Saturday, October 1, 2011

Photos/Review: ATP I'll Be Your Mirror - Day One (Chavez, Shellac, Jeff Mangum, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy)

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
ATP I'll Be Your Mirror @ Asbury Park, NJ (Day One)
Photos: Chris, Nadia Chaudhury & Jennifer Harmon
Review: Chris & Jennifer Harmon

Well, the festival we've been writing about for months now is finally upon us, and it's off to a good start. Despite having to check-in at four different places before actually getting into a venue to see some music, everyone working the festival has been really friendly, and it's clear the attendees are all here because they're dedicated music fans. All Tomorrow's Parties has long held the distinction from other music festivals by accepting absolutely no corporate sponsorship, and for also booking talent that is geared towards die-hard music nerds. It's no wonder it's already been one of the most pleasant festival-going experiences I've had (never mind the non-stop pouring rain).

Asbury Park by Chris

By the time we had all our passes, we had already missed Cults who played at Asbury Lanes. Luckily, Nadia was over there and snapped a couple photos for us. I can't attest to how they were, but from I've heard of this band they are quite good. Check out photos of them below...

Cults by Nadia Chaudhury

We got started by checking out the recently reunited Chavez at Convention Hall (which is literally right next to the beautiful Paramount Theatre), who put on a great 45-minute set as people began pouring in. Bob Weston (of Mission of Burma and Shellac) was doing their sound for the night, which made perfect sense. Not only did Shellac follow them at Convention Hall, but the two bands share very similar aesthetics. Chavez were LOUD, playing their characteristically tight math-rock that was extremely hard hitting, heavy, and dark. Check out some photos below...
Chavez by Chris

A great way to start the night for sure, and once Chavez were finished (they even played a one-song encore "for the fans") we ran over to the Paramount Theatre to check out the Elephant Six group A Hawk and a Hacksaw. The last time I caught this band was when they opened for The Olivia Tremor Control (who we caught last week) in 2005, but I've never forgotten what they were like because their act is pretty unique and memorable. Led by accordion player Jeremy Barnes (who was the touring drummer of Neutral Milk Hotel way back when), A Hawk and a Hacksaw play mostly instrumental music inspired by Eastern European sounds--the polar opposite of Chavez--but interesting for sure, and a great segue into who would follow at the Paramount Theatre... Jeff Mangum. Check out some photos below...

A Hawk and a Hacksaw by Chris

The best part of this festival so far is that they've arranged the set times between Convention Hall and Paramount Theatre in such a way that you don't really miss any of the major acts. Not to mention, it was not very crowded at all so you could very easily get a great spot no matter how late you showed up. So we ran back over to catch Shellac, and as expected, they were awesome.

Steve Albini and Bob Weston took questions from the crowd, which ranged from "What color are your pants?" to "Did Todd get that piece of luggage I left for you in Toronto?" and "Have you ever driven a tank?" All questions the band gave hilarious answers to: "Orange," "A lot of people leave luggage for Todd," and "No, but the monitor guy claims to have had sex on a tank," respectively. Their conclusion was an excellent performance of "The End of Radio," where Todd Trainer walked about the stage with his snare drum in hand like a crazy person, which culminated in a severely heavy session of rocking from the trio. Check out some photos of the supergroup below...

Shellac by Chris

After Shellac, it was right on to the highlight of the night... the one and only Jeff Mangum. I am pretty sure that when it was announced Mangum would be performing again, these were the first shows that were booked. And while he has played several shows already on tour, this was most likely the first time the majority of the audience at the Paramount Theatre were seeing him. Mangum requested absolutely no photography or video during his performance so we were not able to get any photos, but I'm actually really happy he requested that policy. Instead of people obsessing over taking iPhone photos (and yes, security were walking about the entire show to make sure people weren't), fans were actually able to sit there and completely absorb the performance.

And what a phenomenal performance it was. Mangum's reclusion over the past decade may have made him out to be some sort bizarre Howard Hughes-type artist, but if his onstage persona is any indication, he is really just a shy person like so many eccentrics are. When I first heard In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, it was probably around 2003--right around the time it was starting to achieve that sort of legendary status amongst the music world. I did instantly love it, but I never would have thought that in 2011 it would be as highly regarded as it is now. It's pretty clear now why that is... the songs are just absolutely amazing. Playing the majority of Aeroplane, all on acoustic guitar (a variety of acoustic guitars,  actually), as well as a few songs off of On Avery Island and a cover of Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You In The End," Mangum's voice sounded exactly as you would have expected. It's not perfect, that's for sure, but it does have the ability to send chills down your spine for just how heart-wrenching it can be.

Mangum asked people to sing along with him several times, most notably on "The King of Carrot Flowers" (yes, both parts one, two and three) and set closer "Holland 1945," which the crowd happily obliged, and throughout the show he seemed to be extremely grateful for everyone's presence. He didn't have much to say in between songs, aside from responding to outbursts of "everyone loves you!" with, "uh... you live in a distorted reality if you really think that is the case," but I doubt anyone really cared to hear Mangum give much stage banter. An extremely enthusiastic standing ovation demanded an encore, in which he played Avery's "Naomi" and the rarity "Engine" to close out his set. Not really much more I can say about it other than it was definitely one of the highlights of my crazy show-attending year. I really can't wait to see him again on Monday. Here is Mangum's setlist:

Oh Comely
Two-Headed Boy Pt. Two
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Song Against Sex
Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone
True Love Will Find You in The End (Daniel Johnston cover)
Two-Headed Boy
A Baby For Pree
The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One
The King of Carrot Flowers Pts. Two & Three
Holland, 1945



During Jeff Mangum, Jennifer Harmon went over to Berkley Hotel to check out the comedy acts that were playing there (she didn't have a pass that allowed entry to Mangum on Friday, but will see him on Sunday). Here's what she had to say about it:

Comedian Hannibal Buress didn't waste any time getting audience members to crack up inside The Berkley last night. He was much more than a warm-up act to wild Reggie Watts - the comedy stage's main attraction. Buress, whom you might remember from the "Poker/Divorce" episode of Louis CK's sitcom, is a natural when it comes to observational humor. It felt like we were hanging out at a bar and he was simply sharing stories with us about how some crazy asshole stole his check book and went on a fucked up shopping spree with his hard earned money. Bad luck continued when he described how he got ticketed for jaywalking in Canada and proceeded to "talk back" to those bored, conniving cops. Buress was also mighty good at impersonating the sound of a chatty woman he brought home, including all the questions she asked him during their whoopee session.

Reggie Watts impressed the laid back crowd in Asbury Park with his creative lyrical stylings and funky dance beats. With a wise expression on his face, he whispered something serious into the microphone as if to give advice to the men and women of ATP.  Reggie's poofy head of hair bounced up and down as he got comfortable next to his signature looping machine. He exuded happiness and positivity with spoken word verses about changing the world. Of course, those wise words were mixed with some silly observations about life.

This guy never does the same act twice. He brings together everything fans love about music and mixes it with the magic of comedy and live-improv. Check out some photos I snapped of both comedians below...

Hannibal Buress by Jennifer Harmon

Reggie Watts by Jennifer Harmon

After that, we went back to Convention Hall to check out Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. I've never really been the biggest fan of his, he sounded good, but honestly, after Jeff Mangum it felt like a collective shrug of the shoulders amongst the people I was with. We'll be back at the festival today to check out Beak>, Battles, The Horrors, Ultramagnetic MC's, Swans, and of course, PORTISHEAD. Check out some photos of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy below, and be sure to keep checking back here for day-to-day coverage of the rest of the festival...

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy by Chris


  1. This was a great read, thanks for posting.

  2. Cults were suprisingly good. Prince Billy was a little mellow to end the night, in my opinion, but as another great day at ATP.

  3. Nothing about Thinking Fellers?!?