f people next to us had built something like the sandcastle equivalent of the Maginot Line. Sadly it proved about as much use, not because of Germany attacking from an unexpected quarter, but because they'd built it about half a mile away from the water. A folly, you might call it. But well done them. Me and Tams went swimming. Cold but not as cold as the am, sense of palpable achievement at actually swimming out pretty damn far. Slightly dented by the fact the water was only about a metre deep. Beach was absolutely rammed, mostly with non ATP people, which was weird, as I suppose in your head you sort of maybe assume that nobody really bother coming here for actual holiday fun anymore. But fun there was, except for one rather large, bitter woman, who referred to her toddler only as 'dickhead'. The optimist in me hopes that maybe that was his real name.

Yeasayer - Weird... big booming stadium prog... not that that's not there on the album, but it's certainly suppressed under the polyrhythm blah blah and the fact the first three tracks are the faster, catchier ones. Here they were okay, but kind of milked atmospherics at the expense of hitting us with actual songs for a lot of the time. Also I felt a bit ill. Awww.

Dirty Projectors - Excellent stuff, probably the only wholly satisfying band I saw on the Saturday, truth be told. I liked Rise Above, but I guess I'd maybe pegged it as a littel ersatz, a little too knowing, maybe even a bit lounge. But having seen them live I'd totally say they're real, they mean it man (obscure REM joke). But yeah, Dave Longstreth is may more involved than I'd expect; reminded me a bit of a slacker David Byrne, head bobs, passion, the whole shebang. The ladies' harmonies were almost physics defying incredible, and Angela Deradoorian is possibly the prettiest dame in indie. Niiiiiiiiiice.

Les Savy Fav - They raised the bar immensely high at ATP Vs The Fans last year, and while frequently ninjas of entertainment here - there were breathing exercises, there was judo, there was the stealing and destroying of a stage invader's Pink Pankther costume - kind of meant I focused on the music a bit more this year. And fine music it is, but Tim's voice is weak of shit live, no doubt thanks to his antics. Odd dichotomy.

Hot Chip - claimed that this was hotter than their recent Coachella gig, which took place in a tent, in the desert, in the day. It was probably about as close as you can realistically come to passing out temperature without, in fact, passing out. The vague irony to this was that so long as Hot Chip continued to play y'know, 'bangers', it was possible to carry on dancing through adrenaline alone. So a good job they didn't recently release an album full of really shit slow songs then... oh. It was okay, it's just we felt the need to leave the room every time a ballad came on, for all sorts of reasons. Basically went well until the encore, where the sound fucked up and they started singing Nothing Compares 2 U before foolishly segueing into a vastly inferior slow newie as the last song. Fun, but didn't quite work.

After - Wowzers. Um, well in a nutshell: we danced some; we went back to the chalet, the girls decided to put makeup on the boys, we went and danced... some more. It was good. We danced until about six, and thanks to a solemn pact to wear shades at all times, we didn't look quite as fucked as we actually were. But we were fucked.

Anyway, me Laura and Mark (technically the junior members of the group, sadly - combined age: 80) decided this was not nearly enough and went hunting after one of those elusive chalet parties. We had a slight problem with this, in that the legendary chalet parties of ATP Vs The Fans were almost certainly ended by about 7am, and the odds of finding a party in full swing were fairly low by this time. Fortunately we stumbled across a pair of delightful (and tremendously fucked) young ladies by the names of Ruth and Natasha, and with the aid of their iPod speakers, we set about having ourselves a party in the the play fort outside of the main bands area. It would be tedious to break it down, but suffice to say the ladies were awesome to the max, and we met some Colourful Characters, notably a snivelling goon who more or less told Tash he loved her then practically started crying when she challenged him to tell her his name; and also a girl by the name of Izzy, who waffled on to me in slightly vague fashion about her girlfriend before getting off with Ward. Beautiful.

We stumbled back to our chalet after the batteries on the speakers failed, spending maybe three hours talking shit (I remember the correct way to raise a child being a big topic) on the grass with a selection of people who it would probably be fair to say varied in quality. On the way we bumped into Mark and Izzy. They were sitting with some people who turned out to be The Black Lips, who had given them some Valium. Mark did not shut up about this... well, ever, he is probably still talking about it now. I thought The Black Lips were dicks, incidentally, as my complimenting one of their moustaches met with a silence that can only be deemed frosty. By about 11ish me and Laura had more or less resigned ourselves to having a dip in the sea as substitute for bed, but then everyone else buggered off at more or less the same time. We catnapped the catnap of the dead, mine only punctuated by a very vague conversation with Ward, who reminded me he was on Valium, berated me for not having any coke, told me me and Laura were losers for going to bed, then promptly went to bed. He is a card.


Marissa Nadler - Um, obviously it had been Sunday for some time, but this official rules state a day begins post sleep. I quite fancied a bit of A Place To Bury Strangers to blast us awake, but in retrospect the godlike Nadler was a fine way into it. She is spectacularly talented, her voice was at least twice as good as I remembered from last time I saw her live, new songs were amazing - one that just had the chorus 'ghosts and lovers stay with you for a while' was the most beautiful thing I heard all weekend. And she drinks pints. I love her a lot. In fact I sort of told her this afterwards. Only I had my arm round Natalie and used the phrase 'we'. I am not sure, but I think Natalie may have been embarrassed.

Black Mountain - Nice set for me, as I felt pretty zonked, but it was kind of lethargic and I can totally see why the others buggered off to see Pissed Jeans. They definitely worked better on the big stage at Minehead, somehow their innate AWESOMENESS did not quite come through here, but yeah, I guess if they're stoner rock, I felt pretty stoned, it all hooked up.

Pissed Jeans - Only caught the end, but nicely rhythmic noise that inspired me enough to, er, ask for the album, plus the drummer's utterly fearless stagedive at the end basically makes all other stagedives I have ever seen look hopelessly wussy. This guy went for it, no looking where he was landing, no sir.

of Montreal - I could write an essay about this, I really could. But I won't. Basically of Montreal are - for me - the best band in the world at the moment, which is kind of a cheat, as they made no effort to preview anything off Skeletal Lamping, which could easily be shit. But they based the set around Hissing Fauna, my favourite album of this decade, plus the best songs off The Sunlandic Twins, and their stage show basically revolves around out Bowieing Bowie, and maybe it was all a bit easy, but it was fucking incredible. Honestly, them playing was the best drug I took all weekend... blah blah blah, gush gush gush. They finished with The Past Is A Grotesque Animal - as is only appropriate - and it was very gratifying to look around and see the song clearly meant a lot to so many people. Cheesy rave visuals, a dude dressed as Death just standing on the drum riser not doing anything, glitter lobbed into the crowd, Barnes still looking properly upset as he batters into the guitar at the end... beautiful stuff. Also a full minute after the band finally finished, they wandered back on and chucked inflatable pizzas at us. This was brilliant in itself, but also gave rise to the weekend's greatest game - Fake Pizza Vs Real Pizza. Basically you get a bunch of strangers, and they throw both fake and real pizzas at each other. Genius.

No Age - Kind of enjoyed it in a visceral way, but the sound was very strange, monstrously unsubtle fog that don't think anybody intended. Again, hypnotic. Hell, everything was bloody hypnotic by this stage.

(The Hold Steady and Girl Against Boys) - I dunno, I was there, I suppose, but nah, couldn't hum you a song. NME reported that THS got pwned by Wooden Shjips downstairs, which is kind of unfair, it was pretty full. I say this because they seem like nice chaps. GAB - just no, no, no.

The Meat Puppets - as it turned out, Cris from the Meat Puppets had been hanging out with me, Mark and Laura the night before, but hadn't wanted to announce his true identity. Hence we hadn't really talked to him, us being all shallow like. I had for some reason given him Laura's mysteriously acquired toy duck, which he alluded to onstage, but refused to give back to me. Oh well. This guy played with Cobain. AND HE WAS IN OUR CHALET. Wooo. Oh, yeah, the gig... pretty good, bit softer than I was expecting but decent, lotsa Meat Puppets II. The low volume meant I found the widdly guitar solos pretty relaxing, though as has been established, I was now finding most things relaxing.

Harmonia - Weird. I don't think they ever really intended anybody to dance to it, which meant the set was really disjointed - they'd build up a beastlike motorik groove for about a minute, then finish it and go for something ambient and undanceworthy. If they'd actually sequenced it right it could have been damn impressive, but as it was they emptied the room, near enough. Germans, eh?

Later - The weekend had taken its toll. On everyone except Tamsin, who seemed desperate to dance. We disappointed her by 4am we were tucked up. It was over. It was all over.

1 comment:

Arike said...

"Though ultimately in the McDermott camp, I was naturally happy the moment we'd secured an adequate stash of cheese." LOL
"Got back to the chalet about half an hour before the start of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, the watching of which had been declared as our goal for the 'night'. It is amazing how much your priorities change at half seven in the morning. We went to bed." LOLLOL
aww primaV. Cannot wait x Arike