They also hold the event on the Pontins Camber Sands holiday camp. Simultaneously tapping into tacky 1950s English seaside culture, and a rich history of ‘weekenders’ which saw the camps overrun by bacchanalian fever for 1960s Northern Soul proto-raves. ATP was a more subdued affair pitched at indie kids drawn by this year’s curators Tortoise.
As you might expect, Tortoise brought along their mates. So we were treated to US indie and alternative country from Calexico, Lambchop, the Sea and the Cake and Yo La Tengo. Tortoise themselves headlined on the first night with a set spanning their rockier ‘Standards’ album through the xylophone led ‘TNT’ back to ‘Millions living’. In addition to this full-scale indie-folk revival, Tortoise brought space-Jazz curiosity of Sun Ra’s Arkestra and Fred Anderson Trio; electro-acoustic pioneer Derek Bailey and cutting edge indie hip-hop from Mr Lif, Def-Jux Posse, El-P and Mike Ladd –who tore up the rule books to an appreciative audience on the first night.
Day two was spent recovering on the beach as a freak blast of sunshine broke the April skies, then it was off to see the headline act of the whole event - Boards of Canada. ATP was their second ever live gig, so just about every one of the 2500 happy campers packed into venue to hear Scotland’s purveyors of soothing electronica. To spice up their show the Boards offered a rare glimpse into their visual work which refracted their sound through technorganic structures. It’s amazing how popular the Boards have become; a band who rarely do interviews and never gig, and yet have gained universal appreciation – I am starting to agree they must be encoding subliminal messages into their tracks.
And so to day three, more sand, more booze and in the evening more Warp. First up were Broadcast who turned in one of the best sets of weekend with their fusion of edgy vocals, 60s guitar and organ led pyrotechnics. Downstairs it was left to new signing Scott Heren (performing as Prefuse 73) and Autechre to bring things to an end. Herren’s set of cut-up deconstructed hip-hop was well received (if not a bit quiet), introduction to one of America’s most interesting electronic artists. Last up were the original glitch processing kings Autechre. In time honoured style the lights went off and on came the shards of dense multiplexed machine rhythms. Their set provoked the biggest response of the weekend.
And so ATP came to pass, NYC’s punk electro originators ESG sadly had to cancel and some of the sets were too self-indulgent. But ATP is a difficult pitch. At best it is a concept which allows a popular band to choose their ideal line-up and work with a truly open minded promoter, at times however there was a feeling that it need something more. Maybe a room with more disposable instant gratification (the ragga set in the Queen Vic rocked hard !). What is important is that the UK has an event like ATP showing that there is an alternative to the mainstream festivals which dominate the scene. Rumours are that next year Indie rockers Shellac are selecting the bands, which may include AC/DC.
ATP will be taking their concept to the US later this year and have selected Sonic Youth as curators – The event takes place at UCLA October 19-21st. .For more info check the ATP site.
Thanks to Andy Greenman for the review.
This piece first appeared in Xlr8r magazine.