All Tomorrow's Parties: Day 1

Barry Thompson is a damn flatlander and a music writer from Boston. He shot this video of Iggy and the Stooges performing “Shake Appeal” at Kutsher's yesterday. He'll be filing dispatches from the music festival All Tomorrow's Parties throughout the weekend.

Blame it on my coddled, urbanized realm of experience, but Liberty looks a shantytown. I had a hard time imagining that a few miles away from this anywhere-America setting for a Stephen King novel, Iggy and the Stooges would be performing later in the evening.

Several neighborhood school buses have been enlisted to shuttle the ATP crowd from their hotels to Kutsher's Country Club and back. During my first ride over, the driver was obviously contending with a personal crisis. The fuzz, she told me, had just nabbed her son with a negligible quantity of marijuana. Aside from that ordeal, she’s happy to help ensure the ATP goers’ safety, and described the sudden influx of out-of-town weirdos as a “down to earth” and “respectable“ bunch. Though unfamiliar with any of the bands playing this weekend, she cites Led Zep, the Stones, Hendrix, and Kraftwerk as personal faves. Which is sort of like somebody saying, “My favorite foods are cake, candy, milkshakes, and celery.”

After a gruff but helpful security dude directed me to the press check-in at Kutsher's, Mudhoney blew my face completely off my skull. During the half hour I needed to put my face-meats back in proper order, I settled in to partake of some excellent people-watching. This Catskills country club was crawling with every variety of 20- to 40-something-year-old archetype one could expect to see at a rock concert. It was clear from the crowd that ATP mixes up bands that were trendy 20 years ago with bands that became trendy within the last five.

We're all here for the music, but there's plenty more to do besides watch live bands. Kutsher’s indoor pool and arcade were open for business, and there was also some unsubstantiated talk of “luxury showers” for anyone who didn’t feel like cleaning off at their motels. Delightfully bizarre painted portraits by Tim Biskup and Eric White attracted curiosity from several.

I gave up trying to reassemble my face once I realized that the Stooges were just going to melt it off again anyway. As they plowed through their classic Raw Power and a couple of songs from Fun House, it was pretty remarkable seeing a 157-year-old vampire shadow box, spastically slither, almost knock an amp over, entice a quarter of the room to dance on stage, and bound in and out of the crowd with more uproarious fury than most people half his age could possibly conjure.

Later, outside by the pond, I got all awkward and shy introducing myself to Damian “Pink Eye” Abraham from Fucked Up. He autographed my reporter’s notebook with a superkeen eyeball picture. Then he told me that the time he sang a Last Rights cover with Dinosaur Jr. ranks up there with the birth of his son as one of the happiest moments in his life. (Abraham's also got a “things I maybe shouldn’t have done” list, featuring an appearance on Fox News and a Fucked Up performance at a wakeboard competition.)

Sleep are huge frickin’ dudes, and they were really good if you like stoner metal with lots of feedback and it doesn’t bother you if it doesn’t always feel like it’s going anywhere. After them, I watched the last half hour of Naked Lunch in the Criterion Film screening room. Then it was back to the bus.