All Tomorrow's Parties, Butlins Holiday Camp, Minehead
Wednesday 15 December 2010
It's 10 years since Butlins holiday camp was first taken over by twee indie-folksters Belle & Sebastian for their Bowlie Weekender. Since then, the All Tomorrow's Parties festivals have become a fixture of the musical year. To celebrate, Butlins hosted Bowlie 2, again curated by Belle & Sebastian.
However, as a fellow punter commented, at times it seemed more like all yesterday's parties: the harmonies of Friday night's Teenage Fanclub could also have been heard at the original weekender, while Saint Etienne delivered a self-styled "blast from the past", Sarah Cracknell's vocals sugarcoating their 90s dance tracks.
But it wasn't all backwards-looking: Swedish female five-piece Those Dancing Days provided a fresher finish, their sunny guitars laced with a generous sprinkling of synth.
Mark Lanegan's smoky growl and Isobel Campbell's breathy yearnings got things going on Saturday and Dirty Projectors exhibited even stranger harmonies and complex vocal acrobatics in the afternoon.
Of course, it was Saturday's headliners, Belle & Sebastian, that really got the indie kids all hot and bothered, delivering a truly uplifting set, with "Dirty Dream Number Two" and "Judy and the Dream of Horses" the pick of the bunch. The set exhibited their marriage of danceable indie hooks, whimsical arrangements (the recorder crops up every so often) and candid, unlikely lyrics.
Sunday opened with 1960s twee-folk mother Vashti Bunyan warbling over acoustic guitar, violin and xylophone ditties. Seeming increasingly fragile – she quavers while talking about heartbreak – the set was lovely, nonetheless. The afternoon was stocked with Belle & Sebastian's fellow Scots: Sons and Daughters traded in whipcrack drumbeats and dark rumbling guitars, while The Vaselines switched between low-slung rock and upbeat three-minute, three-guitar thrashes.
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