By Amrit Singh & Brandon Stosuy
After a night of front-to-back ATP-approved “classics,” it was nice to tackle a day of unpredictable sets. We missed the earliest acts — Apse, Australia’s garage rockers (and fine live band) the Drones, Growing, and UK comic artist/eerie finger picking/field recording folk player/onetime Sunn O))) collaborator Alexander Tucker. Once we got started, though, we zigzagged through the majority of the day’s offerings, nary taking a moment to sit and reminisce by the lake or grab a cold drink at the Flying Saucer bar.
We started the day with the blown-out psychedelia of San Francisco’s Wooden Shjips, their dense, guitar-piloted rock — with a great organ sound — working itself into dirty Kraut repetitions. Speaking of which, Fuck Buttons — the duo sounded bigger than we’ve ever heard them. Also, instead of doing their normal Street Horrrsing tracklist front-to-back, they introduced new material that felt less reliant on the quiet to loud to Benjamin John Power’s black metal-esque toy-box vocals. The material remains as catchy as it is noisy, allowing Fuck Buttons to be less-than-typical knob-twiddlers: The guys can write hooks, they just take their time with them. Speaking of Kraut rock et al, After FB, post-Kraftwerk/Neu!/Cluster-related Harmonia’s fragile compositions mixed icy electronics and fuzzy, star-melting, crystalline guitar. The group initially existed in the early/mid ’70s (’73-’76), but they sounded perfectly contemporary amid the rest of Saturday’s more outer realms early bill. We hadn’t seen OM with new drummer Emil Amos. While it’s sad to see Chris Hakius’s beard go, Amos did a good job locking down Al Cisneros’s bass grooves and chants.
The low-ceiling of the second stage room and its faded, blue prom/bar mitzvah vibe was perfect for Low, who opened with “Candy Girl” and segued into “Murderer,” which sent chills. As far as nostalgia, UNC’s Polvo were more noodling and less propulsive than we remember from the quartet’s vintage pre-breakup Cor-Crane Secret/Today’s Active Lifestyles/Celebrate The New Dark Age performances, but Ash Bowie, Dave Brylawski, & Co. still sounded tight and daredevilish on enough old jams (as well as new tunes that we could probably do without, at least in the festival circuit) to bring back help us celebrate ’90s avant-indie guitar rock. We’re curious to hear what the new songs sound like when they aren’t interrupting our nostalgia.
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra’s Efrim Menuck was doing his best Steve Albini during the Montreal group’s rising/swelling set, discussing American audience’s mastery of “the quiet heckle,” aka talking shit quietly and then disappearing back into the throng when confronted about it, also getting Walt Whitman on us, announcing the band as Leaves Of Grass from Sonoma, California, before launching into “God Bless Our Dead Marines.”
Building on Silver Mt. Zion’s unexpected comedic chops was a set from the utterly expected comedic chops of Tim Harrington and the Savy Fav. Tim’s ATP outfit was a prisoner’s suit, which would come off and on as necessary. Fun, sure, but it was the spirit raising spectacle of Harrington being lifted and crowdsurfing while perched atop a ladder that still has Kutsher’s buzzing.
The manic, jagged energy stayed in the room for a pretty unforgettable Shellac set. Albini, Bob Weston (who joked they planned to play every ATP ever), and Todd Trainer played “Canada,” “Steady As She Goes,” “Wingwalker,” as well as other Shellac favorites, sounding really fucking great while doing it (as someone just joked, it’s like they showed up two weeks in advance to perfectly tweak the room’s acoustics). Per usual, there was a good report between the audience: someone called Trainer the “Poor Woman’s Tommy Lee” while the band fielded questions during Albini tuning breaks. Asked one: “Big Black versus Mission Of Burma?” (Weston: “Mission of Burma, they bought my house”). Another inquired whether “Kokomo” was the worst song ever, which had Steve chuffed. (“Is that really the worst song you could come up with? ‘Kokomo’? Jimmy Buffet is personally responsible for at least 400 songs worse than that.”) Shellac let us know they had already had this conversation in the past, and the answer just may be this.
Things were capped perfectly by Lightning Bolt, the Brians setting up on the floor, to the right of the Stardust Ballroom stage. They weathered some technical difficulties at first, but after tweaking the amps some, tore into the most transcendent set of Saturday. We could’ve done without people tossing beer on folks, but otherwise, the energy — typical to the average LB show, yes, but still exciting — was a blast. Check out some MP3s from Saturday’s acts while you have a scroll through Amrit’s photos while we count the hours to MBV.
THEE SILVER MT. ZION
LES SAVY FAV
[Photos by Amrit Singh]