You guys rock the holiday camp. But with rock eggheads [a]Sonic Youth[/a] on hand as curators, and the upscale campus of UCLA as a venue, it seems like America’s inaugural All Tomorrow’s Parties has real pretensions to the cerebral. Judging by the opening day of spoken word performance, you’d be right. But come day two, as a mohawked Eddie Vedder limbers for a rare set sans Pearl Jam, and breaks into a performance of what he calls “speed-thrash ukulele”, things are all getting satisfyingly odd. His performance peaks with ‘Satellite’, a new track about a romance between a wrongly convicted Arkansas death row inmate and his long-suffering girlfriend. It’s astounding. We’re not so sure about Catpower’s Chan Marshal, though. Hunched over her guitar, croaking like a 70-year-old blues singer, though it’s hard to judge whether it’s hilariously brilliant, or absolutely terrible.
Television dazzle with a set spanning everything from ‘Little Johnny Jewel’ to a life affirming version of ‘Marquee Moon’. They may be close to retirement age, but NYC’s greatest black-clad rock’n’rollers sure show young pretenders like The Strokes
just who’s boss. Unfortunately it’s downhill from there, as the Ashton Brothers All-star Stooges Revue – a supergroup featuring one J Mascis – proceed to butcher the legacy of Detroit’s favourite sons. A cover of ‘1969’, with[a][/a]
’s Josh Homme on vocals is plain awful.
On day three, Sleater-Kinney debut a new set of breakneck buzzsaw anthems, while seminal country-rock innovators Big Star spark off an outbreak of frenzied dancing with their nostalgic set of infectious pop. Meanwhile, a contrary – Aphex Twinplays a magnificent set of intense electronica from behind a plain white screen.
By day four, everyone seems about to drop – but not before Mike Watt ruins everything with an abominable version of Television’s ‘Venus’. Thankfully, the curators close the show with a brilliant set, sounding far more straightforward and rock than they’ve been in years. ‘The Empty Page’ is [a]Sonic Youth[/a]’s greatest moment since the ‘Daydream Nation’ LP, while ‘Mote’ is classic old-skool noise. Textbooks away, math-rockers: as Thurston says, this weekend was all about “hot licks, pure noise, and sweet thunder”. Bang on.