words by Black Bubblegum, photos by Ryan Muir
Friday, September 11th - Stage 1:The floors have been waxed. The bathroom tile is dry and shiny. Couches are not draped with bodies. Kutsher's and it's distinct 1960s time capsule "charm" is still in full force, though the place seems oddly tidied. Doorways that last year lead to muddy, mold infested corridors have been nailed shut. Random holes punched into the drywall have been patched. The musty smell that permeates the building is "covered" by an equally foul carpet deodorizer. I arrived a shade past 3PM on Friday (9/11) and it was obvious the ATP crowds hadn't sunk their fangs into the Country Club yet. Everything was still nice and clean.
3.15pm-4.15pm : The Drones performing Wait Long By The River...
4.45pm-5.30pm : The Feelies performing Crazy Rhythms
6.00pm-7.00pm : Dirty Three performing Ocean Songs
7.30pm-8.30pm : Suicide performing Suicide (First LP)
9.00pm-9.45pm : Panda Bear
10.15pm-11.15pm : Iron & Wine
11.45pm-1.00am : The Jesus Lizard
Friday, September 11th - Stage 2:
9.00pm-9.30pm : Jon Glaser & Jon Benjamin
9.45pm-10.15pm : Derrick Brown & The Navy Gravy
10.30pm-11.00pm : Eugene Mirman
11.15pm-11.45pm : David Cross
As a veteran of multiple music festivals, I think that most feel very familiar... borderline generic even. ATP is an animal all its own. There is an energy that is positive, creative and palpable. Musicians wander about the grounds, checking out the bands. The sound system is killer. It's like an indie summer camp complete with a poorly functioning shower.
We arrived early enough to catch the first part of The Drones whose current tour also had them at The Bell House in Brooklyn two days earlier.
"I hope you like bronchitis, 'cause that's what all you're getting" the guitarist said while pointing toward the front row of the audience.
Bronchitis or no, the band's angular and sometimes atonal pop was immediate and fun despite anyone's poor health.
The Feelies followed with Crazy Rhythms indeed, alternating between jingle bells, timbale, shaker, maracas, hanging lead pipe as well as a satellite floor tom and snare drum. It was great to see those songs come alive. See them in Brooklyn on Sunday night.
Dirty Three was four, as Nick Cave sat in the tickle the ivories. Nick played a backseat role, no singing, none of his songs... For all intensive purposes he was John Q. Pianoplayer. Ocean Songs is a very affecting record, and their engaging post-rock-y compositions swelled and collapsed with emotion. Just don't call them emo.
"I'd like to set the record straight for Pitchfork and those guys... we did not invent emo. Blame it on some other cunts," Warren Ellis quipped between songs.
During songs, Ellis hopped around on one leg while playing his violin, sashaying to melodies and punctuating key moments with jump-kicks. Dude has ups, especially in a suit. Those in NYC have another chance to catch the band Sunday at Bowery Ballroom.
Suicide followed, and I am definitely a fan of their first LP. In the Stardust Ballroom, a ski-goggled Martin Rev banged away at his Triton producing compelling keyboard squelches and 200 BPM kick drum assaults, while Alan Vega barked lyrics from his music stand like an ornery old man. It was very loud. Fun for a while, but I couldn't watch the entire set.
Panda Bear's loopy harmonious bliss is something that I enjoyed on the Person Pitch LP, but was not looking forward to in a live setting. Nevertheless, I checked out Noah Lennox's knob-twisting live set which contained backlit projections. It's hard to pull off a one man show effectively, especially if there is limited crowd interaction. Noah's other band headlines Saturday night (tonight) of the festival.
Iron & Wine was solo acoustic, and Sam Beam engaged the crowd fully. I caught a few songs until leaving catch some of David Cross's set before The Jesus Lizard.
Kicking off with "Puss" and heading into "Gladiator" and "Seasick", The Jesus Lizard attacked the stage with their trademark screechy guitar lines and high frequency bass lines. Duane Denison, David Wm. Sims, and Mac McNeilly were tight as hell and the band roared through their classics to an extremely enthusiastic crowd all while David Yow acted like a buffoon.
Either I'm showing my age, or he his, but I used to find David Yow and his antics menacing. That's not to say he was anything less than riveting. He performed 1/3 of the show from the crowd (surfing or otherwise). When on stage, Yow mock-jerked himself off, hula-danced, slap-boxed the microphone stand, pointed at women while crotch-thrusting, and wished the audience a.... "Happy 9/11".
By the way, if you're wondering who IS responsible for emo. David Yow has the answer.
"That's Slint's fault"
Derrick Brown & The Navy Gravy
Jon Benjamin and Jon Glaser
you can get a massage!
Iron and Wine
Stay tuned for Day 2.