Live Music + Gig Reviews

ATP: The Breeders 2009: Day 3 @ Butlins, Minehead

17 May 2009

One of the best things about ATP is the TV channels that are available; one courtesy of ATP and the other with content chosen by The Breeders.

Last night we were treated to a stab-fest as all the best bits of exploitation cinema were compiled into one handy bite-sized chunk. This morning we get more exploitation in the form of reality show The Intervention. Essentially a series of documentaries about addicts, it’s a show that should be filled with pathos but is instead occasionally hilarious, and eventually inflicts a certain amount of guilt upon the viewer. Feeling suitably guilted, we watch four episodes before we get out of bed.

But eventually we set off to catch our first band of the day, Times New Viking, about whom we’re slightly apprehensive. On record they make a point of being ridiculously lo-fi, which might earn a few cool points, but when you’ve got a hangover the last thing you need to hear is a band that sounds like a detuned radio being hit with a steel girder.

As it turns out, all the fuzz and noise aren’t present when they perform live, so what you get is a bunch of quite lovely, if ultimately unremarkable indie tunes. Which was more than we were expecting, so that’s the day off to a good start.

Heartless Bastards on the main stage are another nice surprise. Normally alternative country and blues is something that can seriously bring down any buzz you might be entertaining. Heartless Bastards are more than capable of keeping that buzz going and giving you a proper kick in the seat of the trousers. Elements of Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde are particularly obvious, but these songs pound away with a soul and passion of their own. One of the highlights of the weekend so far.

On a pitch black Centre Stage, Melt Banana have wandered on to an electronic hardcore backing tape with torches strapped to their heads. They look like nightvision daleks. Exploding with waves of metallic guitar, jazz-metal fusion drums and vocals taken straight from a Chipmunks album, Melt Banana are phenomenal. A white hot ball of confusion and energy, it’s impossible to tear your eyes from the stage.

The Pavilion rarely sees the best sets at ATP, but this time around we think that maybe Deerhunter have pulled it off. Frontman Bradford Cox is on fire this afternoon, his vast, expansive songs fill the room with an inescapably hypnotic drone. Anyone passing through is ensnared and the audience swells and swells as Deerhunter’s set goes on. Kelley Deal makes an appearance to sing on one of these tunes, but even her presence can’t wrestle attention away from Cox. It might be an honour for him to share a stage with Deal, but it’s an honour for us to have his songs wash over us like an opiate tsunami. It’s a stunning set, and easily the best thing we’ve heard all weekend.

After yet another portion of chips washed down with cranberry juice (don’t ask) we make our way back to the main stage for Foals. Having followed Foals since day one, it’s interesting to see how they’ll fare on a stage this size. “Walter drank about 25 beers last night,” says Yannis, and we yawn. They play a tune and the little skittering guitar lines get lost in the room. In smaller venues Foals would inspire frenetic dancing; today they inspire us to catch Shellac‘s second set. For that, Foals, we thank you.

If Shellac were good yesterday, they’re great today. Albini addresses the audience constantly, taking a cute story about pretending to be an aeroplane and turning it into something truly disturbing. The riffs, as always are unrelenting and terrifying, and when Albini announces that they’ll be playing ATP in December, we make a note to catch their set.

Now the Pavilion has closed we’re here at the Centre Stage till the bitter end – or until Madlib come on anyway. Supersuckers are on next and are an absolute blast. Party punk and roll, they have riffs with killer hooks and massive choruses. If they had a horn section they’d be an exact replica of Rocket From The Crypt – if Rocket From The Crypt looked like a bunch of alcoholic cowboys.

Closing our ATP (although there are DJs long into the night) is X, the legendary LA punk band. John Doe, Billy Zoom and Exene Cervenka are on fire and this being their only UK show, we are eternally grateful. This is rock’n’roll as God intended, complete with pop hooks and lashings of attitude that you wouldn’t expect from a band who may have the odd bus pass tucked away with their passports.

Billy Zoom in particular is one of the highlights of this ATP. Guitar riffs and inspired inflections spring from his fretboard effortlessly and all the while he’s posing with a fixed grin like a cross between Stretch Armstrong and Max Headroom. It’s disconcerting. Some may point at X and say that their music isn’t really relevant today, and maybe there is some justification in that. But this is a band who inspire musicians and a doggedly loyalty from fans. So what if you’ve heard it before? The reason you’ve heard it before is because bands like X did it first. It speaks volumes that Kelley Deal emerges at the end of X’s set to swipe their set list, and it seems fitting to end a festival in the presence of legends.

So with X in our hearts and Xs for eyes, we head to bed. It’s been another amazing ATP. Roll on Christmas.

  1. ATP: The Breeders
    Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

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