Doesn't anyone else think that everything about this place is tired and faded and just damn creepy?" enquired Patton Oswalt from Friday night's comedy-only stage. He was referring to Kutsher's Country Club, the setting for the All Tomorrow's Parties festival's latest foray into the US. Kutsher's, in the roughest fringes of the Catskill region in New York state, is the very definition of decayed glamour. Rumoured to be the setting for Dirty Dancing, Kutsher's lies within the Borscht Belt of upstate Jewish holiday resorts, which gives Oswalt's comment that everything "looks like it's been rubbed with ham" an added cruelty. But while the accommodation is borderline decrepit, the place's advantages – onsite, indoor berths for all 3,000 attendees, unexpectedly great performance halls – mirror those at the Butlins holiday camps used by ATP's UK strand.
The surroundings, of course, are secondary to the music on offer, and the three-day line-up is like an ATP greatest hits. The bill included many regulars from the festival's history, such as ever emotion-battering Glaswegian post-rockers Mogwai, Steve Albini's angular garage power trio, Shellac, and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore. The latter played his solo album Psychic Hearts in its entirety as part of Friday's Don't Look Back series, alongside other eclectic guests such as Tortoise (performing Millions Now Living Will Never Die) and Built to Spill (with Perfect from Now On).
As the weekend drove on, vaguely bitter hotel room-related references to The Shining and the Bates Motel subsided. The number of seminal moments and performances mounted – this was surely one of ATP's finest ever events. A highlight of Saturday was the New York-based Paul Schrader discussing his film Mishima at length after a screening; Shellac's performance ended with Albini and Bob Weston dismantling Todd Trainer's drum kit and making off with it as Trainer continued trying to play. Sunday – both headlined and "curated" by a resurgent and ear-shattering My Bloody Valentine, making their first North American appearance in a decade and a half – was a feast. From the solo guitar atmospherics of ex-Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie and Yo La Tengo's sometimes frightening orchestral pop, to the elegiac volume of Catskill locals Mercury Rev, it was a perfect advert for the niche that ATP has carved for itself.Reuse content