I went to New York baby. This is what happened:
I take the Shortline bus from New York City to Monticello in the Catskills, upstate New York. It's eighty degrees out and we cruise along the highway as the leaves turn colour and the daytrippers park their SUVs by the chrome diners at the side of the road. There's Madlib on my ipod. It's the last thing I'll ever play on it before it disappears somewhere in the three day blur waiting to kick off at the other end of the bus route, at Kutshers Country Club.
Kutshers has charm. An erstwhile golfing suave-hole rendered semi-creepy kitsch from lack of modernisation. The chandeliers are square brown glass affairs, the wallpaper peeling and as Patton Oswalt points out in his friday night stand up routine, "David Lynch could shoot here. Just turn up and fire his set designer 'cause all his work's done for him". Friday night is all about the stand up for me. There's a bunch of bands playing a bunch of 'classic' albums on the main stage, but nothing that appeals enough to distract me from the jokers. I catch the end of Joe DeRosa, I laugh a couple of times. I watch Maria Bamford play the funny freak, occasionally lapsing into just plain freak. I see Eugene Mirman deliver a consistently chucklesome set, as satisfactory as a well timed light lunch. And I take in Patton Oswalt's set, as long as the other three combined it delivers the lowest lulls and the heartiest lols of the night. Funny guys.
Must have got fucked up after the comics 'cause saturday I woke up wanting to eat pancakes for breakfast for the first time in my life. We go hitch a lift to a giant Walmart. I say it's giant I don't know how big a regular Walmart is but this thing was huge. There were giants in it too, scooting around in electric trolley cars, buying giant sodas and giant bags of Cheetos. Giant TVs. We get to a roadside diner and go all 'when in Rome' ordering fries and steaks and a stack of pancakes and coffee, coke and OJ. The woman at the table next to us is ninety and talks thick bronx like an eighty a day New York narrator. The waitress is fat, black and friendly and fucking perfect.
The sun is so bright. The roads are so wide. The liquor store puts the vodka and rum in brown paper bags. We take a cab back to Kutschers with some Californians, all nice people, covered in sunshine. Everybody all weekend is nice people. The day is spent drinking in the heat by the boats by the lake. Smoking cigarettes. We just don't bother with anything else. I don't see Alexander Tucker play but he see's me dancing to the tele through my bedroom window. After half the acts have played I finally drag my ass to go see Edan and Dagha, doing this whole thing of rapping about rapping while scratching and mixing, whilst scratching and mixing. I get it you know. Rappers need to learn to rap about something that ain't rapping, how good they are at rapping, how their rapping is better than other rapping or how they can rap and do other shit at the same time. You don't see guys in bands playing guitar and singing over the top about oh my god see how I play the guitar whilst singing as well. More people should rap about Satan, the dark lord of hell. Or something. I digress though, and Edan was actually pretty entertaining. Like really good cabaret or something. He even wears wigs. And Dagha did a stellar job of standing next to him, occasionally saying shit and fucking about with an echoplex. Blah. My flask is drained.
Oh I have to go film Low. My god I cannot hold a camera still. This footage is useless. This band is boring. Go back to the room and drink to Shellac. Wait it's too early to start drinking to Shellac. Oh shit. What's that? Lightning Bolt were great? Weren't they playing straight after Shellac? Yeah. Fuck. Fucking Rum overdose. Fuck it. Wasted. What a waste. Well, I'll stick the general consensus in here, in lieu of a first hand review. Shellac and Lightning Bolt were both awesome. Of course they were fucking awesome, they're always awesome. They're awesome bands. They're live bands.
Afterwards some guy is playing Mario music on the grand piano in the lounge area. It's one of my favourite sets of the weekend and it's from a punter. Straight up. Stomping on those keys like goombas.
Whoops. Fucked up that night huh. Ok let's get some work done. Let's film everything today.
Le Volume Courbe. Jesus it's barely even lunchtime. Pfft at this weak-ass twee-ass ass-music. Pfft right at it. Music for people whose toes point inwards. Who's next? The Wounded Knees? Did I even see them? Might as well not have. Sunday is boring to look at. I'm falling asleep looking at the line-up. It's bands with a capital L after the b. Gemma Hayes? Good Lord no thanks. If I wanted those vibes I'd sit in a cake shop full of babies. Hold up, EPMD are playing. how on earth did that happen? (Gawd bless ATP) They're a total anomaly but thank fuck for that. Here they come, old motherfuckers playing to the whitest crowd they've ever seen. They declare that they are going to school everyone in the meaning and essence of real hip hop. Hooray! No-one has ever done that before! Good job EPMD. Well, you're entertaining and all, it's a bit weird all your mates just hanging around on stage with you but whatever, I like your raps. I like your rapping ways.
I don't like Mercury Rev and then I watch Mercury Rev and I've gotta admit, I liked watching Mercury Rev. It's not my bag you know, but it's clear these guys are experienced in the art of performing music. And so they should be, because they're old. The singer looks like a faun in some fantasy theatre production and he keeps pretending he's flying. It works, somehow. It's a big sound. Over on the second stage I don't like Trail of Dead enough to be bothered to write their name out in full, but they did ok. They made a little bit of the ceiling fall down, which is pretty cool in my book. No-one was hurt though, which was boring, and the set maintained a level of excitement which didn't match up to the energy they all seemed to be putting in to it, which is probably somehow bad for the environment. Their fans seemed to love it though, but they're fans of Trail of Dead, so who cares?
Next up was Mogwai, a band I have somehow seen quite a few times despite not liking them at all. Every show a boring load of durr. A load of building up to nothing. Now I don't know if it was the setting tonight, I don't know if they were on tip top form playing the tip top cream of their catalogue, but they raised hairs on me. There were pay-offs at the end of the slow climbs. They were trudging up those mountains and when they broke through the clouds at the top there was beauty there for everyone. Bravo those Scots.
After avoiding Dino Jr and avoiding writing about Brian Jonestown Massacre because yawn, so all that's left on the bill was the main event, the curators of the day, My Bloody Valentine, and people were excited all over. I already reviewed MBV at one of the Roundhouse gigs in Camden earlier on this year and this was more of the same except I wore earplugs for the famous holocaust finale because last time I damaged my ears. The first time around tipped this one but probably just 'cause it was the first time around. Still, it was special and a real fitting end to the festival line-up, all noise-talgic and dreamily brutal.
Once MBV was over I got to put down the camera and pick up the vodka. A drink by the lake, a drink in the bar, a dance, a girl punching me trying to get me to dance with her like that's gonna work (it might), closing time, a party of twelve (approximately) left on site, a man with a speaker on his back like the pied piper of indie leads us to the shack from Friday the 13th on the other side of the lake, run down and beat up and full of mattresses and no electricity. I leave and howl across the lake to a party of stragglers. We get back to the jetty and running jump into the lake as the sun starts to rise. The security return us to our room where I shower then wake up elsewhere, back in the lounge area by the grand piano, several hours after checkout.
We have a three hour wait at the shortline bus station so we take a walk around Monticello. It's quiet. The trees are beautiful. The houses perfect. I could move there, I think. I could read all day, I think. Sit on my porch, I think. Then I get on the bus back to the city and when I see the Manhattan skyline I remember how much more exciting it is having people around. And I realise that I had a really great time at ATP, but it wasn't the music, and it wasn't even the setting. It was the people. It always is. Every last one of those friendly fuckers.