Nightmare Before Christmas

Organised by those lovely people at All Tomorrow’s Parties who have now been bringing you festivals in holiday camps for the best part of a decade, Nightmare Before Christmas sorts the indie kids from the fakers

You might have streamed First Impressions of Earth weeks before it was released.

You might have both the Padua and the Bologna bootlegs of Dirty Pretty Things.
You might have Fire Records’ entire back catalogue. But do you really love Sonic Youth enough to go and see them play Minehead Butlins? In December?

If you do (and you’re prepared to pay over a hundred quid for the pleasure), you’re not alone. In fact there are so many of us queuing up to recreate our own slice of the Every Day Is Like Sunday video, with worse weather and the spectre of hypothermia snapping at our skinny jeans and polka dots, that the audience places to see headliners Sonic Youth and Iggy & the Stooges are being rationed. They’re both playing twice but, depending on your ticket, you can only see them once.

This is how great Nightmare Before Christmas promises to be. At least when its almost-summery sister ATP hits the chalets next spring there’s hope (vain, in general experience, but hope all the same) that you might be able to sneak in a day at the beach between the diminished sevenths and experimental jazz. But at Minehead? In December? No chance. Of course, not a single one of the punters there will care, because who needs sand, sea, sunburn and kiss-me-kwik-hats when you’ve got the Kurt Cobain-endorsed Melvins, Japanese all-drumming outfit the Boredoms side project Mats Gustaffson and Eye, indier-than-thou legends Dinosaur Jr and noisescape maestro Alexander Tucker to choose from and then Wolf Eyes and Jackie-O Motherfucker to make your ears bleed?

You may not have heard of all the bands on the bill (if you claim you have, we don’t believe you or if you have and you’re not lying,at least try and talk to some other people,you don’t have to walk this world alone). But with names like Six Organs of Admittance, My Cat Is An Alien, 16 Bitch Pile Up and Ashtray Navigations, how can you resist exploring new ground?

You can stay in an authentic holiday chalet just like you’ve seen on Hi De Hi or that daytime reality show where they made teenage girls dance with 70-year-olds while boys had to layer their hair with Brylcream.

And as if all this wasn’t good enough already, you don’t even have to stay in a tent. No, at Nightmare Before Christmas, you can stay in an authentic holiday chalet just like you’ve seen on Hi De Hi or that daytime reality show where they made teenage girls dance with 70-year-olds while boys had to layer their hair with Brylcream. Which means that if you really want to, you can draw the curtains, lock the door and turn up your Bernard Gunter CDs to full volume while moaning about how headliners and curators Sonic Youth are more commercial than they used to be. New album Rather Ripped? It’s so accessible it’s almost Girls Aloud! And while you’re there, you can even enjoy the delights of a Thurston Moore-programmed TV. The future is Sonic.

As the music doesn’t start until late in the afternoon, there’s plenty of time for existential musings during the day. You could head down to the beach to recreate those photos of Pete’n’Carlos looking happy on a beach somewhere. Unfortunately, all the tourist info seems to indicate that the Butlins Holiday Camp is the region’s main attraction and you’re there already, but wander beyond the confines of Camp Sonic and you might hit such joys as the West Somerset Railway, some landscaped gardens, and – wait for it – well-known high street shops including WH Smiths and Woolworths, boasts the local tourist info. In other words, stay on site and nurse your hangover with some more local cider. Arthur C Clarke is the region’s most famous son, so you could always invent an elaborate fantasy world where Wolf Eyes are sinister aliens and radio signals from Venus have been trying to brainwash the world into thinking that The Melvins have talent. Only you can resist!

With more than 50 bands playing over the weekend, self-catering facilities in your chalet and Thurston Moore on the TV, there’ll be plenty to do to ensure you don’t get desperate enough to devise your own fun festival games, such as T-shirt A-Z and Indie-pop Top Trumps. It might not be Glastonbury (although it’s at least geographically close) but it does have electricity and hot running water. Even without Sonic Youth and Iggy & The Stooges, that would have to be worth it.

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More on Nightmare Before Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas 2006 @ Butlins Holiday Camp, Minehead
Nightmare Before Christmas