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All Tomorrow’s Parties 2008


It really is becoming quite clear that only when I go to ATP do we get a diskant round-up article. I kind of feel obliged to go every other year just so we can do one. There’s no way I was going back to Pontins after the luxuries of Butlins so we went for the weekend Explosions in the Sky were curating, which seemed a strange choice but they’d picked some great bands. Sadly, some of the issues with queuing and wristbands returned, mainly for Battles, with a fair few people not getting to see either of their sets. I really hope they get the queuing thing fixed. But with sun, sea and free dodgems, there’s was plenty to keep us occupied so I’ll let you read about what we all got up to.

Your panel consists of Greg and Kat Kitten, Stu Fowkes, JGram, Simon Minter, myself and honorary diskanteers Alice Watanabe and Jim Hey. Let’s go!

Band of the weekend?

Jim: Battles

G-Kit: Trail of Dead, no doubt.

Mar-c: BATTLES, for being much funnier than we expected when Stu interviewed them and for being so good I QUEUED to see them, and didn’t mind. Having not seen them live before, they were pretty much everything I hoped they would be.

Kat: Battles and Trail of Dead. Don’t force me to choose. It was so lovely to see Trail of Dead again after such a long time without them. I don’t know much of their newest stuff but it all sounded wonderful to me. Battles were just fascinating.

Stu: I’m going for The Paper Chase, if only because almost everyone I was with thought they were crap/boring/crap and boring. I thought they were splendidly frenetic, paranoid and over the top. And I loved seeing John Congleton hanging round in phone boxes all weekend looking super paranoid about something. Stars of the Lid a close second for getting me at just the right stage of drunkenness/mellowness to appreciate their gorgeous droning. Battles and Silver Jews were predictably excellent too.

JGram: DE LA SOUL. Originally I would have said Saul Williams but after seeing him at the Scala on Tuesday his longer set wore thin and made me verge on despising him as he eventually began to resemble David Jordan. De La Soul were fun beyond fun, backed with a great band they were true experts at working an audience and creating a party atmosphere which is usually lacking from ATP acts.

Alice: …Trail of Dead. I particularly like how they ended their set with a build up, and build up, and build up, then END.

Simon: Raekwon I reckon (or even reckwon), because it was a slice of vicarious gangsta action, and after watching lots of The Wire lately I feel like I’m part of that scene. ‘Down with it’, if you will.

ATP May 2008 - Silver Jews

Worst/most disappointing band?

Jim: Had high hopes for Polvo who were a bit disappointing. Didn’t enjoy Lichens come to think of it.

G-Kit: I really didn’t see anybody that I truly disliked. Most disappointing moment instead: finding out there was a text going round behind my back that said “Don’t tell Greg that Back to the Future is on at the cinema!”

Mar-c: So much – Explosions (DULL), De La Soul (terrible sound from the back), Dinosaur Jr. (meh), Lichens (snooooore!)

Kat: Explosions in the Sky. I can’t remember anything about them.

Stu: Lichens sounded promising, insofar as the ridiculous programme descriptions allowed you to guess the prospective qualities of a band. But in fact they/he/it was birdsong-stuff my-first-delay-pedal drone BALLS. And Explosions in the Sky. I’m sorry, but they are a BORING, BORING band. Twinkle twinkle, get a bit louder, get even louder, optional twinkle to finish.

JGram: ADEM did me a disservice by failing to provide sufficient distraction while some annoying gimp I used to know buzzed around me during the set trying to bait me into some kind of confrontation/exchange. I still think Explosions In The Sky was a strange choice for curator, basically who on earth are they?

Alice: I enjoyed least that I didn’t get to see Battles there because of the whole issue with the wrist bands. I wasn’t super distraught about not seeing them as I have seen them a few times before, but it would have been nice after all the queueing and waiting around.

Simon: Stars Of The Lid – BOOOOOOOOOORING. Not mind-expanding.

Musical discovery of the weekend?

Jim: The Paperchase, although seen/heard them before, does that count?

G-Kit: Ceefax music being dance-able. I was amazed!

Mar-c: Eluvium. After picking them out of the (terrible) booklet in a moment of desperation after realising we hadn’t seen any bands yet that we’d never heard of, they were actually pretty good.

Kat: World’s End Girlfriend. I wish I’d seen Mono as well.

Stu: See point about the programme. You would think that it would contain enlightening descriptions that might give you a clue as to whether you might like a band. You’d be wrong. The programme culled together outrageously sixth-form-pretentious collections of apparently random poetic expressions/descriptions of exactly how and when the band met and how many EPs they’ve released without giving any hint of what they sound like. Seriously, they must have been pulled together by the record labels’ lowliest intern, equipped only with a thesaurus, a press release, some caffeine and no opportunity to listen to the band they were writing about. Thus difficult to work out what new stuff might have been good. Octopus Project got good reviews from everyone I met, mind.

JGram: I am ashamed to admit I didn’t encounter anything new from the weekend but in the run up to festival I was enjoying the IRON AND WINE album although when they performed their set I chose to watch Trail Of Dead instead.

Alice: Polvo. Good music for when you are sat down.

Simon: None: I stayed safely within the realms of Things I Know, like a giant loser.

Other highlights of the weekend (musical or non-musical)?

Jim: …Trail of Dead, Mr Jablonski’s drunkeness, the water slides, scary band people in phone boxes, car games

G-Kit: Getting a photo pass just by asking. Who would’ve thought? And subsequenlty, standing about 5 feet in front of J Mascis’ Marshall stacks and getting my fucking head blown off by them. It was quite an experience. Also: BATTLES.

Mar-c: Wu-Tang, particularly when they all strolled past my table during Battles high-fiving everyone – it was hilarious. Trail of Dead pulling out some of the magic, Stars of the Lid, Polvo, hunting razorfish on the beach, cake for breakfast, Minter explaining the concepts of time travel during Back to the Future, SUNSHINE, watching new LOST at the Kittens’ chalet.

Kat: Saul Williams. De La Soul. Dancing to Ceefax at about 5am to celebrate not being evicted by Security for playing SingStar too loud. Sunday sunshine. Drinking Brandy with Banana Juanita liquor.

Stu: Interviewing Battles (see forthcoming diskant feature) and having my balls comprehensively bust by them. Discovering that Ghostface Killah’s rider consisted of Hennessy and KFC. Climbing the huge hill in Minehead to shake off a hangover. FREE DODGEMS. Tea and cakes outside a quaint little tea shop on the sea front. Marmalade with whisky in it.

JGram: Yikes, nothing, this was the most boring ATP I have attended.

Alice: The beach! The razorfish hunt was a real highlight even if it was ultimately fruitless.

Simon: Getting thrown out of the main stage before Battles were due on, because of some scheduling/queueing/wristband-related shenanigans. Then not being arsed to queue up again to get back in to the place we’d just left. Oh no hold on, that wasn’t a highlight – it was a BLEEDING SHAMBLES.

Which of the many Butlins attractions did you partake in?

Jim: Water slides(!!), a few frames of pool in the sports bar, sampling the delights of the many eateries

G-Kit: This time, none! Just hour upon hour of frisbee on the lawn and Pizza Hut for breakfast every day (I paid for this in the days following YayTP)

Mar-c: Free dodgems (twice), free waltzers, BEACH OF AWESOME, chip shop, not-crazy pirate golf (a swizz)

Kat: I ate Pizza. Watched the Goose keep it’s eggs warm outside of Reds

Stu: FREE DODGEMS. FREE WALTZERS. Also ‘adventure golf’ – luckily not called crazy golf or Trade Descriptions Act would have been invoked. However, I did CRUSH all before me at putting. Losing at pool. Losing at arcade game racing. Winning at drinking.

JGram: I went to the CINEMA three times watching Spirited Away, Bottle Rocket and In The Mood For Love which actually turned out to be the perfect way to begin the day, sitting somewhere dark and quiet for an hour and a half and exorcising any risk of a hangover or illness.

Alice: The bumper cars were the most fun.

Simon: Everything pales in comparison next to the FREE BUMPER CARS!

ATP May 2008 - Battles

Who was the most famous person you met and what did you say to them?

Jim: No-one and nothing! Bloke from The Paperchase looked at me a bit funny.

G-Kit: Again, I was pretty lame on the meeting famous people front. Most famous was Marceline, I guess. I think I said something along the lines of “Your hair looks great. Let’s watch LOST!

Mar-c: Battles. Guy from Battles: Will you Photoshop my hair clean? Me: Sure! (I totally lied btw.). I also had a nice discussion about ART with Conrad Keely.

Kat: I told Jason Reece that he was awesome. Adem gave Traz his frisbee back.

Stu: Battles. For about half an hour. Including watching the end of the King of the Kongs documentary about Donkey Kong Jr. with them. I asked them some questions about bomb scares in Birmingham.

JGram: The DALAI LAMA. And I nearly said “hi” to CX KIDTRONIK.

Alice: I met no famous people, I did see J Mascis about 100 times though.

Simon: J Mascis: I said “Why do you look like a wizard these days? And why can’t you rein in the soloing a bit, even just once in a while? And why are your songs much better on record than live? And why don’t your band look more exciting on stage”
Well okay, I didn’t actually meet him, but if I’d had the chance that’s what I would’ve said.
Well okay, I DID have the chance, about fifty times, so forget it.

Your chalet’s catchphrase of the weekend?

Jim: We didn’t have one, lots of sleep murmuring. “He’s had a few” was a popular one but that’d be pinching from somebody else’s chalet. :)

G-Kit: It’s a toss-up between “LOL!! LOOOOOL!” and “WHERE’S YOUR WOMAN?” (don’t ask).

Mar-c: Shall we go back to the beach and look for razorfish?

Kat: “We’ve all had a drink”, “WHERE’S THE WOMAN?”, “BANANA JANET?” “Let’s go to the Crazy Horse!!”

Stu: Shouldn’t really be repeated out of context as it might assassinate the characters of one or two of our number. It involved hats and cloaks.

JGram: “There’s a party in my tummy! So yummy! So yummy!” from Yo Gabba Gabba. Also the girl from Hong Kong in our chalet liked saying “CRAP!” and “YO!”

Alice: ‘How do you catch a razorfish???’

Simon: Something to do with razorfish, I expect. Or the wearing of the Racist Hat/Dad Hat.

how was your chalet? Were you living in luxury or stuck in Peasantville?

Jim: Peasantville!

G-Kit: Pretty much Peasantville. The TV was OK, and we attempted to make it more luxurious by bringing laptops, PS2, Singstar and Guitar Hero.

Mar-c: Compared to last time it was a dump, a damp water leaking dump with only one ATPTV channel. Woe is me. However, compared to Pontins, it was a palace. Still, another night of sleeping in the room of drip drip wet carpet and I would have contracted pneumonia.

Kat: Jellyfish Green in the apartments near Holnicote. We shared with Morris the mouse who I never saw and was only told about on the last night because everyone knew that I’d freak out.

Stu: Can’t complain having seen some of the crappy ones. Although DRIP DRIP DRIP wet carpet in bedroom from indeterminate source of water.

JGram: We never did find out how much the ants in our chalet paid for their ATP tickets or whether they got guestlists. Chalet S3 was the worst chalet I have had at an ATP being one without a kitchen area and only a poxy little portable TV with crap reception. We were in the pikey section.

Alice: It was nice. Also quiet apart from the fools playing keepy uppy outside our window too early on the Saturday.

Simon: Somewhere in between I think: pleasant, but not TOO pleasant. But none too shabby either.

Best thing you watched on ATP TV?

Jim: Apparently our chalet didn’t get ATP TV :(

G-Kit: Scorsese’s After Hours.

Mar-c: The ice skating comedy. I need to see the beginning now.

Kat: I only really watched one thing – Style Wars, the hip-hop culture documentary. Greg brought LOST with him and that was obviously wicked.

Stu: That amazing ATP TV ident that just said ‘the musical note of A’ over a drone, for AGES. Brilliant when you are not in your right mind.

JGram: Annoyingly we only had one ATP channel working meaning we couldn’t get Flight Of The Conchords. Noticeable by its absense was Trapped In The Closet – this had been something of an ATP ritual for the past two years. However the return of Hands On A Handbody brought back good memories. Arriving to the sight of Stardust Memories was comforting as it briefly appeared to resemble what was happening to me. I enjoyed watching the Fearless Freaks documentary but the best thing I saw was BLADES OF GLORY – so funny!!!! King Of Kong might have been a winner though. For the record my greatest ATP TV moment was in 2006 when in a drunken haze I sat and watched The Fog Of War on the Saturday afternoon and was truly blown away.

Alice: Back to The Future, although actually it may have been on the normal TV. I hadn’t seen it before. I was so sure he was going to become his own father. Oh well.

Simon: That film ‘Blades of Glory’ – funniest thing I’ve seen in years (truthfully).

Best thing you bought?

Jim: Definitely not that steak slice from the supermarket.

G-Kit: GIN. Seriously, I bought nothing else.

Mar-c: A Quality Street ice cream lolly. It was stupid but great. Also 2 minutes of bashing ducks with an extendable boxing glove.

Kat: Pizza. I stole an egg sandwich and a breakfast.

Stu: Marmalade with WHISKY in it.

JGram: On the Sunday the Observer came with the OBSERVER BOOK OF BOOKS and its a really great little freebie containing interesting facts and trivia. What else was there to buy?

Alice: Butlin’s fudge for people back home.

Simon: Entry to the Bakelite Museum on the drive down to ATP – fascinating. Marvellous. Insane.

ATP May 2008 - Dinosaur Jr

How many times did you see J Mascis?

Jim: Erm, at least 7 or 8 times including doing some holiday shopping in downtown Minehead.

G-Kit: Heh, good question. Maybe four?

Mar-c: Only about 4.

Kat: How could you miss him in that bright green hoodie?

Stu: Five or six. Including on the beach and in the fairground. Oh, and soloing like a dervish.

JGram: Seventeen and I think he played “Budge” in their second set because we drunkenly requested it.

Alice: So many times that when I got home I still kept thinking I saw him out of the corner of my eye.

Simon: About fifty times.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Jim: Didn’t think musically was quite up to previous ATP’s I’ve been to but still had a top weekend!

G-Kit: I would say “Same time next year?”, but it’s probably going to be “See you in December?”

Mar-c: Explosions were a terrible, personality-free choice. Sure, they picked some great bands but it was noticeable how small a line-up it was. Also zero effort in the booklet. If I wanted to read crappy press releases that make no sense I’d have stayed at home and turned off the diskant spam filter. Luckily my chaletmates and the general ATP experience made up for most of it. Also, everyone should go to the Bakelite Museum next time – it was amazing.

Kat: Roll on December.

Stu: Mike Patton! Mike Patton!

JGram: This was a weird ATP. I could count people I knew in attendance on one hand which really limited and tarnished the fun and thus affected my overriding opinion/feelings towards it – it seems your teammates are key. Again the Minehead location proved painful to journey to. It was really weird being at ATP in torrential rain. The hip hop was head and shoulders the best music.

Alice: Butlin’s razorfish are an invincible breed.

ATP website