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Ten Years of ATP - The Best of All Tomorrow's Parties


So last weekend I went to Butlins for "Ten Years of ATP", the tenth birthday party of the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival aka ATP.

I'm going to steal from Wikipedia to explain what ATP is all about.

Named after the song "All Tomorrow's Parties" by The Velvet Underground, it was founded by Barry Hogan in 1999 as an alternative to larger, more corporate festivals like Reading or Glastonbury, with a tendency towards post-rock, avant-garde, and underground hip hop, along with more traditional rock fare, but presented in an environment more intimate than a giant stadium or huge country field. ATP is a sponsorship-free festival where the organisers and artists stay in the same accommodation as the fans.

Ten Years Of ATP 2009

... Artists, usually musicians (but sometimes visual artists like Matt Groening or Jake and Dinos Chapman) are asked to curate the festival by inviting their favourite performers to play. The idea is that it is akin to dipping into the curator's record collection, or as Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth described it, "It's the ultimate mix tape". Steve Albini, a curator in 2002, has been quoted as stating that "There are three things in the world that I endorse: Abbey Road ... Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies; and All Tomorrow's Parties," while Mike Patton stated it was his favourite gig of all time."

That's me next to Iggy Pop

I've been to four ATPs so far; I would have been to more, but I only discovered its existence a couple of years ago - it's pretty underground. However, I'm proud to say that I'm one of All Tomorrow's People; you might recall me mentioning a film to which I contributed, also called "All Tomorrow's Parties" - well, that film is all about this festival.

If you've never been to an ATP before, I can't over-emphasise how good a fest it is.

It goes without saying that the music is fantastic, but this bit: "ATP is a sponsorship-free festival where the organisers and artists stay in the same accommodation as the fans" makes it a whole other world from, say, Glastonbury or Latitude.

Kim Deal of Pixies and The Breeders

There's no branding, no hard sell, no-one shoving leaflets in your face. There's no inaccessible VIP area, we're all staying together, and there's nothing more bizarrely wonderful than being in Butlins and seeing Four Tet buying loo roll, or having a grinning Mike Patton push in front of you in a queue, or watching Wu Tang Clan playing slot machines (these are real examples).

Anyway, for these 10th anniversary celebrations, past curators had been invited back as well as some of the most popular acts.


We managed to cram in shows by The Breeders, The Mars Volta, Shellac, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Battles, Dirty Three, Sunn 0))), Deerhoof, Tortoise, Mudhoney, Explosions in the Sky, Crispin Glover, The Magic Band (minus Captain Beefheart), múm, F*ck Buttons, Stephen Malkmus (from Pavement), Polvo, Afrirampo and Lightning Bolt.


Worst show was Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs - after coming on more than half an hour late (this is not the done thing at ATP, as the schedules are so tightly packed), her performance was comically bad, like a poor Nutbush City Limits-era Tina Turner.

Best music show was Tortoise - despite starting at 2 am, they energised the crowd with their glorious and beautiful set.

Deerhoof with their synchronised dancing, Battles with their exuberance and Explosions with their soaring guitars were a tied third.


Best non-music show was Crispin Glover's Big Slide Show. Better known as George McFly from Back to the Future, his performance consisted of the maddest, funniest narration laid over slides from various eccentric tomes he has penned.

Glover also screened "What Is It?", a self-funded experimental film of his, and the first in a trilogy, and which frankly disturbed the bejeesus out of me.

Warren Ellis of Dirty Three, Grinderman and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Most frenetic show was Lightning Bolt guest-starring Afrirampo - I'm so glad I stood right at the back for this as much drumming, crowd-surfing, screaming, and stripping occurred.

Best music discovery was múm - I'd never heard of this Icelandic ensemble, but I don't think I've ever seen such a captivating and joyful performance.

Best non-music discovery was Wizard People, Dear Reader - ATP has its own TV channel which it pipes into the chalets and one of the things they screened was this hilarious version of the first Harry Potter film with a spoof soundtrack.

Most fun experience was The Breeders' happy, singalong set followed by the birthday cake that they wheeled out and the subsequent mini-party for festival organisers Barry Hogan, Deborah Kee Higgins and Shaun Kendrick.

The Breeders ATP Birthday Cake

Coolest moment was when someone referred to me as the girl from the poster - ie the posters which were plastered around the festival to advertise the film.

Karen O even wrote on my face:


And last but not least, the most surreal experience by far was having Kelly Deal from The Breeders give me fertility advice, whilst we all knitted together in the bar.

Me and my friend knitting with Kelley Deal

All Tomorrow's Parties, the best weekend bar none. Thanks ATP!


More photos here
More videos here

Celebrity stalking par excellence

Me and Warren Ellis and Jim White from Dirty Three

Me and Kim Deal from Pixies and The Breeders

Me and the hubby with Crispin Hellion Glover

Kelley has her copies of Pure Evil II and All Of Its Ways - do you?

And if you're missing ATP TV, maybe this will help with the withdrawal symptoms:


Food Urchin said…
How comes you were on the poster and you met Crispin Glover too!?

Gah! *goes off and sulks in the corner*
meemalee said…
@FoodUrchin - I'm on the poster cos I'm on the cover of the DVD, silly. See, my face is on Amazon.

And we met Crispin Glover at the book-signing after his slideshow. Terrifyingly cool guy.
gastrogeek said…
that's IT Mimi!! You are now officially dead to me. Forever.
Suzie said…
Nice roundup! I've got a few photos from the knitting with Kelley Deal on my blog:
meemalee said…
@gastrogeek - I TOLD you to come to Ten Years of ATP. I TOLD you. Did you listen? Nuh.

@Suzi - Heh - thanks Suzie - I've left a comment :)
TrulyJ said…
And Kelley is holding our band's CD!

good memories mimi :) x
meemalee said…
@truly - Thanks sweetie x

Everyone - go buy "All of Its Ways" by milkwood - Kelley Deal has a copy already :)
stereowarren said…
True dat. Only thing I'd add is that SunnO))) were brilliant in their two sets. Disorientating stuff.
meemalee said…
@stereowarren - Cheers :)

As for Sunn 0))), I really appreciate the spectacle, but the last two times I saw them I thought I'd vomit up my lungs - something to do with speaker resonance I think ...
Anonymous said…
I'm going to have to show my OH this, he always talks about wanting to go to an ATP. Not sure if he's ever made it to one, but I know it's an ambition to go to the next one he can, although he's gutted he can't make the next two.

We went to Latitude instead a couple of years ago which was fun and broke my festival and camping virginity. It was a really fun weekend to be at but I did learn that camping does not a happy Becca make. Suspect I may enjoy a Butlins-y ATP more.