Caught Live: ATP Concerts Presents... Nightmare Before Christmas, Day Three (Curated by Caribou) @ Butlins, Minehead
Sunday brings me (in no particular order) bowling, a roast, an emo-ta-tha-bone beach, basketball, floods in the streets, arcades and cuddly toys yanked from the evil clutches of the teddy-grabbing machines. Bastards. I beat you, didn't I? Ha!
Our hosts for the day, Caribou, are totally okay at Centre. They are fine. They play their Caribou songs with their caribou instruments, and people either like them quite a lot or like them just enough and that's about that really. No matter how many people they have onstage or how many drumkits they utilise, I'm still just not getting them and find myself walking away from a festival set of theirs once more...
They're playing Cash's version of 'I See A Darkness' in The Irish Bar; there's a storm raging outside; Butlins is practically empty; and we've got a WWE yo-yo from the toyshop. Let's all go and see Pharoah Sanders! A one-time acolyte of John Coltrane, the septuagenarian is one of the few proper living legends here this weekend. He and his band duly shuffle through a rolling set of languid afternoon jazz that only strikes the wrong note when he attempts to persuade atheist hipsters to sing along to songs about god. Never mind, he's cool as fuck, and he can sing about whatever he likes as far as this scribe is concerned. Finger-clicking good (sorry!).
Connan Mockasin – a favourite of (for whatever reason) MOR merchants Crowded House – emits floating waves of Kiwi dream pop from Centre Stage, as the whole afternoon looks like turning into a womb-like relaxation session punctuated only by roasts and the pings of distant air hockey matches. Power nap, Berocca, coffee, slice of pizza: the show must go on before the show turns into a chalet full of idiots sleeping the rest of the festival away.
Sadly, Mockasin's fellow New Zealanders Orchestra of Spheres prove to be The Worst Thing of The Weekend. Their sub-pub band capabilities are only highlighted by their complete lack of any actual songs - their set relies instead on loads of dodgy warbling, a shaky sense of rhythm and stupid, stupid hats. Fuck off I say. Dick bands like these guys give the music I love and the festivals I like to attend a very bad name indeed, so they should be damned in the strongest possible terms. DAMN THEM!
Sun Ra Arkestra, meanwhile, are brightly-robed mentalists seemingly intent on dropping semi-experimental jazz all over the shop; like if the jazz was actually hot potatoes and they didn't have their potato-handling gloves on (or something). Anyway, they are old, they are dressed like Egyptian Pharaohs on their day off, and they improv a genuinely scary Nightmare Before Christmas theme song before letting us all know that we can travel into space should we so choose. Via Egypt, I'm guessing.
Elsewhere, Stockholm's Roll The Dice are an electro duo who deal primarily in repetition and darkly bleak soundscapes. The polar opposite, in other words, of Omar Souleyman's mentalist karaoke: the crowd inside Reds are treated to a party-starting set of weird surreality from one man and his clanging, high-pitched backing tape. Hey, people are wasted, they like it. Good times.
At this point the fest has begun to fade a little (there are a lot of people asleep on various floors, for one thing), but things are soon given a swift kickstart by Factory Floor. As usual, theirs is a snapping set of post-industrial savagery that, for the first time personally, engages with the heart as much as the head. As Sunday quickly becomes Monday, this much-hyped trio prove themselves to be a band not just showing off, but being very good.
Back at Crazy Horse, Detroit House luminary Theo Parrish spins a four-hour set of warm, honey-soaked soul; the zombified dancefloor treats him like a hero, and rightly so. As crazy o'clock gradually approaches, Parrish's set begins to garner more and more attention from passers-by (including the lovely, immensely patient Tim from Les Savy Fav). Gentle but madly positive tunes are the general order of the day as the closing night drifts off into the ether, and we suddenly don't want it all to end...
***Minor festival complaint #5: It would be cool not to have The Sun & Moon AND The Sports Bar close early on Sunday evening - along with the cinema, which was closed from 4pm 'til 10pm. On a Sunday?!? C'mon!***
It's left to DJ Rashad & DJ Spinn to give the night its cap with an exhausting powerhouse of a set at Reds, and then suddenly... What? It's home time? You mean, there's no more Billy Bear? No more hot dog smell? Well, not 'til March I guess...