Tag Archive | "ATP"

I’ll Be Your Mirror – Sunday 27th May 2012

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I’ll Be Your Mirror – Sunday 27th May 2012

Posted on 03 June 2012 by Dorian

Arriving at Alexandra Palace for the third day of ATP’s annual I’ll Be Your Mirror event we were greeted by few people and blazing sun at the attractive London venue. The idea of spending this time in a dark hall listening to Forest Swords rather doom-laden sounding set just didn’t appeal. Instead we opted to go to the light and stuffy Panorama Room and take part in the amusing pop quiz on offer. We came forth out of 18, not bad but outside the prizes.

Tall Firs

Tall Firs

After the quiz we made the move tyo the dark hall to check out the end of the  Blanck Mass set. I think I would enjoy the brooding electronica and big beats as part of a soundtrack, but stood motionless in a hall watching a man and a laptop (albeit with some pretty awful visuals) just seems to be a weird way to spend your time.

The blazing sun pulled us outside between each act, and an ice-cream break (with deer viewing) seemed like the right thing to do rather than stick in the hall for Demdike Stare. They may have been brilliant, but my chocolate sundae was nice enough to take that risk.

Returning to the music we went back to the Panorama Room for a quiet afternoon set by Tall Firs, a band that had impressed my colleague at the recent Jeff Mangum ATP. They were good, and their peaceful sounds were perfect for a sunny and soporific Sunday afternoon. The problem lay in the venue and the lack of soundproofing in the room. The Panorama Room just wasn’t a very good setting for live music, something about it just screamed “wedding reception” and the windows behind the stage didn’t help the atmosphere. Worst though was when Thee Oh Sees kicked off in the main hall, drowning the band out for all but those in the first couple of rows. This lead to a gradual evacuation of the gig by most of the crowd, the band soldiered on but it seemed like harsh treatment for such a quality act.

Archers Of Loaf

Archers Of Loaf

Things picked up in a big way when we took in our first full set in the main hall, one of the many reformed acts playing the weekend, Archers of Loaf. A booming ‘Audiowhore’ followed swiftly by ‘Harnessed In Slums’ set the scene for a full-on rock show by the band. The band look a little older but their sound hasn’t aged one bit and it was a fun set, with some impressive rock postures from their evergreen bass player.

Yuck

Yuck

We stayed in the hall for another heavy guitar set, this time from one of youngest acts on the bill, Yuck. To be honest I have always been suspicious of them, their role as 90s rock revivalists seemed pretty pointless to me. Live on stage they were a revelation; heavy and melodic they presented a pitch perfect blend of Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine to the biggest crowd of the day so far. It was a well played set of good tunes, with some well chosen psychedelic visuals worthy of a Snub TV segment.

Tennis

Tennis

Third in a row in the hall was another band making a comeback, The Make-Up. I’ll probably get some negative comments for this (they seemed to go down very well during the few songs we endured) but they were without a doubt the worst act of the day. Ian Svenonius looked more like a joke-1970s light entertainer than the imposing gospel preacher of legend. The music on show was uninspired and Svenonius could only drop his microphone on the stage a few times before it seemed time to leave.

A return to the Panormama Room revealed no more atmosphere than before (a queue at the bar, people sat on the floor) but the soundproofing had improved and The Make-Up didn’t leak through to interrupt the set just starting by Tennis. Nothing earth-shattering here, just a well played set of pleasing pop tunes by the Denver band, formed around husband and wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley. It was the kind of set that becomes more likable song by song and abandoning The Make-Up proved to be the right move.

The Afghan Whigs

The Afghan Whig

The final act of the night (El-P having pulled out of his slot) was the much anticipated return of the Afghan Whigs. Front-man Greg dulli has played over here many times in the last few years (in his Twilight Singers and Gutter Twins guises) but it is more than a decade  since the Cincinnati band last took to the stage in the UK. Bands getting back together often doesn’t work but from song one it was clear that the three original members, supplemented by an additional guitarist a keyboard/cello player and Cully Symington replacing Steve Earle on the drums, still had what it takes. A pretty faultless set, mainly culled from their last three albums, was played with energy and  enthusiasm by the band to a rapturous crowd,

If anything the songs sounded better than ever, the three guitars inter-playing to great a huge wall of sound and a collection of songs as good as you will hear anywhere. Dulli has softened a lot in the last few years (and lost a good few pounds in weight) and he seemed genuinely thrilled to be playing the songs to such an enthusiastic crowd.

90 minutes after they started, following a storming ‘Miles Iz Dead’, the band left the stage for the second and final time of the night. Slightly deafened but happy we left the Alexandra Palace knowing that for all it’s flaws the Sunday of ATP IBYM was worth every penny.

By Dorian Rogers

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Sleepy Sun – Spine Hits

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Sleepy Sun – Spine Hits

Posted on 16 April 2012 by Dorian

Occasionally an album comes along that ticks most of the boxes and still fails to hit the mark, Spine Hits is one of those times. It is well played, the melodies are pleasant and the production is good, but it really doesn’t deliver. The problem here is that the record is just a little bit dull.

Sleepy Sun - Spine Hits

The band sound like they enjoy a smoke, and they sound like they had smoked a lot prior to recording this record. I don’t smoke dope these days, and maybe I’d enjoy the album more if I did, but the laconic psych-rock on offer here fills me with ennui.

The pacing is one problem, the songs are  mostly mid-paced. Even with an few very pleasant slower numbers, ‘Siouxsie Blaqq’ is one example, the variety just isn’t there. And most of the slower numbers seem to transition into being mid-paced at some point during the song anyway.

Another problem is the lack of bite from the songs here, they just seem to lack any real edge. It is weird really as the vocals sound like they could deliver quite a howl, and the guitars freak out on most songs, but freak out in a fairly quiet and polite way. Maybe everyone involved was a bit tired at the recording sessions? Who knows, but unfortunately the overreaching impression is of a lack of effort by all involved.

It is a real shame, because underneath the slightly dull album here is a really great album trying to get out. Each and every song is almost really good, but each one fails to deliver and that is disappointing. You can tell here that Sleepy Sun is capable of being a really good band, but the album they chose to make isn’t good enough. I’m intrigued enough to want to hear their earlier efforts, and I look forward to seeing how they do things live at the I’ll be Your Mirror event in May.

I’m sure that I’ve given better marks to worse records in my time, but after listening to Spine Hits I can’t be bothered to find out.

6/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Jeff Mangum Curated ATP, Minehead (March 9-11, 2012)

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Jeff Mangum Curated ATP, Minehead (March 9-11, 2012)

Posted on 15 March 2012 by Joe

Neonfiller’s last jaunt to a three day All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival, the holiday camp based event with a guest curator, was two years ago.

The curator that time was Pavement and the event sold out swiftly. In marked contrast latest curator Elephant 6 collective founding member and Neutral Milk Hotel man Jeff Mangum has struggled to attract similar crowds, with the ATP website rather forlornly continuing to advertise tickets for sale right up until the event.

The event has also attracted a small amount of controversy for those that did buy tickets, after ATP postponed it from its original December date without any explanation. For some this move has left a bitter taste. Sure, the rescheduled line up has some added crowd pleasers such as Magnetic Fields, but gone are The Mountain Goats, as well as Fleet Foxes, Superchunk and Panda Bear (strangely all mammal based acts). Also for some, transport costs cannot be refunded and a small minority couldn’t make the new dates.

Despite these problems,  a pretty decent line up has been left and one that certainly addresses the lack of variety of Pavement’s guitar rock focused event.

In terms of musical diversity for me it was the best ATP three day event I’d attended, but in terms of organisation it was far from slick, particularly on the Sunday when scheduling problems and ATP’s decision to forego the main pavilion stage for the event left many exasperated.

Friday

With the Pavilion stage gone the Centre Stage becomes the focal point, with the cowboy themed pub Crazy Horse and nightclub Reds taking smaller stage duties.

It’s a change that works well in respect of creating a more intimate live experience, but falls down flat when the bulk of the 4,000 attendees want to see an act. For the likes of Mangum himself long queues formed and there were a minority who were left seething after missing both his sets, but more of that later.

Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise were first up in the Centre stage, with its sticky carpets under foot and smell of hot dogs gently congealing on their stand by the loos. Their set turned out to be one of the highlights of the event, with the orchestra comprising around a dozen of the Elephant 6 Collective’s most notable names including Olivia Tremor Control’s Will Cullen Hart, and John Fernandez, Julian Koster of The Music Tapes and Neutral Milk Hotel, The Gerbils’ Scott Spillane and Andrew Reiger of Elf Power.

Hearing Reiger sing the Elf Power tracks such as Spiral Stairs was one of many highlights for me. Another highlight was the tracks Spillane took the lead on, including the Gerbils’ Glue. This large, beaded man leading the collective from the stage for a set finale into the crowd, complete with equally large bright white sousaphone, was another sight I’ll never forget.

Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise

This movement into the crowd also served to engage the acts with the audience, a key feature of these curated events. It was an ethos Spillane and Koster took to their heart throughout the weekend, cropping up in the audience and on stage with the acts frequently. With Mangum staying behind the scenes they become the public faces of Elephant 6, a task they excelled at.

The only down point was that all did not seem right with Olivia Tremor Control man Will Cullen Hart, who stood at the side nervously banging a tambourine and his guitar with a drum stick, but once again, more of that later.

Over to Crazy Horse next to be greeted by another hot dog stand and its still unpleasant aroma and a living legend of English eccentricity Robyn Hitchcock, here playing his classic 1984 album I Often Dream of Trains. For those unaware of the album its typical Hitchcock full of whimsy and childlike thoughts but with a dark underbelly as he takes the listener across London suburbs, old tram lines, psychological theory, loneliness and growing old. Each track in the set, where he was accompanied by Terry Edwards, Tim Keegan and backing vocals from female duo Something Beginning with L, was performed perfectly, with warmth and humour. With his banter during the first half  in French, the second back to ‘his normal voice,’ his eccentricity credentials remain strong.

Back to the Centre Stage a little before Jeff Mangum was due on stage proved a shrewd move. After we arrived we hear later that a long queue had appeared and many couldn’t even get in. ATP did their best, bless. They provided those in the queue, who must have been seething with priority wristbands to ensure they were first in for his second set on the Sunday evening.

Those that missed out look away now. He was freakin’ awesome. Armed with his powerful distinct voice, an acoustic guitar, and the occasional accompaniment from an Elephant 6 collective he put in a festival rousing set focused around Neutral Milk Hotel’s classic album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. The packed Centre stage crowd was transfixed as Two Headed Boy, King of Carrot Flowers Part I and others rattled by. My highlights due to Mangum’s sheer intensity were Oh Comely, King of Carrot Flowers Part 2-3 and Two Headed Boy Part 2. Powerful stuff from the heart.

His holiness has spoken

We have no pictures. Lord Jeff of Mangum requests none are taken. That’s fair enough, its nice to see a gig without phones waving madly everywhere and made it a better experience. My only gripe was the heavy wording of the posters; a little harsh when the good-natured crowd would have complied anyway and would happily stopped their crappy filming if asked.

Young Marble Giants, back over at Crazy Horse, proved a little disappointing. It wasn’t their fault really. They are cursed by producing one of the most intimate and simple albums of the last half a century with their 1979 album Colassal Youth.  Its not a get up and go album and while warm and beautiful on my headphones while dog walking, its tracks just don’t have the same feel on stage. I still love the album and their performance was still friendly and engaging.

Mark E Smith, looking like the bastard grandfather of Senator Palpatine and Alex Higgins,  was in no mood to play second fiddle to Mangum over at the Centre Stage and conducted The Fall through one of the best performances I’ve seen by this act over the years. I had feared the worst as his band of drones, including his wife Elani on keyboards, has been with him for a few years now and he usually tires of them after a while.

The Fall

The middle aged Fall fans went nuts for it, with Mark E Smith smirking down at the unfortunate crowd surfers helped over the barrier by security like an evil  mill owner watching his workers collapse from exhaustion. Dominated by recent albums highlights included Theme from Sparta FC and Imperial Wax Solvent’s I’ve been duped, which is sung by Elani.

I’d been looking forward to Thurston Moore. His Beck produced latest album Demolished Thoughts beautifully mixed his trademark melodies with low key acoustic guitar and a string section. Tonight, though, he was in a funny old mood, a little grouchy and without Beck to call a halt to his guitar noodling Moore was left to essentially go off on one too many times. The crowd thinned noticeably during his self indulgent performance, in which tracks from his 1995 solo album Psychic Hearts not his recent album proved among rare high points, especially the title track and Patti Smith Math Scratch.

Thurzzzzton Moore

The first day has been a hectic one with most of my favourites coming at me thick and fast. If it was any other act I’d have gone to bed by the time Thurston Moore had finished shortly after 1am but Jon Spencer Blues Explosion are no ordinary act. I first saw them at the first ATP style event, Belle and Sebastian’s Bowlie Weekender in 1999 at Camber Sands so I was keen to see if they’d changed.

They hadn’t, still relentless, still belting it out like the dirty rock and roll outfit they always were. Spencer in tight PVC trousers and occasional Theremin flourish shamed the largely middle agers that remained with their energy. High points included live standards 2kindsalove and Bell bottoms, with its intro sandwiched in among the many cries of “bluuuuzz exploshion.” Marvellous, even if I had to have a little sit down as the clock approached 2am.

Saturday

Ever wanted to stand up for an a hour and a half watching a Russian film, seemingly about goat farming, while two people occasionally play Eastern European music? Well, nor did most of those that witnessed Hawk and a Hacksaw perform along to Russian film maker Sergei Parajanov’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors in Crazy Horse early in the afternoon.

The venue was constantly packed, but few seem to stay for more than 15 minutes, before their legs started aching. This was the first of many scheduling blunders. There’s a reason films are shown in cinemas with seats and not cowboy themed pubs, which I hope ATP learn from.

Boredoms

The afternoon in the Centre Stage was dominated by Boredoms the Japanese experimental drumming collective, who at times have had as many as 88 drummers. This time round their leader, called Eye, was surrounded by just the five drummers, a large number of guitarists and a couple of totem poles of welded together electric guitars, which he hit with what looked like an old curtain pole.

It was amazing; with the drumming becoming hypnotic and taking the packed crowd to church to melt their faces. The entire hour and half set was too much for me, my brain was starting to evaporate, but I have to admit they are one mother of a band.

As the afternoon was drawing to a close what proved to be my favourite segment of the weekend was starting at Centre stage, with Elephant 6’s most accessible, mainstream act The Apples in Stereo, followed by harpist Joanna Newsom, then Low, who produced one of my albums of 2011 C’mon.

The Apples in Stereo more than delivered to a crowd that was thinned of the middle aged punks and replaced with some bookish men but mostly women. These are the Apples demographic, something not lost on Robert Schneider as he introduces the final two songs Dance Floor, from 2010’s Travellers in Space and Time, and Ruby as “the first is about physics, the second about a girl.” New Magnetic Wonder’s tracks dominated a set that still managed to span their entire career. I challenge anyone to hear Travellers in Space and Time’s Dignified Dignitaries and not at least tap toes and nod a waifish head.

Apples in Stereo

Joanna Newsom is one hell of a performer, with her cat-like, haunting voice, compelling lyrics, stunning harp playing and occasional piano for the more Tori Amos like numbers.  A spell binding hour with 2010’s Have One on Me almost, just almost bringing a tear to this hardened music reviewers eye.

Low ended up being and remaining my highpoint. Intense doesn’t begin to describe the way lead singer and guitarist Alan Sparhawk approaches a live set. The slow, precise and very American sounding tracks from C’mon proved the best, but I can’t think of a single track that didn’t leave me transfixed, and its worth noting that Sparhawk was one of the rare artists I heard to even mention the outside world, with his lament on the situation in Syria.

One of his few smiles came as he invited the crowd to go jogging with him the next day. Given the way he approaches performing those that attended were in for an intense experience.

Low

Penultimate band for me were hardcore punk veterans Scratch Acid. Formed in 1980s Austin they released only an album and a couple EPs before disbanding. Singer David Yow and guitarist David Wm. Sims are better known for forming cult band The Jesus Lizard. Wm. Sims and drummer Rey Washam also joined Steve Albini’s Rapeman briefly, giving them further legend status. Yow joked that they had been called old men at the airport.

As if to poke two fingers at those who look at their age before enthusiasm he launched into one almighty set of crowd surfing. It was the most energetic show of the night and special praise must go to Headline Security staff for their good natured approach to the granddads on stage and the audience whizzing past their heads. Yow singing (or rather screaming) lovingly into the ear of one smirking but highly professional security guy was another image I’ll never forget. Not bad for a bunch of old geezers.

Last band of the night for me only lasted a song. I decided to pop over to Reds where ATP were curating proceedings. While Mangum has assembled a truly eclectic bunch he had failed to include many young acts. This is where ATP could have stepped in to showcase some new, young talent. Sadly with Demdike Stare they provided neither youth nor talent. Essentially its two blokes on DJ decks making sounds like a vacuum cleaner while crappy video images hurtle by. What a mess and what a waste of a slot where a young talented band could have played.

Sunday

American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), improbably but effectively joined by Julian Koster on saw, kicked off the day at Crazy Horse, performing a few modern classical pieces as a string quartet. The highpoint was Gavin Bryar’s moving Jesus Blood Bever Failed Me Yet where the strings build up around a loop of a homeless old man’s moving, crazy words of hope and despair. I never thought I’d spend my time in a cowboy themed pub listening to classical music for an hour but I’m so glad I did. This was exactly what Mangum’s ATP was about, broadening the musical palette. A fine and different addition to the bill.

American Contemporary Music Ensemble

Sadly during the rest of Sunday afternoon time was spent either swimming, eating, twiddling thumbs and wondering what qualifications the  ATP schedulers had. For some reason they had the bright idea of providing no musical alternatives to a second mind melting set by Boredoms all afternoon. Sure there was a pub quiz and some talks in the cinema, but like many there I came to see music and they could have provided at least one alternative act for those who didn’t want their mind melted twice in one weekend.

It wasn’t until 4.30 that another band got to the stage, in the form of North Carolina indie folk outfit Lost in the Trees. Quite a queue of people had formed for their Crazy Horse set, more than their light and average sound would ordinarily have got. While a little boring, at least they were a band, so I was thankful for small mercies.

Next up over at Reds was another scheduling error, one that is admitted by ATP with hindsight. While the Magic Band were on at Centre Stage some bright spark at ATP decided to put legendary Elephant  6 outfit Olivia Tremor Control on at the smaller Reds stage. We got there early but it soon became packed and many outside were unable to get in throughout their set.

Here’s what Jamie Summers at ATP PR headquarters had to say:

“As you saw with the Olivia Tremor Control show they had a bit of a queue when The Magic Band were playing upstairs to a less full venue – but The Magic Band can sell out venues more than twice the size of the OTC in London so this stuff is very hard to predict but we think on the whole we get it right.”

I may be unfair, but I think they should have realised that for an audience of Mangum and Elephant 6 fans they are of course going to want to see OTC rather than the Magic Band, no hindsight needed with that one.

Ironically though those unable to get in didn’t miss out. Olivia Tremor Control were quite frankly a mess. Ok, so some might argue that’s the point of this experimental outfit. I concede they are little loose on record, but for me the joy of an album such as Dusk at Cubist Castle is the controlled Bealtes-esque pop songs that emerge from the bleeps and whirrs. Live though they were just uncoordinated. Part of the issue was Will Cullen Hart, who a few years back was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

He was clearly not happy with how it was going, getting more nervous and agitated as the songs progressed. I felt for the guy, especially as he left the stage at one point unannounced leaving the rest of the band to shrug and give each other panicked and confused looks. I got the impression it took all his bravery to carry on and we wish him all the best for the undoubted tough times ahead.

Versus

Versus, the 1990s indie rock trio who reformed recently, followed the chaos of Olivia Tremor Control at Reds with a punchy, well-worked set that showed why they are revered by so many bands today. I’ll certainly be looking out for their 2010 album On the Ones and Threes, which featured heavily during their entertaining set.

Magnetic Fields have gone back to synths for their latest album Love at the Bottom of the Sea, but leave them at home when touring. Over at the Centre Stage they instead opted for traditional acoustic instruments, a move that gives a different and in some cases improved take on their latest tracks such as I’ve Run Away to Join the Fairies.

Band leader Stephin Merritt, who was dressed more for a day out at the allotment, in coat, scarf and hat than an hour’s set under hot lights, was on good form tonight, even putting his own unique stamp on the type of stage craft Scratch Acid excel at by hurling a tea bag into the audience.

Highpoints included Plant White Roses, from Merritt’s 2011 Obscurities release and No One Will Ever Love You from the band’s never to be bettered 69 Love Songs.

There’s always tough decisions to be made at festivals and while the whimsy of Magnetic Fields was enjoyable I was keen to see Tall Firs as well, so ducked out half way through their set to head over to Crazy Horse.

Tall Firs

Turned out to be a great move with the Tall Firs duo of Dave Mies and Aaron Mullan putting the in the performance I’d hoped to see Thurston Moore do. Their songs sound a little Sonic Youth like, unsurprisingly given they were once on Moore’s Escstatic Peace! label before moving to ATP recently. Just Mies and Mullan and distortion free electric guitars they come across as something like a hungover Kings of Convenience as they showcased tracks from their latest album Out of It and Into It.

I’d hoped to end the festival watching Mangum’s second set. I was left disappointed, but not as much as those that missed him twice. Those with priority wristbands, handed out to those stuck in the queue the first time around, were allowed in first, which was nice, but there was clearly a contingent who hadn’t got these wristbands and once again a queue of people missed out. Solutions could have been to have the pavilion stage available, or at very least to have another act on at the same time over at Crazy Horse. Sadly though with just DJs or the cinema for an alternative I decided against spending my final few hours at the festival queuing and so ended my festival.

The front of the queue half way through Mangum's Sunday set

Here’s how ATP’s PR man Jamie explains the Sunday queuing situation to us:

Everybody who was in the queue by the time the doors opened got in, it was only people who arrived and joined the back of it 5 mins or so before he started playing who may have missed out, and very few at that. Basically everyone who really wanted to see Jeff saw him, and many did twice. If it had been a big problem I’d have been expecting angry people at the production office and lots of angry emails, but the feedback as a whole has been overwhelmingly positive.

The problem is that on twitter there was plenty of criticism and exasperation. @roadtojoie (Alie Brett) for example who said at 11.20pm, a good 50 minutes after Mangum was due on, “Queue for Jeff Mangum has defeated me.” Another was @mikewinship who simply said “Sunday night queues = vibe killer.”

Also Jamie’s response is contradictory; he admits those who joined the queue before he started playing missed out yet says “basically, everyone who really wanted to see Jeff saw him, and many did twice.”

It was a disappointing end to what was on the whole a good festival. I loved staying with friends in a chalet,  watching exciting and unusual bands  including some of my favourite acts. But for me to go to ATP again I’m going to need far more assurances that a) the event will not be postponed b) I’ll not spend time queuing in vain to see the main attraction. I hope ATP learns some lessons from Sunday’s mistakes in particular.

by Joe Lepper

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Guide To The UK’s Best Festivals 2012

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Guide To The UK’s Best Festivals 2012

Posted on 29 February 2012 by Joe

With Glastonbury taking a break during 2012 there’s the possibility of around 200,000 revellers looking for an alternative trip away. To offer some of those Glastonbury regulars and others decide where to spend their festival cash we’ve selected our pick of the best the UK has to offer. Our focus is on the best line-ups, those that give new bands a chance to get a bigger audience and those located in unusual and excellent settings. For those looking for the type of  middle of the road bore fest that T in the Park or V Festival have served up once again this year then our list will not be for you. For those looking for an excellent, interesting and diverse line up then read on.

All Tomorrow’s Parties

Jeff Mangum Curates, March 9-11;  The National Curates, Dec 7-9, both at Minehead

The ATP format, of a band curating a weekend of music at a holiday camp, has taken a few knocks in recent months from disgruntled fans. The Jeff Mangum event was moved back to March from December last year by ATP without explanation, leaving many fans who had booked transport out of pocket. ATP has still not given an explanation. The move also meant a number of bands, by strange coincidence mainly those with mammals in their names (The Mountain Goats, Fleet Foxes, Panda Bear) had to pull out. The resulting line-up is still stellar, with Mangum’s oddball tastes represented in the likes of Sun Ra Arkestra, sitting along side ATP regulars  such as Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Joanna Newsom, Sebadoh, Thurston Moore and The Magnetic Fields. The event is also a must for fans of the Elephant Six collective that Mangum is part of, with Oliva Tremor Control, Apples in Stereo and an Elephant Six Holiday Surprise set completing one of the most eclectic line-ups of the year.  Hopefully The National curated festival doesn’t suffer the same postponement without explanation. It is already shaping up to being a great festival with the US band already selecting among others Owen Pallett, Suuns and My Brightest Diamond for the bill.

More information here.

The Great Escape

May 10-12

Dry The River: One of the highlights of The Great Escape 2012

Get your running shoes ready for this Brighton based festival that features 300 bands at 30 venues across the city. Our advice is  make sure you arrive at venues in good time as they can be tough to get into at this increasingly popular event. Among the line up, which focuses on new and emerging talent, is Django Django, who topped our ones to watch list for 2011 , and Dry the River, who made our 2012 list after we caught their energetic performances at last year’s Great Escape and Glastonbury.

More information here.

Field Day

June 2, 2012

Django Django confirmed for Field Day 2012

This 20,000 strong one day festival in Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, London, is now in its fifth year and in the past has hosted the likes of Battles, Foals and Laura Marling. This year’s line-up is among the most interesting of any UK festival, featuring Neonfiller  favourites such as Django Django, Revere and Andrew Bird alongside more mainstream attractions such as Metronomy and The Vaccines.

More information here .

Indietracks

June 6-8, 2012

For the last two years we’ve made sure we cover the Indietracks festival.  Not only does it offer visitors one of the most scenic  and unusual settings, at a vintage railway  centre in Derbyshire, but the line up is often a who’s who of  indie pop. Teenage Fanclub, Pains of Being Pure At Heart and The Primitives are among previous headliners. This year’s event is shaping up to being one of the best yet with US indie-pop label Slumberland Records teaming up to curate. Neonfiller favourites Tigercats, Allo Darlin and Veronica Falls have already been confirmed among a line up that also includes The June Brides, Tender Trap, Evans the Death, The Sunbathers, Gold-Bears and Sea Lions.

More information here.

Greenman

August 17-19, 2012

Set in Glanusk Park, Wales, this three-day event offers an enticing blend of folk and alternative acts. This year sees Feist as one of the headliners on a bill that includes Neonfiller favourites CW Stoneking, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and Field Music. Further down the bill we urge you to check out Liverpool trio Stealing Sheep, one of the best acts we’ve seen this year.

More information here.

End of the Road

September 2-4, 2012

End Of The Road

The stunning setting at the Larmer Tree  Gardens, North Dorset is almost a big a pull as the line-up, which always delivers one of the year’s most interesting mixes of the unknown and more well known alternative acts. This year Beirut, Joanna Newsom, WildBeasts, Laura Marlng and Mogwai are among the major draws on a line up that also includes Best Coast, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and one of Neonfiller’s favourites The Leisure Society. Also watch out for  Canadian act Timber Timbre and This Is The Kit, whose recent albums have impressed us.

More information here.

by Joe Lepper

 

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Updated: Butlins Denies It Was Behind ATP Jeff Mangum Postponement

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Updated: Butlins Denies It Was Behind ATP Jeff Mangum Postponement

Posted on 20 October 2011 by Joe

Butlins has denied speculation it was behind the rescheduling of Jeff Mangum’s ATP Festival at its Minehead resort.

 ATP announced that the event has had to be rescheduled from its original Dec 2-4 dates to March 9-11, 2012, “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

Festival goers who have already booked travel to the event were furious at the decision and ATP’s refusal to give a reason for the move.

Butlins has already organised a 90s boyband weekender for the original dates, leading some festival goers to speculate the move was down to either a double booking or  so that Butlins could run both events.

Both these rumours have been firmly denied by Butlins. A spokesperson said: “I can confirm that it was neither a double booking, nor a request from Butlins that ATP move so we could put in a different break, that resulted in ATP moving their weekend to March.

”We would never have chosen to have to invent a new break, get it on sale, and then sell it over a course of seven weeks if we had the choice.”

The Butlins spokesperson added: “ATP have run some great events at Butlins and continue to be a brand we enjoy doing business with.”

ATP are still refusing to disclose the real reason, only that the decision was not down to Jeff Mangum, who they say is also disappointed about the move.

Butlins had previously already arranged a 70s weekender on the March 9-11 dates, but has said these will be moved to make way for ATP.

The Butlins spokesperson also gives the first statement that the decision to move the event was ATP’s. The Butlins spokesperson said: ” When ATP let us know that they couldn’t do the early December break they asked whether they could move it to that particular date in March 2012.

The statement from Butlins continues: “As you’ve seen, we currently have a 70s break for sale on that date but we want to help ATP out so are planning to move the 70s break to the next weekend so that ATP can have the date that suits them and their artists best. This takes a bit of rejigging and communicating out which we are currently doing but is not yet complete. The two events will not both happen at once (that’d just be weird!). ”

ATP will reveal on November 10 a list of those artists on the original bill that cannot make the new dates. It will also unveil some new acts for the revised bill.

Already The Mountain Goats have ruled themselves out of the new dates, but Robyn Hitchcock has confirmed he will still  be able to play at the festival.

by Joe Lepper

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Updated: Fans Fury Over Jeff Mangum ATP Rescheduling

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Updated: Fans Fury Over Jeff Mangum ATP Rescheduling

Posted on 19 October 2011 by Joe

Fans are furious over the postponement of the Jeff Mangum curated ATP Festival, which was due to take place in December.

In a statement issued today ATP said that “due to a set of extremely unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances, this festival event is being postponed – the event will be rescheduled to March 9th-11th 2012 at the same location of Butlins Holiday Centre, Minehead, UK.”

But a look at the Butlins website reveals that the venue is due to play host to a 90s weekender of a less alternative variety, featuring boy bands such as 911 and Damage, on the original dates of Dec 2-4.

Festival goers who cannot attend the rescheduled dates are being offered a refund, but not any booking fee paid. Those who have already booked train or plane tickets will also lose out.

There was anger today on ATP’s Facebook page with festival goers annoyed that more information has not been given by the organisation about the rescheduling.

One festival goer Chris Pennington says: “I appreciate these can happen and I don’t see any point in berating ATP if they are genuine or unavoidable, but i would like the reasons explained or at least a modicum more detail.”

Another, Simon Fox, said: “So, our friends who were flying over from the USA to come to this…you gonna pay for their cancelled flights or admin fee for rescheduling them?”

There is speculation from fans that either a double booking blunder with the boyband event was to blame, or the event has been bumped by Butlins.  It is understood that the tickets for the boy band weekender have been on sale for  most of this week.

ATP have issued a follow up statement in response to angry fans. This also declines to shed any further explanation on the reason for the postponement.

The follow up statement says : “Unfortunately we’re not able to give out more detail on the reasons for the postponement, we wish we could as we know it is very frustrating, but as stated this decision was unavoidable and putting on the event in December would have been impossible – we announced the postponement as soon as we possibly could – in this case we only knew for sure very recently that the event couldn’t happen in December.

“It was a matter of reschedule, or cancel completely which nobody would have wanted.”

Jeff Mangum performing at Harvard's Sanders Theatre in Sept.

ATP are unable to guarantee that all of the original line up, which  includes The Fall, Fleet Foxes and Low, will be able to play on the new dates.

The decision to postpone has also effected some of  ATP’s London shows in December.

The ATP statement continues: “The separate London shows for The Magic Band and Superchunk will stay at their original dates – we are waiting to hear back regarding the Jeff Mangum, Panda Bear, Olivia Tremor Control and Thurston Moore London shows which may also be rescheduled – keep an eye on our website for confirmation – we will let you know as soon as we can.”

Read the ATP statement in full here.

UPDATE:  The Mountain Goats are the first act to confirm they are unable to play on the rescheduled dates due to other commitments.

A further announcement will be made on November 10th on those artists that can still make the event and about any new additions. ATP insist that some of the original line up have already  confirmed they can make the rescheduled event, but have declined to name them until next month.

Robyn Hitchcock has confirmed via his Twitter account that he is available to play at the rescheduled festival.

ATP adds that “the decision to postpone…was not Jeff Mangum’s and he is as disappointed as everyone else that the festival is not taking place on the original date.”

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Jeff Mangum To Curate ATP Festival In Minehead

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Jeff Mangum To Curate ATP Festival In Minehead

Posted on 16 February 2011 by Joe

Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum is to curate an ATP Festival in the UK this December.

The event takes place at Butlins, Minehead, from 2 to 4 December. This will be the first of two ATP festivals taking place in December at the venue, with the second to be announced later.

So far Mangum, who will play at the event, has lined up:

SUPERCHUNK
THE OLIVIA TREMOR CONTROL
YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS
THE MAGIC BAND
THE RAINCOATS performing The Raincoats (debut LP)
A HAWK AND A HACKSAW
TINARIWEN
THE APPLES IN STEREO

Tickets go on sale this Friday (18 Feb) from See tickets.

A message on the ATP website reads: “After releasing what is now one of the most loved and critically acclaimed albums of the 1990s (In The Aeroplane Over The Sea), Neutral Milk Hotel disbanded before many of those who now love their albums had a chance to see the songs performed live, so Jeff’s much anticipated return to the live stage this year will no doubt be a very special occasion for fans throughout the UK and worldwide.”

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Belle and Sebastian’s Surprise ATP Guest Unmasked

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Belle and Sebastian’s Surprise ATP Guest Unmasked

Posted on 24 November 2010 by Joe

Franz Ferdinand are rumoured to be the surprise guests at the Belle and Sebastian curated ATP Festival next month.

Belle and Sebastian have been teasing fans that the event, Belle and Sebastian’s All Tomorrow’s Parties Bowlie 2 Festival taking place on December 10 -12, will feature a surprise guest band.

Belle and Sebastian - Write About Love

It is now being widely speculated that Franz Ferdinand are the band in question, according to Musicrooms.net quoting an anonymous source.

Franz Ferdinand played shows in Spain earlier this month but last played in the UK in 2009 and have supported Belle and Sebastian before, on their Dear Catastrophe Waitress tour in the UK in 2003.

The ATP festival is part of the UK leg of Belle and Sebastian’s promotional tour to support the recent release of Write About Love (read our review here).

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Animal Collective to curate All Tomorrow’s Parties

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Animal Collective to curate All Tomorrow’s Parties

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Dorian

Animal Collective have been confirmed as the curators of the May 2011 All Tomorrow’s Parties festival weekend. Unlike previous years there will only be one weekend ATP festival in May.

Much loved by the critics, their 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion made it in many of the ‘best of 2009’ lists, the bands sound is a mix of psychedlia, electronica and Beach Boys influenced pop. The line-up of the festival is sure to be an eclectic, left-field mish-mash.

The first announcements chosen by Animal Collective for the line-up are:

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
GANG GANG DANCE
LEE SCRATCH PERRY
ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI
BROADCAST
BLACK DICE
MEAT PUPPETS performing Up On The Sun
THE FROGS performing It’s Only Right & Natural
IUD
OMAR-S
PRINCE RAMA
SPECTRUM
DENT MAY
GROUP DOUEH
THE BROTHERS UNCONNECTED
SUBLIME FREQUENCIES DJs + Films
DERADOORIAN
ZOMBY
VLADISLAV DELAY

The weekend will be held on the 13th to 15th of May at the Butlin’s Holioday Centre in Minehead. Tickets go on sale on Friday 29th October.

For more details go to the ATP website.

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ATP Curated by The Breeders May 15-17, 2009

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ATP Curated by The Breeders May 15-17, 2009

Posted on 21 September 2010 by Joe

Now into their ninth year All Tomorrow’s Parties have established themselves as organisers of some of the most interesting festivals in the world. With three festivals in the UK each year, plus several other events worldwide, they offer the best weekends around for music fans looking for something a little bit different. After a well received fans curated festival the week before expectations were high for the second weekend at Minehead with bands selected by Ohio’s legendary Breeders.

Our journalist Dorian Rogers reviews the three days. For additional pictures go to our ATP Gallery.

Friday

Arriving on site in the afternoon you’d never know that a rock festival was happening. The site was still quiet, the chalets neat and tidy, and the various fast food outfits open but quiet.

Drawing the short straw as the first band on was LA’s The Holloys. In a half full auditorium, with a quiet and sober crowd, they failed to make a big impact. Their sound was good, two bass players and two drummers with one solitary guitarist, but couldn’t fill the vacuum.

The first band on the main stage in the late was Tucson’s Giant Sand, a real scheduling mistake of the weekend. Apart from belting versions of early songs ‘Wearing The Robes of the Bible Black’ and ‘Thin Line Man’, most of the tunes came from their recent release Provisions. It is a great album but the languid, smokey sound would have been perfect at 11pm in a smaller venue. In the huge Pavilion in the afternoon the sound was lost somewhat.

Fairing much better on the same stage was The Throwing Muses. I hadn’t listened to them since 1991’s The Real Ramona and didn’t have high expectations for the show. It didn’t take long for lead Muse Kristin Hersh to win me round. With a voice and guitar style to match the loudest acts of the weekend she packed a punch, and the rhythm section were faultless throughout. A big hit with some of the older men in the audience she managed to successfully laugh off their sexual advances throughout the set.

Bon Iver at Breeders ATP

Bon Iver

Bon Iver seemed like an odd choice of headliner. His brilliant debut album has a big following, but is a sparse, somber and understated song cycle. The set started low key and built up to a more rocking and upbeat sound. By the time he was wildly soloing through Creature Fear he had hit his stride. Newer songs from the Blood Bank EP went down well and he proved conclusively that he can hold his own on the big stage as well as he can in the log cabin.

Considerably less interesting was The Buffalo Killers. I love hairy 70’s American classic rock, but this band of retro rockers didn’t cut it. I was left wishing I’d been more adventurous and gone to see Boston Rapper Mr.Lif.

Saturday

After a sensible early Friday finish we spent the day enjoying the delights of Butlins. Nothing is a better treatment for a mild hangover than a float down the lazy river in the swimming complex. Refreshed and nourished (the joys of the chalet’s self catering facilities) we headed back to the Centre Stage to see what day-two had to offer.

The Whispertown 2000 proved to be one of many surprise successes of the weekend. Playing live they displayed a much more varied and often noisier sound than on record. They seemed a little rattled by the scale of the event but pulled off an accomplished set that included a beautiful ‘Pushing Oars’ from their latest album Swim.

Blood Red Shoes

Opening the main stage was Brighton duo Blood Red Shoes, one of several former ATP attendees turned performers at the festival. Their sound was great and songs like ‘Boring By The Sea’ and ‘Say Something Say Anything’ sounded much better than they do on record. Their only real flaw was a lack of variation of sound or pace, and after 30 minutes I was happy to take a break and go to the bar.

CSS are a near perfect festival band. They look great, with lead singer Lovefoxx dressed in a ridiculous spandex jump-suit and homemade tassels surrounded by balloons all over the stage. They sound good and clearly have an absolute blast on stage. The songs aren’t quite up to the performance but it is hard to care when the band and crowd look as happy as they did.

Teenage Fanclub are almost the polar opposite of CSS. They have never been a band known for their visual appeal and, apart from the always genial lead singer Norman Blake, you’d have been hard pressed to sense much enjoyment coming from the stage. However, what they have in spades is a huge back catalogue of great songs. Apart from a few lacklustre new numbers they didn’t put a foot wrong. By the time they played a finishing couplet of ‘The Concept’ and ‘Sparky’s Dream’ I was transfixed. It was easy to see why they had some of the most passionate fans at the festival.

Headlining the Saturday night were curators The Breeders. I’ve always liked them but had dismissed them as The Pixies’ less interesting sister until I heard the excellent Mountain Battles album prior to attending the festival. Like Teenage Fanclub they have a wealth of great songs and played a crowd friendly career spanning set. The Deal sisters, Kim and Kelley, were a warm stage presence and their clear struggle to get the songs 100% right was endearing and refreshing. There wasn’t a duff song in the set and it is hard to argue with eternal indie disco favourite Cannonball as the clear set highlight.

Given that it was Saturday a later night was in order, and what better way to start than The Frogs, a band playing their first ever UK show after 20 years. Looking more like a set of Mighty Boosh characters than a band they certainly made an impression. Beloved by Kurt Cobain, The Smashing Pumpkins and Kelley Deal, who joined them on stage, they are a baffling experience for the uninitiated. You don’t so much see the Frogs , but get violated by them. They aren’t massively musically adept and their songs are offensive, but they clearly don’t care. Impromptu bursts of Oasis’s ‘Champagne Supernova’ and poor impressions of the English accent were all part of a show that was sneering, but clearly played for some, albeit nasty, laughs.

Fairly worse for wear by this point it was time to see Holy Fuck hit the stage. I was blown away by an act who exceeded my expectations. Their set went by in a boozey blur and before long I was dancing in the Crazy Horse saloon, Butlins own wild west themed bar.

Sunday

Sunday started slowly. Had I really been dancing to the Wickerman soundtrack at 5am? Surely not… After an extended lie-in it was time to get back out there and see what the final days line up had to offer.

Heartless Bastards were a non-threatening and unexceptional start. Their pleasant classic rock sound seemed at odds with their name. They were a good solid act, but failed to lift themselves to being a band you would want to see again.

The Soft Pack were a different story, and surely destined for greater popularity. Their poorly recorded debut, as the Muslims, sounded crisper and full of energy live in what was a very short set. ‘Extinction’ was a set highlight and I look forward to their future work. One to watch.

Deerhunter

Deerhunter were one of the bands that I came to see with very high expectations, Microcastle being one of the best albums of last year. I wasn’t disappointed as the band filled their set with a mixture of dreamy soundscapes and more poppy numbers like ‘Never Stop’. Lead singer Bradford Cox also proved to be a charming and endearing presence. He invited the Deal sisters on stage and dueted with Kim on a version of a song by her other other band The Amps. As he hugged her before the song, he said, “I’m such a dork”, but a hundred other dorks in the crowd were with him.

Another band I had high hopes for were Leeds political punks Gang of Four, an act whose influence on other bands exceeds their own success. The band proved to be a big disappointment. Their po-faced delivery was unappealing and singer Jon King looked ridiculous shirtless under a suit jacket. The bass and drums had a real drive to them, but it wasn’t enough to keep me interested and a break for some food became a more tempting proposition.

Foals were accomplished, but perhaps too polished, churning out tracks such as ‘Balloons’ from their Antidotes album without any real live magic. Upstairs a much better show was in progress.

Shellac are an ATP institution, and curated the festival themselves in 2002. They were also the only band of the weekend asked to play two sets. When I saw how good they were I wished I’d been to the first one. Steve Albini is a busy man, seemingly engineering 50% of all albums released this year. So he doesn’t tour much and his band have only released a handful of recordings in 15 years, with a seven year gap between the last two. They play like they do it every night, so tight are the bass and guitar with the almost jazz backing of drummer Todd Trainer. And it is a hard, abrasive buzz saw sound, matched to misanthropic lyrics and Albini’s trademark snarl. The amazingly nasty Prayer To God’ and an epic ‘Wingwalker’, complete with a hilarious spoken word section, were two of a set of highlights. After they finished I called it a night, keen to finish on such a high.

The festival was an undoubted success and I was left with only one regret, that I hadn’t already secured myself a chalet at The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Additional material and pictures: Joe Lepper

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