Photos + Review: All Tomorrow’s Parties New York 2009 Pt 1

Written by Michael Carr on October 5, 2009

Trying to describe the experience that was All Tomorrow’s Parties New York 2009 is a thoroughly frustrating task. It’s like trying to finally win that person you’ve been in love with for years.

You want to pour out all you’re feelings, tell them how you’ve loved them for so long, and all the times you wished you could’ve been together. You want to grab them and ask them to move in with you. You want to spend every waking hour with them.

However the problem is that by doing so you come off as a desperate, obsessive and pathetic coward, with somewhat stalker-ish tendencies, who didn’t have the balls to make a move. Really you’re better off just kissing them and seeing where it goes. You’re better off not trying so hard. You’re better off to just say ‘fuck-it’ and have a go.

With that in mind here is my ‘drunken-pash’ of a review of ATP New York. Enjoy.

So I missed The Drones and The Feelies due to an extended argument on the drive up with my satellite navigation system, or Sir Cuntington as I called it. Regardless of this fact I did happen to see The Drones a few nights earlier at The Bell House in Brooklyn, and judging from that performance I can confidently say that rocked their balls off. They always rock their balls off. I’ve seen them five times and every time they’ve left me a broken pile of sonically satiated flesh.

Anyway so the first band I actually managed to see were The Dirty Three, and sweet Jewish Jesus were they awesome. Joined by Nick Cave on piano and playing Ocean Songs the band were the best I have ever seen them.

Nick crowded the sound a bit and so it was hard to tell what guitarist Mick Turner was doing and what Nick was doing, but as a whole I’m hard pressed to think of a performance I found more uplifting and emotional. Ok well, maybe Sigur Rós and Bjórk, but talk about good company.

Warren Ellis spent a lot of the time talking to the audience asking if anyone had Ocean Songs on their iPod so they could tell him which song was next, or giving strange long introductions before being corrected as to the song order and starting all over again for the next track. My favourite moment was when Ellis told us he’d read on Pitchfork that The Dirty Three were seen by some as the father of emo to which he responded, ‘I’m sure that there are a lot of emo kids looking for someone to look up to, but I just think there’s probably some other cunt out there who can do it instead of us.’

Next up was Suicide. If you’ve never heard of them Suicide are a minimal punk band from the late seventies who made dark and disturbing music consisting solely of relentless drum machines and rudimentary synth pounding from Martin Rev while Alan Vega delivers what wikipedia describes as ‘muttering nervy vocals.’ It didn’t translate live.

I didn’t stay for long as I found the mixture of bad sound (their soundcheck involved nothing other that Alan Vega yelling ‘SOUNDCHECK!’ into the mic) and the bands age-weathered stage-presence rather depressing, but I think that’s what they were going for to be honest, as with Martin Rev wearing a loose fitting sleeveless top and ski goggles while Alan Vega looked like an old Italian pimp crossed with a wigger I somehow don’t think they were too serious about the whole thing.

Either way there is always something awesome about seeing two really old cunts do their thing.

Initially I found Animal Collective’s Panda Bear quite underwhelming, you know? Didn’t make an impact. Failed to grab me.

Then I sat down.

With the pain in my lower back gone and my ass firmly supported by a low wall I was able to relax. I often find certain artists’ music is ruined by having to watch them standing, as when you’re constantly struggling to keep a good spot while ignoring the whiny four foot tall bitch you just pushed in front of, it’s very difficult to just let the music and visuals soak in.

Anyway, playing with his eyes closed for the whole set while a parade of stunning and outlandish imagery washed over the screen behind him, Panda Bear built layers and layers of vocal loops and God knows what else into these wavering and tremulous, harmonised cacophonies. I could go on about this, but considering the build up of pretentious words in the last sentence I should probably move on.

Closing Day 01, The Jesus Lizard absolutely demolished everything when they took to the stage, with singer David Yow throwing himself and others off the stage into the crowd for most of the show, using what little time he spent onstage to wish everybody a ‘happy 9/11′ or throw himself and others around like a man possessed.

The crowd was nuts though, more so than for any other performance during the festival. There was an almost never ending flow of people coming forward, stage diving then coming back again. One man jumped up with Yow and was treated to an extended grope down the front of his pants. A woman started dancing with him only to have the dance turn into a game off ‘let’s-see-how-much-I-can-throw-this-bitch-around,’ before being jettisoned by Yow back into the crowd.

And did I mention there was no barrier or guards, just crowd, stage, band? So, as I’m sure you can imagine it was a fucking shit fight at the front of the mosh, and David Yow jumping on me every few songs, while exhilarating and entertaining definitely made staying upright for the rest of the weekend a much more arduous task.

And that’s where this part of the story ends. Look out for the Day 02 review, featuring Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens – Performing Seven Swans, Deerhunter, Melvins, El-P, Dead Meadow, Akron/Family, Sleepy Sun, Black Dice, Autolux, Atlas Sound, Shellac, Bridezilla and more.

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