So yesterday marked my second ATP festival. After the disappointment of New Jersey I was pleased to see some more potential for bands I might like, though it was mainly about The Afghan Whigs for me. I would have loved for GBV to have played, but was pretty pleased with the replacement when I heard who it was going to be.
After meeting my friend Stoney for a couple of pale ales, I got the bus to Alexandra Palace. I’ve never been there before, and it’s really beautiful, you get some great views of over London from the top.
I got my wristband and headed in to grab an over-priced, barely even cold shitty lager and watch Tall Firs. I’d just got there but I think at that point I could have done with something a bit more lively to wake me up. They seemed like charming, affable guys, but their songs just didn’t leave much of an impression of me. Some nice guitar work between the two of them, but I wasn’t overly impressed. I then grabbed a very tasty slice of pizza and went to watch Archers Of Loaf.
Now, I’m on record as being a massive Crooked Fingers fan, but I’ve never really got into Archers Of Loaf. Their performance didn’t really do that much to win me over. Again, a couple of songs were good, but it just seemed like the kind of music that should be played by people a bit younger really. Fair play to them, they gave it their all but just didn’t really do that much for me.
Next up was Sleepy Sun, who, somewhat appropriately, I fell asleep whilst watching to be woken up by a foreign guy telling me “Don’t fall asleep man, the staff are wandering around” and then giving me some of his beer. Nice man. I somewhat enjoyed the heavy yet melodic psychadelia, but would probably have enjoyed more if i hadn’t fallen asleep. At this point I must add I worked Sunday night til about 2, then got up at 8:45 the next morning, so was justifiably tired. Also, I’d had five pints at this point.
I then gave myself a little break from the beer, got a pepsi and some chunky chips (great chunky chips by the way), woke up a bit, and was further woken up by the excellent performance of The Make-up.
I didn’t know much about them, and took a punt on them, was pleased I did. The singer had this amazing presence, frenetic energy, such a showman- but it never felt showy for the sake of being showy. The band backed him up admirably, the organ-heavy stuff worked the best for me, I guess they’re kind of punk gospel, so I enjoyed it more when the emphasis was on the gospelly side of things- one song the lead singer was literally held up by the audience for the whole song. Incredible.
I then caught the end of Tennis (awful), and bumped into Tim shortly before the Afghan Whigs started (lovely guy).
The Whigs weren’t great. The first 6 songs or so were really sloppy, they picked up halfway through, and the stuff from Gentlemen was especially good, but the more sutble, soul tinged stuff just didn’t work. “Crazy” in particular was a massive letdown- it was like the band couldn’t pull off a nuanced enough performance for the slower stuff. Also Dulli’s voice took a long time to warm up and sounded pretty shaky to start off with. He often sings off key- that’s kind of his thing, but I’ve never seen it quite so bad as the first few songs last night, especially singing in a lower register. I didn’t like the fact he was playing guitar as well- totally unnecessary as they already had two guitars, it just ended up as a big trebly mess- no bottom end at all. Overall, I would say just about average performance from them, and a pretty average festival.
So you’re going to stand in the doorway when there’s plenty of room to move further into the train, while a crowd of people files by, filling up the car. Then, at the very next stop, you exit through the door on the opposite side of the car, forced to push through the crowd to do so. Interesting.
But wait! There’s something more interesting still.
I stand by the door now - the pole position door for my stop. A big galoot in loafers and jeans and a tie looms nearby. Naturally as we near the stop he looms ever closer … (Why? What can this accomplish?)
I bolt out the open door and up the stairs, this maniac is right behind me. Into the long hallway, I swear to you, he breaks into a run! and runs by me, about 2/3 down then starts walking again. When I get to the street I see him run for a few steps again. He really wants to stay ahead! I decide I’ll out-maniac the fellow. I cross the street and start running.
My plan was to pass him then cross back in front of him. Unfortunately I never got to see what would have resulted, as right as I was about to cross he turned up the block. Ah well.
I guess it’s like this: It’s great that he drove himself to do what he wanted to do, illness, and TV and societal standards be damned. That’s to be commended. But the fact remained that “what he wanted to do” was provide a very bland, neutral, sterile entertainment, a style of entertainment that has a kind of basic dishonesty or denial of humanity built into it, and that clashed in a very stark way with his obvious frailty. So, it was weird.
We should be fighting tooth and nail against the constant smartphone twitch check culture and liberating ourselves from it whenever possible. “I like to know the time” is the sound of defeat. You owe life more than that.