Film: All Tomorrow’s Parties DVD

I reviewed this one a loooooong time ago, but the release date got pushed back, etc., etc…. Anyway, read my take on the All Tomorrow’s Parties DVD here or below. It’s a great concert film.

Music festivals can be a huge pain in the ass. The crowds, the heat, the expensive food and beverages, trying to get from one stage to another so as not to miss a band… sometimes, it’s just not worth it. However, if one is to believe the new DVD detailing the last several installations of All Tomorrow’s Parties, it’s the best fucking festival – nay, best live music experience – period – that has ever existed.

Though the film All Tomorrow’s Parties (Warp Films) was produced by the Warp X studio collective, director Jonathan Caouette (Tarnation) played a large role in its creation, helped along by “semi-found footage,” democratically shot by “All Tomorrow’s People.” The resulting picture is a whimsical, sentimental, magical look at the bands, fans, and landscapes that have made up ATP over the years. The setting is a David Lynchian seaside summer camp in England, a 1950s ideal taken over by a host of purveyors and disciples of indie rock. The film zeroes in on this notion, mixing archival footage with beautifully shot live scenes. There is really no narrative, but there is no need for one. Performances are loose and inspired: Battles, Les Savy Fav, Slint, Dirty Three, Grinderman, Lightning Bolt, and GZA are just a few of the acts that drift across the frame, offering fleeting moments of aural bombast.

It’s not all roses; David Cross is booed off stage, Sonic Youth teases with just a few seconds of music, and there is a jarring snippet of someone describing ATP as “Auschwitz with good music.” Flimsy Holocaust references aside, All Tomorrow’s Parties is a dream of a concert film.

Near the end, Grizzly Bear appears on a beach performing a seemingly impromptu acoustic performance, surrounded by a crowd of spent onlookers. It’s moments like these that encapsulate the ATP experience, or at least the one the filmmakers would have you take away. Best festival ever? Perhaps. Excellent concert film? No question.

Special Features: Full length performance cuts; commentary from ATP promoters Barry Hogan and Deborah Kee Higgins; 40 page full colour booklet, including 10 years of ATP artwork and programme introductions; key that can be used to unlock exclusive bonus content online, including Vincent Moon’s footage from ATP New York, interviews, more full length performances.

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