Saturday, May 17, 2008

ATP vs Pitchfork in Camber Sands (a little slideshow)

The pics are not in order, so it goes back and forth between "Surf City", the really quite happening patch of grass outside our chalet and temporary home, the glorious beach in Camber Sands, the outside of the Queen Vic pub and some pics from the gigs. It felt quite ... emotional coming back to Camber Sands, Mr Hogan referred to it in the programme as an " abandoned playground" and it felt right to be back, I thought maybe they'd switched operations to Minehead for good. As many I feel quite a strong bond with Camber, it's smaller, and oh so familiar by now. Walking down the little track to the dunes to THAT beach. Well, we didn't have it to ourselves this time though. It was very sunny and hot all weekend, and there were a lot of people there who had nothing to do with the festival. I actually found it too much during the day, but managed to sneak in a few quiet moments when it was practically empty at dusk on the Friday night, and Monday early morning. Long afternoons in Rye on the Sunday and fabulous Hastings on the Monday.

And, ok, I saw all these bands, in order, Friday: Vampire Weekend (loved it, sounded just like the record, but more colourful, the singer referred to Camber Sands as England's Cape Cod, which is of course a place VW sing a lot about, very sweet), Sebadoh (after some long pauses switching positions they really nailed the songs IMO, "Brand New Love", Eric Gaffney doing a triple whammy of "Bubble and Scrape" songs, etc. one of my highlights for sure), Ween (didn't really know them before but was pleasantly surprised, we heard a bit of Steely Dan and Blue Oyster Cult(!), the room was half empty but the people who were there loved it, and it was getting better and better for over two hours), Redd Kross rocking out downstairs.

Sat: Times New Viking (very groovy - though I don't really hear that much GBV in them, somehow reminds me a bit of the Riot Grrrl bands of the 90s instead, Huggy Bear, etc), Bon Iver (a revelation, fleshed out to threepiece they deliver stunning a capella singing, really lush and gorgeous, need to get that album!), Howlin Rain (Ethan Miller from Comets on Fire's other more retro/trad band but still channeling the pure cosmic SF acid vibes, they were great, like a bunch of gnarly old trees in the moonlight), Los Campesinos (Why was the singer wearing a Mika shirt? I think I needed to chill at that point...) , then onto the next hightlight, Deerhunter (pretty wild and shoegazy, Mr Cox wore some strange garland that fell off during the first song, later he stood on the amps staring in to space, looking like a deranged teenager, the guitarist stood with his back to the audience, haven't seen that for a while), the Les Savy Fav singer brought a bunch of people downstairs in a procession just in time for Black Lips (perfect psychedelic pop party band for ATP, they delivered, even if the lead singer almost lost his voice, really like them too), later Hot Chip played a strange and rocking set that got the whole hall going, the voice of that little guy really cuts through. I'm a fan of their last album and it was fantastic to see it done so well. Hmmm, sorry, can't hate on music too much here, is it all too positive?

Sunday it's even more chill time in Rye to start with, then my favourite band of all weekend: Of Montreal in their surreal costumes and the frontman from ... another dimension, or is that Norway ;-) I love that record so much right now. For the last song they played all twelve minutes of "The past is a grotesque animal" and I was in some weird zone. Fantastic! The Hold Steady: that singer is quite nerdy, even more than I thought, and it's infectious, close your eyes and you are in America in some shithole town crawling around the bars, it might be a cliche but it seems lived enough in their music. I've loved how on the records they seem to successfully channel bands like the Replacements and to some extent even the boozier anthemic side of GBV, so it was cool to see them live for the first time. The Meat Puppets, laid back and varied, but still with an undercurrent of madness, so great to see the brothers on a stage, they seem to have come through all sorts of weird shit. And on to Harmonia winding the party down, a great choice for Sunday night. We were in the back and grooved along gently, some of it was quite dancy but still complex and mysterious sounding. Obviously echoes of Kraftwerk and Can resonating...

Might have forgotten one or two. I thought the programme, done jointly between Pitchfork and ATP themselves, while I couldn't discern any real obvious pattern to the choices, tried to represent both some very happening and "now" acts as well as some old obscure cult bands like Ween. There was a lot of rocking but a lot of it was quite weird/complex/detached rocking, and you needed to keep an open mind. Personally I managed to find the breathing spaces you need to enter to endure the marathon, and ended up seeing a lot of good stuff. Plus I had good earplugs, they really are essential. It's ok to just hang in the chalet and at the beach and I love all that too but for me the music always came first at ATP. Oh, and no more smoking. That made a difference too, and probably made me see more bands. It used to be pretty bad, you know. So here's to all tomorrows ATPs!

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