—— ATP FESTIVAL CURATED BY THE NATIONAL AT CAMBER SANDS ——
IN WHICH ONE VISITS THE BEACH BEYOND MIDNIGHT, DARK DARK DARK LIGHT
CHESTNUTS, SHEEP, VIDEOGAMES
What feels like an age ago I bought a ticket to go to ATP Festival this winter. Time passes, houses decay and Mrs Ramsay dies in her sleep, and here we are in December. What a ride!
Thursday night, I went to the Dark Dark Dark / Lower Dens / Kurt Vile show in festively dressed Kentish Town, at The Forum. I stayed the night at my friend Luisa’s beautiful house with our friends Dark Dark Dark. We drank magic potion cooked on the stove in a ramshackle manner that came together like a dream, ate pasta, and I had Tiger repeatedly try to lie on my shoulder all through the night. Good kitty:
I really love the Lower Dens record ‘Nootropics‘ (released earlier this year on Ribbon Music), and having seen them live so many times through the years has been a treat. Four years ago this month, actually, I watched Jana play solo supporting Beach House at Cargo. I think she’s always been terrific songwriter and the band Lower Dens make fantastic music. I hate trying to describe music and also think it’s totally pointless when I can just do this:
Dark Dark Dark are one of my favourite bands doing music right now, and it’s also been a treat to see them live a bunch over the past couple of years. Our roof show we threw this summer was definitely one of my favourite nights of the year not least because we made some great friends as a result. I loved their set at The Forum hugely and think they’re such a brilliant band of very talented musicians.
I also really love Kurt Vile’s record from 2011 ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo‘… watch a video here.
FRIDAY, bag packed I hopped in the van with the DDD gang to ride down to Camber Sands via fried chicken. The festival moved there from Minehead’s Butlins which I found pleasing because Camber is in my “NECK OF THE WOODS” as one would say if one lived in a corner of the woods. South East is my homeland.
Because it takes approximately 10000 hours to ever drive out of London, we arrived as the sun had sunk into a different corner of space. The van has a blue light and it was akin to being in a (less spacious) spaceship. Pontins was effectively like us going into the holodeck, in that it was every bit as surreal and odd. Adam from DDD described it as ‘like being in a Christopher Guest movie’ which I think is a nice description too.
So now in the holodeck I Enterprise-d to my chalet which was maybe the most glamorous thing on the planet. I met up with my friends and watched Buke and Gase before my mood plummeted as a result of being hungry. Nobody wanted to get dinner with me so I slouched to the Sands Cafe buried in the arcade, which I affectionately thought of as the ‘seizure zone’. I had a stodgy lasagne which set in my stomach and solved the hungry-issue. Nona from DDD appeared and we voyaged to find the cinema.
The voyage took us off site to the local town hall, where we watched some of The French Connection. I felt like I recognised Roy Scheider from somewhere, specifically a horror film. I vibed on it being The Exorcist but it was actually Jaws. Maybe I saw William Friedkin’s name and got ‘the-sow-is-mine’ vibes or something. We got tea and visited the sand dunes in the total darkness. The security guard who we asked for directions to the beach was perplexed by our desire to visit the beach in the freezing cold at 10pm, but he didn’t know what he was missing! It was totally deserted and we marched towards the sea for a long time, the tide was so far out. It was beautiful. Upon return we watched Tim Hecker who makes very fantastic headphone music but I honestly could not get into it at Pontins.
SATURDAY, I ate a bacon sandwich from Nisa which I think was originally cooked in 1542. I also bought a whole bottle of ketchup because I wanted ketchup on it, that’s just how I roll – big spender – money no object. Nona, Marshall, Adam, Mike and I went on a beautiful expedition through the countryside to the wonderful town of Rye. Nona refers to the supposedly three mile walk as “British miles” because it definitely took longer than three miles normally take to walk. There were sheep aplenty. I bought nice old books, we visited the castle, ate roasted chestnuts for the first time in our lives (I reckon they just taste of potato but I guess I have a lowbrow palate) and heard organ music drifting out of the church. The others rode the omnibus back but Nona and I walked which gave us good opportunity to discuss how great Kate Bush is, obviously. It was lovely. Here is Nona at the church:
And here is a crystal appealing to my sense of humor:
Upon return to the holodeck I ate my spoils from the outside world (delicious pasta, squash and chickpeas — +100 health points) and watched the last moments of Kronos Quartet which sounded very interesting and I thought I must endeavor to investigate further upon access to the stargate known as ‘the internet’. Obviously being in the holodeck internet didn’t work very well and neither did texts.
Next, I made time for video games but honestly it was heartbreaking because Primeval Hunt didn’t work. ATP 2010: Leah and I ruled that game like The Fly rules gene-dominating teleportation mishaps. Here is Leah shooting herself in the face with the broken Primeval Hunt gun:
We made do and played Silent Hill instead. We got pretty far on a few coins but honestly, killing nurses just isn’t as fun or badass as killing raptors. Leah is much better at maintaining her cool while killing nurses than I am (I am reduced to screaming and shooting frantically).
Luisa came to join us in the holodeck and we went to watch Sharon Van Etten. I love and respect Sharon so much, and we’ve been friends longer than I’ve known any other of my musician friends, and longer than I’ve known most of my friends in general, for that matter. Since I was eighteen and just moved to London. She’s a hero – a true wonder and amazing woman. I loved her set so so much and I think so highly of the wonderful band she has put together. When I really love something I do this instinctive-snap thing, where my hands instinctively snap to my heart when I start talking about them (want to see? Ask me about Beach House) and Sharon is one of those snap-topics. Up my hands go onto my heart and I talk out of it about how much I love her and her music. This was the second time I saw her in a week (and tenth total I think) and I loved every moment of it. She really is a hero. //////// End mushiness.
Luisa and I went to Buddha Bowl while the DDD gang went to set up. Buddha Bowl is an excellent van which served delicious rice with crispy kale. As my beloved Woolf wrote (one of her thousands of truisms) ‘one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well’. So I dined well and I felt well and so it was, as time to watch Dark Dark Dark arrived.
They performed such a strong set. Their newest album ‘Who Needs Who’ (released earlier this year on Melodic) is one you should listen to, along with their older recordings also. The room was full and it was beautiful. Mark is a terrific drummer indeed and watching Walt play accordion and trumpet all at once is beyond impressive. I love them.
I was very sad to miss The Antlers as I had missed them all throughout the year for similar clash-centric reasons but I’m going to be there at their next show, whenever that may be, and I can’t wait to see it. I’ve seen them so many times over the years but it’s been far too long since I last saw them.
A while ago I bought a sparkly jumper for £2 which has become my most complimented piece of clothing ever (I never wear compliment worthy clothes otherwise, besides a very garish jumper my friend Laura gave me after buying it because it was so ugly) and bumped into my friend Jen who also had a green jumper on. Here we are:
I am wearing a jacket otherwise you could see the full effect of the sparkles (there are sequins on the shoulders).
Wild Beasts impressed me hugely with such a perfect sounding live show filled with energy, and I enjoyed what I saw of Suuns too.
Then Adam and I went on funtimes mission until the early hours of the morning, which involved air hockey first. I discovered air hockey is something I am vaguely good at (in a sneaky sort of way) so now I will list it as my first skill on my CV. I found Sharon in the pub; we took a trip down memory lane and she introduced me to Aaron Dessner, who produced and did a terrific job on her incredible newest record ‘Tramp‘ (released earlier this year on Jagjaguwar) which I feel is a massively special album that has a long long lifespan inside my heart. The opposite of a throwaway album… it’s a keeper indeed.
Adam tried to convince Jana to come to the dunes with us at 3am in the zero degree warmth but she said she has already been to other dunes, and so passed on our massively appealing offer. We went anyhow and made friends with the people we met on the beach. It was so dark that we could not see their faces.
SUNDAY, I read HG Wells, walked along the beach and had another bacon sammy from the 16th century. Being that I was a bit tired of the glamorous chalet, had been awake until 4.30am, have a job on Monday, and was in my homeland ‘NECK OF THE WOODS’ I opted to go home to visit my Nan and return to London on Sunday. I had a farewell trip to the Queen Vic with the DDD gang and we watched Pedro Soler & Gaspar Claus which was very charming, beautiful instrumental music, before I left the holodeck.
I love ATP. I honestly think they’re the best promoters around, in terms of putting together great bills and bringing people together over music; they love and care about music so much and you can really feel it. It’s no easy feat to promote a good gig, let alone put on a festival with three days worth of music outside of London, and I think they did a stellar job. Bravo indeed.
I haven’t written a blog in so long. Way back when, four years ago, I’d do half a dozen a day. I’m going to try to get back in the habit of writing about stuff I love. Back then it was fun because nobody was listening and I had no strings attached to anything I’d say. Time passes, houses decay and Mrs Ramsay dies in her sleep – things change. I’ll try to keep it real and honest and from the heart, always.