25 September 2009

All Tomorrow's Parties - The Film

All Tomorrow’s Parties
DVD release and download Nov 2

“For the fans, by the fans” is a phrase that comes to my mind whilst watching this lively, vibrant documentation of the first ten years of the popular ATP festival. Collated from hundreds of hours of footage of the festivals submitted by bands, fans and the organisers themselves on a variety of different formats, the film is more than your average concert movie.

Like the festival itself, the film plays host to a chaotic mixture of styles – with an emphasis on experimental guitar music – and the varying quality of the film recordings adds to this slightly schizophrenic, surreal experience. Snippets of live performances from the likes of Belle & Sebastian, The Gossip, Animal Collective and Iggy Pop provide the meat and bones of the film, but they are interspersed with a fan’s eye view of the festival. The editing is adventurous and imaginative - many of the clips look back to the traditional British holidays of times past that took place in usual ATP venues of Minehead and Camber Sands.

A sense of the festival’s character and personality really comes through; as ATP founder Barry Hogan states, it was originally set up to be “like a best friend’s mix-tape, only on stage.”The off the wall, easy going nature is captured perfectly, whether it’s Daniel Johnston playing to a small crowd in a chalet or someone falling off a balcony drunk. There are times however, when it all feels a little bit ‘Woodstock’ - too many shots of young men with long hair acting stoned.

Without a narrative or voiceover the film is somewhat disorientating and trippy, but as a tribute to a modern musical institution and the raw power of rock and roll All Tomorrow’s Parties takes some beating.

Rob Monk