by Joseph Sarrington Smith
I was very sad to hear last week that the company running the ATP (All Tomorrow’s Parties) festival would be closing down and entering administration due to issues regarding funding. The most recent event was due to be curated by Drive Like Jehu, but unfortunately ended up being cancelled. According to a statement released by the company “all our other UK shows will have new promoters appointed and tickets transferred”. But it’s never quite the same, is it? It’s a shame because it always felt as though the ATP Festival was different to other festivals in that it was more intimate (think Pontins, rather than some 5,000 acre field) and less corporate. Furthermore, because the line-ups were selected by an established band/artist, you tended to get a lot of little known, non-mainstream acts, perhaps largely forgotten by the public.
Obviously, I appreciate that music festivals are not for everyone and I’m sure a lot of people would probably find the sheer size of most festivals quite daunting. But, having attended Latitude Festival back in 2009 as a performer (I was doing a show with the National Youth Theatre) I was struck by how much of a melting pot of culture it was. Truly, an arts nerd’s paradise! I loved how I could go from watching Grace Jones on the main stage, to listening to a poetry reading in the literature tent, and then watching the RSC in the Theatre tent, before checking out a Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine Q&A in the Film tent. And I didn’t even have to pay for any of it!
But let’s move on to the monster that is Glastonbury. The festival has become so huge that organiser Michael Eavis has recently talked about moving it to Longleat (although apparently only for one year…) You may lament the fact that Glastonbury has lost its political edge, but its popularity on a global scale is arguably unmatched. If you’re at Glastonbury this year and you’re not particularly interested in any of the big headlining acts (and judging by this years line-up, I wouldn’t necessarily blame you) you may want to check out the following:
* The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians with Damon Albarn & guests
I have no idea what to expect here, but it sounds absolutely intriguing and could be the highlight of the festival.
* LCD Soundsystem
Five years after the band played their “final show” at Madison Square Garden, James Murphy & Co are back.
* Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band
They’ve been described as sounding “something like Appalachian surf breakdowns or Middle Eastern hillbilly duels”. I have no words…
* Shibusashirazu Orchestra
A free jazz orchestra from Japan. Their main influences are 80s punk and No Wave. Expect them to be really loud.
* Philip Glass’s Heroes Symphony
Based on the work of Bowie & Eno, this promises to be both a moving and fitting tribute.