All Tomorrow’s Parties Reviewed: All Hail Matt Groening

Luke Turner and John Doran raise a glass to Matt Groening and Barry and Deborah at ATP for one of the most enjoyably eclectic festival line-ups they've ever witnessed. All photos by Maria Jefferis, Andy Ennis and Edd Westmacott for

It’s uncanny how much Matt Groening looks like one of his own cartoons. He sits gamely at the merch table signing everything that is handed to him on two of the festival’s three days. He knocks out sketches of punters, he draws bands that he has selected to play, he scribbles out likeness of people’s favourite Simpsons’ characters – from Bart to the weird Mexican guy who dresses like a bumble bee. And the queue to get to see him is massive. There hasn’t been this much fuss at the ATP merch stall since there was a mini-riot over SunnO))) T-shirts and they had to erect a barrier to keep baying art metal fans from tearing each other limb from limb.

Much has been made of the fact that the aimiable cartoonist is a WIRE subscriber… and this is borne out by the fact that he chooses the simply astounding Broadcast to open his choice of bands and also includes recent cover stars, Konono No. 1. But what really marks him out as one of the best curators the festival has ever had – and he deserves to be talked about in the same hushed terms as Autechre and Portishead – is the sheer breadth of life-enhancing riches on offer. From clanging Congolese finger piano rave to amped up kora blues to multi-drummer rhythm & psych to soul saving gospel rock to R & B influenced minimalist post punk pop, this festival had it all.

And it might be a glib statement to say that the avant garde is only worthwhile if you can drink beer to it, take drugs to it or dance to it, but for us at least, there’s more than a fraction of truth to this. And in the case of Toumani Diabate, The xx, Liars, The Boredoms and Broadcast – notionally at the very least – all three statements are most definitely correct.

Recent festivals and concerts have totally reinvigorated the ATP aesthetic and this is something that should be celebrated. For purely personal reasons I will always love ATP… it was where I fell in love with my girlfriend, to the sound of ‘our’ song, ‘Stabbed In The Face’ by Wolf Eyes, it was where I was first exposed to my favourite rock group SunnO))), it was where I first saw the mighty Liars, where I saw almost indescribably brilliant sets by The Fall, Public Enemy, Sleep, Electric Wizard, Psychic TV, Jesus Lizard, Aphex Twin, Mars Volta, Lightning Bolt… there are too many to recount here.

So a happy belated tenth birthday to ATP and here’s to another decade of fearlessly connecting with brilliant music of all stripes.

John Doran

Click the first picture below to read our review of Matt Groening’s ATP

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