Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Live Review: All Tomorrow’s Parties, curated by the Dirty Three – Day 1

This spring’s two ATP festivals are founded on competing evolutionary philosophies. Weekend Two – ‘ATP vs the Fans’ – embraces a competitive free market rockocracy, whereby paid-up punters nominate and vote for the line-up. The results look pretty spectacular. The first weekend follows an opposite social philosophy, based on patronage and selective breeding. Hence all bands on this weekend are created in the image of festival curator Warren Ellis out of the Dirty Three, and conform to at least one of the following inherited characteristics:

(1) having a beard

(2) playing the violin

(3) being Australian and a bit angry and mad

(4) having one or more of the Dirty Three in your band

The Ascent of Man

But how will Warren’s post-rock offspring adapt to the hostile environment of the new ATP venue – Butlin’s holiday camp in Minehead – a Valhalla of child-catching capitalist excess that makes the former site, Pontin’s in Rye, look like a gulag? With a Burger King, a Pizza Hut, AND a ‘Mega Funland’ adjoining the main stage, and with the luxuries of leather sofas, framed artwork and hand-picked movies back at the chalets, it’s survival of the fittest for the weekend’s line-up.

Hostile environment

Early man, in this scenario, is represented by priapic smack-punkers the Only Ones. Too bloody early, as it happens: as they play their exciting reunion gig, team GMS is still looking for its HQ, amidst the West-Baltimore low-rise style chalets at the other end of the site. One of our spies said they were “okay”.

First up, then, are The Art Of Fighting, who are Australian, but have no beards, violins or members of the Dirty Three. Their moody Howling Bells-style shoegazing, which wouldn’t sound out of place on a David Lynch soundtrack, is well-suited to the nightclub setting, but they fail to compete with the chatter of newly-arrived indie hipsters, many of whom also have beards. Some songs here.

Moving on, we catch Psarandonis, “one of Crete’s leading lyra players … master of dynamics and variation … [and] of simplicity and deconstruction”, the book says. He has a beard, lots of fancy instruments, is not Australian but probably mad, and has three sons working in the family business, like Pops from the League of Gentlemen. He’s also spectacularly brilliant in a John-Fahey-of-the-Med type of way. If you’re ever in Crete

Intelligent design?

GMS then finds non-indie refuge in Cocteau’s La Belle et le Bete, home cooking and sleep. Hardier sorts sampled the weekend’s first Dirty Three set: “pretty cool towards the end”, and crazy-eyed Texan one-man-band Josh Pearson: “quite good, I think”.

Keep watching for day two.

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