Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

ATP's I'll Be Your Mirror – Alexandra Palace, London 04/05/13

10 May 2013, 01:33 | Written by Luke Morgan Britton

“End of an era” is a phrase thrown around far too variably these days, whether it’s in reference to a football coach retiring, or, ahem, boy bands splitting. ATP‘s recent announcement that their UK holiday camp weekenders will cease from the end of the year seems less of an era coming to a close, despite what the marketing of their final shows might suggest, and instead somewhere between the passing of a dream that always did seem a little too good to be true and the curious possibility of what will come next.

For the music fan’s music fan, those single-handedly keeping the music industry afloat, the events – coming roughly quarterly every year since 1999 – combined the leisure of a weekend away while simultaneously cutting the fat off an average festival’s billing. But with well-noted financial troubles and disagreements with their past venues, you’d be forgiven for expecting All Tomorrow’s Parties to scale back a bit. This doesn’t seem to be the case; instead, it seems business as usual.

What bolder a move to show full steam ahead than to announce a festival at a former NATO base in Iceland? And so with fans hopeful, if not slightly confused by recent unfoldings, it’s all eyes on the company’s 2013 edition of their I’ll Be Your Mirror sister-event, fronted by Yeah Yeah Yeahs at London’s Alexandra Palace. And with the Grizzly Bear leg meant to follow on the Sunday postponed at short notice, the day really needed to run smoothly to keep up consumer confidence among the ATP crowd.

Named after the original b-side to ‘All Tomorrows Parties’, a fact not always self-explanatory, I’ll Be Your Mirror tends to follow the same suit as the organisations classic events, in which the headline act curates proceedings and, in doing so, inherently opens ATP up to the fears faced by other festivals – but also does so to a greater extent. What do you do if a band simply picks a few misses and even fewer hits? There’s not much you can do, really.

But it would be a bit harsh to say that was entirely this case with this May Bank Holiday instalment. Instead, the line-up simply didn’t seem fitting of the setting. Whereas at Camber Sands, and Minehead before it, you could guarantee at least a couple of hundred (maybe hungover, possibly sleepless) onlookers for even the early-bird sets, a city-based event is always going to warrant a later start, with many opting for beers in the nearby Alexandra Park over the opening raucous of New Orleans bounce-hopper Big Freedia, psych-dance duo Prince Rama and the exotic extravagance of King Khan.

More disappointing is the mere handful in attendance of ambient soundscaper, The Field at the main stage, with the low turnout completely robbing the music of any immersive quality. By this point, the highlight of the day is – sadly – witnessing a punter, and complete stranger, raising his beer in the crowd to a Dirty Beaches-watching Karen O, who offers a bashful wry smile in response.

By the time the crowd do make their way in however, with half the bill already packing up and cracking open a beer of their own backstage, things start to peter a bit. Black Lips, whose association with hipster bible VICE has always left them open to accusations of style over substance, sound like a caricature of a garage rock band without half of the excitement. Masked grindcore bizarros The Locust, on the other hand, while wholly enjoyable in theory, have a live half-life much shorter than their 45 minute slot. Likewise, the game of counting how many times Jon Spencer Blues Explosion can shout their own band name at random intervals seems to be keeping more hooked than the actual music itself.

Instead, nearing the 9.30pm mark, the main room bloats out and the night starts to feel like an overpriced Yeah Yeah Yeahs gig rather than an entire all-day event. As the lights dim and expectations heighten, there seems to be a passing of the torch as ATP’s loyal old guard, with feet now understandably a little sore, relocate to the back while the younger sprites push forward towards the stage centre. Lucky for all involved, punters old, new and promoters alike, the band are just as bright and brash as a decade back. Karen O, who’s dressed for the evening either as a nu-rave take on Sgt. Pepper or Elvis Costello going to a New Year’s party, leads the way like a new age ringmaster.

Along with drummer Brian Chase and the never-aging Peter Pan of Goth-Punk, Nick Zinner, the trio run through what would be deemed a Greatest Hits set if their albums didn’t neatly connect the dots behind one another. Even their latest record, Mosquito, doesn’t venture far from the three that came before it. It does, however, bring one of the best highlights of the day though, with opener ‘Sacrilege’ – a riot grrl anthem for the modern age that Pussy Riot themselves must wish they had penned – only able to sound more sublime if there had been an actual choir onstage to sing the gospel intersection at the end. Perfectly executed closer ‘Date With The Night’ gets even the most tiresome moving and subsequently with one fell swoop makes everyone forget that which came before it.

With two of their last Pontins breaks nigh (TV on the Radio this weekend before Deerhunter next month), the day doesn’t completely evoke confidence from those in attendance but through limited fault of ATP’s own. Even though we’re presented with a headline band choosing art-rock density over sheer entertainment stakes, it’s thankfully a single-handed late save for an event that will now surely be the focus of ATP’s events calendar.

Pictures by Jason Williamson. Check out more photos from the festival here.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next