Day last of All Tomorrow’s Parties’ first foray in the great state of New York featured another blockbuster, ’90s-leaning lineup, although this one was extra special: acts hand picked by the triumphantly returning My Bloody Valentine, and evidently proud of it. Each thanked Shields & Co. in their own way, repeatedly, echoing weekend long talks through Kutsher’s about how much the band meant, then and now. The first such set we caught was Lilys, who interestingly (and not unexpectedly) rejected their early MBV-inspired shoe-gaze material for the later Kinks-esque stuff a la “Nanny In Manhattan,” “Better Can’t Make Your Life Better,” etc. Pushing the anxiety of influence to extremes, Kurt Heasley made a joke about “Tone Bender” after a few people yelled out requests for it, saying it was “a mistake” putting it on record. (They did play “Ginger,” old timers.)
We dig Mercury Rev, but sometimes the dramatic hand gestures can be a bit much. On Sunday, it felt like too much (despite the solid sound). Yo La Tengo were somehow understated and kick-ass at the same time, playing a set that absolutely melted together, piloted by Ira’s intense control of feedback (he almost smashed guitar at the end of the extended, set closing “I Tried So Hard,” but it still sounded soft somehow), Georgia’s sleepy-time percussion/vocals, and her and James’s two-as-one backup harmonizing. (Ira also had some good between song banter re: the Borscht Belt and NJ pride, but they largely kept to the sounds at hand.)
During three days of rigorously scheduled Parties, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead were the only band who went on early (so they wouldn’t miss Mogwai, according to a handwritten note at the merch booth.) During its aggressive Sunday evening set, the Austin crew got up close and personal, with drummer/vocalist Jason Reece singing most of “Caterwaul” from the photo pit, and Conrad Keely leaning into the front row during his solo on closer “Totally Natural.” The entire band then exited, save Keely who walked offstage a minute later, ringing guitar still in hand.
Mogwai’s ace and epic swells hit the Stardust Ballroom’s sonic sweet spots, which wasn’t surprising: we learned earlier in the day that Stuart Braithwaite did sound for Fuck Buttons’ much discussed set, which received props for the band’s new material as much as its pitch-perfect mix. The band started with two new songs from The Hawk Is Howling, after which Stu joked “Those songs are from our new album, which will be available on Tuesday … at Target” before tearing into much loved vintage jams. Unfortunately we learned later that drummer Martin Bulloch was taken to a hospital after his pacemaker failed. This means Mogwai’s cancelled the remainder of their tour here with F. Buttons, sad news for fans since they’re on a high note, and of course devastating news for our Scottish friends. Our hearts go out to the band and Martin, and we hope for a speedy and successful recovery. Read Martin’s statement to fans at their site.
Performing beneath Dinosaur Jr.-appropriate purple and green lights, J, Murph, and Lou played some new material (see “Been There All The Time”) along with classics (“Little Furry Things,” “Forget The Swan,” “Freak Scene”) and some non-Lou era tracks (“Feel The Pain,” “Out There”). Speaking of which, before a raucous rendition of Green Mind opener “The Wagon,” Lou made a joke about how he’d never seen MBV live, because the band had kicked him out by the time they toured with them. Beyond some early-set tech problems (i.e. no vocals, crappy bass sound), it was a great set: Murph was super tech, Lou looked super excited (bouncing everywhere), and the ever mellow-beyond-the-best-pot Mascis shredded, per usual. It was the perfect lead-up to My Bloody Valentine, who we’ve already spoken about at length.
All said, visiting Kutshers was great. The place looks like it was last cleaned in the ’70s (when they picked out the awesome rugs), but that beaten-down charm added to the experience. Who wants to stay in a squeaky, generic Hilton? (OK, maybe someone who had a particularly scuzzy room.) With ATP coming to NY, it made sense to host the event at a particularly American-seeming Catskills retreat. (Big ups to the sweet old ladies who worked at Jams Handbags.) We leave you with a spread of photos. Until next year?
…AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD
YO LA TENGO
STEVE ALBINI’S POKER FACE
[AYWKUBTTOD photos by Scott Lapatine, rest by Amrit Singh]