Thursday, 14 May 2009

Saturday Night's Alright For Writing - ATP v Fans (Day The Second)

Day Two. Begin by watching The Decline & Fall of Western Civilization: The Metal Years on ATP TV. I hated hair metal during the Eighties, and was delirious when Nirvana et al saw fit to sweep the preening pricks into the sea almost twenty years ago. Any admiration I feel for these pussy-hunting peacocks and their painted muses as I watch is so completely intermingled with contempt for their bone-headed hedonistic optimism that I leave the chalet in a strange mood.

The consistent subliminal message of ATP is that Americans ROCK so much better than we do. Perhaps this is because they are still at war with Daddy over there. We won that battle years ago, and Duran Duran rushed in to fill the void. They're audial; we're visual. They're stoned; we're rushing. All we want is a fucking disco: we're iPods with genitals. If we could just jam out the fucking pop signal that crashes into our faggy art school brainwaves, maybe we could sound heavy too. Even Mogwai had ironic t-shirts. We're doomed!

Retribution Gospel Choir is kind of name usually employed with a black irony by the thuggiest heavy rock geezers, but when actual Mormons are involved (Low's Alan Sparhawk) it becomes a little creepy. They rock, they wail, etc. but as I'm listening a new theory clouds up in my head. What exactly is rock'n'roll supposed to save us from now? Sexuality stopped being suppressed decades ago. Anti-authoritarian individualism has long been co-opted by ex-hippy marketing gurus. No matter how well-performed rock is nowadays, the initial impulse has long ebbed away and we're left with a noisy, fuzzy, empty museum piece. This is the sound of that magnetic husk.

I hang around upstairs to watch some of David Yow's other band, Qui. They churn and throb with satisfactory menace, but all eyes are on The Jesus Lizard frontman. He stalks about the stage, barking at hecklers, watching his own (voluminous) clouds of spit glisten in the stage lights. He reminds me of Chancellor Palpatine from Star Wars, but played by Sean Penn; and he cuts a sizeable contrast to the next band on.

Young Marble Giants are so English, it's too extreme even for parody. They bring on sheet music, despite the very un-orchestral nature of their sound. They make polite jokes about “tiffin”. At one point, Stuart Moxham says: “Nice forbearance everybody.” It is stiff upper lip middle class pop with husky guitar, observational lyrics and a refusal to be rushed. Despite the fact they are billed as playing “Colossal Youth” in its entirety, they don't perform “Final Day”, blaming an unco-operative keyboard. Irritating.

Grizzly Bear are already going by the time I get back downstairs. While I'm a bit suspicious of the multi-melodic aesthetic on anti-Eagles grounds, their lovely arching melodies match the circling shadows of the seagulls on the Pavillion ceiling so sweetly I just sit and watch pretty girls wander by and enjoy the warmth. There are so many checkshirts on stage it's like the band have been infiltrated by lumberjacks. This unsettling rock/pop dialetic mood will not leave me.

Beirut are so bad that we mime tearing the ears from the side of our terrified heads, but there is no escape. In the end, we flee to an empty Crazy Horse disco and watch a lone booty-shaker dance for her DJ boyfriend. We don't leave until we are sure this smug anti-music has finished, the aural equivalent of the pretentious, beige novels that clog the bestseller charts month after month. A horrible waste of trumpets.

We stumble relieved into Reds to see Errors, back to the pop end and voted for by The Fans. A bit like Mogwai with synths, swirling somewhere around the Hot Chip/New Order nexus. Our blood pumps once again. After a diversion of some more hippy rock nonsense from Sleepy Sun, we close the programme with Marnie Stern, a bizarre Suzi Quatro update with sewing machine fingers and a needlessly squeaky voice. It all feels a bit High School, as she and her sexy bass-playing bandmate trade slutty jokes, but it fits the need for Saturday night fun.

A long night of revelling follows, including mashing my skeleton to pieces in a sweat-drenched attempt to dance to “Windowlicker” at the Crazy Horse and watching a disturbing topless distress flare display. Garth Merenghi's Darkplace is on TV when I get back, but my body can take no more.

Your pal, Coc x

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