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All Tomorrow's Parties Reviewed: Breeders And Fans Strike Back II
John Doran , May 26th, 2009 08:02

The Quietus (in the form of John Doran, Luke Turner, Jeremy Allen, Phil Hebblethwaite, Andrzej Lukowski, Maria Jefferis, Stu Green, Andy Ennis and Edd Westmacott) stumble around Minehead Butlins snapping and scribbling. The luckiest are the ones that died first . . .

Thanks to Shot2bits.net for all the pictures.

I’m more appreciative of ATP than usual at the moment (and I’m usually damn appreciative of its quasi-utopian spread of music, guilt-free loafing and social opportunities). This appreciation has undoubtedly got something to do with the depressing news that Plan B magazine is to shut up shop after five inspirational years. All opportunities to experience alternative music and commune with like-minded souls seem all the more precious now. Sure, we still have the excellent Stool Pigeon and WIRE magazines but the room has undeniably just grown dimmer. If you look at the content page of the current issue you’ll see Grizzly Bear next to American Black Metal next to Lady Sovereign next to The XX next to The Drones next to SunnO))). Which is already starting to sound like an ATP line-up that I’d attend . . .

There may be criticisms of this festival but so far they’ve nearly always been massively outweighed by the sheer enjoyment on offer. This year, muddy Pavilion Stage sound barely counts when pitted against the massed awesomeness of Sleep, Electric Wizard, Wire, Shellac, Jesus Lizard etc.

I can’t imagine swapping these little jaunts for any other festival. And by that I don’t mean just going to Glastonbury or Reading but any festival that has been on — past or present. ATP (and Supersonic) are my Isle of White, my Woodstock, my Lollapalooza.

For me, the chaos of the Fans Strike Back II line-up was far more preferable to my tastes because of its Catholic spread. A chance to check out new music, a chance to exist outside my comfort zone, while simultaneously being not that far away from it. One of the things I really liked about Plan B (and still like: there’s a final issue coming out in a week or so — read it and weep) was the chance to explore all of this music cheek by jowl.

This opinion doesn’t always seem to be universal, however. I ran into a guy who I only ever see at ATP at the first weekend who didn’t seem to be having as good a time as me. He complained that Andrew WK was great fun and not for cynical music journalists or other people who were determined not to have good time. He said that he'd been to see Fuck Buttons instead of Electric Wizard because their name suggested a “World of Warcraft character with rad stats” (the words “rad stats” were accompanied by air quotes).

It’s disappointing to learn that people still think like this. The decimation of the independent music scene by (and let’s have this straight) illegal downloaders should be encouraging a unity among music fans; among ATP-goers especially. Such myopia in the face of new music seems gauche and even damaging. I mean, it’s not 1989. Indie purists laughing at heavy metal are exactly the same as the blinkered sorts who were laughing superciliously at rave 20 years ago. “What go to a rave? Me? No way, I’m into the Wedding Present.”

It must be a relief to these people that finally indie-safe rave music is here in the form of Fuck Buttons and Holy Fuck: ecstatic, Balearic, pulsing noise ideal to take drugs to, only stripped of rave’s tricky class and colour connotations. Also great for not breaking out into a sweat during. Rather similar to Andrew WK's hollow, ironic hipster rock compared to the transcendent and deeply disturbing Electric Wizard, I guess.

It should be said that both Holy Fuck and Fuck Buttons were excellent regardless of their status as simulacra, such is the great experience of musical exploration not based on preconceptions and bogus notions of 'good taste'.

I was lucky in a way that the Autechre curated ATP in 2003 was my first — there, my entire outlook on festivals was changed in one fell swoop by seeing The Fall playing on the same stage as Public Enemy and SunnO))) playing before Aphex Twin. There was some of this pioneer spirit in evidence on The Fans Strike Back II weekend. Even if there wasn’t, it would have been worth it just to see The Jesus Lizard and Jaz Coleman saying: “Cheer up, it’s Butlins. Enjoy your cod and chips.”

Three cheers for ATP. Plan B RIP. Roll on Plan C. See everyone at Xmas.

Read our review of both weekends

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