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ATP Festival Weekend Two (Pavement) 2010: Rated!


United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Jamie Skey | 19 May 2010

Overall - 8/10
All Tomorrow's Parties, quite simply, should be tried by everyone at least once. Don't be deterred by it being staged at a budget Hi-De-Hi style holiday camp. It needs to be tasted for its bold, unique and unpredictable line ups, its ability to attract a mature (with exceptions) but up for it crowd, and its dead friendly atmosphere.

This leg of the franchise, which is one of four that appear year round, is curated by floppy-haired indie darlings Pavement who single-handedly pick the entire line-up and select everything on the ATP-TV channels. Many bands will be unrecognisable to all but hardcore fans and you count the number of artists who have enjoyed mainstream success on one hand.
 
Between shows, some folk are getting more bang for their buck by sampling Butlins' attractions, including flumes, a wave pool, an amusement arcade, a cinema and a host of pubs and fast-food chain restaurants. The weekend's gorgeous weather makes it perfect to escape those happy prisons- i.e chalets - and loaf on the green with a pint or bottle of vodka, in hand.

Getting there and back - 7/10

People from every nook and cranny of the UK have scuttled down to the Somerset beach resort. Many have already made this particular pilgrimage a handful of times; such is the reverential respect this festival has built since its inception in 1999.

By car, Minehead is relatively simple to find. It is signposted well from the M5 and A-38/39. Once off the motorway, the roads snaking through nearby towns and villages can be quite narrow and windy. But the route is scenic, alive with thick vegetation and verdant rolling hills.

Public transport-wise, the nearest train line to Minehead is Taunton. A bus transfer service operates between Taunton and Minehead for an extra fee.

The site - 6/10
The festival’s main arena feels like a trashy American mall,  totally incongruous with the festival's artistic integrity. Cheap neon lights flash above shop windows that display all manner of seaside tat. Art students wait in long queues for Burger King and down the hallway kids fritter money away on arcade games and slot machines. No drum circles or chai tents or healing fields here.

But by-jove it's a welcome novelty to have a comfy bed (or a sofa, depending on whose place you've crashed), a kitchen and a shower you don't have to wait hours for at a festival. Surprisingly, being sectioned off in happy prisons doesn't make the experience any less social, as most people wander around among stray ducks and rabbits in the sunshine, flitting from chalet party to chalet party.

Atmosphere – 8/10

ATP attracts roughly 6000 people wildly fanatical about music. This is its most outstanding feature. The way people are so music obsessed makes the whole event feel like a convention. If you're at home over-analysing the finer points of obscure indie bands with other like-minded folk, this is the place to be.

Even though many of the bands appearing this weekend are soft and docile compared to previous ATP's, the vibe is charged with sincere camaraderie and alcohol. Luckily, one doesn't have to queue hours for a pint, as there are plenty of watering holes on offer.

Uppers:

Calexico - 8/10

Calexico are the perfect accompaniment to the softening evening sun on Friday evening. Their laid-back, warm breeze of Mariachi-style music wafts across the main arena, suffused with lilting country melodies, tight brass, and plenty of 'O-LAYS'.

Broken Social Scene - 7/10

Following Calexico, the crowd are treated with a glorious wall of sound courtesy of BSC. There seems to be ten of the Canadian collective on stage, but it is hard to tell as they all wander idly on and off throughout the set. Their sound is more poppier than their older spacey stuff, with layers upon layers of reverb and grand full-band vocal harmonies.

Pavement - 7/10

Nobody is billed while Pavement are playing on Saturday evening. Thus, the main arena is rammed when the highly influential college radio hipsters arrive. They are certainly more playful than expected, inspiring the biggest sing-a-long session of the weekend.  They roll out about 30 tracks spanning their oeuvre, including classics like 'Cut your hair,' 'Shady Lane,' and 'Here.'

Omar Souleyman - 7/10

It’s hard to know what to make of Syrian dance-folk legend Omar Souleyman, but he does get the Reds stage audience pumped on Saturday night. His music is distinctly eastern, with Arabic-styled vocalisation. Yet behind the soundtrack is a thumping house beat, which induces the sizeable crowd to dance like loons.

Boris - 8/10

Japanese noise-mongers seem to be the only metal band of the weekend. Their expansive, bottomless sound is crushingly heavy, and then in a stroke, when you least expect it, everything turns soft and meditative. Beautiful.

Downers

The Raincoats - 4/10

British post-punk girl band The Raincoats are disappointing. They've attracted Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus, but even he looks bored. There is no punch to their songs and they thrum out a fairly lack-lustre delivery.

The Fall – 3/10

Mark E Smith has got to be passed his sell by date now. He mumbles incoherently through a set of largely new tracks. His backing band, although muscular, punky and tight, play second fiddle to Smith's rambling stupor.

Random events

Oyster Bay parties

When the festival closes down, the party stays strong every night around the Oyster Bay area while Lady GaGa is pumped out 'til dawn.

Petanque
The excellent weather calls for team games on the lawn. Yet some guys around the back of Oyster Bay chuck their metal French boules from the third storey of their chalet balcony.

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