Posted in music | pictures on September 16, 2009

words by Black Bubblegum, photos by Ryan Muir

Steve Albini in Shellac
Shellac

"We're taking a bath, but I don't care," Barry Hogan told [Sasha Frere-Jones]. We were standing in the makeshift production office for the All Tomorrow's Parties festival, at Kutsher's, a resort in the Catskills.

Kutsher's, where Muhammad Ali trained and a thousand schticks were born, was once the jewel of the Borscht Belt. The main venue at Kutsher's, the Stardust Ballroom, has a capacity of 2,800. But Hogan seemed largely unbothered that only 1,800 tickets to ATP had sold. It is 2009, after all.

"My name is Sufjan Stevens and I am going to play all of my Seven Swans album. That should be a good early afternoon hangover sort of thing"

Considering the bad coffee situation and the fun that I had the day before, Sufjan was spot on. Clad in tie-dye that the band had purchased at the general store at Kutsher's, the five piece were delicate, light and lilting. Sufjan's bright banjo strums and songs, like the sunny "Sister", resonated so well in the Stardust Ballroom. The Seven Swans album was an excellent choice for a wake-up set on the second day of the three day upstate NY festival (Saturday, September 12, 2009).

After Sufjan, I wandered over to catch a crew of young Aussies named Bridezilla. Though their name is a touch offputting, guitarist/vocalist Holiday Sidewinder has a sexy and breathy coo that recalled PJ Harvey and their her cocktail-dress-ed crew were a surprise and a delight.

Grouper were next, and as a fan of 2008's Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, I was eager to check out Liz Harris's ambient soundscapes. Playing to a projection of an ocean at night, the stage show wasn't much visually but the tides of noise was otherworldly.

Conversely, Black Dice in the same room was a psychedelic mindfuck. Blasts of tribal noise beats nodded heads and shook them in equal measure.

As a fan of Bradford Cox, it was great to see him pull a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning with Atlas Sound. Rolling solo with guitar, harmonica, and some backing tracks, Cox was engaging both in song and with between song banter. I would regrettably end up missing Deerhunter's set a few hours later. Drowned in Sound was there though:

Bradford Cox is a picture of serenity as he swaps his shirt for a more tasteful number and leads Deerhunter into their Saturday night set. He announces that this will be their last performance for some time, causing the band to roll out the hits in quick-fast fashion. They gallop through 'Cryptograms' and 'Nothing Ever Happened', the positively herculean double guitar sound feeling unstoppable and a sense of jubilation ricocheting between the walls as people succumb to these great big shining pop songs. The closing 'Calvary Scars' is a slab of beautiful kraut-pop, with Lockett Pundt's metallic Tim Gane-esque strum leading the way, face-painted kids jerking their bodies back and forth, and Cox looking genuinely sad that this will be the last time these songs will be wrung from his fingers and throat for a while.
Anti-Pop Consortium was my next venture, the first time I had ever seen the crew though I was a long time fan. On the Stardust Ballroom system, APC's distorted and creative beats sounded amazing but save for Beans energetic movement, I was less than impressed with their live show. Live hip hop is hard to pull off, and those who try should heed the great Rakim who said "to me MC means move the crowd". If you want to give them a chance, they're at Santos Party House on September 29th.

Sleepy Sun were line checking when I got back to the second stage, with vocalist Rachael Williams checking her levels in the monitor

"Check. Check. I. Hi. Me. You. All of you. Us. Getting nervous."

If they had nerves, the band channeled them into positive energy. Sleepy Sun's influences fit right in with their hometown, San Francisco, as the band dabble in a psychedelic California sound with some krautrock-y elements. I was most struck by their fantastic drummer Brian Tice as well as vocalist Williams, who ripped out a solo that had the crowd shouting and applauding. Wayne Coyne watched the band from stage left, clearly impressed.

After an elongated line check, El-P came on and with a four-piece band (Chin Chin) and hypeman (Mighty Quinn) to the sound of "Tasmanian Space Coaster". I have a soft spot for El-Producto's Blade Runner beats and post-apocalyptic rhyme styles, and it was great to see a Hip Hop artist who actually puts an emphasis on his live show. As a matter of fact, El-P put a little too much of himself out there, almost falling off the stage after pogo-ing around during "Smithereens". Careful dude... we need a follow-up to I'll Sleep When You're Dead.

I hadn't seen Akron/Family since the then more acoustic-centric band played Tonic many years ago (with Hamid Drake?) and it was refreshing to see their energy were still in place. Against a backdrop of a tie-dyed American flag, the band played a rousing and ripping set. It's good to see that the loss of Ryan Vanderhoof to a Buddhist center hasn't slowed them a bit.

Autolux had the discordant riffs, feedback squalls, and a 90s alt punk sound to hit all of the right influences (Joy Division, Sonic Youth, etc), but unfortunately didn't really distinguish themselves from their influences. Autolux isn't offensive by any means, just not compelling or distinctive, and I find it a touch disappointing that guitarist Greg Edwards was a member of Failure (a band that I dug).

Dead Meadow and their fuzzy freakout psych blues were riffing on Stage Two towards the end of the Autolux set, but by half way in, the crowd had diminished considerably due to Shallac on the main. For shame, as the trio played a ripping set!

continued below...

Sufjan Stevens

Shellac was already into "My Black Ass" by the time I arrived back at stage one, the exact same spot (and similar time) as last year. Not surprisingly, one of my 2008 highlights were excellent as usual. When he wasn't imitating Bob & Doug McKenzie with Steve Albini (who also did a fine job manning the poker table all weekend), Bob Weston took questions from the audience:

"What's my favorite band? Fugazi."
"Do I believe in heaven? No."
"Have I ever fucked any bitches? No, only beautiful women"

With a packed house for Shellac and the fact that the band was running 25 minutes late, it's no surprise that I was able to walk up near the front for Boss Hog in the other room. No one epitomizes cool like Mr Jon Spencer, and the band's sleazy brand of punk blues was tons of fun.

The next band that I caught was Melvins in the same room who hit the stage to the theme from The A-Team. Though I haven't seen this lineup in more than a year (the Houdini/Mangled Demos lineup played earlier in 2009), the band delivered with both firepower and a quirky sense of humor. As usual, Buzzo was wearing his giant black wizard robe while Jared (also Big Business) was wearing something much more ridiculous: a wig and a zebra print snuggie. Jared does not recommend the Snuggie:

"Don't believe the commercials. This thing is hot and itchy."

Melvins tore through a set that included recent faves like "The Talking Horse", "Blood Witch", as well as favorites like "Anaconda" from Bullhead and even Devo cover (so I have been told). A dependably awesome set from this foursome. They are on tour with, and played a show with, Down at Nokia Theatre in NYC one night earlier.

Though I am obviously a huge Melvins fan, I left a tad early to catch Animal Collective who I hadn't seen since the Feels tour. With jellyfish-like lanterns (which flashed in sync with their music) strewn throughout the venue, odd lighting from below their effects covered tables, and a giant globe that acted as a conduit for their video show, the band performed with their trademark quirky exuberance. Much like Black Dice earlier in the day and Panda Bear one day earlier, I enjoy their records immensely but am not a huge fan of their live show.

After a day of excellent shows, but nothing jaw-dropping, I was looking forward to Sunday, where I knew I had some amazing performances to look forward to.

---

Day One review & pics HERE. The rest of the pictures from Day Two, including Circulatory System (who we talked about when they played NYC a few days earlier), below....

Animal Collective

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Circulatory System

Black Dice

Black Dice

Black Dice

Black Dice

Black Dice

Black Dice

Black Dice

Atlas Sound

Atlas Sound

Atlas Sound

Atlas Sound

Atlas Sound

Atlas Sound

Atlas Sound

Antipop Consortium

Antipop Consortium

Antipop Consortium

Antipop Consortium

Antipop Consortium

Antipop Consortium

Antipop Consortium

Antipop Consortium

Antipop Consortium

Antipop Consortium

Antipop Consortium

Sufjan Stevens

El-P

El-P

El-P

El-P

El-P

El-P

El-P

El-P

El-P

El-P

El-P

El-P

Sufjan Stevens

Akron Family

Akron Family

Akron Family

Akron Family

Akron Family

Akron Family

Akron Family

Akron Family

Akron Family

Akron Family

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Shellac

Sufjan Stevens

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Boss Hog

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Melvins

Melvins

Melvins

Melvins

Melvins

Melvins

Melvins

Melvins

Melvins

Melvins

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Animal Collective

Sleepy Sun & Autolux pics HERE.

Sufjan Stevens pics HERE.

Day One pics HERE.

Flaming Lips (who headlined Day Thre) pics HERE.

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Comments (37)

atlas man is one ugly ass muthafucka

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 3:34 PM

You fixed yourself, you said "Well nevermind, we are ugly but we have the music"

Posted by sincerely, L. Cohen | September 16, 2009 3:37 PM

So ATP lost money this year? Hopefully that doesn't deter them from coming back. This is the best festival ever, not least of all because the shows are indoors and it's so conveniently close to NYC.

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 3:40 PM

Black dice fucking demolished.

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 3:43 PM

3:34. you are so compassionate and beautiful.

Posted by sloweducation | September 16, 2009 3:45 PM

that was one of the most honest reviews i've heard of these bands shows. well done.
anti-pop are great, but the most interesting show i've ever seen them play was the free one at fox & fawn boutique last year. it was almost all instrumental & very awesome! since then i've seen them 3 times & none of the shows have been as good as the fox/fawn that only about 50 people attended

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 3:51 PM

3:34, oftentimes musical success (Deerhunter) is based on more than physical attractiveness alone (Crystal Castles)

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 3:54 PM

Just FYI, neither Deerhunter nor Crystal Castles are a "musical success"

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 3:59 PM

saw antipop play before stereolab.

SNOOZEFEST.

so odd that an old time jewish country club that my family used to vacation at is now home to atp. cannot imagine it.

Posted by eric | September 16, 2009 3:59 PM

3:59, noted. *indie success

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 4:04 PM

autolux are better than this review leads on to.

anyone at music hall last night knows this.

you can backpedal when transit transit is released and you fawn all over it.

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 4:10 PM

ATP should have a three-song rule on all the photogs. Not saying that BV's guys did this, but every show was like 50 assholes with professional cameras shooting in the front row for an entire hour like it was the fucking Grammys. Let us enjoy the show. FUUUUUCKKKKK

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 4:26 PM

Wait, I know I am gonna get harassed for this, but ATP did not sell out?


I know where I am going next year! Jez, this lineup and the venues sound amazing. Keep it REAL Mr. Barry Hogan/ATP. See y'all next year!

Posted by TXn | September 16, 2009 4:27 PM

agree 100% w/ 4:10

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 4:27 PM

i concur, autolux was great. saw them at ATP and then again at bowery.

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 4:36 PM

one of these days bob weston is gonna be so hungry on stage that he just breaks down and eats albini and trainer.

ps: shellac has been boring for about 10 years now.

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 4:48 PM

BlackBubblgum thanks for writing for BV.
Always look fwd to your posts especially METAL

Posted by TXn | September 16, 2009 4:56 PM

@4:26...maybe ATP should allow for a photo pit so the shooters aren't forced to stand there in order to get shots w/o peoples' heads and hands in them. esp @ the 2nd stage.

it was a lot easier shooting this last year...for one, the 2nd room did have a barricade that shooters could use, and two there were a lot less shooters w/ media passes. only 7 or so last year, compared to easily 25 this year.

oh, and while i'm bitching, a lot less magenta and blue front lighting would be nice.

@3:40 and 4:27, where are you hearing rumors that ATP lost money? Kutsher's sold out of rooms long before Sept 11th rolled around, the Raleigh seemed pretty full, and the car lot was much fuller than last year. the main room for AC and the Lips seemed as packed as for MBV last year too. the 2nd room didn't seem quite as full on the whole, but then again there was no Ocropolis either.

Posted by tim | September 16, 2009 5:13 PM

re: 4:26 and the 3-song rule...

I think aspiring concert photographers should actually, y'know, LOOK at good concert photos and maybe just buy better cameras with higher ISOs and faster lenses. Bright flashes in a concert setting usually look pretty bad anyway. Of Ryan's photos above it looks like none of them used a flash. Maybe he used a fill, I dunno, I don't think he did. (A fill flash can still seem way too bright and annoying in a dark room.)

I personally stopped trying to do these kinds of photos because my concert photos were just not good.

Posted by Aaron | September 16, 2009 5:30 PM

haha, i wrote that on the sign!

Posted by Ray | September 16, 2009 7:31 PM

I like the blue and magenta stage lighting.

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 8:50 PM

Animal Collective's sound was atrocious.

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 8:58 PM

8:58, that's just Animal Collective's faul

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 9:12 PM

mary travers. RIP. 62. leukemia.

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 9:42 PM

^

typo.meant 72.

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 9:51 PM

Leave my signs alone!

Posted by Gary | September 16, 2009 10:41 PM

EL-P

SHELLAC

MELVINS

Thank you all for the music. It was a great weekend.

Posted by Anonymous | September 16, 2009 11:28 PM

yeah WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too many fucken photogs RUINING the view this year. Like we need 50 blogs all post different but very similar shots of autolux?

dudes should keep it ny times, village voice, pfork, maybe a blog (i vote bv) and everyone else can steal wire service shit like they always do

Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2009 12:01 AM

12:01, how many shitty cell phone pics did you take? And how can 'wire service shit' be stolen if there are no wire shooters covering the event?

Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2009 12:13 AM

Will that video embed? If not, here's a link to an example of the Shellac questions series:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VSHeD4reYM

Posted by Nate | September 17, 2009 12:17 AM

Shellac was interesting but I could've done without the dozens of "i am a plane" and "planes are the coolest" comments from steve albini

Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2009 1:42 AM

What's up with Shellac's Steve Albini having his guitar strapped around his waist? It looks like he's wearing a fanny pack. How can drummer Todd Trainer look so good and Steve look so douchey?

Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2009 2:17 AM

Animal Collective were awesome that night and the crowd was really into it, one of my favorites this year

Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2009 8:03 AM

^^ 2:17

There's something up with Albinin's arm. He can't strap his guitar to his shoulder without some pain. I forget the reason why, but it was explained in Michael Azerrad's "Our Band Could Be Your Life"...an excellent read, by the way.

Posted by Half Chemical | September 17, 2009 11:24 AM

it also looks like he is very particular about how he shakes his guitar for tone distortion (is there a technical term for this?) as if he needed his hip movements to be precise and none of this willy nilly free roaming guitar business

Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2009 11:48 AM

i guess he can't feel it when it's strapped around his spare tire, zing!

Posted by Anonymehous | September 24, 2009 1:46 PM

Albini's Barry Greenstein shirt FTW

Posted by MBR | February 3, 2010 11:03 AM

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