A slow start to the first All Tomorrow’s Parties of 2009 – in the UK anyway; their Australian debut happened in January (REVIEW) – sees Clash stagger in and completely miss both Grouper and Casiotone For The Painfully Alone; but then again Friday in Minehead was always about one band, Devo. Following a performance of their hugely influential Eno-produced ‘Question: Are We Not Men? Answer: We Are Devo!’ album in London a few days before, the Ohio new-wave veterans are in good spirits, and deliver a set big on highs – ‘Gut Feeling’, ‘Girl U Want’ – and small on, well, smalls – when they’re down to their short-shorts, little is left to the imagination.
Friday’s support bill is a discerning muso’s dream – HEALTH and M83 are fantastic, while Electric Wizard and Jesu satisfy appetites preferring the heavier end of the rock spectrum. But Saturday truly brings the noise, with the first reunion show from grunge legends The Jesus Lizard and one of two festival sets from stoner titans Sleep, together exclusively for ATP. The latter pound senses numb with selections from their ‘Holy Mountain’ genre classic, while the former’s frontman David Yow (pictured above; INTERVIEW) is an amazing vision, a man nearing 50 with more energy than players half his age. It takes mere seconds for him to dive into the crowd, shirt off and face a blur, and after the likes of ‘Gladiator’, ‘Puss’ and ‘Mouth Breather’ no fan is left anything but buzzing. Well, that’s the sensation in the ears at any rate. Amazing.
The festival’s biggest stage is graced by a series of critically acclaimed outfits – Grizzly Bear prove why their new record ‘Veckatimest’ is being spoken of as a potential album of the year and also pick a number of winners from their ‘Yellow House’ collection, Spiritualized unite the throng with a set heavy on favourites including a rousing ‘Come Together’, Beirut and Shearwater charm with deliciously arranged modern folk, while Parts & Labor and Future Of The Left thunder their material into the skulls of all onlookers – FOTL deserve extra marks for some quality between-song banter (tip: don’t try to out-quip ‘em, as you’ll fail).
Other highlights include the devastatingly powerful Harvey Milk – this writer’s band of the festival, with a set so violently aggressive of noise that it’s a wonder muggins can hear a thing even today – and the sumptuous instrumentals of Grails. Indeed, the only band to not leave much of an impression proves to be the usually reliable !!!, whose funkiness doesn’t quite click for once. A shame, but then again the front few rows would certainly disagree with this opinion. A better bet on the move-yr-behind front is Errors: the Glasgow foursome’s set is a glitch-riddled winner.
In short: if you missed out on ATP in May, don’t make the same mistake in December, when My Bloody Valentine lead the charge for The Nightmare Before Christmas. Be there.
Photo: Lucy Johnston
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The Jesus Lizard
Parts & Labor
Future Of The Left