Saturday in the Catskills ushered in a chilly preview of fall weather along with Day Two of All Tomorrow’s Parties. On deck were two stages full of bands hand-picked by the All Tomorrow’s Parties staff to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of their festival series (which began in the UK with the Bowlie Weekender curated by Belle & Sebastian in 1999). In addition to the two stages full of premium indie rock, there were also trivia games, a cinema organized by the Criterion Collection, a book club, a film discussion with Thurston Moore and Jim Jarmusch, and various other fun distractions peppered through-out the Kutshers Resort.
Kutshers is an aged relic of the Borscht Belt and serves as the perfect spot for ATP NY every year. Imagine the hotel from Dirty Dancing gone the way of The Shining and you get a good idea of what this sprawling complex looks and feels like. The years of wear and tear show on every surface in the place, including in the Starlight Ballroom (main stage) and the Dining Room (second stage). The whole place feels like ATP found this former Class-A resort in a thrift shop somewhere. It has got the perfect level of funkiness and seclusion to make the whole ATP weekend feel like you are one of the castaways in an indie-music version of LOST. I staked my camp in the Starlight Ballroom all-day on Saturday to take in an unbelievably cool array of quality acts.
Indie-rock elder statesmen Tortoise played the Black Cat on Tuesday night and treated the modest-sized crowd to a set that was representative of their career modus operandi. Somehow their set managed to be simultaneously laid-back and intense in a way that was as mind-boggling as it was enjoyable. Covering the lion’s share of their latest album “Beacons Of Ancestorship” Tortoise once again displayed their utter mastery of genre collision and band member inter-play.
A lot of articles online hail Tortoise as the “godfathers of Post-Rock” and while I don’t particularly agree* I do recognize and enjoy the sea-change impact that they had on indie rock in the mid-1990’s. No one on the indie landscape does quite what Tortoise does in practice or in sound. They are the ultimate instrument playing genre colliders. Tortoise does with instruments what DJs can only dream of doing with an arsenal of samplers; Tortoise swallows difficult genres (Jazz, Krautrock, Prog-Rock, Dub, Punk, the list goes on…) and reconstitutes them into insane progressive mash-ups that evoke their influences in brilliant, discordant, and challenging ways. The fact that they can do all that and still lay down a deeply enjoyable jam is Tortoise’s own special brand of genius. Continue reading →