by Hope WisechildPic: Mike
This month sees the last ever All Tomorrows Parties Festival, appropriately themed End of an Era.
The original and best holiday camp festival started in 2001 after promoter Barry Hogan had the radical idea to create a guest-curated connoisseurs’ music festival at Pontins. The event, curated by influential Scottish post-rockers Mogwai, was a gratifying success, and ATP soon gained a reputation for intimate, fan-friendly and delightfully unpredictable events, often with classic bands like Slint reforming specifically for the occasion.
By last year ATP was happening three or four times a year in the UK and had taken on America and Australia to similar acclaim. Notable guest curators have ranged from Sonic Youth or The National to Simpsons creator Matt Groening or visual artists Jake and Dinos Chapman. The New York event curated by film director Jim Jarmusch in 2010 would be hailed by Rolling Stone as “the perfect rock festival”. In June this year ATP Iceland took over a former Nato base, with cinema programmed by Jarmusch and Tilda Swinton, and performances by The Fall, Nick Cave and Deerhoof beside the cream of local talent.
Meanwhile, The ATP organisation, incorporated to promote the first festival, has branched out. A reputation for integrity and genuine passion for the music led to festival collaborations with like-minded organisations including Pitchfork and Primavera festivals and Criterion cinema. Meanwhile, ATP/Recordings, created in 2001 to promote compilations based on the festivals, is now a fully-fledged record label, the Don’t Look Back series of live recreations of classic albums continues, and the organisation was involved in the My Bloody Valentine comeback tour.Pic: OliverSpall
ATP’s distinctive vision and commitment to quality may have generated so many new and exciting spin-off projects that there simply isn’t time to organise them all. When the decision was first announced, Hogan said: “Looking back we have so many great memories – where else would you find Iggy Pop, Matt Groening, Patti Smith or Nick Cave holed up in a basic chalet at a Pontins’ Holiday Camp? …but it’s time to move on and look towards the future”.
End of an Era will be split into two discrete weekends, Part 1 and Part 2, between them reflecting every facet of ATP’s unprecedented success. The first, co-curated with Primavera, is headlined by a live performance of Television’s classic 1977 album Marquee Moon. Loop have reformed to curate and headline Part 2, which features Mogwai and Slint. Both weekends also showcase From ATP, a series of seven evocative short films, each documenting a vintage incarnation of the festival, and will culminate in a black tie celebration on the Sunday night. At time of writing there were still a few tickets available for Part 2.
The ATP curated festival concept is alive and well as the I’ll Be Your Mirror series of two-day city-based music, cinema and arts festivals, and there have been ATP guest arenas at festivals like Primavera in Spain and Pitchfork in the US.
To help ease the transition for us Brits there’s a pop-up London venue at Netil House in Hackney this month hosting a series of quintessentially ATP bands from Shellac to The Haxan Cloak, and Loop will follow up this last ATP with a short series of intimate reunion gigs across the UK.
It may be the end of an era but it looks like the beginning of a whole new one.