Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"And I'm haunted by the freakish size of Nancy Reagans head": Mission of Burma

So,, again. Good sets from Dungen (twice, best I've seen them so far, really stoked to be there), Elf Power (finishing their set with a cover from Eno's 'Here come the warm Jets', yay!), Mission of Burma, Dead Meadow, Boredoms, Destroyer (I got into them after about ten minutes, spiky and warped, interesting), New P@rnos (superb as usual), Bevis Frond (it was so great to finally get to see them) , The Shins (of course), Brian Jonestown Massacre (despite some long breaks very entertaining and, uh, dare I say it, professional) Lightning Bolt (the media circus around them is getting a bit much though, all I could see was people trying to hold their camera over the crowd, sounded great though), Dino Jr on fire as well, though by that point I could only manage about twenty minutes, even with earplugs. The Dino Jr day was superb, had a real stoner/psych/shoegazer vibe. . .but being hungover from going to see oAH and The Lilys the night before with the whole crew didn't help, plus it took ages to get there, signal failure in Ashford, yuck...when we finally got there things fell into place very quickly...

Overall it was not quite as manic and excessive as previous years but that was deliberate on my part. An all blowfish (or at least ex-blowfish) chalet so plenty of GBV and other good music on the ipod shuffle, also impromptu renditions of GBV songs at inappropriate points (sorry, anyone, actually the best bits happened in the chalet...) . I went to the beach all the time, even with sandstorms, thunderstorms, rain, etc., it was my favourite place. Sunday morning I spent a good two hours, when it was relatively calm, on the beach to the left towards the lighthouse in Dungeness, where you can watch the kitesurfers hang out, it was so beautiful, and the fresh sea air totally amazing. My chaletmates managed to go to the beach just once in the whole weekend, which happened to be during the worst sandstorm of the weekend, but it was my tonic after the far too smokey main rooms of the festival, a counterbalance to the cramped, manic noisefests and freakouts.

Best deal in the brilliant buzzy merch room was this: ten pounds for the brand new Mission of Burma album, featuring a bonus live DVD, plus a free MOB t-shirt (from their 2004 tour), and a free handshake from Clint Conley. Pretty amazing deal in my book! He was really friendly, told me to spread the word a bit here in the UK, I wasn't sure whether that was really necessary, though he insisted, so I'll do my little bit here by saying that after a few spins I love this new Mission of Burma album. 'The Obliterati' is noisy, raw, heavy, paranoid, trippy, haunting/haunted, anthemic, beautiful, their sound is very peculiar as ever, seems to express all sorts of complex interior half states and feelings beyond the abrasive surface. The title of the last song 'Nancy Reagans Head' seems to point towards their 80s roots, and the album sounds just as tremendous as what they were doing in the early 80s. But it's timely too and most importantly, it sounds like they still mean it, there's a passion and integrity there. Their show at ATP was fierce, almost confrontational, very passionate. The old ones got reshuffled or thrown out, and they played a lot of new stuff. I remember whooping as I heard the opening chords for 'That's When I Reach For My Revolver' early in the set and Roger Miller whooping right back into his mic. Then they played the song...WOOOO! The new album has an interesting wikipedia style website that anyone can edit.

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