Sunday was the day curated by Davendra Banhart. I had intended to make my way to the musical pub quiz scheduled for 2.00 pm. These plans foundered on the copious quantities of alcohol consumed the night before, and the deleterious effect of said consumption on my functioning. On eventually reaching a a stage where leaving the chalet was possible, I resolved to try an interesting experiment – to spend a day at All Tomorrow’s Parties abstaining from all mind altering chemicals, whether they be alcohol or adrenachrome cut with Japanese heroin. How differently would I discern the music without such things blurring my powers of observation?
First, though, I went for a walk along the beach, and ate a particularly vile repast of fish and chips that I wondered if shunning solid foods might in fact have been a better plan for the day.
As discussed, Devendra Banhart was curating today, meaning that there was a surfeit of folkies performing. The first act I saw were Espers. They were folkies. I seem to remember quite liking them, but nothing about them imprinted itself in my memory, suggesting that abstention from alcohol damages the memory. Vetiver are also folkies, and have a certain rep among Banhart-lovers for essentially being his backing band, even though they have a separate prior existence. They are a bit hairier than Espers, and I recall finding them fairly enjoyable.
Then I went downstairs to see Jandek. He wears a hat and is a bit more avant garde than the other acts on today. In general I liked him – this is good avant garde rather than bad avant garde – but I felt he could do without singing. He’s not very good at it, and the music seems to work instrumentally.
Bert Jansch is an old lad who sings and plays guitar. He is some kind of inspirational force to lovers of old-school folky music, and I was under orders to go and see him. He was playing upstairs, and was maybe a bit lost in the size of the venue, but yes indeed he was very impressive. I would like to see him in Whelans sometime, yes.
Folkie legend Vashti Bunyan played on the main stage too. Maybe you are aware of her story? She released an album back in the late 1969, it did not do that well, and she dropped out of the music business, moving to a remote location to concentrate on the bringing up of her children. Over the years that album (Just Another Diamond Day) began to be seen as a lost classic of another era. In the recent past it was re-released to considerable acclaim from the people who like that sort of thing, coaxing Vashti out of obscurity. She recorded and released a second album – Lookaftering – and now here she is playing a concert at All Tomorrow’s Parties.
I may affect a certain scoviness towards these folkie types, but Vashti Bunyan’s two albums are both very popular here in Carwash Mansions. So I was looking forward to her set, and was not disappointed. Her voice remains as beautiful and delicate as ever, and the songs all work perfectly as ever. Her stage demeanour is quite engaging, as she is both very comfortable in front of an audience while also coming across as being a bit *shy*. She also told us little stories about the processes that had led to the writing of individual songs – the unfortunate love life of her younger self seemed to be a recurring theme.
After that, I saw Ramblin’ Jack Elliott play the last song or two of his set. Oddly, it seemed very similar to that ‘The Plains of Kildare’ horse-racing one that Andy Irvine does, except it was about a different horse taking part in a race in the USA. Man, how many songs about horses are there?
I loafed around for a bit with yer man Ady from Vacuous Pop and his friend The Martian. Ady shouted “Jog on!” occasionally. The Martian was telling me about the importance of drinking lots of water. Hey man, I’m a former raver, no need to tell me. We also got talking to some guy who runs that Lazybird club.
And then Devendra Banhart. You know the old joke about what the Grateful Dead fan say when he runs out of drugs? I was a bit like that with Devendra Banhart. This is not music you can appreciate in an unaltered state, and as his set advanced I moved from a state of not liking it to actively loathing his performance with such an emphatic rage that it was a wonder I did not rush the stage and treat Mr Banhart to a stout pummelling. In and of itself the music was not so bad, except that it was the kind of sounds an uninspiring Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison tribute act might serve up. I could have endured if it had not been for Banhart’s tiresomely phoney in-between song banter. This was all “Hey cats, we’re gonna keep things mellow for a bit but then we’re gonna groove on out a bit”. And then there was his anti-war song, which was like something from A Mighty Wind. GRRRR! I am falling into one of my RAGING FURIES just thinking of it.
Still, you’d have to wonder if maybe I am the one at fault here. Lots of otherwise sensible people seem to like Mr Banhart, so maybe there is something to him that I am not noticing.
Or maybe I am hearing the sound of banjo strings tuning up.
Anyway, I was standing there having my nads ground by Devendra Banhart when I that the clock was nearing midnight, meaning that Genesis of the Daleks was due to start on the Bowlie TV. So I made my way back to the chalet to meet the young man you know as Braised By Wolves, where we watched the first couple of episodes. But then oh no! wor chalet mates returned from Devendra Banhart, and were all *tired* and needed to sleep and stuff, putting an end to our TV watching pranks. BBW went off looking for somewhere else to watch the dawn of the Daleks, while I went for walk and then crashed.
ATP runs for three days, so that's all there is to say about this year's, right? WRONG. Keep tuning in to Inuit Bikini Scarlet Carwash and you will soon get to discover what happened after the festival ended.