February 24, 2012


10 Reasons to Go to ATP Fest

Afghan Whigs
Afghan Whigs

I have two favorite music festivals: Bonnaroo and ATP, and they’re two very different beasts. Bonnaroo is a massive, humidity- and mud- and booze-drenched camp- and musicathon. ATP, aka All Tomorrow’s Parties, is the polar opposite. It’s an intimate gathering of hardcore music fans there to see left-of-center indie bands—the headliner is never bigger than, say, Sonic Youth. But as far as atmosphere, location and crowd, it doesn’t get better.

Which is why, for the past four years, I’ve made it a priority to go to ATP NY and now APT NJ. Until last year, ATP was held at the decrepit Kutsher's Country Club, the last of the grand Borscht Belt resorts in the Catskill Mountains, about 100 miles outside New York City near Monticello, NY. It was like summer camp for indie music fans: late night movies, a pond to canoe in, golf course, all sorts of fun activities around the clock and, of course, more great music than you could shake your beer at. It was an all-inclusive fun zone. Then, last year, the producers moved the fest to Asbury Park, a move I at first didn’t rave about. But after last year I’m sold.

I’m even more excited about this coming September’s ATP Fest. Word comes today that ATP, curated by the Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli, will feature performances from Afghan Whigs, reuniting for the first time in 13 years, plus sets from comedian Louis C.K., the Roots, Jose Gonzalez, Dulli’s partner in the Gutter Twins Mark Lanegan, Dirty Three, the Antlers, Sharon Van Etten, Thee Oh Sees, Hot Snakes, Charles Bradley, the Make-Up and many, many more. It’s going to be a good weekend, fo’ sheez.

So, here I bring you my 10 reasons to get ATP tickets when they go on sale February 27 at 10 AM EST at ATPfestival.com.

10. Beach bonfire. Seriously, under the stars on the beach outside the convention hall is the place to be. It was warm, cozy and lent a communal feel to the festival. So nice.

9. Sharon Van Etten. Her new album Tramp, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner, is fantastic. Key track: “Serpents.” 

8. The venues. The shows are held in the Convention Hall, which, a statement confirms, has hosted shows from Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Rolling Stones. Last year, Portishead sounded flawless. And the Paramount Theatre has even better acoustics, I hear from concertgoers who caught Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum there.

7. The Make-Up. The ever suave-silly Ian Svenonius returns to his politically-minded band, and their live performances are an everyone’s-involved hoot. Check out video of them performing “I Am Pentagon” for proof. 

6. Asbury Park’s boardwalk. It’s vintage Jersey. Who knows, maybe you’ll see Snooki.

5. Charles Bradley. This funk/soul/R&B singer is electrifying in concert—watch it! He struts in a snazzy suit and gives the audience hugs, and belts like Otis Redding. Prepare for ‘60s soul to come alive.

4. Steve Albini’s poker game. Because there’s nothing like taking a musicians’ appearance fee, am I right?

3. Afghan Whigs. Hey, reunions are awesome and so is their song "Gentleman." Plus, maybe there will be an impromptu Gutter Twins set with Mark Lanegan. And speaking of Lanegan...

2. Mark Lanegan. His new album, the so-apt it’s funny Blues Funeral, is a gritty-gorgeous masterwork—check out “Gravedigger’s Song”—and his band is top-notch; both drummer Jack Irons (ex-Pearl Jam and Red Hot Chili Peppers) and guitarist Alain Johannes (ex-Eleven and QOTSA sideman) are on board.

1.  Road trip! Seriously, what’s better than a final summer drive to close out the season?