Now some people go to the ends of the earth or travel to watch football. Not me, I don't know one end of a football park from the other but I do like to catch my favourite bands. There was one chance to dance with regard to seeing The Flesheaters on this side of the pond and the gamble paid off. Handsomely. The concept of going to a "festival", even for one day filled me with some dread. I’d been primed that All Tomorrows Parties wasn't like your average slog to a middle of a field but didn’t really compute as to how it could be. It’s held in a bloody "holiday camp" for chrissakes, It might even be worse but it was worth the risk which turned out to be no risk at all. It was actually something of a pleasure and I think I'd actually consider eating a whole one at some juncture, if the bill was right a la Las Vegas Grind or whatever. Pontin's at Camber Sands is like stepping back in time. Where 2500 actual music fans converge to see artists that I've largely never heard let alone heard of. Not smelly folk or drunks or junkies but actually ordinary individuals that all seemed to get along. I'll tell you, it's a pretty good feeling to stand at the front of a packed hall where the people all around you are singing The Scientists songs. Most of them seem like they should be too young but they know the stuff and they're digging it. Just along from me, Mark Arm from Mudhoney - who "curated" the Friday is standing in the middle at the front for at least half the set. This is a destination for people who feel disenfranchised by the live music experience. Where people can interact with the artists, far far away from all the VIP bollocks that generally drags this kind of thing down. Even the security was generally low key. So what I’m essentially telling you here is that maybe you should try one of these ATP things. You could well be pleasantly surprised also. It was good to be amongst friends, some expected and some not. You can have as much or as little to do with the music as you see fit.
It takes a few hours to adjust to the environment, wandering about. Not exactly aimlessly but something approaching that. I ran into my Slovenian buds, Bigor and Ziga just walking back from the beach. Now that’s something I could use some more of. Bigor’s Pankrti documentary had it’s triumphant world premiere the previous night back at home in Llubjlana but here he was in East Sussex. Ziga gave me a copy of his combo, Crazed Farmers latest (more about that soon) which was produced by Tim Kerr, who was playing the fest with his Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee. They raised quite the ruckus with their rabble rousing gospel-kissed, scrunched soul noise and gave the room a right sonic pasting.
So anyways, The Scientists third and final set of their all too swift visit was loud and clear. The twists and the turns of their visceral Creedence vs Suicide soup took the vintage recipe to a whole different level. There seems to be a very cohesive rock element which could thrill audiences way outside their considered demographic. There are people out there waiting for a band with a sound that could change their lives and these folks have it down. The distortion, the beats, the very pulse of fucking life.
So after that it was time to gather the senses for a bit just prior to The Flesheaters and who should I spot across the room but the Wreckless fella himself. Turned out he had played with some ex-Screaming Tree, Mark Pickerel in the afternoon when we were probably checking out the sands part of the Camber thing. Bollocks.
And finally The Flesheaters. You’d never be able to tell that this line up had only done a handful of shows since 1981. 98% of the audience definitely weren’t even born when they recorded “A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die” and this was (allegedly) the 25th anniversary of their disbanding. Imagine a dive where Santana meet the Sonics and bludgeon some avant jazz music hall into the failing air supply. And it sounded like they were having fun sticking it to the pre-Mudhoney throng. An encore of “She’s Like Heroin To Me” conjured up the spirit of another great lost LA renegade. Good ol’ Jeffrey was grinning wherever he is for sure.
It’s funny how things work out. If Nick Jones could have made it then it would perhaps have been a perfect day out but as you know we can’t have everything. It was above and beyond the call that Penny drove us down there. I’m hoping for another crack at the ATP experience down the road apiece and can unreservedly say that a whole bunch of people who would not normally touch such a shindig with a bargepole are somewhat in agreement. Who (indeed) woulda thunk it!
Scientists 2006/Photo by Vanessa Exton (Courtesy of Bro. T. Thewlis)