All Tomorrow's Parties (music festival)

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All Tomorrow's Parties (commonly known as ATP) is an organisation based in London that has been promoting festivals, concerts and records throughout the world for over ten years. It was founded by Barry Hogan, in 1999 in preparation for the first All Tomorrow's Parties festival, the line-up of which was curated by Mogwai and took place in the unusual setting of Pontins Holiday Camp, Camber Sands. Named after the song "All Tomorrow's Parties" by The Velvet Underground, the festival exhibits a tendency towards post-rock, avant-garde, and underground hip hop, along with more traditional rock fare presented in an environment more intimate than a giant stadium or huge country field. It was at first a sponsorship-free festival where the organisers and artists stay in the same accommodation as the fans.[1] In June 2012, the company went into liquidation with debts of over £2.6m,[2] but the brand was reborn a month later and Barry continues to trade under the ATP moniker. In recent years, the brand has become increasingly associated with canceled and failed events.

ATP claims to set itself apart from festivals like Reading or Glastonbury by staying intimate, non-corporate and fan-friendly.[3] Another vital difference is that the line-ups are chosen by significant bands or artists, resulting in unorthodox events which often combine acts of all sizes, eras, and genres. The festival has taken place in the UK, USA and Australia, and has been curated by the following artists:

Deerhunter, TV On The Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The National, The Drones, Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs), Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel), Battles, Caribou, Les Savy Fav, Amos, Animal Collective, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Jim Jarmusch, Pavement, The Flaming Lips, The Breeders, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Mike Patton & Melvins, My Bloody Valentine, Explosions In The Sky, Pitchfork Media, Portishead, Dirty Three, Thurston Moore, The Shins, Sleater Kinney, Dinosaur Jr., Devendra Banhart, Mudhoney, The Mars Volta, Vincent Gallo, Slint, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Stephen Malkmus, Mogwai, Tortoise, Shellac, Sonic Youth, Autechre, Modest Mouse, and Simpsons' creator Matt Groening.

History[edit]

The festival has its origins in the Bowlie Weekender, curated by Belle & Sebastian at Camber Sands in April 1999. Artists, usually musicians (but sometimes visual artists like Matt Groening, whose line-up featured in the Observer's list of the ten best festivals of the year,[4] or Jake and Dinos Chapman) are asked to curate the festival by inviting their favourite performers to play. The idea is that it is akin to dipping into the curator's record collection, or as founder Barry Hogan described it, "ATP is like an excellent mix tape".[5]

In 1999, an ATP weekend scheduled for September was postponed with less than a week’s notice.[6] Promoters blamed lack of interest on "festival fatigue" at the end of the summer, and subsequent festivals were scheduled for springtime. Following ATP’s troubled record in 2012-14, this last-minute postponement was later seen as a sign of things to come.

In 2001 the organisation spawned ATP/Recordings, a record label originally created to bring out compilation albums related to its festivals. However the label eventually moved on from just doing compilations for the festival to sign and release singles and albums from artists including Threnody Ensemble, Bardo Pond, The Magic Band, Deerhoof, White Out, Death Vessel, The Drones, Fursaxa, The Scientists, Apse, Fuck Buttons, Alexander Tucker, Sleepy Sun, Spiritualized, Built To Spill, Autolux and most recently Tall Firs and Tennis. At the end of 2007 ATP/R launched series of double 7" singles called Custom Made, which would feature bands choosing four songs; one something old, one something new, one something borrowed (a cover version) and one something blue (artists were free to interpret this as they feel). Artists to release singles in this series so far are Australia's The Drones, Britain's Alexander Tucker and America's Deerhoof.

In 2002, the festival expanded to the USA, and several events have taken place there in subsequent years. The organisation also became involved in booking stages at the Pitchfork Music Festival[7] and the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona, Spain. In 2008, All Tomorrow's Parties ran their first East Coast USA festival, which took place at Kutsher's Hotel and Country Club, Monticello, New York.[8] In January 2009, the festival took place for the first time in Australia, with events in Brisbane, Sydney and Mount Buller (in Victoria) all curated by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.[9]

The small organisation that puts on these festivals also promote concerts in London and the rest of the United Kingdom, curate the yearly Don't Look Back concert series and run the record label ATP Recordings.

All Tomorrow’s Parties, as with a number of modern festivals, embraces a variety of artistic genres. Most festival events feature art exhibitions and cinema programmes (in the USA, ATP collaborate with Criterion to present cinema highlighted by appearances so far from Paul Schrader and Jim Jarmusch), and others have featured spoken word performances, stand-up comedy, and book clubs.

In 2007 the curators allowed festival-goers to pick the line-up by organising a voting process for all ticketholders in the months running up to the event, and this was repeated in May 2009. In the years before 2013, when ATP announced they were ceasing to hold residential festivals in the UK,[10] the festival took place up to three or four times a year in the UK (in May and then in December for the 'Nightmare Before Christmas').

In 2009, Warp Films released a feature length documentary about the festival named All Tomorrow's Parties. It premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, and then premiered in the UK at Edinburgh in June. In October 2009 the film was screened at a number of 'one night only' UK theatrical screenings also featuring live music from Les Savy Fav, who feature in the film and have long been mainstays of All Tomorrow's Parties line-ups.[11]

In 2010, ATP announced I'll Be Your Mirror, a series of events taking place in cities around the world named after the B-side to the original 1966 "All Tomorrow's Parties" single by the Velvet Underground. These events still involved a curator choosing all the music and films that play at the event, but without the holiday resort accommodation. The first event took to take place in Tokyo, Japan in February 2011.

Significant past performances at ATP festivals include the reformations of The Magic Band, Television, The Jesus Lizard, yer man Bon Iver, Sleep, and Slint amongst others. All Tomorrow's Parties were also proud to present the return of My Bloody Valentine with a series of worldwide live performances throughout 2008, the London concerts of which were named Time Out's Gig Of The Year.

Liquidation and litany of failures[edit]

In June 2012, ATP Concerts went into liquidation with debts totaling over £2.6m. These included:

£876,716 to ticketing company Gigantic (for loans)

£749,355 to another ticketing company, See Tickets (also for loans)

£352,000 to Butlins, whose Minehead site hosted many ATP festivals in recent years

£36,000 to the organisers of Primavera Sound in Spain/Portugal, where ATP hosts a stage

£30,000 to the band Portishead who had headlined two ATP-promoted ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ shows in 2011

£11,000 to The Union Chapel venue in Islington, which is run by a charity [12]

Barry Hogan, and his fellow director Deborah Higgins, subsequently purchased the ATP branding rights from the liquidators and continued to market their events under the ATP name. However, these events were increasingly marked by controversy. Some of the more notable PR disasters from the period 2011-2012 include:

In October 2011, an ATP weekend due to be curated by Jeff Mangum was postponed with six weeks’ notice.[13] ATP initially told ticketholders they had until the end of the year to apply for refunds. On November 29, it told them they actually had until December 2.

In March 2012, an ATP weekend due to be curated by Jim O'Rourke was postponed with two weeks’ notice.[14] This event was due to be located in Tokyo, and many fans had already purchased non-refundable flights from Europe and the US. The event was later cancelled [15]

In April 2012, a one-day festival due to be curated by Grizzly Bear was postponed with three weeks’ notice.[16] It was later cancelled altogether, again with much confusion over refunds [17]

In June 2012, it was announced that an ATP weekend scheduled for Minehead, England, was being relocated to East Sussex (a 5 hour drive).[18] A spokesperson for Butlins, the owners of the Minehead venue, said they chose to end their relationship with ATP after ATP started advertising the event without having signed a contract, and without having repaid the £352,000 debt detailed above.[19] It was later reported, by post-rock band A Winged Victory for the Sullen, that bands who performed at the event were not paid for up to seven months afterwards.[20] This statement was itself sparked by the same band's claim still not to have been paid in July 2014 for an event the preceding year.

In July 2012, it was announced that an ATP weekend scheduled for New Jersey in September was being moved to New York. The event had been marketed with Louis CK as a headliner, but the change in location caused him to pull out (along with a number of other acts, many of whom did so much closer to the event).[21] One of the stages at the new venue was under one of the busiest roads in New York, and punters reported being unable to hear many of the acts.

Jabberwocky[edit]

The latest in ATP's long line of failed events, Jabberwocky was planned as a two-day festival in London put on by ATP, Pitchfork and Primavera Sound. The event was scheduled to be held on August 15 and 16, 2014, at ExCeL London, an indoor East London conference venue. On August 12, ATP cancelled the festival, citing insufficient ticket sales.[22] The cancellation, and subsequent behaviour of ATP, led to a number of former partners publicly distancing themselves from ATP; including Pitchfork,[23] Zeitgeist (ATP’s former PR agency),[24][25] and Dash (the primary ticketing company used by Jabberwocky);[26] as well as at least one band scheduled to play.[27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ".Flouting the Mainstream, Forgoing a Corporate Stamp" The New York Times, 09/02/2010
  2. ^ "Investigation:ATP" Stool Pigeon 06/02/2013
  3. ^ "ATP - The End Of An Era" ATP website 26/04/2013
  4. ^ 2010 "The 10 best music festivals" The Guardian, 05/09/2010
  5. ^ "All Tomorrow’s Parties & Book Club" The New York Times, 09/01/2010
  6. ^ Tomorrow On Again NME 16/09/1999
  7. ^ "Pitchfork Hosts a Perma-Rock Festival" The New York Sun, 07/22/2008
  8. ^ (see above) The New York Times, 09/02/2010
  9. ^ "Veterans rock for Cave the curator" The Australian, 01/12/2009
  10. ^ "ATP - The End Of An Era" ATP website 26/04/2013
  11. ^ "Warp's Return to Sheffield" news.bbc.co.uk, 09/18/2009
  12. ^ "Investigation:ATP" Stool Pigeon 06/02/2013
  13. ^ "Jeff Mangum ATP Festival Postponed" Pitchfork Media October 2011
  14. ^ "Jim O'Rourke's ATP Japan Postponed" Pitchfork Media March 2012
  15. ^ "Jim O'Rourke's Tokyo ATP Festival Cancelled" FACT Magazine 09/10/2012
  16. ^ "Grizzly Bear's ATP IBYM event has been rescheduled" Pitchfork Media April 2012
  17. ^ "ATP cancel I'll Be Your Mirror event" Clash Music
  18. ^ "The National's ATP moved to new location" Pitchfork Media June 2012
  19. ^ "Investigation:ATP" Stool Pigeon 06/02/2013
  20. ^ "SOTL/Winged Victory vs. ATP" Drowned in Sound 22/07/2014
  21. ^ "ATP's IBYM 2012 Relocating to NYC" Billboard July 2012
  22. ^ "Jabberwocky festival 2014 cancelled" ATP website 12/08/2014
  23. ^ "A word on Pitchfork's role in ATP's Jabberwocky" Pitchfork Media 15/08/2014
  24. ^ "Twitter"
  25. ^ "Drowned in Sound"
  26. ^ "Dash on Facebook"
  27. ^ "Drowned in Sound" Statement from Deafhaven

External links[edit]