ATP Day 3: This time with more fog

Barry Thompson, a Boston-based music writer, has been filing dispatches from the music festival All Tomorrow's Parties throughout the weekend. Above, the band whose name the New York Times refuses to print plays "Twice Born." (Warning: We printed it, and several other expletives, below. Seeing as we're not the New York Times.)

I probably shouldn’t have likened Liberty to a shantytown a while back -- no Depression-era slums would have a Taco Bell, a Subway, and a Burger King conveniently located on the main drag. Nor would there be a coffee shop called “The Zombean,” which is totally where I would’ve had breakfast yesterday, except that it doesn’t open until noon. Is this not a questionable business practice? Don’t people usually buy lots of coffee in the morning?

Instead, I got my delicious spinach and mozzarella omelet at the Liberty Diner & Restaurant. ATP kids stood out like sore thumbs with deformed hangnails amongst the regulars, but they failed to ruffle my waitress. My “Star Fucking Hipsters” T-shirt couldn’t even draw a reaction out from her beyond mild bemusement.

“I’ve worked here for 18 years. S.O.S.,” she told me.

How is it that every highway-side diner employs at least one affable, world-weary workhorse who’s been there forever? How does that happen outside of movies?

I made the mistake of catching a ride with a dude who said he knew how to get to Kutsher’s, but he lied. Hence, I missed Kurt Vile, but not Fucked Up. Unhinged and infectiously overexcited as always, they had me fretting for the safety of all the expensive and fragile electronic devices I was carrying. Pink Eyes announced that he’d eaten an entire box of Count Chocula the previous evening. Then he fed the front row a bag of Count Chocula, and spent about half the set wandering around the floor giving piggyback rides, making faces, wearing a plastic bag on his head, and performing other acts of whimsy while the bouncy mob thoughtfully held his mic-cord over their heads in his wake.

Vivian Girls did a pretty killer set of hazy garage rock afterwards on stage number two. Anyone tempted to dismiss them as yet another overhyped indie-pop outfit is tempted to do thusly no longer.

“You all look tired,” Hope Sandoval told her audience. This was true, but no fault of the Warm Intentions. Although, it might’ve helped if they had played a song or two by Mazzy Star, the band Sandoval is best recognized for. It was sometime around then that I started thinking that day number one’s “Don’t Look Back” retrospective lineup would’ve made a better day number three. The Warm Intentions’ trance-inducing, ethereal dreamscapes make for excellent sleepy-time music.

Likewise, the non-pompous, technically astounding, neo-psyche metal of Sweden’s Dungen is easy to get lost in. I just wish the cerebral bands had showed up before my higher motor functions and adrenaline had been burned out by two-and-a-half days of rushing around Kutsher’s. Had Iggy Pop and Mudhoney played on Sunday, staying tired would’ve been impossible. Or, maybe I should’ve taken a cue from the party-pooped people going nap-nap on couches whenever the mood struck them.

At least Girls’ revisitation of 1950s and '60s romance ballads got me exited enough to scribble, “Hey, this is kind of the same idea as the Gaslight Anthem, except they’ve played more than three songs and I’m not bored! Awesome!”

I imagine when whichever member of Sunn O))) or Boris first introduced the Altar concept to the rest of the gang, his pitch sounded something like this:

“Okay dudes, here’s what we should do. Let’s put on druid robes, kill the lights, and crank the fog machine to the MAX. We want a fucking FUCKTON OF FUCKING FOG!!! There’s even going to be FOG billowing out of the room into the hallway. FOG, dudes!!! FOOOOOOOOG!!! All anyone will be able to see is the drummer’s silhouette and some colored lights BECAUSE OF ALL THE FOG. He’ll solo now and again, while the rest of us stretch single notes out for, like, thirty seconds to a minute at a time. Everyone will be so impressed by how pretentious we are that they won’t notice us masturbating uncontrollably the entire time because that’s what you do when you’re a fucking musical genius!!! Then we’ll be the last band on the ATP New York Mainstage in 2010!!!”

Fortunately, GZA’s allegedly massive ego came to my rescue. He (allegedly) refused to play earlier in the afternoon, as originally scheduled, and successfully twisted an arm or two to close out the second stage instead. Maybe he didn’t want to be perceived as opening for Wu-Tang colleague Raekwon, who performed right before Altar on stage number one. Maybe he just didn’t feel showing up before midnight. Maybe he demands strange things from people out of insecurity and he’s actually a sweet person with some control issues to work out. In any case, though Altar dwarfed his comparatively modest draw, GZA proved an angry, combative, and debatably awkward conclusion to the weekend.

Ooooh, and we sang "Happy Birthday" to T-Model Ford, which was fucking stupid. T-Model Ford is too badass to have a birthday.