Yesterday saw Butlins of Minehead’s identikit chalet hovels overrun by a thousand ATPers for day one of The Fans Strike Back, and the usual tribes were out in force. A large contingent of blue-skinned doom-metallers took over the crazy golf course while long-haired pipe cleaner-limbed indie weeds nosed around the arcade machines and the chequered shirt shoegaze brigade set up camp in the Irish pub.
Cliches aside, there’s actually quite a variety of people here in the south west’s most dilapidated holiday park. Sure, a large percentage of people look like him with the NHS specs out of Raconteurs, but it’s a lot less indie geek that expected.
If you’ve not been here before, it’s basically a huge tented complex and some themed outbuildings in the middle of nowhere by a sea that’s forever a hundred miles of sand away. Alongside sits a network of basic chalets with just enough home comforts to see you through the post-party, pre-party crashing out, all arranged into crushingly cheesy nautical-themed streets (Reef Boulevard, Creekside Walk, Pelican Court).
There’s a pool with a flume that seems to go uphill, shops, a funfair, enough fried food outlets to clog every artery from here to Taunton, numerous kiddy areas and one of the best nightclubs in the world, The Crazy Horse. Well, the best if you love big open stinky carpeted spaces where everyone sits on the floor. It’s about five times the size of the Camber Sands site with about a third of the communal vibe.
This weekend’s bill has been part chosen by the fans in an act of democracy that’s thrown up mixed results. While no-one but the mightily baked NME photographer waltzing around the moshpit in a daze could explain the attraction of stoner grunge losers Electric Wizard, the likes of regulars Fuck Buttons were sublime. Taking their jungle fuzz soundscapes into a dancier place than before they were the ideal closer for the night.
Devo earlier were uber tight for a well-choreographed, immaculately-lit run through the hits that was almost depressing in its professionalism. A nagging part of me (having seen them already last year) couldn’t shake the Vegas routine side of it. As they stripped off the suits, threw out the bouncy balls and dressed in big baby outfits your mind can’t help but wander to the time period between now and when they first set out to change, or at least subvert, or at least devolve the world. Since their inception in ’73 we’ve seen two Bush administrations, numerous wars yada yada yada and they’re still a bunch of overweight 50-somethings in red flowerpot hats. Nevertheless, it was still fucking Devo live.
The other highlight from yesterday was M83’s synthy trip through the 80s that really got the weekend synapses crackling and culminated in the Balaeric epic ‘Couleurs’. Check back on Monday for that track as a free download and a video interview with the man himself after the show (or perhaps before if the prehistoric internet here can get off its arse and process a YouTube vid).
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For now though, it’s time to get very excited about Grizzly Bear, Beirut, Marnie Stern, Sleepy Sun and Errors. Hope they play this one.