Sunday, 24 April 2016

All Tomorrow's Party

I recently had the intriguing experience of attending the All Tomorrow's Parties festival at Pontins in Prestatyn, Wales, curated by one of the only people I am sort-of-okay-with calling myself a fan of (and even that, I do carefully and on the sole basis that he hasn't let me down yet) - the comedian (and man) Stewart Lee.

I entered into this experience with highly mixed feelings, having on the one hand booked so far in advance that a frenzied anticipation was surely the only appropriate emotion to bring to the table, and on the other hand having been too busy being involved in both the staging of a play and a break up the previous week to even be able to think about the basics of planning for the weekend away in pretty North Wales.

Let me preface this by saying that I was very unfamiliar with the holiday experience that is a Pontins (or a Butlins, or any other holiday internment camp for that matter), but I did arrive with expectations of a somewhat dystopian fun-disabling compound - expectations which were far exceeded to say the least. However, exactly this proved to be a large part of both the charm and exhilarating surrealism of the experience.

One of approximately 4 programmes

I now present my notes on the festival (while almost completely refusing to comment on any of the actual acts because have you ever read any of my reviews?), or, more precisely, the first day of the festival.

1) On checking in for the festival.

"A polite queue with a view. Enhanced by moments of drizzle. Estimated number of programmes printed and handed out by ATP administration team: 4.
Rating of the check-in queue: 6.5/9.2"

"A vaguely muffled announcement: no chalet keys until 4pm. Mixed emotions. No word of 'welcome'? However, team proves friendly on actual contact. Success."

2) On first impressions of the compound.

"A feeling as if I haven't missed Banksy's recent Dismaland installation after all. Definite possibility also that the weekend will turn out to be another instance of Derren Brown trying to convince innocent members of the public that the zombie apocalypse is happening."

"The tea in the 'pub' is fragrant in the most mediocre sense of the word. But warm.
Rating of the tea:5.3/9.98"

"The toilet in the 'pub' proves exciting as it has a special exhibitionist toilet option for the kind of visitor that is more inclined to share (or inclined to share more) than your average holiday maker. It is also cleverly accented by the use of scalding hot water in the warm taps. Bold but interesting choice."

"The 'pub's' depressing atmosphere rapidly decreases by approx. 67% when filled with what must be most of ATP's audience (although little freedom of choice is involved here, as no one is able to check into their luxurious chalets yet)."

The only photo I took at ATP

3) Top 3 Top 3s (courtesy of Tom "Top3" Carroll)

Top 3 films!
Tom - Mystic River (2003), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
Sandra - The Fall (2006), Her (2013), Adam's Apples (2005)
Davey - Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Unforgiven (1992), Downfall (2004)
Michael - Star Wars (1977), Evil Dead II (1987), Brazil (1985)
Honourable mention - Alien (1979), because John Hurt

***Bonus quote from Tom Carroll, Prestatyn native:***
"Am I in Hitler's bunker, or Prestatyn?"

Top 3 "Songs not written by someone from Britain/North America"
(Subrule A: 1 per country)
Tom - Mexican Wave by Kerbdog, Vision Valley by the Vines, Distant Son by Crowded House
Sandra - Le Plat Pays by Jacques Brel, Das Modell by Kraftwerk, No Condition Is Permanent by Marijata
Michael - Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, Into My Arms by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Manhattan Skyline by A-ha

Top 3 books

Tom - Mystic River (Dennis Lehane), From Hell (Alan Moore), American Psycho (Bret Easton Ellis)
Sandra - House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski), Keep the Aspidistra Flying (George Orwell), The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
Davey - And the Ass Saw the Angel (Nick Cave), The Death of Bunny Munro (Nick Cave), Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)
Michael - A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole), Watchmen (Alan Moore), Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)

4) Band name ideas!
"Kylie for three quid"
"Curating Concept"
"The Part Where You Said Cunt"
"Crows in the Chalet"
"Pale As the Dawn"
"Counterfeit Man"
"You Would Have a Lovely Time in Prison"
"The Taste Procreates in My Mouth"

By the way, it would have been a lovely festival, had it not been entirely cancelled.

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