All Tomorrow’s Parties

EVENT: All Tomorrow’s Parties
VENUE: Minehead Butlins
DATE: 16-18/05/08
RATING:* * * * *

While I understand the attraction of festivals, I constantly find myself doing my very best to avoid attending them. There is only one reason for this, camping. As much as I try to embrace the idea of camping, I always find myself failing to do so, and certainly when I know I will be sharing a campsite with thousands of drunks who (as has happened to me previously) might just urinate on my tent.

This was why I was originally attracted to All Tomorrow’s Parties which takes place not in a field, but in Butlins. Yes, Butlins. The red coats had been replaced for the weekend by bearded men and more plaid than I have ever seen in my lifetime, not at all surprising for an event curated by post-rock heavies Explosions in the Sky. Post-rock is not a genre which seems to suggest itself most simply to a festival going experience, but the range of bands here was extreme and the talent exceptional. Where else would you find yourself forced to choose between Animal Collective and De La Soul?

ATP seems to have been designed with music at the forefront of all else. The sound quality was excellent and the bands were all at the top of their game. Musically, this was a delight for the senses. It helped that come four in the morning after dancing to Battles like an idiot, everyone could return back to their chalet and collapse into their very own bed. Of course the quality could play a role in its downfall; this wasn’t a group of musicians playing a collection of their hits that you’ve heard on the radio.

Moreover, post-rock drones are not always the easiest sort of songs to pick up on. More than once over the course of the weekend I found myself standing in front of a band whose music I have never heard of before, unable to distinguish as one song turned into the next. But this is far more likely a flaw in my appreciation for music than in the weekend itself, which allowed me to fall in love with live music all over again.