Sunday, 17 May 2009


Let's get a couple of things straight from the off.
  1. ATP: The Fans Strike Back II was not as good as last year's Nightmare Before Christmas.
  2. It was still freakin' awesome.

Half of the line-up was chosen by the good people at All Tomorrow's Parties; the other half was voted for by "the fans". Everyone that bought a ticket could vote for any ten bands they liked, and each fortnight the bands in 1st, 2nd, 25th, 50th, 75th and 100th place in the chart were approached by ATP to see if they were up for it. The voting threw up an interesting mix of popular beat combos, from Slayer to Elbow. Of course, not everyone wanted/was able to perform at ATP... but the final line-up was a fine mix of indie-folk-Americana, and good bands.


Grouper had the unenviable task of being the first act on the first day. Her gently warbling whale-playing-guitar-through-a-delay-pedal made quite pleasant background music, but was otherwise unengaging. And kind of fuzzy.

HEALTH were the complete antithesis to this, and spent a full hour assaulting and offending our senses with a chaotic onslaught of guitar, synth, screams and tribal drumming. There was a lot of leaping about and hitting stuff with other stuff, and a spazzy light show to boot. I thought they were cool; The Boy started to black out a bit.

M83 turned out to be an insipid wash of French ambient shoegaze electronica. Meh. On the other stage, Andrew WK was playing a solo acoustic set; so we went back to our chalet to watch Gardener's World.

It didn't seem right to go to a festival where Devo were playing, and then not see Devo; so
we went to see Devo. Who were quite surprisingly brilliant... albeit getting a little too chubby to fit comfortably into their yellow jumpsuits...

Antipop Consortium might have been good, but I nodded off for a fair chunk of their set before we wandered off to catch the end of Jesu. I don't know where to begin categorising their music. Doomgaze? Colossal riffs played in slow motion through amps turned up to 11. Awesome.

And yet not quite as awesome as Electric Wizard, who reduced everyone to ash with tar-thick doom riffs. Awesome +10.


Lords should change their name to Eagles Of Death Zeppelin. They smashed out a whole bunch of groovy dancin' rock, and were actually quite fantastic despite a) it being quite early Saturday morning (well, quarter-to-three in the afternoon, but it's all relative innit), and b) my view of the band being somewhat slightly completely obscured by the tallest man in the world with the biggest hair in the world.

Qui are a band fronted by The Jesus Lizard's David Yow, so are pretty much a vehicle for his jibbering lunatic rambling. But a good vehicle, with some neat bluesy licks here and there.

Harvey Milk played some nice and sludgey grunge 'n' roll, not dissimilar to the Melvins at their most accessible.

Errors played "post-rock electro" that sounded to me a bit like 65daysofstatic, but without the guitars. I seem to remember liking them at the time, but I struggle now to remember exactly what they sounded like. Possibly because of booze.

But probably because the next band we saw was The Jesus Lizard, and the sight of a half-naked David Yow swimming across the crowd towards me made me void my brain completely. And my bowels. On record, The Jesus Lizard's awkwardly twangy incoherence has always seemed to me a bit... well... awkward, twangy and incoherent. But live and up close, with all the sweat and the spit and the bruises, it made perfectly horrible sense.

And finally Sleep, who spent 90 minutes ploughing through the entirety of their stoner rock masterpiece "Holy Mountain", with a few extras thrown in here and there. It was a damn long set at the end of a damn long day, but they were still cool, and I stumbled back to
the chalet with ears ringing and a head full of pleasant fuzz. And a bag of chips.


We decided to take advantage of the fact that ATP take over Butlins' cinema, and went to watch Withnail & I. Despite the film's renown as a cult classic, I'd never actually
seen it before. I quite enjoyed it. I think my favourite bit was when the film got stuck and caught fire, owing to the fact that the projection equipment was so old that the original blueprints were deciphered from paintings found in caves on the remote south-facing coast of Gibraltar.

Then, after a few hours spent lounging about drinking cider in the sun (and a swift round of mini-golf), we decided to see some bands. Grails played some pleasant, psychedelic, but ultimately a tad forgettable, post-rock. Good, but not great.

Future Of The Left were great. The Welsh three-piece blasted out a set of punchy three minute rock numbers, pausing only to throw sweets into the crowd and to take the piss out of a few unfortunates ("Your hoody makes you look like a child's version of Hellraiser, only without the promise of rape"). A good time was had by all.

The Mae Shi threw a parachute into the crowd a few songs into their set. Kids love parachutes. It quickly got spread out over the top of us, and when the singer guy leaned in under the front of it and sang at us it was like we had our own personal little festival tent. The only problem was that no-one seemed to know what to do after that, and it quickly got very warm and smelled a lot like feet. The other only problem was that The Mae Shi were, frankly, a bit bollocks. The kids seemed to love it though, so maybe it's just me being a miserable old git.

After that, there was just time to witness a smidgen of The Jesus Lizard's second set of the weekend before This Will Destroy You took to the stage in Reds and... well... destroyed us. The words "epic" and "post-rock" get thrown about quite a lot when describing this sort of band, and seldom is it unjustified. But you haven't heard truly epic post-rock until you've heard these guys. You can chuck "gut-wrenching" in there too. Words simply don't do them justice.




And then, tediously, it was back to real life. For at least a couple of days, I kept having weird dreams that I was missing a load of cool bands...

Grown-up Work has found a solution to the problem of there not being enough spaces in the car park. They're making 130 of us redundant. This might include me, since I am far and away the most expendable thing in the office (even the water cooler is more useful than me), but probably won't. Chances are I'll get to finish my placement, and they just won't bother getting another student in to replace me. It's not all doom and gloom, though; on Wednesday, some company that's tending for our stores contract turned up for some sort of open day. They took over the training room with a load of display stands and tables covered with various tools and components, and so me and Old Man Braddon (who may also be getting redundantified) went along to see what free stuff we could blag. Pretty much all of the good food had gone, but there were still some fine biscuits to be had. Plus of course, all the other promotional junk... we trawled about, feigning a vague interest in what was on display and answering the occasional question about what our "functionality" was. It was all worth it in the end; we came out with a pretty good haul. I got a mug, a pad of paper, two bearing catalogues, three retractable ball point pens bearing bold corporate logos, a stress ball, a keyring, some fancy mints, and a fistful of jammy dodgers.

And in other news, I move house this week.


Monday, 4 May 2009

i hate phantom space man

A couple of weeks ago, Matt "Say What You Want About The Tenets Of National Socialism, At Least It's An Ethos" Smith and Laura decided to go to Bristol's annual Italian car show (rather than accidentally stumble upon it, as they have done for the last few years), and they were kind enough to invite me along too. Unsurprisingly, the Italian Car Show consisted mainly of Italian cars... (click each picture for more photos)




...Alfa Romeo...


...and Ascari, which is actually a British car, but is named after an Italian racing driver, so that's okay.

Apparently only 17 of those Ascaris were ever built; and only 9 of those are still in existence, the remaining 8 having been "destroyed" (presumably by overenthusiastic owners who ran out of talent at some key moment). You'd have thought the owner of this one might have bothered to clean it...

The day after I found myself in London with the family, visiting Dr Sister in her nice new house. Well, some of the time was spent in her shiny new house; the rest of it was spent racing around the neighbouring town of Pinner.

In a wheelbarrow.

The rules were quite simple; each team must consist of two people, and one of them must be in the wheelbarrow at all times. The other one gets to push. There are five checkpoints, and you must each down half a pint at every checkpoint. The first team to arrive at the car park of the Queens Head is the winner.

As it happens, we were the last team to arrive at the car park of the Queens Head, but we at least retained some small amount of dignity by not being sick at any of the checkpoints.

And the next weekend, Matt and I got dragged to some weird ass shenanigan by Alan and Dory. Dory didn't give much away about the details of said shenanigan; but our suspicions were aroused by the presence of men in faceless masks, riding impossibly tall bicycles and jousting against imaginary foes whilst we queued...

Turns out we were queuing up to get into Carny Ville, a moderately insane steam punk Victorian freak show apparition.

And it was freakin' cool. Here's a tiny bit of what happened.
  • Some chick put a spoon in her nose and served tea.
  • Dory played on a severed head coconut shy.
  • Lobotomized twins messed about on silks.
  • Matt played ping-pong with the devil.
  • I got summoned onto stage for a dance-off against a guy called Barry in front of, like, a thousand people.
  • Ghosts walked down the side of a building.
  • The whole thing ended with an apocalyptic turn-off-the-century outdoors dance party.

More (crappy) photos here.