atp nightmare before christmas, butlin's, minehaed 9-12/12/11

from the farthest-from-the-motorway corner of london we emerge, lacking a brake light and an mot admittedly (so the finely beard-trimmed copper says as he hands down a 60 quid penalty), but wide eyed and open to a potential weekend of atp delights.
i break from the pack to catch les savy fav's early set at reds and while my compadres recharge, the fav break the twilight with thundering jabs of hardcore and the bejewelled body of professional rabble rouser tim harrington. he's hitting himself with an alarm clock. he's pouring a kettle of water in your mouth. he's hanging from inside the ceiling. an uncontrollable master of raucous racket and an adhd kid that found just the right niche.
up at centre stage marnie stern is running a three-piece, frantic, fith-talking, minutemen-loving show of alternately cute and ferocious jerk-pop that perks up a disoriented crowd. boy, that band love to talk about vaginas - i mean l.o.v.e.
*first minor complaint: don't play neutral milk hotel over the p.a as a little reminder of the postponed mangum weekend ok atp? thanks.*

still at centre, surfer blood are being a great 50s guitar pop band, fusing their american diner sound with rivers cuomo delivery and pixies power they chug through a set of mostly new and much more fully realised material punctuated with pop gems like 'swim' - which is still a candied treat. has the singer's voice broken since we saw them last?
the stoner rock mariachi of the budos band is bringing the party atmosphere to reds for the first time this weekend and while their glenn (danzig) miller sound is a compelling one they serve only as an amouse bouche for the much-loved madly-anticipated wild flag...
who are a cool classic rock band. in bursts of stone roses riffery and kiss anthemism they show off a liberal love for all manner of exciting, arms in the air arena rock while still keeping the schmindie kids happy by, y'know, being ladies. they shred solos, they do rock out, they rule, nicely.
bouncing across to oxes at reds and getting sucker-punched right in the gut as soon as you walk through the door. their glass and bricks hammering of doom is smothering, savage and supremely exciting. brilliant thugs.
archers of loaf cause a scene of joy at centre. plenty of years away, many the fan that never thought they'd see them live, many the raised arm and screamed lyric. they own the place with shrugs of subtle tunes, tightly wound overwhelming power-rock, spiteful digs of soaring 90s indie and of course The Two Hits. which are immaculate, frothing milkshake blessings. fucking fantastic.
no age burn through bursts of two-man hardcore in brusque fashion, grab crowd members for black flag covers and hammer thoroughly through a swift assault of a set.
hot snakes can give out a few lessons in hard, savage music though. they are brutal and beautiful, speedo's rhythm guitar teasing out the most genuinely gorgeous tunes from the stoniest and bloodiest of places. they explode and continue exploding, relentless and face-close intense for the whole hour. stunning.
les savy fav bring us full circle with a centre stage headline set that runs long and drenched in silver glitter, balloons, gimp suits and moments of genuine glory. triumphant, good-hearted and entirely celebratory they send me to bed with a slap on the ass and a smile.
*minor complaint 2 - obviously this shoulda been on the pavillion stage - the largest potential space at the whole complex shouldnt be used as a sparsely attended chill-out area - pavillion stage gives atp it's sense of occasion - please don't forget that next time*

saturday told me this: minehead doesnt have a mobile phone shop or anywhere you can get your car repaired after midday on a saturday. it does have a lot of charity shops and a vast wetherspoons i hoped was called the duke of ellington but disappointed me with it's additional 'w'.
battles tell me they are hung over and have been sick before going on stage but play a pounding, bubbling, maybe even occasionally purring set of great tunes as only battles can. proof that when their tech is working they can be a superb, invigorating live proposition.
an air hockey tournament finds me wanting and then walls over at reds are just monumentally boring. a dull, fairly lifeless set that increases the urge to go to the quiet pub on the other side of the site. let's do that.
*minor complaint 3 - when walls played there was nothing else on at all. the crazy horse was closed, no other bands performing and even the cinema closed. if you are gonna put something as dull as walls on, atp, please give us a fallback*

finally back to reds where the field are instantly involving - rich, deep sounds that resonate long and luxurious but clash with gary numan at centre.
errrr. gary numan is doing an impression of trent reznor and has started a very poor industrial metal band. why? it's awful. oh no it's not he's playing 'cars'. or, it seems, limp bizkit are playing 'cars'. and he's miming too? can we leave the old man alone with his new (nu) metal friends now? nu-metal. hah! rubbish.
thank you play at crazy horse. it's their last gig and yet they seem to have a ton of intros and no songs. maybe why they're giving up.
psychic paramount put the stoppers on a bad run with some massive, crunching swans-like awesomeness. they absolutely crush the minds of all in attendance at reds with one of the most forceful, fierce, clenched teeth and fists sets of the whole weekend. a dark, desperate trip.
flying lotus drops the bass bomb at centre with a set of the most danceable beats, booming tunes and seemingly a genuine enthusiasm for both being here and his interactions with the crowd. he does not stop smiling and neither does anyone else as inventive, inspired technical mastery delivers hot, soulful dance.
dead rider at crazy horse are playing to no-one. playing angular, faux-sexy, half-cabaret mindfuck jazzpop to no-one. groups arrive and leave in quick succession a little alienated by the purposely obtuse and somehow eerie presence of this all-kinds-of-wrong tom waits fucking show. liked it.
back at reds bitch magnet slam out some heavy, tuneful beauties on a post hardcore tip and the recently reformed cult legends delight old-school fans and nodding teens alike. their triple set of re-issues is all winning by the way.
stuart off of that mogwi djs a stunning and properly 'up' set at the irish bar that manages to run me out of the last of my saturday fuel.
*minor complaint 4 - the battles late set - if you have a couple of the guest vocalists there in person - perhaps actually use them instead of the screens for a change?*

sunday gives me bowling, a roast, an emo ta tha bone beach, basketball, floods in the streets, arcades and fluffy toys yanked from the evil clutches of the grabbing teddy machines. bastards. i beat you didnt i? ha.
caribou are totally ok at centre. they are fine. they play their caribou songs with their caribou instruments and people like them quite a lot or like them just enough and that's about that really. no matter how many people they have onstage or how many drumkits they utilise i'm still just not getting them and walk away from a festival set of theirs once more...
they're playing cash's version of 'i see a darkness' in the irish bar, there's a storm outside, the place is empty and we've got a wwe yo-yo from the toyshop. let's go and see pharoah sanders.
sanders is a proper real-life legend and shuffles through a set of rolling, languid afternoon jazz that only strikes the wrong note when he's attempting to get hipster atheists to sing along with songs about god. meh, he's cool as fuck, he can sing about what he likes. finger-clicking good. (sorry).
connan mockasin, a favourite of, for whatever reason, crowded house, sends out floating waves of new zealand dreampop back at centre, the whole afternoon now becoming a womb-like relaxation session punctuated only by roasts and the pings of distant air hockey matches.
power-nap, berocca, coffee, slice of pizza - the show must go on before the show turns into a chalet full of idiots sleeping the festival away.
orchestra of spheres are the Worst Thing Of The Weekend. their below-pub-band capabilities are only highlighted by their absolute lack of any songs, loads of dodgy warblinga shaky sense of rhythm and stupid, stupid hats. fuck off. dick bands like that give the music i love and the festivals i like to attend a very bad name indeed so they should be damned in the strongest possible terms. damn them!
sun ra arkestra are frog-box mentalists dropping semi-experimental jazz all over the shop like the jazz was some hot potatoes and they didnt have their potato handling gloves on or something. anyway they are old, dressed like egyptian pharoahs, improv a genuinely scary nightmare before christmas theme song and let us all know that we can travel into space should we so choose. via egypt im guessing.
roll the dice are an electro duo that deal mainly in repitition and dark, bleak soundscapes - the polar opposite of the mentalist karaoke of omar souleyman - a party-starting set of weird surreality here from a man and his clanging, high-pitched backing tape. hey, people are wasted, they like it. good times.
as the fest fades a little (a lot of people asleep on various floors at this point) but is brought up sharp by factory floor - as usual a snapping set of savagery that, for the first time personally, engage with the heart as much as the head and finally click into place as a band not just showing off but being very good.
theo parrish djs warm, honey-soaked soul at crazy horse and the zombified dancers treat him as a hero - rightly so. his set garners more and more attention from passers by including the lovely, immensely patient tim of fav fame and sends the night off into the ether with some gentle but madly positive tunes that turn sunday night into monday a.m.
*minor complaint 5 - would be cool not to have the sun and moon AND the sports bar close early on sunday evening - along with the cinema that was closed from 4 til 10pm! on a sunday! c'mon.*

dj rashad & dj spinn give the night it's cap with a fully exhausting power-house of a set at reds and suddenly, what? it's hometime? no more bj and the bear? no more hot dog smell? well, not til march i guess...and this time the rides AND the archery best be open mufuggas...
                                                        (me watching psychic paramount)