All Tomorrow's Parties Film Premiere, and Mogwai, at Edinburgh's Picture House, 24/6
live review for the skinny (*****)
The organisers have made a real effort for tonights All Tomorrow’s Parties film premiere, appropriately hosted in a gig venue converted from an old cinema. In honour of ATP’s Butlins setting, there’s dancing girls and donkeys entertaining the queue outside (for the retro British seaside holidays theme y’see), while inside there’s a traditional ice cream stand and other decorations and Hi-Di-Hi references. The 75 minute film itself is a captivating composite of amateur footage shot across several ATPs, interspersed with more old-fashioned holiday scenes, that surely tempted everyone present to go straight home and buy a ticket. The shows by Battles, Grinderman and Boredoms looked great, but the most interesting parts are the outdoors scenes: Daniel Johnston sitting on the grass outside his room with his guitar and a small crowd; fans climbing into trees to get a better view of Lightning Bolt in a similar location; and Grizzly Bear wandering down to the beach at sunrise with guitars and a small troupe of disciples. I’ve never been, but ATP looks truly unique.
To nobody’s surprise, the surprise guests tonight are Mogwai. Kudos to the sound guy, because they’re both absolutely clear and extremely loud, and very moving in a way that’s impossible to pinpoint. What is it about a chord change or a shift in volume or an added texture that feels so meaningful despite being, on the face of it, utterly meaningless? Mogwai give nothing away easily, so every second is like a slowly unravelling epiphany that never fully exposes itself. My Father My King is a jaw-dropping closer, seeming to crack the atmosphere around us like My Bloody Valentine’s famous live Holocaust, except with structure, with purpose, as part of a song. Like a rainstorm purifying humid air, its effect is therapeutic; a spectacular end to a memorable evening.