At this point people know what to expect from Kutscher’s: The faded Catskills resort’s crumbling walls held together by mold, broken everything (we were forced to do our own DIY toilet plumbing, heard about another one that flushed boiling water), that lost-in-time Tammy Faye Makeup Counter. What we didn’t expect was the persistent skinny dipping from a paunchy and pasty middle-aged man armed with a Budweiser and nothing else. It happened Friday night while we were resting (not raging) in the Down Under Bar: We weren’t the only ones to notice; he was in no hurry to cover up after exiting the pool. When he finally did get dressed — after reclining on a lounger and slowly chugging that beer — he put on his shirt, surveyed the other swimmers, let it hang out for another minute or so, and finally put those trunks where they should’ve been all along. That moment — along with the fact that the only porn star to show up was Ron Jeremy — is a good metaphor for the ATP NY experience as a whole: The crowd’s older than at your average indie-rock get together, but they remain shameless in their enthusiasm and hedonism. Sometimes this works (Sonic Youth sounded great) sometimes it makes you want to bury your head in your hands (forever). Certain people shouldn’t stage dive, especially when the majority of the audience is too week from a lifetime of sedentary jobs to hold you aloft for more than a second. That, and as the comedian Hannibal Buress put it before Hope Sandoval’s set: Once you’re balding/have a mortgage, you should not be throwing up from alcohol.
All that said, like the previous two years, ATP NY 2010 was a blast: Jim Jarmusch and Thurston Moore did a Q+A, there was a whiskey tasting, tasty Asia Dogs, goose-shit-avoidance walks through the deconstructing park on the other side of the chair-eating pond. There’s too much to recount — and often the smallest moments are what stand out the most — but here are some highlights….
The ageless Iggy & his Stooges offered one of the weekend’s most entertaining sets. The music’s no longer dangerous — it’s more a communal nostalgic act — but whatever: When Pop welcomed folks on stage for “Shake Appeal,” the feel was truly celebratory. I liked Mudhoney OK in the ’90s and I liked them OK Friday night. The real stars of the opening evening, though, were Sleep (Al + Matt joined by Neurosis’s Jason Roeder), who sounded great in the Starlight Ballroom. In general, the sound in the space was, again, impeccable, the perfect spot to host both Sleep — such great guitar tones — and Altar (you could feel the vibrations).
Otherwise, gems included Fuck Buttons (now with better light show), the Breeders’ charmingly shambling jaunt through their catalog, Sonic Youth’s enthusiastic mostly oldies set, Fucked Up making good use of chocolate and crowd interaction (Damian’s excited he’s no longer straightedge, still loves Brotherhood), Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions’ admirably lush/downcast non-smiles, Kurt Vile (bad drum sound and all), Girls’ nuanced and deep-sounding take on their Album and other tracks (with extra guitar oomph via Ryan Dominant Legs), and perhaps most of all, Sunn O))) and Boris’ Altar, which found the two entities recreating the project/album of the same name with the help of vocalist Jesse Sykes, Joe Preston on synth/vocoder, Rex Ritter’s moogs, Bill Herzog on bass/backing vocals, Steve Moore on Rhodes/trombone, and Phil Wandscher on backing vocals. It was like a restrained Boris show, an unrestrained Sunn happening — and it worked beautifully.
Speaking of which: It’s interesting to consider the difference between last year’s balloon dropping Flaming Lips finale and this year’s smokey Sunn + Altar dreamy drone war as some sort of statement on the darkening of music as a whole in 2010, something I welcome with open arms (or devil horns, if you want).
If you weren’t there, we have Abbey Braden’s photos and Stephen Crocker’s videos to make you feel like you were.
Hope Sandoval – “Trouble”
Iggy & The Stooges – “Death Trip”
Breeders – “Cannonball”
Sleep – “Aquarian”
Altar – “Blood Swamp”
Altar – “The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)” (Feat. Jesse Sykes)