Alexander Tucker was accompanied by his friends Decomposed Orchestra who backed up his looped cello and guitar based songs with grace and subtlety. He played a song called "Atomised" whihc was synchronous with me having my Big Black "Atomizer" cassette in my pocket, which I'd show people, remarking that I'd bught it in 1987 and it still plays just fine, yet CDRs I burned five years ago no longer play at all. People gathering respected the relative quietness of his perfromance and didn't shout at each other like a pack of durnken cockney baboons, so I guess he was fortunate in getting an early pre-pisshead assholism slot. A lot of people missed him and Bardo Pond though, and I kept hearing people complain that Bardo Pond had played so early in the day. Maybe they could have played two sets like Shellac? They certainly have enough songs to play a completely different set every day they were in the country. Bardo Pond were fucking awesome. They dedicated the entire set to Jack Rose. What better epitaph could a man desire? Somewhere in outer space the immense gravitational pull of their slow heavy music was picked up by an alien spacecraft on a mission to boldly search out the most beautiful music in the universe. They promptly set a course for planet Earth. "Tommy Gun Angel" might have been the song most suited to epitaph status, as its about the feeling singer Isobel Sollenberger got when her dog Tommy Gun died, as if his soul moved through her on its way out. When a roadie indicated to guitarist John Gibbons that there was time for just one more song, they launched into a stellar new one that went on a hell of a long time, for which I felt thankful.
I was once sent a scratched promotional CDR of a Growing album that skipped and glitched. I thought it was quite likely it sounded better that way. I think I saw them at a Camber Sands ATP, but they aren't all that memorable. Their music is OK as an ambient backdrop to wishing you had a Mogwai album on instead, but amplified loud doesn't register much enthusiasm in my megamusicmind (TM). One of them played a bass guitar, and I think this must be the way forward for music in the twenty-first century.
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks were loose and fun on the Pavillion, jamming out a fair old number of new numbers after starting with that song about Yule Brinner from his first solo album. He amused me by passing judgement on the monitors at Manchester's Deaf Institute where he played earlier in the week. Apparently he couldn't hear himself strum. I thought I spotted my old friend Karren Ablaze groovin' near the front, lost in music. She once asked Stephen to marry her, and he replied, "karren, you're too young to get married." Despite enjoying the Jickery well enough, it wasn't hard to tear myself away to listen to J.
J Mascis and the Fog could be in some kind of eternal indie rock yin yang conflagration with S Malkmus and the Jicks. I have every album by both bands, and their superior old/reactivated bands Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. Both bands played in Manchester on the same night in different venues and then repeated the clash at Butlins, so I missed the first song or two of the Fog set. Maybe they should hit the road together and swap bands. Would J Mascis and the Jicks sound better than S Malkmus and the Fog? Those who'd seen the full Fog set both weekends told me he'd played the same songs each time, with three Dinosaur Jr tunes (Thumb, The Wagon and So What Else is New). I reckon they should have just kept on jammin' for hours as there were no other bands booked to play upstairs for an hour and a half after them. It'd certainly have been more fun than the damp squib about to blubberpuppy downstairs.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs arrived late because Karen O's hairdresser broke down. They called the audience bitches for booing their absence and then played their first and best album from start to finish, ruining it entirely and making me not want to listen to them ever again, although this has unfortunately proved impossible. Wherever I go in Manchester now it seems someone has the third retro electro Yeah Yeah Yeahs album "Ain't No Blondie" playing. Nick Zinner spoiled short rock'n'roll songs by playing the riffs way too long before the actual song kicked in so that the riffs got boring. Karen O danced across the stage like a woman with a hot poker up her arse, wearing a studding leather jacket that read KO. They were far from a knockout but got a four song encore anyway when they wheeled on a bassist and a keyboard and played some of their crap newer songs. They were so inept they had to abort the first one and KO pathetically begged the crowd to tell her band they loved them. If Tortoise or Shellac had been playing upstairs whilst this sad spectacle unfolded, maybe they'd have had found out how much the indieground realy likes them? I guess no other bands were playing at the same time as the promoters might not wanted to have dented KO's ego by giving punters a choice of better music (unless of course fucking Fuck Buttons had been playing upstairs). You don't catch bands like Tortoise and Shellac begging the crowd to love them do you?
Six Organs of Admittance were a sweet relief after the sordid spectacle of overblown egos jacking off in public. They seemed to have lost the woman from Magik Markers, but then again it could be that she was hidden behind the PA as I was watching from the farside of the room. They seemed much more focused than their earlier gig in Salford, where they'd blown one of Gnod's amps.
There was a great big queue to get in to see the mediocre Fuck Buttons but I suspect, like me, many were getting in early to guarantee a full Tortoise experience. On Centre stage the nodding dog roundabout boys were louder and all the worse for it. Their first album is OK as an ambient background. Live their shitty drum machine sounds repulsive cranked up and monotonous. Why people rave about them is beyond me, but they are not without merit; the occasional nice melody surfaced and the anyone-could-do-that noise was passable, but they perpetually banged on the same beat way too long, in desperate need of an editor.
Tortoise were a different beacon of musical prowess entirely. It was getting late and tiredness was catching up, sending me into a hypnotic trance as I listened to the first half of their set seated. They made me realise I had to get on my feet and head closer to the action. They switched instruments, multiplied rhythms and played most of their excellent recent album. They saved the best 'til last when they got a much shorter encore than Primma Donna and Her Yeah Combo. Making the most of it, the furious free guitar storm "Seneca" erupted and calmed and they sent everyone clapping along to the rhythms of freedom and musical brilliance that ended the night on such a high not that not even Karen O's trendy tye dyed pet chihuahua could hear it. Somewhere out there it reached a distant starship and spoke well of the human race.
I got locked out of my hotel and ended up sleeping on the couch in Mum's chalet, so a big thank you to them and Siggi!