Recently took in the well-conceived All Tomorrow’s Parties documentary – a film incorporating Super8, camcorder and mobile phone footage contributed by filmmakers, fans and musicians from the cult festival’s history with major contributions from Jonathan Caouette and Vincent Moon. Featured in the film are performances from Battles, Sonic Youth, Belle And Sebastian, Patti Smith, Animal Collective, Grinderman, Iggy and the Stooges, Portishead, Mogwai, Slint, Grizzly Bear, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Gossip, Daniel Johnston and The Boredoms. The ATP festival is unique for its band and fan curated lineups, lack of corporate sponsorships, and country club / summer camp living conditions. Capturing the spirit of these festivals, All Tomorrow’s Parties travels from sporadic outdoor jams, staged performances, drunken late night antics, camp beach walks, and other colored images of what once upon a time could have only been imagined in some parallel universe.
The Boredoms take the prize for best performance in the film as their impromptu spiritual, encapsulating sound, and vision are well imagined on film. The Grinderman footage shows the legendary Nick Cave in fine form, though it is even better to see David Cross being told to “fuck off” as he attempts a disparaging Jesus routine. Also of note, Daniel Johnston can be seen in environments including the lawn, the chalet, and official stage.
It may appear a trifle detail, but what is also of particular interest is the film’s lack of guys wearing backwards baseball caps; perhaps a notice that the real charm of the ATP is that the agent provocateurs who often ruin shows are not in attendance. The ATP philosophy is summed up by Thurston Moore and his talk of returning the music back to the people while defying the corporatization of youth culture. The hope is there and realized within the confines of the ATP as there is no doubt from this striking film; however, outside in the real world the commodification of “indie” seems to be a fait accompli. The All Tomorrow’s Parties documentary is slated for release on November 24, 2009.