10 Years of All Tomorrow's Parties

Butlins Minehead, Somerset

Perfect 10 for the happy campers

A decade after the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival was first formulated by Scots indie outfit Belle & Sebastian as the Bowlie Weekender, it hasn't become any easier to explain to people. In simple terms, it's a three-day event based in a traditional British holiday resort (first, Pontin's at Camber Sands, East Sussex; now, Butlins Minehead), which offers a nostalgic indoor setting and relatively pleasant chalet accomodation. Musically... well, let's just say few ATP virgins will get through their first exposure to the festival without hearing something that will astound, confuse or even annoy them intensely.

Many of the bands playing the music appreciate this themselves. "Our music makes people nauseous," noted Satomi Matsuzaki, dynamic Japanese- American singer with Californian art-pop group Deerhoof, with mock resignation as a suffering fan was dragged from the front row of her show. In fact, Deerhoof were possibly the weekend's most enjoyable act, a joyous collision of devastating bubblegum pop hooks, DIY dance choreography and a fine line in cover versions including Canned Heat's "Going Up the Country" dedicated to The For Carnation's Brian McMahan (whose band had played a gorgeous set late on the Saturday night) and the Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties" in honour of ATP organiser Barry Hogan.

Sidelining the usual "curated" element of ATP, Hogan and his team this time chose the line-up themselves from various artists who had previously been invited to do so and acts who have played the festival on multiple occasions. Among the latter category were the two groups Hogan has described as his favourite ever at the festival: frankly crazed Japanese girl duo Afrirampo, all garage rock power and sweet, girly sing-song voices, and the cataclysmic Lightning Bolt, ending the festival late on Sunday night with the strange spectacle of drummer Brian Chippendale wearing a gimp mask and a microphone inside his mouth, and creating some truly monumental noise alongside guitarist Brian Gibson. A defining memory of this festival came as Afrirampo joined Lightning Bolt for the final song of the weekend, yelling out their vocals from a position crowdsurfing atop the heaving crowd.

Alongside such spectacles, staggering sonic invention was to be found in excess. Where Lightning Bolt play drum'n'bass disguised as thrash metal, electronic duo Fuck Buttons use the beautifully building sounds of post-rock during what was essentially a techno set, while New York art- rockers Battles were compelling but uncategorisable.

It also says much for the open-mindedness of the typical ATP fan that the weekend's most striking bands were dissected and discussed over supposedly bigger names. Friday headliners Yeah Yeah Yeahs united the crowd with a rare touch (for this festival) of real glamour, but Saturday's Breeders, Kim Deal of Pixies' other band, were mid-paced and disappointing, and instrumental folk-rockers Dirty Three (headed by Warren Ellis of Nick Cave's Bad Seeds) were an odd main stage choice while lo-fi superproducer Steve Albini's comedy rockers Shellac were tearing up the smaller room with another ATP-exclusive performance.

The rest of the bill was a catalogue of truly esoteric music from down the years, with grunge from Mudhoney, post-rock from Tortoise, psychedelic rock from Captain Beefheart's old Magic Band and more. That's why All Tomorrow's Parties is now, indisputably, the defining symbol of alternative sonic culture in the UK.

What was the most memorable arts event of 2009? In the comments form below (or via email to arts@independent.co.uk) nominate your favourite - in film, music, theatre, comedy, dance or visual arts - with a brief explanation as to why it tops your list and we'll print a selection in The Independent Readers' Review of 2009.

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all