SIFF ’09 Review: All Tomorrow’s Parties

All Tomorrow’s Parties, directed by Jonathan Caouette, All Tomorrow’s People (United Kingdom, 2009) 85 min.
Festival screenings:

May 26, 2009 9:30 PM @ Egyptian Theatre
May 28, 2009 4:30 PM @ Neptune Theatre

If you’d like a pair of tickets for tonight’s show, email us now. The first 4 people will win a pair of tickets, but you must be able to pick the tickets up at the station before 6PM today.

review by masakaman

“People, are you ready? This world is fucked up but you still have right to feel joy!” — Patti Smith

If you’re like me, you’ll often ask yourself why you like what music you like and how it got to you. Music scenes wouldn’t exist without trendmakers, bands, producers and ultimately fans, but at the same time they depend on corporate media marketing music to us. Maybe it’s not always this simple because music also can attach to our memories of events in our lives. Then it’s no longer an issue of how the music is marketed, but it’s still good to question when music approaches you with anything other than music itself. What matters is that music is real and the bands, producers do care that matter to them. To know that, you need to be real to the music you listen to. And that is ultimately the message of the new documentary All Tomorrow’s Parties.

“I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that destroying the youth culture by mass marketing and paranoia behavior control. And the first step to do is to destroy the record company, do you not agree?” — Thurston Moore

All Tomorrow’s Parties, the festival, began in England in 1999 as an alternative to the big corporate festivals. Typically, the performances take over the off-season holiday campsite Camber Sands by the sea in East Sussex, but the events have spread even to the United States and they are always free of corporate sponsorship. Artists stay in the same accommodations as the fans. Most importantly, each event is curated by a different artist, usually a musician or band, like The Breeders, who curated one of the weekends this year, but also by fans and other kinds of artists, the sensationalist conceptual artists the Chapman Brothers. Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, who has been involved a couple of years, called the festival the “ultimate mix tape.” The list of previous curators alone is simply amazing: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Mike Patton & Melvins, My Bloody Valentine, Explosions In The Sky, Pitchfork Media, Portishead, Dirty Three, Sonic Youth, The Shins, Sleater Kinney, Dinosaur Jr., Devendra Banhart, Mudhoney, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Mars Volta, Vincent Gallo, Slint, Stephen Malkmus, Tortoise, Shellac, Autechre, Modest Mouse, and The Simpsons‘ creator Matt Groening.

“You are music too, you are all instrument, everyone suppose to be playing the part in this vast Arkestry of the Cosmos.” — Sun Ra

All Tomorrow’s Parties, the documentary, is 85 minutes of randomly organized chaos of images and sounds, like 24 hour party people, tripping, dancing, freaking and kissing. The movie is a collage of samples showcasing past ATP events through fan and artist-made footage, shot on everything from super 8 to cell phones, mixed up with footage from filmmakers and killer media archival clips. The energy and vibe of it all is hard to explain as it takes you through the many levels of what is like to wander around and even get lost in the ATP festival campsite. Battles kicks it, Seasick Steve does his thing and rolls it, The Gossip just rock it, Iggy jumps and David Cross loses it. While it won’t be the same as going to ATP, the film is the closest you’ll get until next the festival, to be curated by The Flaming Lips at Kutshers Country Club, NY, this coming September, though maybe some of you may enjoy it more this way — smaller crowds!

One of the messages of the documentary and the festival itself is that we are no longer limited to “this year’s sounds” which corporate media once served to us in the past. We can search more quickly, better, and deeper ourselves. We choose our favorite sounds from a web of parallel music: world, punk, rock, hip-hop, rockabilly, jazz, experimental, indie, metal, pop, electronic, and every genre in between. The newest sound of this planet is just clicks away now but only if they are digitally available. We can filter as we like, just music, music with the faces, music with the faces and fashion, music with the faces, fashion, and how many CD the band has sold. Some bands and artists are questioning techniques of the past and trying to do without the major labels, while practicing new methods and techniques through digital distribution, minimal package to reduce prices low and save resources. There is more use of eco-friendly material for packaging; or no packaging, just music for half the price; or a CD priced to include the cost to carbon offset the CO2 average a person emits in a day. Good or bad, the Internet has become great part of our life. We find many great ideas, it resonate to cause chain reactions among the like minded. Is this the best thing that’s ever happened to us? I like to think so. Many of you have already seen the ATP trailer on YouTube, MySpace or on a hip blog (see below), posted by involved parties as well as by a lot of people who are just into the film. The system now functions as user-based semi-automated publicizing machine. It’s efficient and it takes only the speed of a few clicks to reach your target and FUN! But hold on, now where is the mass marketing and paranoia behavior control we need to destroy?

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