Friday, 8 May 2009


I wake up at 6.30 this morning and it feels as if there is a dark cloud hanging over proceedings. As I take into account all aspects of my life/world and consider their and my values it really isn’t amounting to much at the moment.

I sense/fear seeing the news I read on the internet yesterday has been what has dragged me down, how people that have used me are now thriving of the crux I offered/allowed them and now how they have left me behind. I can’t help but resent a number of people in my world, the ones that leave me and throw me aside. Fucking cunt.

To ease into the day in the right frame of mind I watch the “Funhouse” episode of The Sopranos, which is probably my all time favourite episode of the show. Whenever I watch it it never ceases to amuse me and touch a nerve as Pussy gets rumbled.

Today things are slow getting moving. Originally I had planned to leave at 8AM in order to meet up with Racton and Martin at Caterham for 9.30AM but with a heavy dose of lethargy this doesn’t happen.

In preparation I did pull together a list of things to take for the weekend and while rummaging I found my list from the Christmas ATP also but still it feels as if I am forgetting to take essential items. I fall short of packing my kickboxing kit (gloves, head guard etc) but I do remember to take two Millwall shirts and my XFL shirt. By the time I am putting bags in the boot of the car I appear to have packed enough clothes for a two-week holiday.

Eventually I exit Bohemian Grove (and Colchester) just after 8.30 and immediately I hit heavier traffic than I had been expecting. Not long after hitting the motorway it begins to rain and this severely impedes me as so many cars on the A12 decide to be precautious and drive at a Granny rate not even reaching the national speed limit let alone pushing towards a ton.

I guess with this does come a safety dance but as the clock melts away and a grand delay is more and more envisaged by the minute I begin to get twitchy/edgy. However every time I judder through a large shard of water spewed up/out by the car ahead my concentration and focus goes straight back to the rigors of driving in such situations.

Soon enough though I have reached the M25 at a decent enough pace and with it the Dartford crossing not far behind where for once I have ample change for the toll but as ever it does prompt the predictable boring question of what happens if you just don’t have the money for the toll?

As I eventually reach just outside Caterham I receive a text message from Racton saying that he and Martin have been delayed also and when I reach my destination at 9.55 (25 minutes late) it is still in the reality that I am ahead of them but as I am parking up in a road around the corner he calls me to let me know that they have arrived and suddenly everything appears to have been timed to absolute perfection.

From here the road trip goes reasonably well despite the reality that cars are driving too with too much caution due to the rain. This however cannot be said for Pauly and Polina when some kind of foul means that Pauly cannot get on her insurance and as a result is unable to drive down from Manchester.

Taking a different route this year (not passing Stonehenge or rubbing up against Glastonbury) we appear to completely bypass Taunton and with the necessity of supplies still a major portion of the agenda we settle for the Tesco in Minehead just around the corner from ATP.

Making good time we pull into Minehead and Tesco at around 1.30 and immediately hit the groceries. Inside the store is swamped with fellow ATP types and I hate how I immediately feel contempt for my all the music fans, to me they drip of arrogance. When one of them bowls into me at the checkout and barely apologies I feel vindicated/justified in my contempt for the feebles.

When it comes to paying, upon inspection our trolley is full of far too much sensible stuff. With view to getting violently drunk (both metaphorical and literal) I have added a bottle of Captain Morgan and a sixer of Stella. Our perversely healthy stance is then confirmed by the middle aged basket man saying “you’re not headed to the music festival, you’re food is too sensible.” All in all the people in Minehead Tesco are really scarily friendly especially compared to the mini Nazi Martin we encountered at Asda in Taunton prior to last December’s ATP.

As we pull into Butlins for ATP 2009 it is into the usual hogwash. At the gate the staff ask if I have attended before and I feel let down that they do not recognise me. After parking up we head to the information desk where Racton sets about collecting our chalet keys in the big lottery for hotspots.

Unlike the Christmas event only the nominated ticket purchaser is allowed access to the desks so Martin and I wait outside and as we do so immediately I get my first view of the Gringo Records collective which is a timely and depressing reminder of who I am going to be bumping into this week,

At this point a fellow ATP type passes and tells Martin his shirt is cool. It just looked like a Wu Tang shirt to me but it is actually the corporate logo of the organisation from Alien and from here onwards Weyland Yutani are this years official sponsors of ATP.

Having collected the keys Racton returns with the reaction of someone having had his fingers burned. Not once but twice did staff him shit in there as all of a sudden he becomes the butt of authority figures. He also comes with the information that nobody is being allowed into chalets until 4PM (now being barely 2PM) and it would appear our chalet this year is situated in the outer regions of the complex (K8). Not the best of humble beginnings.

With the knowledge that our chalet this year is on the other side of the car park we move my car to the other car park and on the way exiting Butlins the desire to run over some post-rock fans is almost overwhelming, them and their stupid fucking haircuts and beards. And funny walks.

Once parked up all signs point to getting a drink, a long needed drink. We head to Irish bar and prepare a head count.

The roll call on our chalet this year is yet again another set of new types. Racton plays in Limn; Pauly used to play in Billy Ruffian and Martin does The Sound Of The Ladies and appears on the amazing Answer Me This podcast. The two girls in our six-berth chalet, well girls don’t really do bands.

As we sit outside with our first drink of the weekend almost immediately we see our other bud Thom and the first thing he says to me is “where are we watching Millwall tomorrow?” Hell yeah!

With view to beginning ATP proper word is that the first band is starting on the centre stage so we head upstairs to catch some of that.

It must be the most unfortunate slot of the weekend to have to take for any act but today GROUPER really does not look like she is benefiting from having to perform before people are even able to get into their chalets and settle in. As a result the crowd is predictably sparse but you suspect that this would have been the way regardless as the sound coming from the stage resembles something of a post-rock Enya caked in distortion. There are no real songs in these compositions just long and lengthy drag out to the emotional seas of the performing and if the listener manages to get into this process that is a bonus and reflection of a secondary objective. You can’t dance to this music. You might be able to fuck to it but it will be one of those lazy, slow, passionless fucks that appears to be my life. Maybe if I were stoned this would rock. Need weed.

Soon we are hooking up with old friends and recognisable faces (faeces). As ever ATP serves as something of an annual reunion of old haggard indie rock fans clinging desperately to that lifestyle and the conceit that it is cool. Some outgrow it and others just cease to care but often just when you think you are out they pull you right in.

Our old Danish friend is this year’s first beacon of light. It has been almost a year since I last saw her and before that I suspect it was longer. Anyone that ever greets you by telling you that you smell nice is always going to be onto a winner. This raises the stakes (and steaks) of the weekend already. She is here on the Casiotone For The Painfully Alone ticket, in other words she has been fortunate in not having to shell out and pay for this “privilege.”

The second beer of the weekend goes down with a mixed degree of success and already I find myself crazing a sit down in our chalet and the comforts of the confines of a seemingly never-ending supply of varied booze and ATP TV. More and more these days/years it is becoming more and more about the communal act of watching ATP TV rather than a non-stop day of watching bands.

Finally the witching hour of 4PM and we head over to my car to unload and burst into our chalet. For some reason collecting all our wares suddenly proves a lot more troublesome than we were expecting as bags split and goods fall sprawled all over the floor. The locals the Butlins staff ask me if I want a trolley but I lie and “no, its ok, we’re nearly at our chalet now.” I don’t want any hick getting one over on me.

The chalet is nice. It is situated within hopping distance of the church/chapel but also we can see the perimeter fence not far away in the distance. In K8 this is the chalet the furthest I have ever been from the pavilion and stages, so far that I begin to think that I am at a different festival. The omens aren’t good.

Rather than do anything useful the first thing I do is put on the TV. Showing is Arrested Development and this is bliss. Perhaps I should have been more concerned with sleeping arrangements as for a third festival running I wind up sharing a double bed with a dude. Jesus, think of how many poor couples have shagged on these beds over the years while their devil spawn sleep in the room next to them. I just shudder.

Soon our authority is stamped on the chalet and the cupboards are full and we begin to perform our weekend impressions of alcoholics. No food with eyebrows in there.

After some procrastination eventually I head back to the main pavilion long since after everyone else in the house returned to the throng of rock action.

On the way once more I bump into our Danish friend who calls me over to sit with her on a bunch outside the Irish pub. The original plan was to go and see the JEFFREY LEWIS set but at these times any other option/form of entertainment is likely to serve to distract. As we sit catching up gradually I find myself surrounded by Nottingham types, my Kryptonite in human in form. These people do not know who I am or how I have touched and enhanced their lives truly like the lo-fi DIY indie rock Jesus that I think I am. I am awkward such Vonnegut delusions so soon I am literally running away from them for the shelter of rock.

As I staunchly head upstairs for HEALTH, the Russell Brand of noise (music), I bump into Chris from LORDS. This was inevitable. It’s cool though because the guy is friendly and appears happy to see me after what has been a very long time. As we begin to talk everyone around him appears to run away as if I scare them off. Over the years this guy has been the apparent cause of much dissent within the ranks of not only Gringo Records but the whole Nottingham music scene. While I was even involved he would stir things up and cause/create tension at our end (Gringo Records). This guy has stories about everyone and he uses them like weapons. Or so the paranoid heads of the scene would have you believe. We clashed in the past but nowhere near as much as I clashed with the other guy I was doing Gringo Records with. So today Chris and I experience some kind reunion that proves as good as can be expected and cheers me up. Chris still thinks I work for Trevor Horn and it pains me to burst his bubble.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said as I bump into Baldwin who is dragging some teenage girls along with him in tow. He is standoffish with me as a result as I guess I represent some drunken nonce type figure to these people. As I speak to him he is funny, he is in one of THOSE moods. This is most demonstrated by his refusal to tell me his chalet number as he reacts as if I am asking him his pin number. Jesus. The girls he is with appear to be morons. Conversation appears based around “do you like stuff? I like stuff. Do you know what’s cool? Stuff.” One of the girls is sporting stupid curly hair, which I guess I can hardly rip into considering the size of my belly these days but she is also sporting a pair of those stupid big glasses that Vice Magazine appears to have given to the world and when it is pointed out that it makes her look like Janine (Annie Potts) from Ghostbusters this is truly deluded and absurd because she is the fucking spit of the mum from This Is England. All in all it just serves to depress and reiterate my feelings towards that goldfish bowl of a scene.

ATP – the festival where people try too hard and the kidz have no aspirations.

Luckily coming in to save the day is ANDREW W.K. Now certain people in our entourage were already insisting that this was going to be one of the highlights of the day (possible when faced with such thin pickings). The description of the set however as “solo” caused some kind of confusion in our minds. Isn’t he just a solo performer in general? In anticipation we just endeavour to get more drunk.

When ANDREW W.K. finally hits the stage it is with the full intention of partying hard. Tall and gangly he looks like the Gibby Haynes that would play sports at school. Suddenly the solo element of the set comes clear as it would appear he has opted to replace his band with a keyboard, drum machine or laptop – from our perspective (too much fucking perspective) it is hard to see. Immediately the guy sets about addressing the crowd, getting them to clap along to the most rudimentary of beats as it kind of appears that ANDREW W.K. has nothing going for him and no real set worked out. This is a feeble attempt at P.T. Barnum, kind of. He is fun in an Alan Partridge kind of way but there is no excusing the fact that ultimately solo he is just bad karaoke. In our collective drunken state with expectations lower than a corpse we indulge the man before running downstairs to the Pavilion to snag a good spot for DEVO.

In the main throng of the venue we aim direct front centre and get good spots. As anticipation builds for DEVO our group appears to increase in girl as the virus that is the Nottingham music scene/clique joins us as we cross streams Ghostbusters style. In front of me I suddenly find myself stood behind the tallest person at the festival who appears to delight in repeatedly turning around and telling everyone what a great spot he has got. I hope he fucking dies. The inevitable occurs when my old Gringo Records cohort turns up and the Geiger counter app on my iPhone reads “arsehole alert.” As Pauly says to me “I feel I know these people by default” I snap/snide back “they’re Nottingham wankers” at which point the tall tool in front of me goes “Leicester actually.” What the fuck, a spick’s a spick.

As things begin to resemble the scene in Return Of The Jedi where the stormtrooper is surrounded by Ewoks I stand eyes forward trying to think of a happy place away from here. Luckily when the alarm buzzes and General Boy appears on the video screen announcing that it is “time for DEVO” the whole face of things change and relief is at hand.

This is the video that runs through the proper etiquette for a DEVO concert and who I will be sharing space with at this time. As I boo the preppy I am booing those around me.

In a flash DEVO bound onstage in their radiation suits looking as majestic as they did on Wednesday night but unlike that performance tonight they immediately tear into “That’s Good” on the way to tearing the festival apart with a greatest hits set.

I have subsequently read some people bemoaning the fact that the band looked like they were going through the motions but if a band has a sequence as well calculated and rehearsed as this why do anything to ruin it.

For ninety minutes of this godforsaken state of affairs I find myself in ecstasy experiencing a set from a band that I truly love. Even the elements around that appear to be conspiring against me cannot bring me down during these moments of true enlightenment.

So much excellent DEVO follows in the form of “Girl U Want” and “Satisfaction” and soon it is becoming apparent that I am still suffering from whiplash born on Wednesday night.

Tonight’s set is reminiscent of the one at Shepherd’s Bush two years ago and now closer to the action, more relaxed in an inebriated manner and winning against the elements this is a big singing cake of an affair with lots of icing on top. DEVO really does bring out the worst in me as “Jocko Homo” only appears to encourage me to rock all the usual rock show clichés and become the first band I have ever felt it was acceptable clap in the air to. What is a person to do however when presented with so many flashing lights?

This is the mosh. As I dance and manage to keep up it is all with the unfortunate reality that the tall prick is still stood in front of me. And now when things get good with the set this is coupled with people behind me seemingly enjoyed pushing me into the freak. As I lean backwards into them as if it were nature eventually I turn around and see an old face from the past, the girl from Twist (the YTS Hole). We almost high five in acknowledgment before one song later she asks (accuses) me if I am farting. I just push her in front of me to deal with lurch.

As the “Uncontrollable Urge” arrives and the radiation suits get ripped off I regroup with some of my best buds and end up arm in arm with them in true drunken prick style. Indeed as the set descends into one long (bad) singalong when the band leaves at the end of their regular set I find myself moving on to sing Millwall songs.

Eventually DEVO come to the end of their performance and out comes Booji Boy for the finale. It was always obvious he would be coming, to the point I felt brave enough to send out calls for him. As the band close with the bittersweet twist of “Beautiful World” the sentiment chimes out as on stage is Booji Boy an individual that could easily have been defeated by life but instead he hangs in there keeps plugging away representing us one and all. When the song reaches its climax out comes the fanny pack and the wonderfully powerballs that Booji Boy promptly bounces off the stage into the crowd creating hysteria amongst the masses and the kind of euphoria that is usually saved for the birth of puppies.

With the finally strains of the band dropping in the distance the night truly turns emotional as my friends and I just stare at each other in celebration for having just witnessed what is quite possibly the greatest band we will ever get to see live. In the distance the music reverts back to type as “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. comes over the PA and as wrong and ill fitting as it is, it all feels appropriate in these times of minority victory.

Storming upstairs it is to catch glimpse of ANTIPOP CONSORTIUM, the band that I have pegged as this evenings party act. This is a tough set coming of the back of DEVO literally devastating us physically. As we stand towards the back of the dance area onstage ANTIPOP CONSORTIUM do their best to attempt to tear things up but they just feel rusty and are hard work to indulge in and enjoy. Without doubt the band has beats but they don’t appear to have the rhymes. This I guess is the problem with experimental hip hop acts, all the focus is on making weird sounds and the lyrical delivery is second on the list of priorities. Regardless I put my heart into it and bounce to the beats and rhythms in declaration of an extended sense/feeling of victory. Others around me are not so enthusiastic as they begin to wilt under the strains of the evening.

After the set out of the darkness a person comes running towards me and gives me a hug and peck on the cheek. As this act occurs I seriously have no idea who or what is happening to me. For a moment I think it is my friend’s ex-girlfriend but once I have the lady at arms distance it turns out that it is Germaine from Manchester super excited about a super set of sounds we have just lived over the past couple of hours. This is good times. Beyond a quick exchange of nice nice we are soon on the move.

Briefly we step downstairs into Reds to check out ELECTRIC WIZARD and on the way we bump into our friend and acquaintance Neil (also from Nottingham, the Bob Tilton dude). He is super drunk in a way that I only wish I could get. I take it as a sign of affection when he gets/puts me in a headlock – is this a Midlands hug? As a soundtrack to such shenanigans ELECTRIC WIZARD don’t really cut it with their metallic persona and dark alter egos. With the fear of being lumbered with a drunk we soon make our exits while in the background the audience laps the devil up like kittens with a plaything.

The night ends here as Racton and I head back to K8. On the way we debate the nutritional benefits of getting chips for the journey and as I hallucinate an entire potato sitting in the chip fryer I plump for some chips in curry sauce for the first time in my life and good times are heading home.

Back in the chalet inevitably the TV gets flipped on and it is the latest season of Curb Your Enthusiasm guest starring the Black family. This season was good in so many ways so sat on the sofa eating chips covered in curry sauce at this hour all signs point to WIN.

Inevitably I pass out on the sofa many times and regularly find myself being awakened by people without keycards knocking on the door.

When I eventually awaken in the early hours I hide my chips with view to having them for breakfast in the morning and I slope off to bed where I crash atop of the duvet and have fever dreams and nightmares about people being in our room as the paper thin walls serve as zero resistance to the party going on next door.

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