ATP: The Nightmare Before Christmas 2006
It’s been a while. My last ATP was 2004 and, not coincidentally, so was the last diskant ATP article. Anyway, sometime earlier this year, I decided it had been too long and I should go to ATP again. Why I picked the one in the middle of winter I really don’t know but there you are. Curated by Thurston Moore, with Sonic Youth and The Stooges headlining, it promised to be a good one but it was also the first to be held at a different venue, Butlins in Minehead, so anything could happen.
So, how did we get on? Read on and find out from your panel of diskant contributors old and new – Marceline Smith, Chris Summerlin, Greg Kitten, Simon Minter, Joe Luna, Alex McChesney and Alice Watanabe. Enjoy!
Band of the weekend
Marceline: Sonic Youth. A lame choice but I’ve only seen them twice before. The first was THAT set at ATP2000 and the second was mostly Sonic Nurse stuff so it was beyond awesome to hear them do all the old stuff. I am able to move on now.
Chris: Stooges because they are the best band ever anyway. All they could do was fuck that up and they didn’t. Plus I stuck my fingers in Iggys armpits and licked them. He felt like chiffon and tasted like soy sauce.
Greg Kitten: My Cat Is An Alien, for having that name.
Joe: Total tie between Double Leopards and The Skaters. Both bands played utterly compelling sets that drew your brain right out of your skull. By the end of Double Leopards’ set they had all converged around Marcia Bassett’s amp creating a huge vocal whorl of shifting vortex choral melody, they were in total thrall of the sounds mixing between the amps and basically they SLAYED. The Skaters, humble and unassuming as ever, just sat down and chanelled celestial dust through my head.
Simon: The Stooges – Iggy Pop is still the man despite his vast age, and the band rocked super-hard and pumped out a ton of the old classics. It was so great to hear original Stooges songs played by the Stooges after years of hearing nothing but the recordings. Iggy is a born showman and knows how to work a crowd!
Alex: Nurse With Wound. Aside from the fact that they only appear live about once a decade, their blend of searing noise, apocalyptic lyrics, hip-hop beats, plastic snakes and gas-masks set the bar for the rest of the festival at a level which most other acts got nowhere near.
Alice: Melvins. I went about it a bit backwards having really liked Big Business and then discovering the Melvins were like Big Business but MORE.
Worst/most disappointing band
Marceline: Wolf Eyes were disappointing in that we walked in near the beginning and they sounded AMAZING only to get less amazing as each song progressed until we got bored and left. I was also disappointed to discover Double Leopards was actually Blood Stereo. Blood Stereo were pretty good but I’d have liked to see Double Leopards.
Chris: I was disappointed with Sonic Youth on the Friday. It was a dream setlist for me (15 times of seeing SY and the first time they played Schitzophrenia) but something just lacked somehow. Urgency maybe? The guitars seemed deadened.That said, all the bands suffered from soundpeople not knowing what they should sound like.
Greg Kitten: Sonic Youth, but only because they weren’t loud enough. I saw them after the Stooges.
Joe: What I was most disappointed with was the amount of BORING chin-stroking wussiness “hmmm I wonder what I should think of this band” attitude and general NOT DANCING of all the audiences. No-one was moving. At all. Even during Peter Brotzmann and Han Bennink, who ruled out some Art Blakey/Kaoru Abe moves that sent me squealing, NO-ONE WAS DANCING. LAME.
Simon: Wolf Eyes – not the worst as such, but disappointing in that they seemed to settle into a somewhat repetitive and boring assault of noise and screaming that wasn’t quite as powerful as a live Sunn o))) performance. The first piece they played, involving them all battering away on loud screeching guitars, was however fantastic.
Alex: Dead Machines. Technical difficulties may have been at play, but from where I was sitting they were making noise of the less-interesting variety, and the between-song banter didn’t do much for me.
Alice: Bardo Pond. I liked their recorded stuff but live it seemed more conventional and less interesting.
Musical discovery of the weekend
Marceline: My Cat is an Alien. Good name and nothing like what I was expecting, possibly due to Simon’s description of them.
Chris: I didn’t discover much to be honest. Because of the queuing situation I picked out what I wanted to see. The days of discovery might be gone with the size of the venues in the new site. That said, I went to see White Out to see Nels Cline and was thoroughly impressed with them so I guess that counts.
Greg Kitten: The “A WINNER IS YOU” music that plays when you win a grabby prize. Or two.
Joe: Blood Stereo because they ruled my face off.
Simon: The Melvins – never really heard them too much before, but they were amazingly strident, powerful and as rock as can be. The dual drummers were totally entrancing to watch and never let their musicianship eclipse the sheer energy created on stage.
Alex: Alexander Tucker. A soothing balm for our tired ears, yet not afraid of the odd abstract drone himself. I will be checking out his albums right away.
Alice: Hive Mind were good. Hypnotic. Bzzzzzzzzt.
Who was the most famous person you met and what did you say to them?
Marceline: Bob the Builder. I didn’t say anything to him but I did hold his hand.
Chris: Joe from Bilge Pump. I said “FUCK IT! I’VE DISLOCATED MY FUCKING KNEE. ARGH! FUCK!”
Greg Kitten: I believe it was Marceline Smith. I said something along the lines of “give me pie.”
Simon: Chris Summerlin; I said ‘hello Chris’. Shortly after this he damaged his knee and I didn’t see him again for the weekend. I hope your knee is better, Chris. I saw each member of Sonic Youth walking past me, but bottled out of fanboy enthusiasm and so didn’t speak to them…
Alex: I didn’t meet anyone famous. In fact, I didn’t even recognize anyone famous. Rebecca kept pointing out the likes of Thurston Moore and J.Mascis, but they weren’t in glossy 2D, so they didn’t register.
Alice: There was some serious nudging and goggling going on when Sonic Youth members walked by.
Most fun thing you did when you could have been queueing
Marceline: Everything, as we barely queued, queuing being for suckers. More specifically, PIE. Twice, as the “Lemon Cheesecake” we bought was quite clearly Lemon Meringue Pie.
Chris: Take a fortune on the merch stall
Greg Kitten: Ate pie and watched polar bears.
Joe: What’s with all the queueing strife? Just push in dudes!
Simon: Watching TV, drinking wine and chatting in the chalet. Like old folks keeping out of the cold.
Alex: Went go-karting in the rain. Wheeee!
Alice: Watched Jackanory. It was quite gripping.
Your chalet’s catchphrase of the weekend
Marceline: “I think I might have some continental cheese”.
Greg Kitten: HI, MY NAME IS GERRY.
Simon: Er… maybe something along the lines of ‘shall we go back to the chalet for a bit?’
Alex: “Shall we go out and see some bands?” “Yeah… after this film’s finished.”
Alice: ‘I think I’ll just have some continental cheese…’
how was your chalet? Were you living in luxury or stuck in Peasantville?
Marceline: We had possibly the best chalet in the site, a mere step away from the “action”, yet surprisingly quiet. It also came complete with fully stocked kitchen with a pyramid of individual milk servings, widescreen TV + DVD player and a nest of tables. That’s actually better equipped than my own home, especially with our recent boiler problems.
Chris: It was nice. We had no kitchen but it was warm and comfy. Good shower. weird smell though.
Greg Kitten: 100% Peasantville. Bed in a box w/ en suite.
Simon: It was magic – pictures on the wall, microwave, widescreen TV, DVD player and sheer comfort. It couldn’t have been much better!
Alex: Not bad. Quite comfy. The widescreen telly was a surprise. It was a bit chilly at first but warmed up eventually. Unfortunately, our neighbours had a prediliction for playing happy hardcore at 4am, so not much sleep was had.
Alice: Luxury! We had a hairdryer, dvd player and everything. Almost better than home, definitely less mould and much quieter.
Which of the many Butlins facilities did you go to?
Marceline:I came prepared for SplashWorld or whatever it was called, but no-one else did and I am blind so couldn’t go myself. So, the beach (pretty but freezing) and the fast food establishments (edible, just).
Chris: The Yacht Club for breakfast – very good. That was it.
Joe: I got my picture drawn by “Van Gogh”.
Simon: Not many. I ate a Burger King meal that made me feel ill, and popped my head into the pub for a matter of seconds. I took advantage of the photo opportunity involving the large Billie the Butlins Bear statue, of course.
Alex: You mean other attractions? We didn’t bother with the swimming pool, though we did make use of the go-kart track, as mentioned.
Alice: I was disappointed that the rides were not open.
Best thing you watched on ATP TV?
Marceline: Art School Confidential (instead of seeing MC5…) which was highly entertaining though missing an apparently crucial section when the DVD quite obviously skipped. Also, John Lydon on Judge Judy.
Chris: John Fahey live on Rockapalast 1978. I have seen it maybe 500 times already and I still missed the start of the Melvins to watch it again.
Greg Kitten: Wild at Heart.
Joe: The keyboard player from Sparks.
Simon: The film ‘Art School Confidential’ was great. I also enjoyed the Public Image Limited compilation that looked like it’d been knocked together on Thurston’s VCR, and marvelling at John Lydon’s unending sociopathy.
Alex: Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowse’s “Art School Confidential”
Alice: Art School Confidential. No Trapped in the Closet this time.
Best thing you bought?
Marceline: I bought surprisingly little so it will have to be the Holiday Assortment of fudge and humbugs for my workmates. Highly cheap and nasty though they quickly scoffed the lot. I also started the mini Haribo craze.
Chris: Breakfast at the Yacht Club. Best souvenir was Ron Asheton’s plectrum though that was not bought but more a product of extreme good fortune.
Greg Kitten: My way out of Peasantville.
Joe: Finnigan’s. Every day.
Simon: Heat magazine, on the way there. Some stars are getting fatter as Christmas looms, you know.
Alex: It was a pretty disappointing festival merchandise-wise. None of the bands I really liked were represented at the stalls. Came away with a Sunburned Hand of the Man CD-R which is pretty good, though. And a Snickers, a Double-Decker and a packet of Softmints for the sake of getting eno ugh cashback to get us home on Monday morning, since all the ATMs were empty.
Alice: Haribo mini-mix! A Butlins rare breed of Haribo.
Best thing about Butlins over Pontins?
Marceline: Much nicer accommodation. Better shops. Much higher comedy photo potential. Great carpets.
Chris: Better chalets, free electricity, swimming pool looked awesome but knee ruled it out.
Greg Kitten: Sounded better. Better acoustics/PA/both. I don’t know which.
Simon: The amazing chalet and the overwhelming scale of the place compared to Pontins.
Alex: Nice, clean chalets. With heating and free ‘leccy.
Alice: The accommodation and general luxury; it was great to have a proper nights sleep.
Worst thing about Butlins over Pontins??
Marceline: Too much like an airport and took literally hours to walk to your friends’ chalets.
Chris: Feeling like you are in a shopping centre.
Greg Kitten: Seems too big, looks too much like a motorway service station. No pie in shop.
Simon: The queues; or more accurately the need felt by people to queue for everything, without realising that simply by waiting until one second into a band’s timeslot they could walk straight in with no delay.
Alex: Other than the queuing, I can’t think of anything.
Alice: Queues! The best thing about ATP used to be the nipping about to see as many different bands as possible. At Butlins you had to strategically plan your movements so that you are in the right room for the band-after-next in case you can’t get back in again. It made it all a bit of a hassle and I missed out on seeing quite a few bands that I would have liked to.
Which bands do you predict will play the ATP vs. The Fans weekend?
Marceline: A load of tedious US indie rock. Hopefully everyone will get a grip and vote for something FUN.
Chris: A load of fucking shit that gets to play anyway
Greg Kitten: BARDO POND? Maybe?
Simon: Sadly, a very typical ATP lineup I would imagine, and nothing particularly surprising. It’d be good to thrown in a few curveballs – Girls Aloud?
Alex: Oh, I dunno what young people like nowadays. I’m going to the Dirty Three one anyway.
Alice: I expect that Lightning Bolt will play.
Article by Marceline Smith