All Tomorrow's Parties

All Tomorrow's Parties


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

As the fashion for massive arena gigs with big name artistes, costing the kids two months beer money or a loan from the bank (no longer possible), continues to set the trend, what happens to interesting indie bands and those who still talk to their fans? In 1999 Belle & Sebastian organised an anti-festival festival in an empty holiday camp at Camber Sands and called it The Bowlie Weekender. The idea was to celebrate music, not idolise the stars. Since then the concept has been repeated all over the world and this film, co directed by Jonathan Caouette and Luke Morris from material submitted from over 200 sources (editor Nick Fenton deserves a medal), is a valiant attempt to give a flavour of the experiment.

Using split screens supremely well, the directors concentrate on the sound and the passion, leaving out (mostly) the casualties of alcohol poisoning, or drug abuse – there is no incident on screen to suggest that chemicals are being used to heighten the experience – if, indeed, there were any. Bands are playing ad lib in chalets, outside chalets, on the grass, in halls, on the beach. Stars, such as Sonic Youth, Nick Cave and Iggy Pop are given no more attention than lesser known bands, such as The Gossip, that leaves you screaming for more. Only the indisputable queen of alternative word weaponry, Patti Smith, has the privilege of a face blast in the spotlight at the end as the credits roll.

The energy is electric, the dress code student scruff, the vibe as natural as a walk on the wild side. The audience, if that is what you call those who participate in the dance, is as much a part of this as the musicians. The manipulative antics of multimillion dollar megatour ambassadors of cool, rehearsed and sound checked to death, are completely missing. This is music as it lives, which, like improv or a jazzer’s jam in an early morning roots bar, evolves from the feel and circumstance of the moment. Where these genius guys who put All Tomorrow’s Parties together succeed beyond expectation is in capturing the fierce and beautiful commitment of everyone involved.

And, boy, does that sound rock you.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2009
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Celebration of creative energy in anti-festival venues that give music back to those who appreciate its anarchic roots.
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Director: Jonathan Caouette

Starring: Akron/Family, Animal Collective, Battles, Belle & Sebastian, Lightning Bolt, The Boredoms, Fuck Buttons, John Cooper Clarke, Jarvis Cocker, Mark Coldham, David Cross, Dirty Three, George Eady, Warren Ellis, Jerry Garcia

Year: 2009

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: UK

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