All Tomorrow's Parties NYC 2009 Day 2, Kutshers Country Club, Monticello, NY | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Deerhunter's Bradford Cox performing as Atlas Sound

Sufjan Stevens, Animal Collective, Akron/Family, Atlas Sound, Deerhunter, Circulatory System

All Tomorrow’s Parties NYC 2009 Day 2, Kutshers Country Club, Monticello, NY, September 12th, 2009

Sep 22, 2009 Sufjan Stevens Photography by Philip Dante Meick Bookmark and Share

Kurt Cobain once remarked caustically that he would only wear a tie-dyed t-shirt if it were made with “the urine of Phil Collins and the blood of Jerry Garcia.” Perhaps he was rolling over in his grave when Sufjan Stevens and his band opened the main stage of ATP day 2 decked out in oversized tie-dyes. Delivering a set comprised of 2004’s Seven Swans from start to finish, Stevens announced that, “this is a set for your hangovers.” Early on it was, with hushed tracks hewing closely to the lapidary of the record, but that sentiment was promptly blasted into oblivion with thunderous renditions of “He Woke Me Up Again” and “Seven Swans” that only faintly resembled the threadbare originals.

The real hangover balm came next, as Grouper, aka Liz Harris, played a solo set heavy on lush layers of reverb, with tracks bleeding seamlessly and indistinguishably into one another. It was nonetheless damn impressive, conjuring Cocteau Twins filtered through the soft-focus shoegaze prism of Windy & Carl.

Over at the slightly cozier second stage room, Circulatory System delivered a set heavy on experimentation and recklessness, tempering the scattered, impulsive edges of their six strong lineup with some of the keen pop sensibilities that guided their former band The Olivia Tremor Control. A fine set that illustrated nicely just how vital the vestiges of the ‘90s Elephant 6 collective still are in 2009.

Atlas Sound followed, finding Bradford Cox in full-on troubadour mode, adorned only by an acoustic guitar, harmonica, and tape machine. He still did his best to recreate tracks from the upcoming, and magnificent, Logos LP, including an especially lovely reading of “Shelia,” and frequent teases of a version of “Walkabout” that would “blow everyone’s minds” which never quite materialized.

Sleepy Sun were next and were implausibly epic, veering from scorching, tidal-wave stoner jams, to intricate, hushed passages, indebted as equally to Blue Cheer as Spiritualized. A particularly feisty take on “Sleepy Son” was one of many highlights, but the entire set was charged with a kinetic sexual energy that made it seem like something beamed straight from San Francisco’s Fillmore circa 1969.

Following Sleepy Sun was no easy task, but Akron/Family were more than up for the challenge, delivering a gloriously ramshackle performance that jumped abruptly from intricately plucked folk anthems to a face-melting outro jam that rather bizarrely conjured Firehose in it’s off-kilter, bass heavy tangle.

Back to the main stage, where Shellac played a careening, stentorian set that showcased the intuitive interplay between Steve Albini, Bob Weston, and Todd Trainer. Trainer stole the show with his drum-kit acrobatics, but the eminently charismatic Albini and Weston were no slouches, doing their best pantomimes of planes during “Wingwalker,” finding Albini exhorting “It’s a fucking plane, it goes 600 miles per hour, and you complain about the wait,” which inspired the most trenchant heckle of the weekend from a crowd member“What about the carbon footprint?”

Bradford Cox made his second appearance of the day as Deerhunter took the stage. Announcing that it was the band’s last show for a good long time, they played with a torrential, trouser-flapping force worthy of Mogwai. “Never Stops” was as anthemic as a Strokes number, while “Hazel St.” was leaner and tighter in its juxtaposition of wistful nostalgia and sun-kissed psychedelia than ever. However, it was the near 10-minute closer of “Calvary Scars” that the band really hit its stride, tightly locking into a cacophonous noise coda, thus transforming a song about crucifying yourself in front of your friends into an oddly communal revelry.

Back to the second stage, The Melvins were just on fire, even more chaotic than usual with the addition of a second drummer. Buzzo and Jared were spasmodic, hopping around like jack rabbits on methamphetamines, while the crowd was worked into a frothy moshing frenzy by the likes of “Blood Witch” and “Anaconda,” which made it feel like it was 1992 all over again.

And, for a grand finale, the mighty Animal Collective delivered a monumental show that lived up to all its ample hype. The likes of “My Girls” and “Brother Sports” feel like they half belong to the audience at this stage, as the relationship between the act and its fans is so symbiotic, their energy feeding into the band’s and vice-versa. The crowd was going berserk for the entire set, but I just had to scratch my head, wondering how a band with so few discernible melodies and such unorthodox song structures has amassed such a fervent, obsessive following. Go figure, but it’s well deserved. This is an act, and a set, for the ages.

All in all it was a tremendous day, probably the finest festival experience of my life, and I’ve seen my fair share. Kudos to ATP for putting this together so well, quite a Herculean task. Apparently they’re not even breaking even on this, due in no small part to refusing corporate sponsorships. But they soldier on anyway, because they obviously revere the acts they present. Here’s to 2010. If they bring it back, I’ll be there with great velocity.


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September 10th 2010

The third episode of the new series of Soft Focus as recorded at ATP New York 2009 is available to view now…

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January 9th 2011

Great choice of acts to perform at Parties NYC 2009. The tickets must had gone out by now. Too bad! Maybe next year.
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January 10th 2011

Bradford Cox made his second appearance of the day as Deerhunter took the stage. Announcing that it was the band’s last show for a good long time, they played with a torrential, trouser-flapping force worthy of Mogwai. “Rolex Prices

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