Saturday 12 December 2009 – ALL TOMORROWS PARTIES DAY TWO
This morning I wake up around 8AM and immediately head off in search of the Saturday newspapers. As ever there are no copies of The Guardian to be found onsite so with a heavy heart I find myself trawling myself over to the Tesco far enough away from the complex to cause annoyance in my tired legs. When I finally get there I consider getting myself a treat of a chocolate bar or something but for some reason this morning I feel delicate and unhealthy, not quite wheezing from my walk but not having aced it either.
By the time I return to the chalet people are up and surprisingly full of beans all gearing up to go for a swim and ride the space toilet. Call me Scrooge but this is an activity far removed from my idea of fun. Perhaps it comes from my school days hatred of swimming and how every Friday morning almost my entire class would head off to Clacton swimming baths while I would stay behind with the a few stragglers and the kids in the year below me.
On ATP TV there are slim pickings although I do happen across Wizard People, Dear Reader which is a strange kind of commentary over the first Harry Potter movie. At first I reject it but as it proves never-ending (such as the original movie) eventually I find myself sucked into the spectacle and I see the gold that is on offer within it.
From 12PM onwards slowly people begin returning, some declaring an interest in seeing the CRISPIN GLOVER show being held in the cinema at 1PM. As we all sail out the remainder of Wizard Story, Dear Reader gasping in the strange genius of it I find myself waiting for people in order to head over and catch CRISPIN GLOVER at 1PM. Then the sucker punch occurs that nobody is now going and I have been waiting around for nobody. Staunchly I quickly storm over the complex where, a few minutes after 1PM, I find myself confronted by a long line of people being denied entry. To say this hits me hard would be an understatement, especially in the light of it not being my fault.
It shocks me just how I react to this, which is with almost tears. Rather than waiting behind in the hope of getting in as people exit immediately I stomp (storm) back to R2 in record time where it would appear I feel the need to display my distaste at other people causing me to miss something I really wanted to see.
Not long after I arrive back absolutely everybody in the chalet makes moves towards the complex in order to see PAPA M perform his Live From The Shark Cage album. I begin to wonder just where they are suddenly finding this enthusiasm and energy from.
As I leave with them Matthew begins chatting with me asking me if I am disappointed about missing CRISPIN GLOVER. It would seem I have made my point. When we get to the complex I split from everyone else with view to trying to get back into the cinema where CRISPIN GLOVER’s movie is now playing. Once again I am denied entry as the security guard informs me that there had been people waiting at 11.30AM for the 1PM performance. This doesn’t placate me any and as I see a person leaving the cinema in the background I gesture as if to say “he’s leaving, can I go in for him?” My ESP doesn’t work.
Feeling still disappoint, now with an air of defeated, I decide to make the most of things and catch some of the PAPA M set even though I figure in my mood (grump) it is best to now spend a day on my own. As I enter upstairs however I bump into Matthew at the bar and we set about getting a good spot to watch the remainder of Dave Pajo’s set.
I’ve never really got into PAPA M. Indeed like a prick I used to large the fact that I thought his solo stuff was boring even though the few times that I met him he was a true gent of a person. The problem was I always felt there was a true fakeness to his popularity. My friends at the time (the Gringo Records crowd) would applaud the most minimal of musical movement and I could just not see it as he would suffer from what I describe as Morrissey Fan Syndrome.
Today in many ways though the PAPA M is the perfect way to open proceedings and under different circumstances I feel I could lose myself in this music if I wanted to but instead as one delicate post rock instrumental melds into another my boredom gene just kicks in causing obnoxion in my mind. The set ends with a song that sounds to me exactly like the Hamlet advert from years ago, the classical piece of music and with it a kind of ironic theme is given to my moment, my day. I point the similarity out to Matthew with the disclaimer “am I being cynical?” to which he responds “not if you’re right.”
Once done we reconvene and head downstairs in anticipation of AFRIRAMPO. At this point I remain a frosty flavour of stoic, not really wanting to speak to anyone in our crew. So perhaps this was not the best of times for the pirate gypsy to comment “you spend a lot of time on your phone don’t you.” What the fuck is the point of making a statement such as that? Especially when coming from a person that has already proudly proclaimed this weekend that he does not own a telly. I don’t take the bait though and scrape off some politeness.
Quick frankly and thankfully AFRIRAMPO make it impossible to miserable at this time, at this festival. Bringing real colour to the weekend they jump onstage literally screaming and spend the opening moments of their set basically arsing around pretending to speak pigeon English and oozing charm in the process. This turns out to be a defining moment in the music schedule of the weekend, perhaps the one and only truly fun act that resides on the bill.
Cheekily I make comment at this point of “oh to be a drum stool at this time.”
There is something about Japanese noise acts that will never get tiresome. Perhaps it is the way that the noise conflicts with high pitched voices and people of smaller stature. As soon as their set kicks of proper, with their guitar and drums two piece meal it all becomes obvious that this is the band the White Stripes can only dream of being.
There is nothing subtle about this act. Big blocks of noise channel through their paws as two sweet things attempt to wreck the joint. It all feels about malfunction and dysfunction. If its not their wardrobe fouling up, it is the drum kit fouling up. When however the set comes to an incendiary conclusion of Oni jumping on the bass drum and strangling her guitar the heights that she is reaching for feel beyond those of any Jimmy Page attained. Without missing a beat Pikachu then rises from her drum stool to join her as lights sparkle and a person just might think they are seeing God.
Shortly after this still wanting to play more songs AFRIRAMPO get informed that their time is up much to mass disappointment but huge applause from the audience. This was exactly the set that was required to rejuvenate proceedings, to kick some life back into the day.
From here we head upstairs in preparation for the SHELLAC set. At the bar we got some drinks while the band soundcheck on stage doing much of the work themselves in true DIY fashion. Then as they look ready Steve Albini makes an announcement to the crowd: “there was some guy emailing me asking about Malort. I have a bottle with me would he please make himself known to me. If it turns out to be not real I will be sad.”
This was Pauly. In the run up to the event he had been emailing Albini about the apparent hard liquor and now typically just as the call rings out for him Pauly is nowhere to be seen.
Swiftly our band of merry men go running to the stage in a vain attempt to snag his gift but all attempts fail as the band long since disappear backstage in preparation for their set. With this a sudden air/element of excitement attaches itself to proceedings as we convene at the barrier in the hope of later getting an introduction to SHELLAC and Albini.
When SHELLAC return they promptly tear into their set and slay all in the way. Early on we get “My Black Ass” and suddenly I feel reminded of just how loud guitar music should sound. From our vantage point we get good view of the poker face intensity that the band thrives in, what is their stock and trade which makes them stand out head and shoulders over any other musical act within a hundred mile radius.
It is a real treat when they do “Killers” from that Lounge Ax compilation from a few years ago, it is the first time I have ever seen the band do the song and it fails to disappoint. I side the defendant. From here it quickly turns into “Wingwalker” where the band tears into probably the largest gem of their collection. Every time they perform this song it feels different, longer and nastier, caked in more cynicism and dark laughter than previous. As the song breaks down and Albini despatches his logic he appears to resign himself to the conclusion that all the woes of the world are too often blamed on the “plane”. Eventually the song begins again and proceeds to steamroll all that lay in front of it.
With a fair bit of energy having been exuded from here they broach “The End Of Radio” which appears to be the modern equivalent of “Didn’t We Deserve” these days, a track that offers up the opportunity for a frisky piece of vocal and lyrical reinvention. As the thudding pulse of Bob Weston and Todd Trainer endeavour to induce some kind of mental seizure of the listener Albini begins winding up before unleash more spite and bile into the air, not necessarily aimed at the audience but all the same these are the people that are in the way and catching/subjecting it. The song feels as if it lasts forever, feeling like father delivering a harsh lecture and that doesn’t arrive with amusement.
At the close of this endurance another call out is made to the person that has been emailing about the Malort. Thankfully by now Pauly has turned up and excitedly like Beatles fans we begin jumping and making noise to get their attention. In honest fashion the audience quickly points in our direction and soon Albini has staring at us. Initially Albini plays coy, questioning the honesty behind Pauly’s claim. For some degree of authenticity he begins a question (what is Pauly’s surname) which he promptly shouts out before Albini finishes his question prompting him to snap “I haven’t finished the question yet.” For a few moments he fakes belief, pulling one of his classic expressions in the process before handing the bottle to a member of security to pass on. Unfortunately being professions they will not allow this so Albini says to “meet us at the mural afterwards.” Incredibly at first I have no idea what he means by “mural”. I have been told I am slow a few times in the past.
SHELLAC end their set with “Watch Song” which busts the evening open like a boxer’s eye and eventually concludes with the band stamping on the stage destroying mental ants it would appear they are experiencing. This is the way to conclude a set.
From here we head straight down to the Todd Trainer mural and wait for Albini and his bottle of hooch. It turns out to be quite a wait, one that sees several recognisable faces pass by and even a few to join us in anticipation of the arrival of greatness.
Just before Albini turns up I spot Nichola who I used to dog sit for in Harlesden when I lived at that scary house. This is the first time that I have seen her since Latitude last summer and she appears surprisingly happy to see me. As ever she can talk for England and seems very happy when I am able to present her with the copies of the keys to her house and car that I still possess (those have sat on my key ring for over four years now).
When Albini emerges (with Trainer) she is chewing my ear off. He comes with Malort in hand and clocks that security is likely to kick up a fuss if one of us tries to take it out of the complex so he admirably sticks the bottle down the back of his pants. What a trooper. It goes without saying that we swan past security and once outside the venue he hands over the bottle to much gratitude from Pauly. It doesn’t look like Albini or Trainer are into any chit chat (I guess there is a poker game somewhere) but he just about poses for a presentation photo.
For a while Nichola and I hang back and chat as she tells me that her company have just taken on a qualified accountant in her twenties who is being paid £50K which invariably results in she and I comparing salaries (she wins but she is almost ten years older than me).
Eventually I get back to our chalet where Pauly has torn into the Malort and is now serving up shots. I take a hit and the stuff tastes OK, nowhere near as disgusting as I was imagining. Also it doesn’t taste too potent to me but then again what do I know?
On ATP TV is 77 Boadrum which is the movie of the Boredoms 77 drummer gig. It features many beautiful Japanese ladies.
No sooner have I returned to the chalet then people are once more heading off to check out BATTLES. At this time the band doesn’t really float my boat but as I eventually wind up being the last person remaining in R2 I suddenly realise that I am missing the MELVINS upstairs.
Without missing a beat I stomp straight back to the complex bypassing BATTLES winding down their set with silly beats and straight upstairs to where the almighty MELVINS are doing their punk meets sludge thing with their trademark ferocity.
By the time I arrive the place is rammed and there isn’t much chance of my getting much of a decent view so I just hit railings by the side of the stage and hope to slope closer to the band as people head off. For most of the set all I can see is King Buzzo who is dressed like a wizard with what appears to be a crucifying turtle neck. That guy is hot, no doubt.
There is something mystical about this performance but then the illusion gets smashed as somebody appears to kick a drink into my legs. It doesn’t matter as after a sustained onslaught of thunder I manage to catch the band kicking into “Hooch” which will always be a song that does not fail, possessing the fattest and most levelling hook in the land.
At the end of the day this band is just weird. There is definitely something bipolar about the MELVINS and there is by no means any promise in their being that they are going to be good (or even listenable). Tonight however I think we catch them in a good way.
From here I head downstairs where I meet up with a couple of people for THE BREEDERS. When I eventually regroup with faces I am feeling uncomfortable. Unfortunately when one joke too many gets made at my expense something in me comes crashing down and I have to concede/admit to getting the arse with those around me. I’m a miserable cunt sometimes.
Suddenly with downtime comes misery, the most rubbish example of shark syndrome and wilting/dying from not moving. We sit outside the coffee bar watching people queue to get in upstairs to see MODEST MOUSE. Suckers. I recognise a few people I know but rightly or wrongly I’m really not in the mood to speak to anyone at this time. This is the ATP lull which if you are not careful can eventually lead to Blair Witching later on in the evening.
Soon we reconvene with other people where nobody appears to be acknowledging me as my Mr Grumpy act royally takes over. Where are the answers?
The crowd for THE BREEDERS is very sparse as it appears that MODEST MOUSE prove more of a draw. Tonight thankfully THE BREEDERS set has more Last Splash than when I last saw them at Shepherd’s Bush Empire which makes for a far better set even if Kim Deal continues to look like she has forgotten how to play. Frustratingly Pod is represented only by “Iris” and “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” when realistically this is the album the band should be performing as a Don’t Look Back set.
They open with an Amps track and all feels in Amsterdam. These days there is an overriding sense of the laidback attached to the band, a mature plough that lacks urgency and snap. Fortunately it’s a cuddly thing carried by the Deal sisters’ charm, a band that actually talks onstage, to both the crowd and one another. It’s the small touches.
Eventually they do their usual great version of “New Year” which promptly turns into “Cannonball” as Kim always panics when switching to the strange distortion microphone. As ever the place goes off as one of the few ever bonafide hits that ATP has ever housed gets drilled out.
You know how sometimes you find yourself at gigs with a person annoyingly stood behind you talking the entire way through songs but then still applauds and vocally celebrates the song at its conclusion? Hey suddenly I’m hanging out with that guy.
Onstage THE BREEDERS keep on going as “Saints” gets churned out. More successfully comes newer material such as “Night Of Joy”, (as gorgeous as ever) and “Istanbul” which just sounds spooky. These are songs that you feel better suit the Deal mindset of now.
Happily they do “Safari” which is always a song that will pick up their set before it all comes to a ramshackle ending seeing Kim on drums and the eventual surprise they have teasing with that turns out to be the unveiling of a huge fuck off birthday cake. This is not a metaphor, the powers that be wheel out a literal cake shaped like Minehead Butlins which prompts some kind of universal chorus of “happy birthday” before various recognisable faces begin cutting the cake and handing it out to the crowd. Unfortunately amongst our gang cynicism prevails regarding the gesture.
From here we get a fish and chip supper before heading back to the chalet. With food in hand I cheer up somewhat and once back in our room I make a point of flipping on the series finale of The Thick Of It which ends with Malcolm Tucker back in control and the introduction of Tom Hollander as “The Fucker”. Its an exhilarating end to proceedings.
By now our chalet has picked up a few stragglers along the way and as Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes plays out on ATP TV we indulge in an extended spell of chalet action.
Briefly I flag beyond healthy and turn in for a nap but the sound of strangers having fun beckons me back into proceedings. By now our good friend has turned up with lines of something. This stuff turns out to be something called Mephedrone.
Returning to Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes as it reaches its conclusion I compare the big speech of Caesar to that of Glenn Beck, much to the apparent confused amusement of a guy called Tim with a spiv moustache.
By now we have reached the stage of asking “can you feel anything?” before five minutes later we find ourselves in the next door chalet singing “happy birthday” to a complete stranger. Finally I have some pep as this turns out to be quite literally the friendliest state I have been in years.
We head over back to the complex where I now happily have some life back. Upon arriving back at the complex despite our high morale there does not appear to be much to do. For an extended period we wind up sat outside the coffee place seemingly scratching our heads wondering what to do.
By now despite being on an apparent upper there is now the promise of weed somewhere and despite my plastic empathy while the others head off in search of social activity and need friends I find myself heading back with this Tim dude to chalet K103. Along the way we talk the usual bollocks/bullshit as invariably we get lost on the way (in the dark Butlins can look very samey).
Eventually we get to his first floor apartment which appears to be one of those nightmares that does not have a kitchen or living space (which takes me back to the abortion that was the Explosions In The Sky festival). Upon arrival his roommate is already back sat on his bed reading into the early hours. I cannot help but feel I am imposing but Tim says it is cool as he unwraps some stuff.
It all plays out pleasantly as we exchange nice nice as I admire the guy’s John Maus t-shirt. As ever though I sense a vibe from being in a stranger’s chalet and eventually it gets suggested that we head back to our chalet R2.
When we step through the door Racton and Paulina are staring at the TV watching Phantasm. Racton appears to be really into the movie although I can’t help but identify it with the kind of schlock I would watch as a school kid at the weekend in the eighties. I quite possibly have even seen this movie and long forgotten about it. Also he does not appear keen on Tim as he rolls a joint and begins to make faces as a definite atmosphere engulfs proceedings.
Before long we step outside when it becomes apparent that smoking is most definitely frowned upon and not tolerated in R2. Outside we discuss movies and it turns out that this guy works in videogames. Whether this is to be believed or not is another thing.
With the chilly December night royally beginning to cut in we step back inside and resume watching the silly soft horror movie amidst a remaining atmosphere. Again Tim begins making faces and gestures towards heading back to his chalet for more good stuff but by now I am toasted and comfy so when he soon sets/heads off I remain home.
At this point Racton chills out slightly, declaring “not a fan” which prompts us both to laugh. Phantasm plays out as he declares a real desire to search it out on DVD when we get back to London.
When it eventually finishes there are slim pickings elsewhere on TV and we find ourselves starring at the original version of The Time Machine starring Rod Taylor. This does not feel appropriate.
By this stage a number of our fellow chalet mates are still out/about and we can’t help but debate their demise.
Finally we turn in around 4.30AM. This was a long day.