Barry Thompson, a Boston-based music writer, is filing dispatches from the music festival All Tomorrow's Parties throughout the weekend. It's totally not his fault all the bands here have F-bombs in their names. Above, Shellac performing at Kutsher's yesterday.
I need to rethink my strategy, here.
It’s kind of hard to report on how locals deal with all the kooky rock ‘n roller ATP people if I keep leaving my motel at 1 p.m. and vacating Kutsher's at 2 a.m. The people who booked a room at Kutsher's itself could conceivably spend their entire three days here without leaving the premises. The main bit of local color I picked up on Saturday is that Kutsher’s internet capacity can’t handle 200 people all trying to check their Facebooks at once.
With notable exceptions, Saturday’s acts mostly fell under the modern/experimental umbrella, which is a very wide umbrella, and comes in handy should it ever happen to rain boredom instead of water.
Treats on hand ranged from Fuck Buttons’ mercilessly consciousness-expanding electro-noise, the technically impressive but fairly pompous post-rock of Explosions in the Sky, double-drummer prog/fusion from Tortoise, and some sort of renaissance-fair-style new-agey blah routine from Fursaxa. Also, it seems that T-Model Ford has been setting up a practice amp around the lobby and hallways and playing whenever he feels like it all weekend. He can do that sort of thing.
Fuck Buttons are two dudes who fiddled with wires and circuits and gizmos, and probably should’ve switched set-times with the also excellent Books. The latter played closer to midnight despite the fact that they’re better suited for contemplative afternoon listening. Fuck Buttons’ aural spectacle -- a volatile astral-haze decorated with R2-D2 noises, what sounds like rocks cracking against each other, and desperate screeches of sheer odium that would terrify Atari Teenage Riot -- could have incited a potentially apocalyptic dance party. Sadly, 4 p.m. is not generally dance-party time. Then again, who made that rule, and why should we follow it? Hmmmm.
A dude staying at my motel lost $10 to Steve Albini -- record producer and member of Shellac -- in a happenstance poker game on Friday. This crushing defeat made the aspiring record producer’s year. Albini ordered the fog machine turned off about two bars into Shellac’s first song, which fits with the band's posture as “minimalist." But they need to reconsider telling people that they’re “small.” What they actually do is take the simple three-piece rock band concept and blow it up to the highest level of madness and immensity possible. After their set, one of the many foxy western-European ladies present informed me that Shellac played way better last year, and that she considers their nearly 10-minute-long, paranoid tirade “End of Radio” self-indulgent. I know she’s right about the last part, but what’s wrong with Mindless Self Indulgence?
Er…anyway, as the Breeders and Explosions in the Sky did their thing on the main stage, action picked up down the hall at stage number two. David Pajo, playing under the Papa M moniker, dispensed legitimately minimalistic non-rock songs evoking mental images of things like ponds, deserts, and hailstorms. The Books maintained the relaxing ambiance with endearing noise-pop flourished by clip video-art. Then, back on the main stage, Sonic Youth showed up and destroyed the universe with LOUD.
I will no longer associate the word “grunge” with I Love the 90s on VH1. Instead, the first thing that pops into my brain will be a Sonic Youth show I saw in 2010.
A rumor that Bill Murray would take over duties hosting karaoke in the lobby at 2 a.m. circulated, but I couldn’t accept the idea that a millionaire movie star would subject himself to a task that even I would have found degrading. If I discover that Peter Venkman did indeed stop by after I left, I will cry for days.