CSS prove to be the highlight of The Breeders curated ATP

All Tomorrows Parties curated by The Breeders 2009 review

published: Thu 21st May 2009

CSS

Friday 15th to Sunday 17th May 2009
Butlins Resort, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5SH, England MAP
from £150 per person (bookings per room or chalet) - SOLD OUT
last updated: Wed 29th Apr 2009

During the last ten years ATP has created a new type of festival around the world. ATP is a festival where you don't have to be at the mercy of the weather, or have to endure the discomfort of sleeping in a tent and where one band creates the line-up and mood of the gig. And do you know what? This was my first.

Tricky
So on a windy Friday in May I set off for Butlin's in Minehead for the latest offering from All Tomorrow's Parties. To me the name Butlins is synonymous with cheap and tacky getaways and so this only made me keener to see what ATP, at this venue, was all about. Arriving at the main arena I was surrounded by a sea of beards, spectacles, lumber jack shirts, skinny jeans, girls managing to look beautiful in very experimental colour combinations and enough pairs of converse to make me think they were actually sponsoring the event. It seemed far removed from boots, raincoats, dirty clothes and the usual preparations that go with a festival.

Already onstage Throwing Muses were playing to a rather stupefied looking audience. I'd seen them play seventeen years ago or so and they had been very good but it didn't appear that much had changed in all those years. I had the feeling that this was an indication of what ATP is about, newer bands pitched against bands that haven't really altered over the years since their inception.

Kristen Hersh and band marched through a combination of 'newer' songs and dropped in a few from older periods including Pearl from the 1992 Red Heaven album which was a nice surprise but I didn't feel like I had gained something by seeing them again after all these years.

Friday's headline act and perhaps the gem of the festival was Bon Iver. Taking to stage to a packed arena Bon Iver have achieved far more than cult status on the back of what was largely a self-recorded album. Undaunted by the headline status they play to perfection, playing most of the songs from their album, a cover version and three songs from the Blood Bank EP. The bands MySpace page shows that Skinny Love has achieved almost 4.5 million plays to date so it is hardly surprising the applause Justin Vernon receives as he plays the opening chords and the wry smile from Sean Carey at the back on drums suggested the band have become quite used to it.

In terms of the new material Blood Bank sounds even better live than it does on the EP and the album songs are played with all the passion their lyrics evoke. After an hour we had been treated to some beautiful soundscapes backing some wonderful and delicate harmonies that few bands could ever hope to recreate live. As a finale Bon Iver played Wolves Part 1 and 2 with the audience directed to sing "what might have been lost" over the remaining bars whilst they harmonised over this and brought the music to a final crescendo. Breathtaking stuff.

CSS
After a night where people could party, knowing they had a chalet to return to when it all got too much, it was a different experience to encounter so many people who didn't look like they had been dragged through a hedge backwards. So it seemed only fitting that CSS arrived to try and inject some real harmless party fun into the festival. Dressed in her trademark catsuit Lovefoxx bounced about the stage to the funky music and for the first time this weekend I see people smiling and dancing. The band managed to hit the mark and capture a mood that is different from the other bands on the line-up. 'Move' and 'Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above' are crowd-pleasers in a way that no other band featured over the weekend compare with.

The festival's curators and therefore main act were The Breeders who are looking beyond a twenty year career (excluding Kim Deal's years in the Pixies!) and must surely be very satisfied to be the main feature of a festival at this stage in their career. The Deal sisters are smiling as always and obviously love playing music as much as they did in the early days. With only four albums to chose from we are treated to a 'best of' gig in which Canonball is the best loved of them all possibly. The Breeders are never going to change the world but they play a solid, entertaining set and the audience are delighted enough to start moshing for the first time this weekend, albeit a small number in the middle and very sporadically. This really is a laid back festival and I am left wondering how many people live for it in the same way they do Glastonbury or Bestival etc and how many people truly love The Breeders.

The Breeders
The weekend as a whole was a strange one. Butlins is quite a surreal location for a festival but ATP doesn't appear to make full use of this or the fact that it is undercover. After all, a festival is not just about the music, it is about the location and what is done with that location otherwise it differs little from a regular gig. There are definite opportunities to explore weirdness, art and other forms of entertainment that ATP haven't touched upon in this venue. The concept as a whole is brilliant and I really feel that this is perhaps the future of 'off season' festivals but there are so many avenues that are still left to be explored and hopefully ATP or another organization will learn to be a little more creative with such venues.
review by: Richard Potter

photos by: Richard Potter

Friday 15th to Sunday 17th May 2009
Butlins Resort, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5SH, England MAP
from £150 per person (bookings per room or chalet) - SOLD OUT
last updated: Wed 29th Apr 2009


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