Independent UK festival All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) is not your typical music festival. It is a wonderland, a community, a f&@*%-up carnival. At the ATP festival the cozy family atmosphere of the holiday camp takes on a distinctly Fear and Loathing edge when the arcade halls and water parks are overrun by overexcited and over-refreshed indie kids. The festival is now celebrating its tenth birthday with the release of a documentary film that details its one of a kind environment.
Photo courtesy Thomas Wilkinson
Incubator, a cultural project from the British Council, brought eclectic indie label Warp Records to Santiago in October for a week of music events concluding with a screening of All Tomorrow’s Parties – The Film, the documentary film about ATP. Incubator hopes to enable cultural exchange between Latin America and Europe – meaning more obscure European electro will hopefully be finding its way across the Andes.
Barry Hogan took the idea from Belle & Sebastian’s Bowlie Weekender at Pontins holiday camp, South England, in 1999. Each festival is curated by a different band or artist, which means that every festival is musically unique, allowing little-known bands to get exposure and giving festival goers the opportunity to see emerging acts that their idols find exciting.
The ATP film was created out of the same unique communal spirit, a far cry from the corporate sponsorship and profit margins of many major music festivals. Produced by Warp X, the film offshoot of Warp Records, footage contributed by fans and musicians is mixed with vintage film of Butlins and recordings from Jonathan Caouette (Tarnation) and Vincent Moon (The Take Away Shows, Arcade Fire).
The opening of the ATP film is a mish-mash of vintage images of holiday camps from the 50s and 60s cut to the frantic acceleration of Battles’ Atlas, and the film doesn’t let up for the whole 85 minutes. Featuring interviews and performances from bands including Animal Collective, Iggy and the Stooges, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth, a fan band playing squashed up in their chalet, Portishead, Animal Collective... the film perfectly captures the gleeful, giddy atmosphere of the festival.
One of the best performances of the film comes from a well-lubricated young man, sitting on the laminated counter in his chalet, playing an enthusiastic acoustic version of The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Maps in the ghastly early morning light. The film is not an exercise in music geekery but exciting, touching and, at moments such as these, extremely funny.
At what other festival could you touch Iggy Pop’s sweaty torso, tell Karen O that she looks just like Karen O in the toilet queue, or have a Warp X camera crew film your chalet party? The film is a thrilling tribute to the unique spirit of ATP festival. The only downside is that ATP is a long, long way from Chile. But all hope is not lost for ATP lovers in Santiago - Incubator will be bringing more niche UK music to Chile and Industria Cultural (the venue for the screening) continues to host hip events regularly at their club night La Unidad.
The ATP film is currently available for purchase and download at http://www.warpfilmstore.com/.
Industria Cultural: http://www.launidad.cl/