It was only when I took a step through the door that I remembered the sheer, freezing existentialist horror of a Camber Sands Pontins chalet. Honestly it's like a cold war East German apartment. The last time I'd done a ATP in Camber was for Slint in 2007 when it was February, snowing and I'd been gassed in the back of a Camper van thanks to a faulty exhaust pipe, utter misery. So when I stepped into the marrow freezing cold of the chalet I seriously wondered if I'd ever be warm again.
My gig kemosabe and I got there pretty early, picked up the wrist bands, electricity vouchers and then headed for the on camp Queen Vic pub. When the rest of our party arrived we went to His Clancyness who'd I heard on the Marc Riley show the week before. They were a good West Coast American start to the festival. I was keen to see Scout Niblett but missed most of her cause I was queuing up for a drink. The service at Pontins over the weekend was at best indifferent and half arsed which was frustating. The undoubted highlight of the day (and perhaps the festival) was the ever majestic Low, especially as they closed the set with 'When I go deaf' which is gorgeous and one of my favourite songs. It did make me cry, although I was pretty hammered and the next day I felt sorry for the people infront of me as a yowled out the words.
Hello hangover my old friend. Yes, the next day was a gradual start for me with the Low film 'How to quit smoking for good', I expected a documentary but got a collection of promos, which I let wash over me. The first band of the day were Tortoise who I quite liked but the rest of my chalet weren't keen on. Part of the joy of ATP is being able to mooch back to your chalet for some refreshments between or during bands. On more than one occasion the promise of a mug of Earl Grey and some carrot cake has made me bail on a band.
The weekend of ATP was also the weekend of the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Doctor Who. A few months previously a huge event celebrating the anniversary had been announced in the Excel Centre in London. It was with a deep sigh that I thought I'd be going. The reason I was reluctant was because I've been to the Excel a few times before, mostly to pick up my number for the London marathon, and it a cold (a different cold to Camber Sands Pontins), soulless place and I thought the Doctor Who event would be a bit like having a party in a Motorway Services, plus it would be hugely hugely expensive. So when they announced that this would be the penultimate UK ATP and that Television would be playing, and Low my decision was made. I've also noticed an annoying habit that I have of wanting to join a gang then to hang about on the periphery quietly sneering. I also thought it would be healthier for me to go to ATP, Sian was never going to the Excel and most of the mates I go to Doctor Who stuff with were giving it a miss. Watching Low live does my soul more good than buying yet another toy Dalek (I have subsequently bought yet another Dalek). When I discovered that ATP weren't doing anything special for the – err – Special I took a leaf out of Tim Lambert's book and decided to unplug myself from social media and save it till the Monday when I got back, which turned out to be a nice little post festival pick me up. Still on the Saturday I wore a Tom Baker t-shirt which my bestet friend had bought me and when I saw someone wearing an exploding TARDIS t-shirt I ran up to him excitedly, pointed at his t-shirt, pointed and mine, smiled and give him a fist pump. Understandably he looked alarmed and shouted "No spoilers!" "Don't worry!" I assured him "I haven't seen it yet!". Having been reassured we had a natter, and it felt like a lovely, human way to celebrate a wonderful TV show.
The next band up were Thurston Moore's mid-life crisis band Chelsea Light Moving who were okay, but really were the support band for Television. Much like Leonard Cohen I never thought I'd get to see Television live. They were amazing, they didn't do anything spectacular, they just played Marquee Moon note for note which - let's face it - is enough.
Opposite end of the scale of brilliance were Les Savy Fav. Now they've been on at most of the ATPs I've been at but this was the first time I'd seen them. Dunno why, Earl Grey? I can't believe I've left it so long. Tim from the band throws himself - quite literally - into the performance and I felt good thinking that while most of my people were sitting down to watch 'Day of the Doctor' that I was watching a fat bald beardo fail to get into a Santa costume and retrieve golf balls from a pouch around his groin.
Last band for me was Dinosaur Jnr who were great. Lou Barlow brings a much needed dose of charisma to the band. During the set I remember jumping up and down and thinking "I don't want this to be the last ATP!" The weekend was tinged with a bit of melancholy added to by the run down state of Potins and the bloody cold grey weather. On the plus side I managed to have an old school mosh and rounded off the evening with some Hipster Safari, splendid!
It had been pointed out that the Sunday was a little thin when it came to bands, which proved to be the case. So we made our own entertainment. Fellow ATP veteran and chalet buddy Jason Maybury said he went to one act where the act consisted of a woman stalking the stage, hissing to the backdrop of white noise. I sorta love this pretentious nonsense but I couldn't eat a whole one. Karaoke had been mentioned the previous day but I was too late to sign up. I'm a complete tart for Karaoke and was keen to do it, my chalet pals of Sian, Jas, Gareth, Keef and Paul were up for me making a fool but no one wanted to join in, so fortified by some red wine I got up on stage to pound out 'Eye of the Tiger'. I was somewhat hampered by the lyrics not coming up on the screen much to the puzzled shrugs of the Karaoke Kontrollers but I covered it up with yelling and some shadow boxing, it's the Welsh way. It went down very well I only wish I hadn't put myself down first and quickly put myself down for another song. The Karaoke in general went down very well, probably because the bill was so thin for the day and it's al;ways lovely to see the cool veneer of the hipsters bobble hats and ironic jumpers get stripped away to yell along to the Bangles 'Eternal Flame' . Tim from Les Savy Fav got up and did 'All that she wants' by Ace of Base which was a sight to see, and I've certainly never seen people crowd surfing at Karaoke before.
The only band I really wanted to see were Beak> who I loved, but oblique electonica saw the pen-ultimate UK ATP go out with a whimper rather than a bang. I hung around the Queen Vic for a while dancing to some Indie hits but went back to the chalet when it all went a bit Funk.
A great festival, lots of laughs, a cheese board and carrot cake, just really sad to see ATP come to an end. I've seen some amazing bands, shaken hands with Kim Deal, gone running with Low and seen a girl get stuck in a rubber dingy in a swimming pool water tube. Yet maybe this is the last ATP as they're going to do them in Iceland, now that's very tempting...