(review by Discordia)

While all of you useless layabouts slept soundly in your plush cardboard boxes with your fancy newspapers covering your diseased, wasted limbs, I was fighting motion induced nausea in the back of a car filled with miscreants, rock stars and party fiends on my way to Butlins in Minehead for All Tomorrows Parties ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’… read on young Jedi…

ATPATP – THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS!

Sales of Converse and plaid shirts skyrocketed around the weekend of 5 – 7 December 2008…

Yes folks, it was All Tomorrows Parties (ATP) – The Nightmare Before Christmas, hosted by the genii (which would be the plural of genius. I think) that are Mike Patton and the mighty Melvins. A smorgasbord of awesome, groundbreaking and undeniably influential music was offered to the shaggy haired crowd, from the soul shaking sludge of the Melvins to the psychedelic punk of The Damned.

Oh yes, it was marvellous.

FRIDAY

We began the weekend at the ungodly hour of 3.30am, rising up from our beds like the living dead, reversing the usual trend of collapsing into them at a similar hour. Converging at Casa Carpet, our bleary eyed staggering forms couldn’t muster up enough energy to drink a cup of coffee properly. All present and correct, we boarded our mechanical transportation devices and headed out on the open road for one of the FUNNEST car journeys ever (same on the way back). Julian (the bass player from the awesome Carpet) is very entertaining – giant Labradors with third eyes emerging from their foreheads, calling you to them… calling you… MWAHAHAHA! Genius.

The five hour journey – with a pit stop in Brum – went swimmingly.

I’ve not been to Butlins before (if I have, I’ve blocked it out). I didn’t grow up in a holiday camp family. We went to Pompeii in Italy to look at the dead people once, and anyway, why go on holiday when you live in a place like Chirk (where I grew up)? Castles and viaducts and graveyards and haunted woods – everything the spooky kid needs to keep them entertained! Holiday camps to me always seemed like a mixture of Hi-De-Hi and Nazi Death Camps.

Arriving at Butlins, I was glad to see that confirmed.

Butlins in Minehead is like Rhyl with a fence around it – rickety, expensive, dirty in the corners and overrun by fucking seagulls. BUT, it was more than wonderful to not have to pitch a tent. Entering the warm chalet with bed and shower and heating and TV and tea and fucking coffee was brilliant – ALL festivals should be like this! I think once you’re over that hill of 25 *cough – and the rest Jen!* you need a bit of comfort.

The TV had two channels programmed by Mike Patton and the Melvins, which meant that all day and all night you could watch The Jetsons, The Simpsons, Bottom (for some reason – Mike Patton compares it to Waiting for Godot!); and movies ranging from the insanity of Spider Baby to the heartbreaking, stomach churning brilliance of Irreversible. Amazing stuff. The on site cinema was also programmed by ATP.

So, we got unpacked and settled, and after a quick (hilarious) trip to Tesco, the mass consumption of intoxicating substances began.

Then, it was off for the first band…

Melvins 1983

Into the time machine chaps and back to 1983 to see the first incarnation of the Melvins. I’ll admit it (and so will everyone else methinks) – we were all a bit hammered. BUT, they did rock muchly. I didn’t recognise a damn thing – heck, it’s ALL good! Great way to kick things off – brutal!

(These reviews do get better!)

Then onto

Big Business

Who I’m afraid I have no recollection of at all, but I do have video of, and the video tells me they were very good.

The rest of that day was unfortunately a write off… but there was always…

SATURDAY!

Woke up bright and early and went for an exploratory walk around. Found a little arcade behind the pirate themed miniature golf and within that arcade a Japanese drumming game that kept us insanely entertained for a bit – thankfully my excessive Rock Band experience helped with my timing. BANG! Got a Burger King breakfast and watched King Buzzo carry his own guitars past to the Centre Stage venue – keeping it real as always. Popped up to the Carpet Chalet to collect the collective and made our merry way back to Centre Stage to watch

Junior Brown

WOW! I’m in LOVE! Awesome, awesome, AWESOME! Stood centre stage in a ten gallon hat, his modified guitar on a stand before him (check him out on YouTube to see what I mean!) and backed up by a two piece bass and drum (not drums, I think it was only one drum which he was playing with two basting brushes. I’m not very technical I know), Junior tore through some of the most toe tapping, booty shaking and fucking hilarious country tunes I’ve ever heard. Sounding like Johnny Cash, his deep Southern singing voice and extraordinary guitar playing blew me so far away I’m still picking bits of my front out of my back.

‘You’re wanted by the po-lice, and my wife thinks you’re dead.’

Brilliant stuff.

Gave Mastodon a miss, and then…

Melvins

The current line up ploughed through their sludgy, doomy, heavy as an elephant, punch in the gut set with barely a pause for breath. The two drummers were amazing to behold as they beat their drum-kits harder than Chinese Algebra. Brill.

Butthole Surfers

Ah, Gibby, you fucked up little monkey with your saxophone and your weird little rants. I love the Butts lots, and they were all kinds of brilliant to behold live. Backed by a video wall of random imagery, film clips and cartoons and bathed in alternating mood lights and vicious strobes, their set was an aural assault peppered with Gibby’s insane little ramblings. Excellent.

Fantomas playing The Directors Cut

I’ve loved Mike Patton’s musical offerings since back in the Faith No More days when I was a teenager, playing Epic over and over and really wanting a pair of boxing gloves. The Directors Cut is a fave album of mine – I like to listen to The Omen while I walk through the cathedral graveyard at lunchtime. Gets me in the mood for a satanic sandwich. Watching Fantomas play The Directors Cut in its entirety was an experience I’ll take with me to the next dimension. It was exquisite. The quality of the musicianship was extraordinary! Every track was aural perfection and I stood captivated, unmoving and slack jawed, throughout the 45 minute set. Mike ended by thanking everyone. Thanks to you too Mike, for being a fucking genius.

Decided to skip Neil Hamburger and eat hamburger instead.

Next up…

Rahzel

Missed the first ten minutes of his set. Fair does to the boy, he can sure beatbox. The pounding bass causing the floor to vibrate when we walked in was coming from his face. He had a DJ who spent most of his set drinking water and clapping in the air – all the tunes came from Rahzel himself. The man can beatbox the bass line, verse, chorus and lyrics of a song… at the same time. SERIOUSLY! It’s like some Heroes style power he has. You can hear the bass coming from his throat, but he’s singing too! HOW? HOW?!?!?! His version of Iron Man was awesome as was his turning into Optimus Prime (vocally anyway) halfway through. Not so much a ‘set’ as an experience I may never have again.

‘No you cunt!’

Brilliant.

And then there was

SQUAREPUSHER

I lasted for about half an hour before my brain starting bleeding from my eyes. I LOVE Squarepusher but was so monumentally tired by the time he came on I couldn’t take the beats! (And as a result missed Come On My Selector which I’m extremely gutted about.) What I did see was exciting both visually and aurally – he plugged in his bass and a huge video wall behind him lit up in time to the music. It was some kind of pounding, dance beat infused jazz fusion nightmare. Shame my brain meats died under the weight of it.

LONGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG sleep, and then…

Sunday!

Started the day with a bit of Vocal Sampling

Who were very good but there’s only so much of that kind of thing I could take. No instruments except for themselves, they were impressive, but my cup of tea? I think not.

Bernard Parmegiani

On the other hand, was very much my cup of tea. A specially rigged up room with him – 81 years old, white beard and gentle face – stood at the mixing desk. People filed in and sat on the floor, waiting. Suddenly, he unleashed a dark sound-scape David Lynch would be proud of. Ominous periods of silence pitted with bells and chimes and rumbling echoes from the very depths of the void. A disturbing soundtrack to a twisted dream. Laying on the floor, I was lost to it, closing my eyes to the room and allowing the sounds to create images in my head. Dark things. Wonderful. If I ever make that horror movie, he’s doing the soundtrack.

Farmers Market

Did my head in for five minutes.

Then popped in to see a bit of the Butts doing their second set of the weekend – a considerably more subdued Gibby and a better version of Too Parter. Nice. Jumped out before Fantomas to go back to the chalet for some Top Gear, pizza and rum.

Skidded back into the venue for the last five minutes of the Melvins’ second set, then got nice and comfy at the barrier for The Damned.

The Damned

I’ve been passionately in love with Dave Vanian since I was little. I was watching The Young Ones on TV and they played Nasty. I remember looking at Dave Vanian and his long black hair and little skinny legs and thinking – I want one of those. Thankfully, I fell in love with the song too. Five hundred years on and I STILL love The Damned. This was the second time I’ve seen them play live, and they were fantastic fun. Dave – less Prince of Darkness and more Evil Lounge Singer nowadays – strutted centre stage in a tux with his short black hair slicked back so the white streak could show. Captain Sensible to his right, Monty Oxymoron to his left. Many awesome tunes both old and new ensued – the new stuff is great too – Dark Asteroid being dedicated to Syd Barrett and played with passion. Have to get that new album… anyways, I enjoyed it immensely. (And he SO wants me. He stared at me so hard I thought my boobs would burn off under his eye lasers. Blowing me kisses and wiggling about in my face. I SO would. I’d ride him like a donkey down Brighton beach till his legs came off. Sorry, I am sorry, but I can’t help it! I’m going off point aren’t I? Sorry!) So yes, they were great, even though Captain Sensible was yet again compelled to not only make us endure fucking Happy Talk, but he also pulled his pants down gave us a face full of arse, and a little willy poking about too! Then he humped the tech guy and they were gone!

FUCK THE POPE!

And then sleep.

Monday morning rose like Count Dracula and bit me right on the arse. Lots of stumbling about and being naggy ensued until eventually we were all together, back in the car, and on our merry ways yet again.

Everything smelt of cheese for some reason.

And then, after about six hours, we got home and indulged in a cup of tea and an early night.

I highly recommend this festival. The line-ups are always wonderful, and it’s far more comfortable than the usual tent, field, noisy neighbours and bacteria infested shitters (of every damn festival I’ve been to) – nothing beats a comfy bed, shower and flushable toilet of your own. The TV channels are inspired – what a fantastic idea! There are loads of places to eat and drink and lots of arcade machines to waste your money on if you’re that way inclined. The line up was extraordinary. The venues were great and the acoustics spot on. It was brilliant to see such inspirational musical legends wondering around like normal people – I brushed against Mike Patton! Holy moly!

Maybe some of his cells will merge with mine?

So that was that. Time being relative, and generally being perceived as shorter when fun is being had, went far too quickly.

Would I go again?

Try and fucking stop me!

Oh yes, I made a video of my joyful journey that can be found at the link below – I have got footage of the entire Fantomas set but not enough room to add it to this video… enjoy.