Saturday, 26 May 2007

White Dudes Looking At Pedals

Battles/Clark @ Corporation, Sheffield 17/3
ATP Versus The Fans @ Butlins, Minehead 18/3 - 20/3
Hot Club De Paris/Good Books @ The Leadmill, Sheffield 24/3

I'm going to honest, this blog isn't that interesting. It's very long and doesn't really go anywhere. It does finish with a very funny joke. In order to save this entry, I'm going to post two Les Savy Fav songs. They're both fairly new songs; one was a single last year, the other a free download earlier this year. In other news, Stuart from Mogwai may have read this entry. Do you think he left the comment? Who knows. Here are the songs:

Les Savy Fav - The Equestrian

Les Savy Fav - Raging In The Plague Age

We begin this blog at Corp the night before ATP. Battles played an ace set but I'm far to lazy to write a full review of it; instead I suggest you read Matt's review of their London gig the night before, which is far better than anything I could write. The only things I would add was that they didn't play Dance, which was shame, and that the improvised piece Matt mentions at the end was actually a song whose title I can't remember right now. Regardless, Battles (or Bttls) are very, very good. Onward to ATP!

After 6 hours of travel, one trip to Tescos and one chalet mix-up, I witness my first band at ATP - The Thermals. I wouldn't go as far as to say they got me in the mood for a party but they fared better than Daniel Johnston, who sent me to sleep. Literally asleep - six hours of travel on five hours of sleep certainly wears you down. As does a part of a dull Yo La Tengo set. And, as we all know, the best pickmeup is a group of middle aged German men. The Notwist mix post-rock/ambient dub soundscapes with post-punk with the added bonus of a German guy singing in broken English. Post-rock was a big theme this (every?) year. So the big headliners of Friday night were none other than Mogwai, who sent out their "head of security" (Henry from Chunklet magazine) to make sure that the first 10 rows was made up of nothing but "white dudes looking at pedals". They came on and played a quiet bit then a loud bit, but it could have been a loud bit then a quiet bit. I forget. Hunted By A Freak was good but the big stage and daylight dampened the impact somewhat. Alexander Tucker was pretty good. Improvised acoustic drone. Up next were Akron/Family who surprised me by not being crap country and instead being good country-based jam music. Good use of percussion and beards. After this I think i watched Why? All I remember of their set was the drummer. There was definitely some rapping. Next day please.
Is there any better way to start your Saturday then with R Kelly's Trapped In The Closet? One answer would be Shellac; Wilco soundchecking is not an answer I'd put forward. When Shellac come on it turns out they're actually pretty funny guys not the serious musos one would expect. Subjects touched upon include the "indie rock Taliban" and why Steve Albini had come in a jump suit (he'd run out of rubbers apparently). They finished with the double header of Prayer To God and Fight Song, which was certainly a good way to go out. They also win the award of best bass tone of ATP. Thanks to Wilco's soundcheck, Shellac went on late which meant I didn't get to see Current 93 which in turn meant I didn't get to see Andrew WK. Next came Clinic, who still sound exactly like they did 5 years ago. Not a bad thing since they were good 5 years ago but they only seem to have one song so they drag a bit. They finished and I make my way to the front for Les Savy Fav. Having never seen them before I was expecting a lot and they didn't disappoint. In fact I'd say they were almost too good; I feel like most bands I see from now on will make me think "Yeah, they're good; but where's the onstage haircut? Or the costume changes, the black leotard and face paint? Or the singer riding two tables straight through the crowd?" Les Savy Fav were amazingly good; Tim Harrington is one of the best frontmen ever. If you ever get the chance to go and see them, go. You would be stupid not to. And to think some chose to see Wilco. Suckers. Battles got stuck with the hard task of following LSF and were as good as anyone could hope to be after LSF. But they didn't play Dance again. After a pizza hut buffet, shared with Daniel Johnston, there was Apples In Stereo (okay), Subtitle (I think) and Trans AM (pretty good in a Shellac meets ZZ Top way). I rounded off my Saturday by falling asleep during 65daysofstatic. When it;s time to party, I go to sleep.
Once again, Sunday was started with Shellac, who played in the slightly smaller room instead of the big pavilion thing. It was very similar to the previous days set, although there was no Prayer To God or Watch Song. The oddest part was some guy stood at the front heckling them. Which begs the question, why bother to que up for 30 minutes to go and stand at the front to yell "you suck"? Why didn't he just spend the 40 minutes in bed? Once he was dealt with and Todd Trainer had played his snare drum in the heckler's face, it was time for Slint. Having them play in broad daylight may have been a bad idea and the fact that they're not the most charismatic of performers meant quite a few people lost interest. Those of us who weren't expecting scissor kicks and head walkers got treated to all of Spiderland and a couple from Tweez. I even punched the air at the end of Good Morning, Captain. Yes, I punched the air whilst watching a post-rock band. Get over it. Bat For Lashes came next; a bit like a medieval hippie Bjork. First harpsichord of the festival. Most people seemed to chose Architecture In Helsinki, but from what I saw they weren't too good. Up to this point, the weekend had been lacking any sort of metal so Isis were a nice respite, apart from their quieter parts, which were a bit like Mogwai with cheaper effects. The metal parts were pretty brutal so I'll let them off. Keeping the ATP trend of having old bands play, Echo And The Bunnymen headlined the big stage. And bucking the trend of old bands playing old material, Echo played some new stuff (they have a new album out later this year I think) and were really quite bad. Built To Spill seemed okay but Burger King beckoned. Capricorns provided a 45 minute workout on the basic metal riff. It almost approached doom metal at times. It was way better than Echo. Grizzly Bear did some kind of folk-pop thing; didn't pay attention. And then we came to the last band of the festival, Do Make Say Think. It seems that i may be getting a bit old, because I managed to fall asleep during their set. I was standing up. Still the bits I saw were good; a good mix of jazz and post-rock, with extra rocking out. They finished, and as most people kept partying I went to bed.

Congratulations if you've read all the way through my post about ATP. It may come of as boring but believe me it wasn't; I'm just not that great of a writer.

I shall leave you with this thought: if Goodbooks were a book they'd be A Million Little Pieces by James Frey - 90% bullshit.


Thursday, 3 May 2007

13 Blues For 13 Moons

Petals/Blue Shift/Heart Yeah!/A Middle Sex/Naomi @ The Cricketer's Arms, Sheffield 01/05
Josh T Pearson/A Silver Mt Zion @ Corporation, Sheffield 02/05

Most people will probably know of Silver Mt Zion (or Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra And Tra-la-la Band as they call themselves now) as that band with people from Godspeed in; it's a shame that they'll probably never be considered as a completely separate band regardless of the quality or quantity of their own material. Recent Silver Mt Zion records have seen more emphasis placed on vocals, almost to the point of sounding like folk songs, moving further away from post-rock genre they partly helped to create. Having said that, they can still bust out an awesome wall of noise when they want to. Thanks to a surprisingly good sound at Corp, the post-rock drone of "Take These Hands And Throw Them In The River" was clear and driving rather than a big fuzzy mess, whilst the quiet sections of the newer material wasn't plagued by any hissing or feedback or people talking. To add to their not-Godspeed anymore vibe, Efrim and co were fairly talkative, joking about Tescos and expensive belts. Unfortunately, due to a club night or "teenage date-rape party", Silver Mt Zion had to cut their set short. Because playing for an hour and forty-five minutes just isn't enough.

Josh T Pearson was supposed to be doing a set, but with him turning up late and the aforementioned curfew, he only had time to play one song. Probably would have been good if he'd played for longer, but it was too hard to judge on the one song.

Tuesday saw the most average "noise" gig I've ever been to. One act consisted of a woman playing a violin really badly for 5 minutes. Heart Yeah! were pretty good, although not their best. They need more rave sirens. One the most interesting points of the night was the first band having two amps facing each other. When directional feedback is a highlight of a gig, it's never a good sign.