Saturday, 9 May 2009


Unsurprisingly I am the first in the chalet to be awake this morning. I half expect I am the first person at ATP to be awake this morning.

Today is like the football equivalent of Christmas Day. I am excited and nervous and positive that gifts lie ahead.

In the chalet K8 obviously I am the first person up. Sat in the front room are the wrapped up chips (now cold) from last night that I was literally having nightmares about people getting up first and stealing or throwing them out. I needn’t have worried. As I flip on the tube and ATP TV the cold chips taste like the food of gods. If there was any suggestion of a hangover or bad head before once the chips are in there is no chance for migraine.

This morning ATP TV is serving up Peep Show for breakfast and as things get ugly on screen it is as painful and as funny as ever which causes me to experience some kind of epiphany as it occurs to me who my Sophie was (Zoe). Moving on I am suddenly hit with inspiration from the show to get a tattoo of my face on my chest – double me!

ATP TV also offers up some more fucked up stuff in the form of addition episodes of Tim And Eric Awesome Show. I think this represents the arrival of Youtube onto television. Their guest stars are second to none, high in hip currency and value. When these episodes run out the faithful ATP TV starts running episodes of 30 Rock. Someone somewhere in this organisation has a keen sense of humour.

With a keycard in hand I head out and do my annual Saturday morning ATP newspaper run. It is a rare treat to walk through the Minehead complex when it is so quiet. This is also represents a far too sensible approach to proceedings.

Obviously neither of the shops in the complex have a Guardian so I find myself leaving the site and heading to the Tesco that yesterday was so friendly to us. My walk is soundtracked by “Liquid Swords” by GZA and in the face of such clarity this album has never made more sense than today.

As I step towards the supermarket I pass the drummer from LORDS who does not recognise me, maybe he doesn’t even know who I am. Certainly I know who he is.

Passing the McDonalds on the way I see/witness in the distance a Banksy (or faux Banksy) of a kid throwing up a McDonalds mere metres away from the drive thru. I attempt to take a photo of this but I can’t get close enough to it to get a decent shot so fuck knows how it got there in the first place, it must have been the true guerrilla of the gorilla Banksy.

This morning the staff appear less friendly in Tesco. Is it because I represent freedom versus your Saturday job necessity? Regardless I buy myself milkshakes and chocolate for breakfast forgetting about the cold chips I have already consumed. I wonder what the poor people are doing.

On the way back to the chalet I stop off to get some coffee but when the slow SLOW girl behind the counter takes forever to make coffees for a group and the queue disintegrates when the people I thought I was queuing behind walk off with their coffees just as another faceless group of adults buts in with a large order I storm petulant, disgusted in the service that Butlins and ATP is offering. This was probably two bands conspiring against me and it reminded me how at Christmas when I made the same trip for Christmas on the Saturday morning how I scoffed at the proposal that one person in the queue made that interest rates would soon be down to 0% With hindsight and how low they are now, he almost on to something.

When I get back to the chalet K8 after my no coffee anguish people are beginning to murmur with the excitement of hitting the waterslides. They ask me if I’m going swimming and my response is along the lines of “what with these bossoms?”

Instead I flip on the TV, open up my newspapers and begin heavily drinking with the day still young. As we look out of the window there is a tapping sound/noise and it is one of the local seagulls (or was it ducks?) begging us for scraps. We throw them a few to dine on but luckily resist the urge to let them into the chalet as guests.

After a few episodes of 30 Rock soon I find myself on my own in the chalet fiercely and tragically trying to get a buzz on for Millwall. As things change on ATP TV the next movie to roll along is The Decline Of Western Civilisation Part 2: The Metal Years. This copy of the movie comes from a VERY old VHS and before the show we are treated to a number of disturbing trailers including one for a Roy Chubby Brown one and the performance film of Lenny Henry in the eighties attempting to be edgy and the UK equivalent of Eddie Murphy. This I was not expecting to see at ATP.

With no one around I deem it time for a Cuban cigar. At this point things turn kamikaze while on the TV screen Gene Simmons conducts an interview in the lingerie section of a shop I set about hollowing my cigar and stuffing some herb (guested from Pauly) into it. This action requires precise accuracy, which is only hindered by the sight of Paul Stanley on TV being interviewed in bed whilst two rock whores drape themselves over him. The eighties really were a good time.

Eventually I stuff the cigar to boiling point and attempt to smoke the fucker and get carefree for the football. With this toxic combination my mentality appears to be with the smoke loss all consideration/care for the people around and what they think of my actions and the Stella is designed to helpfully make me turn against those that might disagree with me. Later I will be drinking Captain Morgan in tribute to the people that sponsored Millwall in the early nineties and the Captain Organ legacy that was born at ATP 2000.

Things do not go to plan as the herb fails to burn with any success inside the cigar, instead creating something of a protruding grey mass while the Cuban burns around it. Fucking hell, I got this idea from Cypress Hill in magazine back in the day, surely they wouldn’t lie about the things they would do?

In the end however I make the best of a bad situation and try to guide the smoke around to being what I was intending but the best-laid plans never really work out.

Soon people begin returning to the chalet and the first is Racton who spots me stood outside the chalet chain smoking probably looking really silly in the process.

As kick off approaches I head to the main sports bar in full knowledge that today is also the Glasgow derby between Celtic and Rangers which conjures up distant memories of a previous ATP where Mogwai were sitting front and centre in the Queen Victoria watching the game in front of everybody.

At the bar I ask if they are going to show the Millwall v Leeds because quite frankly it is going to be a much better game than that Scottish tat and I am informed that it will be showing at the Irish bar. This makes no sense, Millwall isn’t Irish.

When I get there it is still early and despite the signs on the bar it doesn’t look like the game is on the TV. As I order a drink at the bar I confirm that they are showing the game, “right?”

The pub is full of Leeds supporters and they are scum. These aren’t real Leeds supporters, they’re actually music fans but still outnumbered by a barrage of stupid sounding Yorkshire accents I begin to feel defensive. I manage to snag a huge round table to accommodate Thom and the legions of other Millwall fans that hopefully will be coming. Soon he trots in with a couple of people in tow. They do not look like Millwall supporters. Grateful for the support/backup I buy him a drink.

As introductions are made I find myself getting into conversation with somebody from PWC talking about corporate recovery. After the year I have just had this is something I feel I sport knowledge about first hand. This guy is pretty interesting but he is NFL and out of my league. He is also worryingly younger than me and works in The City, somewhere I fear despite my qualifications I would not cut it. Regardless this is not Millwall.

Thankfully soon the TV is showing the New Den and with the stupid kick off time of 12.45 the game is go.

With Thom is also a foreign guy and he appears to be confused by this. His first comment is that “the stadium is half empty.” This is because A) the strict ticketing policy does not really allow/accommodate a walk up on the day supporter and B) that whole end of the ground is the away end and the lower tier is NEVER opened. The last time I remember the lower tier being opened was that horrific night those scumbag Liverpool supporters decided to try it on, scumbag Liverpool supporters the good (south) side of the Watford gap.

The game starts off well enough, even better than I was expecting. Annoyingly the TV volume is turned way down to accommodate a horrible indie rock soundtrack so it is impossible to tap into the excitement, atmosphere and passion of the Den. To compensate for this I begin to try to bring the atmosphere to the pub, attempting to get the others to join in on some feeble attempts at songs. As I begin semi shouting abuse at the Leeds players on screen Thom comments that “you are getting quite Millwall.”

Again however the comments keep on coming from the foreign guy – “these players aren’t very good” along with turn ups of the nose to the fact that from a scientific and new football/Sky Sports perspective this is not the greatest game in history. He gets on my tits but not as much as Leeds as they begin to slowly try it on in our yard, on our patch.

Things however take a turn for the worse early on when after only 15 minutes Jason Price limps off injured and suddenly there is a threat of Millwall getting roughed up on their own patch. On in his place however comes Neil Harris, which hopefully will serve as a good omen with his little snide touches and legacy of passion.

About twenty minutes into the game my “friends” get up and desert me to go and have a kick about. More like take some drugs. Thom pats me on the back and tells me he’ll be back for some of the second half but dumbfounded by their decision to leave a game with such potential stuns me. Then again he does support QPR. Suddenly I become a one-man army standing alone.

Looking around for allies I do at various points actually spot a couple of Millwall shirts but those guys seems to disappear while the game is on – maybe they were just fashion yesterdays, maybe somebody in a recent issue of Vice Magazine was wearing one.

Now I feel silly sat on my own. Solo I do not feel inclined to shout, hit things or throw objects. Remaining on our big round table is a couple and I think they are Millwall. To be honest I thought they came with Thom and his friends. I almost approach them but then I realise they are foreign and probably will not understand my own clipped pigeon English. Meanwhile sat opposite is a nasty looking group of lads that look like These New Puritans. They do not look like they are from Leeds but they are hardly getting excited by Millwall every time something exciting happens. They are plastic.

The game turns out to be a real slog and when it reaches half time at 0-0 it is a real relief. Immediately I hit the john to get rid of a pain that had been brewing and from the other side of the cubicle wall all I can hear is a man saying “finished? Finished?” This I am not used to as I soon feel as if I am in the latest Austin Powers movie and at any minute either a glory hole will appear or the guy will begin asking me “who’s number one?” Regardless I can only debate as to what is causing such a breakdown. It is obvious that he is a Leeds supporter.

Into the second half Millwall suddenly begin to hold their own more and more as the game resembles a real battle of attrition.

The good thing happens at the 71st minute when a cross into the Leeds penalty box gets fluffed by their defender and Neil Harris is there to knock the fucker home. In a game of little spark this was a true bolt from the blue and the piece of fortune that Millwall was looking for and have appeared to be getting this year.

As the ball hits the back of the net I left off the loudest cheer in the pub and everyone stares at me. It suddenly appears that I am the only person in the pub to cheer and with it comes a stupefying degree of jubilance and my response to the glares is the biggest grin imaginable. Even These New Puritans sat opposite fail to move a muscle in response. Really, what is wrong with these fucking people?

After the goal happens a mini (tiny) pitch invasion ensues and it is funny to witness the lack of effort put in by the stewards to stop the fans. A couple of them approach the Leeds keeper (Ankergren, soon to be rechristened Wankergren) but it is probably to wish him “bad luck mate.” This is always the way it goes at Millwall, we always shoot towards the Cold Blow Lane end in the second half and more times than not this is the half in which we score most goals. The fact that it is the half our crowd is sat behind the opposition keeper baying surely cannot be coincidence.

The goal from Neil Harris sparks/initiates some kind of ecstasy in me as I begin firing out messages to anyone in the world that will care at this time. With less than twenty minutes to go the game turns into a real scrap to protect/defend the lead and keep that scumbag Beckford impotent.

Eventually those painful remaining few minutes dissolve and when the referee blows his whistle for full time once again I let out another cheer which is not reciprocated by anyone in the building. Immediately on the pitch runs a line of police horses facing the away end but the way the ground designed there is never likely to be any risk of trouble from away fans inside the ground. Looking around the pub smiling I attempt to catch the glimpse/eye of any Leeds fan around but they all appear to be gone. As I leave the pub I look out for the couple of people in Millwall shirts but likewise they are gone. I don’t care though to be honest, at this point my heart is pulsing and I find myself in some kind of state of disbelief as I really wasn’t expected Millwall to take anything away from the game. At this time football has offered me the kinds of heights I sense music is nowhere near able to offer me at this time.

With this in mind I head straight over to Reds where LORDS are about to do their set. For a band that has released two albums on what was my label (Gringo Records) this is only the second time I have ever seen this band perform (the previous being at the first Latitude Festival). I don’t know, I never really jumped two footed into their boogie-woogie brand of indie rock. Perhaps this is due to taste but equally it is just as likely to be due to the fact the records have been released on a label that is like an abused child to me. Inside Reds however it is a busy climate as LORDS wrestle with one of the least desirable slots of the weekend. On stage it appears as if they are suffering at the hands of blistering heat and in between songs they wave their hands in their air as if they are suffering RSI from a month long wankathon. There is a good vibe to proceedings however and years ago when ATP started and Gringo Records was very much a going concern for me to have an act on our label play this festival would have been an amazing team victory with the gang mentality that we used to have with the label. Now however it just all feels too late, there is no sport in this anymore. In my defence I really do try to get into the LORDS set and I do really enjoy seeing people I know onstage but ultimately it’s not for me. As the vocals remind me of Reef one time too many I pine for the days of being wild.

After the set as I head back to humanity with my head still high I bump into Baldwin who is at the penny arcade with the “I like stuff” girls pumping 2p pieces into machines with great gusto in the way that the manual told them to do. Today Baldwin is less aloof to conversation but still does not appear overly enthused, especially when compared to my Millwall fed ecstasy. I talk at 100 words per minute in the kind of manner of a person about to glass someone. I have finally found some personal enthusiasm. That said I have no idea what was said between us in conversation.

Leaving Reds I eventually find myself regrouping with people upstairs where the RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR are playing away. For a band with such a great, dark name they really do disappoint. This is the Low guys doing Kings Of Leon. We look at them for seconds and move to the bar.

The next treat is QUI. This is now the perfect band for this time. The last time I saw QUI was at the Old Blue Last just before Christmas 2007 and I have to concede that I have never been so scared at a gig as Yow to his act beyond the stage and onto the bodies of the audience. Seeing the man today skulk around the stage is still menacing but as the band tear things apart with their playing as Yow remains roaming around the stage like a prize-fighter rather than diving into the crowd you sense that he is holding himself back, saving the devastation for the evening ahead. Compared to THE JESUS LIZARD, QUI are a very different proposition, more jagged and less refined. No bass means the songs often sound on the verge of collapse and contain many abrupt moments looking to stun, maim and kill the audience. It feels like a rare treat at this festival to witness a band with some kind of presence onstage.

During their set I appear to reach critical mass as I feel I am beginning to hallucinate (usually it is cats walking along the floor and up/down stairs). I briefly begin communicating by blinking at this point.

We stick around upstairs and reconvene on mass for YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS. With the day now growing a beard the premise of peaking too soon becomes a reality as tempers amongst us begin to temper. As YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS amble onto stage to perform “Colossal Youth” we almost miss them due to their lack of presence. I guess they are from Wales after all. By this point I suddenly find myself wearing Thom’s sunglasses in a darkened room and darkened state of mind, where did the euphoria of only a couple of hours go? It is a real drag that the YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS do cut it because pre-festival this on paper was one of the highlights but in practise it’s a drag and soon the reality that this is a band performing here mainly because Kurt Cobain once put the record in a list of his favourites hits home. As I look out vacantly at the stage it begins to occur to me that the ghost of Nirvana still looms heavily over proceedings with its historical championing of this band, covering of yesterday’s headliners DEVO and the split single with THE JESUS LIZARD as ever I come back to the conclusion that were it never for Nirvana we would not be here right now. With little activity onstage to excite none of our group ever really gets to them as conversation between ourselves kicks in. As I cannot be bothered to watch the band or converse with others eventually I wind up snapping that the band is “just Kraftwerk with a woman singing.” I doubt I could be more Neanderthal and accurate at the same time. By the time they reach “Credit In The Straight World” and “the Hole song” this is what I have been waiting for.

After the set our group splinters and disheartened I do not stick around for HARVEY MILK, instead choosing to return to K8 and crash for a while. As I walk back to the chalet I check out Facebook on my phone and come across wedding photos featuring Phoebe and her German boyfriend that looks like a gay Ian Mackaye. Yes, this sure improves my frame of mind.

When I get back to the chalet it is empty and on ATP TV is Rushmore. The timing of this is perfection.

It is weird seeing the movie again after having seen it countless times and Bill Murray take this performance as his subsequent template for his world weary, middle aged angst filled character. This movie has come full circle now and after being at the top of many cult listings for years now suffers from a grumpy backlash now. Right now though quirky humour and the act of working through difficult times and circumstances is exactly what I want to indulge in.

Meanwhile back at the Centre Stage word comes from Pauly that HARVEY MILK are band of the festival. Later when he returns to the chalet about twenty minutes later he shrugs his shoulders and goes “they were OK.”

Slowly bodies return to the chalet just as The Darjeeling Limited appears on ATP TV. One by one we settle down to watch it with varying degrees of enjoyment and major differences in opinion. I never really liked this movie much but the day I did see it was one of the greatest days of my adult/modern life. Of course that was a façade and façade is a word that many of my cohorts would choose to describe the characters in this film. As Martin begins laying into Wes Anderson (or his characters) for lacking substance and heart (or something along those lines) I begin pointing out how every Wes Anderson is a metaphor for ATP. Whenever something appears on the screen remotely related to the festival I emphasise this true, harsh reality to annoying degrees with divides half the room into laughter and the other half into hate. As the movie plays out though there are a lot of similarities and spooky coincidences. I do fear however Racton takes these jibes worst though as he really begins to look and act pissed off.

As someone shoves a piece of pizza in my gob to shut me up the reality that we are starting to miss bands begins to kick in. Some of our crew appear ready to opt for the snooze option but those of us looking to make the most of our indie rock pound. Unfortunately however after The Darjeeling Limited ends Die Hard 3 appears on TV and it is a tough thing to pull us away from Bruce Willis and his enforced racism while Samuel L. Jackson really goofs it up.

Eventually our consciences get the best of us and Racton and I head back to the stages in anticipation of THE JESUS LIZARD set.

We head straight upstairs to where SLEEPY SUN are doing their psychedelic thing. This appears to incense Racton even more than my Wes Anderson comments as he announces that “this is the worst fucking band ever.” At times like these it is hard to disagree but I wonder just where the venom is coming from. On stage are hippies. Annoying ones at that. This music is just too overblown and druggy for a sane and sober to be into and at this point of proceedings things are very sober. SLEEPY SUN remind me of a bad version of Bardo Pond without the looks or dynamics. They are a complete throwback and truly love the sound of the music they are playing, not least demonstrated by the weird dancing of the vocals and worrying degree of enthusiasm expressed there with. The female singer is very annoying, she reminds me of Shami Chakrabarti of all people. When they end we cheer.

Some debate follows as to exactly where to go for THE JESUS LIZARD. Ultimately we pick what we deem a good spot, not too close to the stage but not too far either. Anticipation builds and feels heavy in the air when surprisingly the venue does not appear to really fill up too much. Eventually the band hit the stage and it already is a terrifying sight. There is already a glimmer in David Yow’s eyes before he addresses the audience “OK now look man, just don’t be nervous.” With this announcement he takes off his shirt and dives straight into the audience as the band launches direct into “Puss”, the major elephant in the room of their career, and within seconds I am staring at his sweaty back getting ready to assist in carrying him aloft when/if he comes over our way as almost immediately he is daring to avoid my personal space. Right on the money he is nailing his performance as the band make a defiant gesture/statement displaying that their “hit” is only part of their cannon/arsenal.

THE JESUS LIZARD prove many things tonight and in the process render 99% of current bands impotent and pointless. As “Seasick” follows finally there is the element of terror in performance that this festival has so desperately been looking for. All memories of the glorified toss that has come before is forgotten as “Bloody Mary” turns into more incoherent screaming followed by Yow commenting “that was pretty good.” He then introduces the bands individually as his best friends in the world before announcing himself as “Bono.” Bono can only dream.

It is an interesting set, early on come song decisions that would not have been obvious otherwise but with Duane Denison so frighteningly “on” the band could be playing anything and they would still be tearing the place up. As the “nice guy” sentiments of “Mouth Breather” most brothers here can get with the bottled aggression of the horrible realities of the song. After the song Yow announces “this is really weird, I didn’t think we was gonna be this good.”

With “Killer McHann” THE JESUS LIZARD truly take things to the edge as the band sound unbelievably close to collapse in some frenzied indecent assault. “Then Comes Dudley” is pre-empted by a request from Yow to do the most hideous and perverted bent dance which he proceeds to demonstrate atop a monitor for the five or so minutes before the vocals come in on the song and the opening lines “that woman’s crazy.” This is the jewel in their pearl necklace able to sustain degrees of intensity other bands have never even imagined or dreamt of. Then Yow returns to the grind to gross everyone out with his little bosoms flowing and an aged facial expression that occasionally looks like Mr Magoo and almost looks like Sid James in another light. That’s the “power of the pink.”

As Yow announces “this is ridiculous” THE JESUS LIZARD tear into “Monkey Trick” before closing their set in the deep end with “Gladiator.” THE JESUS LIZARD thankfully surpass all expectations tonight. Yow’s performance is perfectly pitched and wholly convincing as a man genuinely on the edge as tough as they come. When he played Bukowski in that movie years ago you sense that it wasn’t necessarily a stretch or much of an act.

After the set some Irish people approach me asking me if I am the drug dealer. Having watched all the episodes of The Wire now I realise I look more like a bad police undercover so I take their requests/enquiry as pure white sarcasm. Eventually I attempt to palm them off on Baldwin as they become too annoying.

We leave THE JESUS LIZARD set feeling physically beat and wasted. As people begin to ponder tempers begin to fly as part of our entourage attempts to buy food. When we go to the shop and point out that my milkshake costs the same amount of money as a cheap tub of ice cream it only appears that everything I am saying is met with scoffs.

With this we throw in the towel on the evening and opt out of SLEEP, something many would proclaim a mistake. Upon arriving back at the chalet, after what feels like the longest trudge, we flip on ATP TV to discover Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls is on. I fail in my attempts to convince anyone that this movie is actually really good and that it is actually the Sleater-Kinney story. As people swiftly disappear to bed it soon becomes evident that Russ Meyer is not appreciated in this house.

An hour or so later I wake up on the sofa having fallen asleep. Slowly I creepy crawl to and into bed, tonight braving going under the covers.

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