Tired, sore, slightly deaf, and dreading work tomorrow – all of the usual post-ATP symptoms in place then! Another really enjoyable weekend with some a lovely crowd, and some excellent music, though also some pretty average stuff too. There was lots of talk in our apartment, and with most of the folk we talked to, about the whole thing being a bit one speed this year – pretty much all of the bands (with the exception of Omar Souleyman) were guitar-based, which at times made it all feel a bit samey, which was a shame. The couple we’d been to before had mixed up guitars, electronica, hip-hop, krautrock and more, which keeps things more interesting.
However, that sounds more negative than I mean to by quite a stretch. Friday was good, with Avi Buffalo kicking things off before Surfer Blood ruined their pretty nice music with some truly awful vocals – with a proper front man they could be great! We swapped Surfer Blood for a bit of Spiral Stairs’ Greg Dulli-esque set before a spot of food and a bit of the technically excellent but really rather dull Calexico. I really do wish Burns and Convertino would go back to Howe Gelb, Giant Sand have struggled since they left, which was a shame after the strong ‘Chore of Enchantment’.
Anyhow, The Walkmen were next up for us, and were blessed with a brilliant front man, and were great fun – I’m looking forward to the new album. Broken Social Scene closed the main stage for the night with a set mostly from the new album, which was a bit of a shame, and a slightly mute performance from Kevin Drew. Not sure they suit the festival setting on that basis, but maybe it was just an off night.
Quasi were the best of the rest from the late shift, though there was a slightly surprising lack of Malkmas on stage with those who double as The Jicks for him. I made it through a good chunk of Wooden Shjips too, and thought they were a slightly dull dirge, as when they played Camber Sands a couple of years ago. Stuart Braithwaite broke Quasi and Shijps for me, and seemed to be sticking a decent enough set together, though my allergy to Irish bars prevented a longer stay.
On the note of DJs though, it was a feature of the weekend that the level of DJing skill was pretty low. Though I didn’t see it myself, Mike Joyce sounded like a comedy act rather than a DJ, showing a total lack of skill with the cross-fader. Still the dance scene always was a little too loose for Pavement, as it goes…
Saturday was a day that had a great streak, from Wax Fang’s superb Purple Rain set, to Fiery Furnaces, through a very enjoyable and funny Mark Eitzel set, a solid turn from Camera Obscura before a beautifully loud set from Boris, who used the whole of Butlin’s supply of dry ice in one go, and a good best of set from Pavement themselves. After the spoiling that The Breeders gave last season, good as Pavement were, it felt a bit disappointing that they didn’t really do anything special for their turn, and in fact didn’t really guest with anyone else over the weekend (Spiral Stairs’ gooning about during Broken Social Scene, and SM’s pretty unenthusiastic hiding in the shadows routine during Endless Boogie’s victorious Sunday night turn). There was nothing wrong with their set, but it just wasn’t as special as you’d kind of have hoped for.
Post-Pavement, Saturday sort of fizzled out for me a bit – Venom P Stinger felt like a bit of a waste of Jim White (though you could watch him for hours), Faust were fine, but just didn’t excite (though I should have listened to them before getting to Minehead, to be fair). Monotonix had a big queue outside, and we didn’t get in because some stupid buggery around security demanding that everyone sat through their set, and that not working out. Sounds silly. Atlas Sound was fine, but far too downbeat for midnight, when some hip-hop or dance music would have been far better.
Omar Souleyman sounded like the sort of thing you hear on the radio of a cab in Cairo, which isn’t really my bag, but he did look cool! That didn’t sustain us for very long though, and the pilgrimage to Still Flyin’ started. These people were, in simple terms, absolute crap. How many Bezes (I guess that’s the plural) can one band sustain? To steal a phrase, they looked like a three grand shopping spree in American Apparel, but sounded like nothing you’d be interested in. I don’t know who thought these people would be interesting, or could keep a Saturday night moving, but my God were they wrong. I had to do some quality bad dancing, drink a lot of beer, and stay up until half six in the morning just to forget as much of them as possible…
I’ve gone on for far too long already, but suffice to say, Sunday lifted the spirits after the one speed sound of Saturdaynight, with The Dodos putting in a really great set, and Terry Reid offering a set of what, for me, were really surprisingly enjoyable songs. Terry was joined by Matt Sweeney for three songs, with Sweeney also joining Endless Boogie for a spell later in the night. On the evidence of these (and his work with Chavez, more so than his Bonnie Prince Billy stuff), its a shame that he wasn’t given a slot of his own at some point. We only saw a couple of songs from Enablers, but I’ll be following them up on the strength of those, and we finished with Endless Boogie, who were the sort of fun that you want late in the evening.
On the whole then, a good festival, but one lacking in some variety, and where the curators seem to have seen it more as just a gig than an event that they should take part in from Friday to Sunday. I was pleased to see Mark Ibold at so many things though, and he seemed to be enjoying it lots, which is good.
On the whole, though, Kim and Kelly should write the curators handbook…
Yeah, the only real problem is that Pavement treated it like a gig they were playing at, rather than their baby. The Breeders really did a huge amount at their one, and took huge care in everything from the tv to guesting at four or five gig. Also, Pavement don’t seem to like hip-hop which is great at festivals. Alll that ‘party over here, fuck you over there’ nonsense just works so well.
Still, its only by comparison that you notice these things. In itself, it was a great line up, and loved The Dodos, The Walkmen, Boris, Wax Fang, and many others…
Breeders put a lot of effort in. I can’t imagine Pavement doing likewise. They always look very tired like they used all their energy getting out of bed.
Would of liked to have seen The Dodos and Wax Fang. They look dead good.
Godspeed nightmare before xmas looks interesting.
Breeders certainly put the effort in, and it really showed – the tv wasn’t even all that interesting, and oddly every time Natasha came in there was some class of soft porn on!
The Dodos were great, Wax Fang were plenty of fun, and you’d have loved Endless Boogie, they were like the old Amien Street jams, only these guys could actually play!
Godspeed! should be great alright, that could be a very interesting line up indeed, though I’m still not sure that Morgs will get his “party over here, fuck you over there” hip-hop fix, but we could be surprised.
You wouldn’t have liked the TV Barry, no star trek related programmes at all! Only art house movies, very poor showing really. Also missed intervention tv and the show on gap toothed women! Actually, the Breeders just have great taste in tv!
On the new bands worth checking out front, i’m only really coming up with Terry Reid, Endless boogie and Wax Fang. Maybe Avi Buffalo also. Anyone else?
Yeah I’m not big on art house movies unless their set in the 24th century and have weighless in space nudy scenes, although I saw a very nice movie their recently I would recommend, ‘The Dancer and the Thief’, a very beautiful, charming film if you get a the chance, check it out.
I had a quick listen to more of your recommendations and theres some lovely music there. Terry Reid, really good with his acoustic, seems to know what he’s doing. Avi Buffalo sound good. i like the vocals, but Ro you made the point that the vocals ain’t so hot in the live enviroment.
I’m listening to ‘A place to bury strangers’ at the meoment….bloody brillant! thanks for that Morgs 😉
No, Surfer blood had the dodgy singer! Avi were interesting enough.
Lots of the ‘art house’ movies were the borderline soft porn variety! Lots of odd choice, especially brown bunny (i think that’s what it was called) with Vincent Gallo.
Are you starting with the A’s then barry? Last time it was Adam Green, now its ‘a place to bury strangers’! there’s a lot to work through, so i guess its as good a place as any to start.
Do check out the Dodos, i think visitor is on your magic box. The best drummer i’ve seen in years…
Its all about the A’s, Aimee Mann too. I made it to some B’s even though I have a lot of them already, theres so much to choose!
I’ll skip to D on your advise. 🙂
Bar, give Condo Fucks a whirl too – it’s basically Yo La Tengo, but recorded live in their garage or something. Really raw feel to it, but dead good.
I think you might like Holy Fuck too. Look at me with all of the sweary band names, my Mum would be shocked.