Boredoms’ drummer Yojiro (YO2RO) Tatekawa was carried into the main performance space on a platform carried by eight dudes, ten minutes into the already heart-exploding Boadrum 9 reprise at ATP New York last Sunday. He bashed on his drums so hard, it was unclear whether they would be able to hold him up. They did, and an hour later, Tatekawa and his bandmate Yoshimi were walking around with a bunch of awesome little Boredoms babies, on their way to participate in Oneida’s marathon 13-hour performance and then check out Boris’ volcanic replay of their album Feedbacker. Jim Jarmusch looked pretty psyched on Boris too. This was basically the vibe at Kutsher’s Country Club, a tarnished gem of the Catskills social set, where VIP is nonexistent and there was always something happening that was going to destroy your eardrums for, as of post time, at least two or three days.
To be honest, it’s not really that fun to try and see all of every band playing at this thing. It’s too much, in fact. Especially when there are people chilling by the fake lake or eating hot dogs with kimchi at the food court or watching some Criterion movie in the cinema or having a cocktail in one of the many bars. You sets are staggered on the two main stages, but as you walk back and forth, you undoubtedly run into someone you know and end up missing all or most of whatever it was you were dying to see a half hour before (Melvins) or you just feel like getting a free massage and blow off the second half of Caribou. Not that all this stuff isn’t great, it is. A lot of the bands are ones you might not drop the money to see separately, but here, when they’re on the way to whatever else, you might as well. Or, like No Age and Bob Mould playing Husker Du, they are ones you can’t see separately. And they all sounded really good, like the best sound engineering you can remember—clear and heavy and deafening. And the drummers—from Oneida’s indefatigable Kid Millions to Shellac’s Todd Trainer to a bunch of other ladies and gentleman—took full advantage. But when it’s all packaged into what actually starts to feel like a vacation, you don’t feel so bad about skipping out after a few songs to stake out something else or wander in the surrounding woods.
If you were at last year’s My Bloody Valentine edition of ATP New York, maybe the Flaming Lips curation didn’t motivate you to come up this year. But it’s hard to imagine any group they might select next year that would make it not worth going to because ATP seems keenly aware of what they’ve got, which is the most focused music festival on the planet. The lineup is unique, the atmosphere is crazily mellow and the setting makes it feel like fans of semi-weird music are the upper crust on retreat. Not many festivals are interested in making diehard music fans feel appreciated, or even necessary, and ATP makes that its whole point.