Sunday, February 27, 2005

February 27 (Sunday): A third consecutive day of pain kicks off with the sound of screaming banshees outside in the distance. This morning we awaken to a full set of allied carpets of snow outside and as cold as it is, it looks beautiful.

Today I finally get around to changing my clothes. And in this climate, for some reason I decide to wear shorts. Maniac! The look winds up being some kind of extreme fascist fashion victim faux pas, something straight out of Nathan Barley, not least for my smart sky blue v-neck Asda/Wal-Mart George jumper over my Millwall 2004 cup final shirt and my Black Flag “Family Man” t-shirt. My roomies, my new best friends, cook up a great British fry up for breakfast and it begins to feel a lot like Christmas.

A few weekends prior to this years event I saw the movie The Warriors and to be honest the way people have splintered off into little groups this year, to be brought together by the event and only be torn straight apart again is akin to a very softcore version of that movie. Maybe. Let’s get ready to grumble.

This morning it’s literally a breeze as I purchase my Sunday newspaper in a final vain attempt to bond with the locals only to be met with the general response of “what are you wearing shorts for?”. I return to the safety of our shockingly comfy (despite the cold) chalet where we settle down for more ATP TV with a general “can’t be arsed” air of expectations for the day. With this however, we do hit paydirt as the TV channel is showing some Star Wars mockumentary that I have never heard of but is thoroughly genius and compelling, not least for inserting porn clips into the making of Jar Jar Binks sound effects.

As the normal ATP day three fatigue begins to really kick in, although I had best intentions and no real plan for drinking today, around lunchtime a couple of quick Stellas go down SO well. I wind up having breakfast in the Pontins Café where the previous night gets dismantled and hyper analysed. Word filters through that I was apparently engaging in my own version of Staremaster. We end up in Racton’s chalet where I pretty much find myself having to beg for beer (“dance rummy!”) while we get subjected to a soundtrack of Hall & Oates mixed with Depeche Mode.

Day three proper kicks off with Neil Hamburger, who for me turns out to be the star of the whole show and my highlight of the weekend. Without it being too obvious, I really felt this weekend had a real hidden sneer of nastiness to it and in Neil Hamburger, you just get some guy that just totally represents a certain mindset that, dare I, almost prevails. The guy turns out to be full on Tony Clifton, greased up like a chip shop, throwing sweets (“candy”) into the audience that more than likely has SARS and/or Anthrax attached to it. Neil Hamburger isn’t really funny, he’s just fucking nasty and to most people (sadly) that is funny in itself. This guy knows indie rock and therefore knows the buttons to press with this particular audience, not least with jokes such as: “why did Madonna feed her baby with dog food? Because it was what came out of her tits!”. If GG Allin had done stand up instead of just smearing shit on a stage, this might have been his career. And all in all, despite the fact I loved his set, elsewhere other people’s delight only manage to suggest an even higher level of cynicism because ultimately it just seems to me so contrived for people to claim to enjoy entertainment such as this whilst also putting up much of the remaining crappy folk stuff from the weekend. And with that thought, more candy gets thrown in our direction and had I been paying better attention……that candy would have been mine. That will teach me to think too much. Neil Hamburger just turns out to be professionalism incarnate; when people decide to leave his set he takes them task on their decisions, coming to the conclusion: “the set will be better off without you arseholes in the audience”. And if anyone dared give Neil Hamburger any back chat he would splutter and cough at extraordinary volumes into his microphone in the most disgusting and despicable manner: “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro” as someone once said. He ends with an oompha, the ultimate in Jewish entertainment.

Post privilege, I wind up in the john where I bump into Summerlin while I’m having a piss. He appears to spend a lot of time checking out my piece to see if the rumours of my recent circumcision as an adult were true: “nope, I didn’t get it done in the end, Dr May told me I didn’t need it”. Still, he just looks on and states “I could stand and watch you urinate all day”. I feel violated but for future reference though, just because I have a huge schmuck does not necessarily mean that the bone is so little.

Together we motion upstairs to the Mighty Flashlight where we talk up a storm and make catch up conversation as I tell him about sudden immense music career prospects. Summerlin however pretty much sums up the weekend when he states it as “being in danger of turning into a bit of a folk festival, it could just do with a bit rock!”. He tells me how a cohort had spoken to promoter Hulk Hogan and dared say how he felt a bit “ripped off” by the lineup to which Mr Hogan was said to respond “yeah, I’m worried about all the negative feedback this year will get” supposedly to the point of the future of the festival being in danger. Back to the show however and the onstage non-antics of the Mighty Flashlight. For their set I stand pretty much right under Mike Fellows but in a state of anything but fan worship. Mr Mike Fellows’ set turns out to be pleasant enough but considering the man’s track record with Rites Of Spring and the infinitely superior (in my opinion) Happy Go Licky, seeing such a man onstage now in a big bushy beard wearing a loser jumper producing such a sedate set of sounds only screams to me of a man that has lost his way. Will Oldham has a lot to answer as this set reflects more his tours of duty with Oldham, the Silver Jews and Smog but in these times I honestly feel the climate is far too rife with oldster US punkers turning to AOR route and dicing with a death of folk almost. Admittedly you cannot rage forever but comparing a mature transition into something like this to the transition of Mike Watt (although arguably a much more talented musicians) you leaves me with further contempt at the close of play. If this is really Neil Young’s “On The Beach”, it would be best left on the beach here I say.

I escape before the hour long set grinds me down and I wind up downstairs for the rammed King Kong experience. Barely able to get into the arena, somehow I manage to hook up with my fellow Bad Hand cohorts Racton and Justin as it suddenly becomes universally acknowledged just how similar King Kong are to Beat Happening and how similar to the B52s that Beat Happening actually were and coming full circle to complete the loop by noting how much alike the B52s that King Kong are. With such science in place, we are able to take in enough whimsical indie pop within a few numbers and soon we find ourselves escaping the carnage, retiring to our various chalets where we indulge in the traditional ATP Sunday afternoon comedown of watching the Eastenders omnibus; that and some freaky/disturbing Werner Herzog midget movie on the ATP Gold channel.

With the experience now close to coming to an end and with restless souls really flagging, I find myself eating a 69p Sainsburys pizza as sustenance before heading out into the wilderness of Pontins in order to avoid sleeping through the remainder of the festival as my body was instructing me to do as opposed to heading out aimlessly to check out some band/act of zero interest to me.

Upon arriving back at the downstairs stage I see a girl with a note pinned to her back that would generally read “kick me” (or something equally deserving) but today however the legend appears “Mark Kozelak made me cry”. For fuck’s sake, give her five minutes with me and she would really know what it is to cry, just give me a coat hanger. I’d let her lick my lollipop.

In my journey, I catch a brief glimpse of Endless Boogie, some band I have no idea about and never will beyond this split second. Amazingly however, it is the sound of a band actually cranked and going through an amplifier. I honestly did intend to stay and catch some of their set but then I crash into Racton’s Byker Grove-esqe crew of rowdies and I head back to their chalet with them where once more I get bribed with alcohol and fed delicious food which only serves to see me spending the remainder of the weekend farting through it. In the crib, we get entertained by more tales of the impending Staremaster final, where all the smart money appears to be aimed towards the direction of the drummer of Spoon and his intimidating monobrow. Still, Rupert from Racton’s crew appears confident at the prospect of such a wrestle and everyone is excited by his apparent entry and the premise/promise that Richard And Judy have apparently outbid Sky Sports for the broadcasting rights and will be showing the final on their show this week (was this fact or just one of those evil ATP mill rumours?”)

Eventually we return to the jungle trenches and get up close and personal to White Magic. Apparently this act is a big deal, something waiting to happen. To me it is just the most absurd thing I appear to see all weekend. We stand directly in front of the multi instrumentalist of the duo that looks like a refuge from Abba and finally I become submerged with insania at the mass stupidity of the sounds he is putting so much effort into making when surely it would only take him seconds to reproduce onto a laptop. And all without the humiliation of looking like the man is putting immense effort into masturbating behind a huge cymbal. And the guy doesn’t really help himself when during songs his little performance isn’t required, he just lies dead on the stage, comfortable enough in himself to literally look like a wanker onstage. I would not doubt their talent (honest) and the rather attractive lady has a beautiful voice with some nice pleasant melodies but when someone points out “it’s a bit Tori Amos now” after she switches from acoustic guitar to top heavy keyboards it all gets kinda boring in the worst way. And what is White Magic supposed to suggest/represent? Is this the music of preference for white witches? The music for the good guys in Lord Of The Rings? Again, to me, this suggests this is the new wave of Dungeons & Dragons fans coming out of the closet and making music that appears to be currently ruining indie music as it all becomes mystical and quirky as people appear unable to deal with reality in their songs. Halfway through their set Tom says/instructs “lets do one” and we push our way out of the crowd and onto safety.

We head upstairs to Sons & Daughters, the last minute replacements for the girl bawling bastard that is Mark Kozelek. This is not a very good band. We sit at the edge of proceedings battered and bruised. They do several songs that all sound the same, reminding me of the great long lost Glasgow band Pink Kross only without the fun. I remember meeting Scott from the band at ATP 2000, when the music climate and environment was much different and the tables were royally turned in the other direction. And at the end of the day, this is not a band that is deserving (now or ever) of an under headliner billing. Naturally they end on the song “Johnny Cash” which I pleasantly caught on Popworld back in good/better times and tonight sounds like a fantastic rumpus while my heart bleeds.

Dazed and confused I find myself back in Racton’s crew crashing some kind of party downstairs where Bad Wizard are apparently doing their second set of the weekend, an impromptu Sunday night downstairs headline set. Isn’t this generally the realm of The Fall historically? It’s a poor shout on the festival in general that such a clichéd good times hair metal act can be so enjoyable. In times where music is made out to be so easy, strangely a band like this (appealing to the same urges The Darkness do) can really clean up whereas much of the remainder of the lineup of the festival can make music such hard work, non-cathartic and the most of our daily grind.

The whole music weekend ends with probably the worst conceived headliners in UK music festival history: Mum. And I won’t even dignify them by pronouncing their name “moom”; they’re wank, they’re “Mum” as in my mother. We stick around for a taste, a glimpse mainly to if there is any fanny onstage as I am informed that there might be (sorry to be so honest). Gradually however as the set gets slower and slower, the snail pace end to proceedings just feels more and more like continually being beaten by a stick or rubber club and when instruments such as accordions appear (did that happen or did I imagine it?) this turns out to be the worst of all setting within which to check out Mum. We leave the sweltering conditions of the heated hall melting Scandinavian wannabes to be hit by snow storms over Camber.

We all leave and I send off the new drunk drivers, returning to my own home (chalet 496) where the Top 100 Cartoons is being decided on Channel Four, which The Simpsons obviously wins. This gets followed by the Cripple Fight episode of South Park (Jimmy v Timmy) which is then followed by the return of my remaining chalet mates and Osama acting as if on ecstasy, in love with the set that he just saw by Mum declaring/announcing how he wants to “be Mum’s children”. I obviously missed something there and I just collapse on my bed in hysteria. It ends.


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