Getintothis ventured to a blustery Minehead to take in the sights, sounds and superb beards of the Portishead-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties.
Fuzz Against Junk
Having belted it down the motorways via Birmingham to pick up Stuart, our intrepid heroes Andy and Pete were in fine fettle after absorbing all manner of great sounds on the car stereo but little could prepare them for the ear-candy handpicked thanks to Bristol’s laziest band ever – Portishead.
Decamping in Octopus’ Garden in Oyster Bay (I’m not making this up – it’s Butlins) the first sounds to greet our ears were Fuzz Against Junk – a hybrid of psyche, jazz-fusion and plentiful noise. Lovely.
Sparklehorse followed suit – in what was only his second outing as a soloist Mark Linkous resembled more of a Timidpony and his set couldn’t help but feel rather underwhelming. Still there was some oldies from Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot which sounded groovy as we nestled into our first beers.
Surprisingly, The Horrors verged on average – which is better than expected. It was loud, slightly offensive and in keeping with the weekend’s Nightmare Before Christmas theme – they looked like they’d stepped straight from the set of Young Frankenstein. A good thing, surely?
Thurston’s Mirrorman guitarist
The standard rose considerably for Sonic Youth mainman Thurston Moore, who along with his charming ensemble – including a guitarist wearing a shaving mirror for a face – played a corking set plucked in the main from his recent longplayer Trees Outside The Academy. Retrained riffs weaved with the raucous.
Having arrived late afternoon – and missing Scouse Superheroes Kling Klang – we were forced to don the silver (as opposed to black) wristbands meaning we were guaranteed entry to the first of Portishead‘s two sets. So after snaffling up some KFC, we soaked up the smokey fug of our curators set – and what a set.
The last time their sounds circled round my mush I was just out of short pants – so it was a treat to remember them so vividly, and they were surprisingly even better than remembered. Glory Box was truly spiritual; all haunting, edgy and yet uplifting, while new material centred around more tribal beats and drones in keeping with much of their modern contemporaries that they’d selected to support them in Minehead. Spookily ace.
Things were hazy by the time David Parish took to the stage, but there was an air of quiet indifference – on the one hand his guitar work was malevolent, on the other it was tame and rather stale.
Chrome Hoof tried their damnednest to steal the show and almost did. Prog-funk battle-lines were drawn and they stampeded to the finish barely drawing breath.
Armed with violins, numerous guitars and drums, organs, pentangle capes and an assortment of glittering pixie dancers, The Hoof were a visual sonic trip.
Plus there was enough slap bass to get The Mighty Boosh’s Howard Moon salivating. ‘Spinal Tap in silver,’ remarked Andy…
Lauren & Liam
The night ended around Messy O’Clock. Silver Apples were probably amazing…
One of the highlights of the weekend presented themselves first-thing Saturday morning as Oneida crashed their way through a set which opened with Sheets of Easter and also included an incendiary Up With The People.
It was the perfect way to begin the early afternoon and was followed by a royal flush of outstanding performances.
Affable Scot Malcolm Middleton‘s easy on the ears pop was first-rate – and Christmas single We’re All Going To Die, couldn’t fail to raise a smile while A Hawk & A Hacksaw proved what eclecticism ATP specialises in, performing their unique brand of Eastern European folk.
Glenn Branca and the Paranoid Critical Revolution.
Quickly switching to the Centre Stage, GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan thrilled while reeling off his classic Liquid Swords before Glenn Branca perfected the genre known as Pretentious Wank with his double-bodied guitar twiddling.
Seriously, my ears have listened to Set Fire To Flames‘ double LP Telegraphs in Negative/Mouths Trapped in Static – I know what’s guff. And Glenn Branca is GUFF.
Julian Cope is hilarious. Dig the 90-year-old in a retro cop hat and shades with a body like a pumped up Jimmy Saville on steroids. Shame really his cockrock wasn’t much to write home about. Saying that he was pretty thrilling while spouting off about women, the weather, how cack his chalet was. That his closing tirade seemed to go on for longer than his music was hardly the point. You can see why Courtney Love felt at ease around him.
This goblin-cum-Rocky Horror freakzoid was Cope’s guitarist. Legend.
This is probably the worse photo I’ve ever taken – that’s what happens when you live on a diet of fast-food fat and beer for three days. Apologies to Polar Bear. They play mind-bending jazz mullah. Another for Howard Moon. In fact, to be honest what with all the mad electro, doom outfits and side orders of Jazz you’d think The Mighty Boosh had bribed Beth Gibbons and sorted the line-up themselves.
THIS IS AN ILLEGAL PHOTO OF A COMEDIAN WHO DOESN’T WISH TO BE REVIEWED.
David, Stu & Andy tuck in
THIS IS ANOTHER ILLEGAL PHOTO OF SAME COMEDIAN WHO DOESN’T WISH TO BE REVIEWED.
(He was absolutely hilarious, oh and finished by wazzing his penis out. True, but you didn’t read it here.)
Steve is another form of comedian, recounting his tales while sliding his way up his three or one-stringed guitar. Sure, he tells the same stories at every gig and festival, but he’s a loveable hobo – and we’ll let him off as his beard put to shame most of the others on show – and there were many.
Fact: Steve once lived in Skelmersdale.
Lola Olafisoye of Chrome Hoof and Pete
Another big highlight. San Fran’s Om played long, droning Pagan doom and even my three sceptical chums were rocking like Bulgarian orphans by the time the duo were done. Relentless, hypnotic and best of all – fun.
Aphex Twin (somewhere in that blue mist, honest)
Around 3am and enigmatic misfit Richard D James hit the decks opening with monologues about vaginas before blasting a party set fit for a superb Saturday dance-off. The purists were moaning about the lack of drillcore and nails being hammered through the skulls of small children, but for the most part everyone was bopping like lunatics.
Ricky Hatton battered and beaten after his showdown with Floyd Mayweather.
Similarly to the Hitman, we retired at around 6am.
Early Sunday, and Oren Ambarchi shifts behind a small mixing desk armed with little but a guitar and a sound box building shapes which recall Spectrum computers crashing slowly layering these clicks and glitches with bowel-quaking thuds and murmurs. It requires great patience but the overall effect was transcendental and another mini marvel. Find his swag on the mighty Southern Lord label.
Richmal, Tom & Chris
BORIS!!!! Watching Boris is like watching Moses part seas. Listening to Boris is like a gift from heaven. Huge crunching riffs and soaring double-eged solos from Takeshi and Wata while Atsuo whoops from behind his kit. Oh, and they had a gong. Having a gong is God’s Badge of Honour.
Polar Bear’s Seth Rochford and Pete
Jagjaguwar heroes Black Mountain were the perfect antidote to the oceans of drone we’d consumed, blending haunting folk and straight-up rock & roll. The new stuff hinted at a more textured, layered path with acoustic and organs swirling around Amber Wells‘ mournful voxs before mainman Stephen McBean pressed all your groovy buttons with My Morning Jacket-meets-Black Sabbath riffery.
Ideal for lazing to on a hilltop, but we had to make do with the Pavilion Stage’s fake grass carpet.
Sunn O))) (before…)
Sunn O))) (after…)
One of the hip things about ATP is the intimacy and collectivity of the festival. An aspect of this is the merchandise area as fans are able to mingle with their musical heroes and gain exclusive access to them and the swag they’re selling (see pic above). And it is not just the fans that seem chuffed at this set up, with the bands more than happy to exchange tales and opinions while signing records, T-shirts and exclusive art prints.
Meanwhile as Sunday evening continued drone, doom and metal was the main course served up, with scene cornerstones Sunn O))) leading the way.
Sunn O))) are disconcerting at the best of times but having to contend with fire alarms and emergency alerts informing us to leave the building during their introductory Nordic drone added to the air of unease.
Thankfully, when the billows of dry ice subsided we were greeted to truly special set of doom sludge with the added treat as what can only be described as a zombie Wickerman adorned in a crown of thorns groans at the lip of the stage.
Clearly my comrades are not impressed, with Andy asking ‘why is there a hedge on the stage?’
What can you say?
Crippled Black Phoenix
Like a Victorian Pink Floyd, Crippled Black Phoenix ply discordant post-rock with prog and swooning cellos. There’s about 19 of them onstage and one plays bass in Mogwai, so loudness is also a strong trait of theirs.
Perfect to while away the small hours of the morning unless you live in a terraced house.
Blood Island Raiders
Blood Island Raiders specialise in gnarly metal, do windmill hair tricks and on weekends wrestle with mountain bears.
Our weekend rounded off in euphoric style as laptop electro duo Fuck Buttons spun M83-style grooves which centred less on icy plains and futuristic meltdowns and more on cocaine rushes and glam. We’d have danced had are legs not turned to lead and our eyes hadn’t long since rolled into our skulls.
ATP – once again it’s been a pleasure. Roll on May.
All Tomorrow’s Parties