Thursday, 14 May 2009

Every Day is Unlike Sunday - ATP v Fans (Day the Third)

Day Three. Highly unusually for ATP, I am expecting Sunday to provide the most highlights. From Grails at 4.45 to The Mae Shi finish at 11.30, I hear nothing but net. Even the Pavillion stage seemed shrouded in a mysterious fug that gives it the mystic air of some kind of cathedral. Totally un-Butlins.

Grails are indeed massive. There's a kind of paranoid bliss to their sound, that works as a metaphor for my weekend. It sounds like the soundtrack to important life decisions. Some Eastern sounds, some dubby moments. I find it all very uplifting and am quite emotional when I move on downstairs to catch another act I'd mentally circled for greatness.

Future of the Left enter stage left with “ATP” taped on the back of Kelson's bass, and yet it seems the band have been held up as some anti-ATP totem by the Hipsters That Be. The band adopt this role with relish, setting themselves up against the “friendly bearded cunts” that make up the majority of the audience, claiming that 40% of the audience are made up of the same moneyed class nobs that litter the Royal Family, “if your foreheads are anything to go by”. Perhaps that's the point. Despite the fact that they seem closely modelled on a higher-regsiter version of former curators Shellac, they give off more static than the rest of the assembled rock stars rolled up into a mute foetal ball. By two songs, they've spoken more words than the rest of the bill does all weekend. They are sharp, gruffly eloquent and angry. They are not Beirut. They are not Health.

When people think of Welsh bands, they often think of the mystic, fuzzy types like Gruff Rhys' various projects or Gorky's. These boys are different. They are spiky Silurian fucks. They dress in Motorhead black. They are witheringly funny and will not tolerate dissent. They are those manly types with library cards that my Mam never warned me about. They are the upside of the British Pop Instinct, playing fierce, punchy, literate rock. Beautiful, beautiful men.

After that sharp, anti-rock punk blow to the senses, !!! suffer horribly by comparison. I've heard them play a couple times live before, including a great set at Glastonbury a few years ago, but I'd never actually SEEN them before. I had never seen the embarrassingly sub-Jagger posturing of Nic Jammer. (Do you see what they did there?) The bassline heroics are still there, but the rest of it is a lazy, muddy pile of “We Love You, England” showbizz bullshit. Funk, maybe. Punk? Nope.

I decide against Parts And Labor (previously burnt fingers) and Killing Joke (not one for middle-aged rock operatics), and I only come out to lend Spiritualized an ear when I realise I could be chalet-ing Sunday away completely. Weak. I have an innate suspicion of bands with Gospel singers backing them up. It suggests a lack of conviction, and it never worked for Paul Shane. All light show, no substance.

School of Seven Bells fail to bring their A-game to the party as well. “Alpinisms” is a beautiful LP, but cute as they are, the Deheza sisters fail to reproduce the magic. So I head to The Mae Shi. They are hyperactive, inventive and anarchic, with a sizeable nerdy shout-along pop edge. Blink 182 with Jello Biafra, or a band full of Mike Pattons. The sound is horribly muddy, but the sheer enthusiasm of band and crowd alike pushes it over the tape.

I take a quick look at The Jesus Lizard, watch Yow surfing the crowd and pacing about like a childbeater, but decide to see out the weekend back at Crazy Horse with Fuck Buttons on the decks. I'm just an iPod with genitals, you understand.

A day of contrasts it had been, a little underwhelming in places perhaps, but I'm already jealous of the lucky fuckers making their way down to Minehead next weekend. Please touch the hem of Laura-Mary Carter's garment for me. Thanks.

Your pal, Coc x

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