The official bill for this year’s incredible three-day informed-listener sleepaway camp All Tomorrow’s Parties New York included life-changing performances like The Stooges recreating Raw Power in its entirety, Mudhoney doing Superfuzz Bigmuff + Early Singles, Sunn 0))) and Boris presenting their collaborative drone-fog-fest Altar. But the organic occurences–which is pretty much what ATP’s casual atmosphere of VIPs-amid-the-hoi-polloi atmosphere is meant to foster–were just as special. A highly subjective list of the festival’s top 10 moments.
1. The Stooges doing Raw Power. All Tomorrow’s Parties’ attitude toward its audience is one of respect and trust–there’s no patdown or bag search or security hassle. Yet Iggy Pop is a legend whose frenetic prescence is so hefty, so loaded with animal sex, he makes intelligent people behave like mouth-frothing, zombie-clawing imbeciles. And so for the first time in all three ATP NYs (that I can recall), security lined the main ballroom stage, running cat-and-mouse interference between the roiling crowd and Mr. Pop’s feral-animal antics. He’d bellyflop into the front row, security would grab his ankles and pull him safely back. He made like bull and tried to knock over the stage-left monitor, security scurried to keep the equipment from toppling. Their wall only became porous when Iggy invited the front up with him to dance for “Shake Appeal.” (“Nice ass crack” Iggy complimented somebody climbing up to join him.) One girl in a black bra managed to elude security long enough to put Iggy in a near-headlock and then wouldn’t stop hugging him. Wherever you are girl, you are an asshole.
2. Jim Jarmusch versus the Ice Cream Man. During a press conference designed to stop media folks from bugging the director all weekend, Jim Jarmusch told a roomful that one of the things he loved about ATP was that there was “no corporate bullshit.” Meanwhile the Ice Cream Man, a dude who gives free ice cream away at festivals and somehow ended up here asking questions, sat on a portable ice box with an Energizer Advanced Lithium sticker on it. Very confusing.
3. Ron Jeremy. We didn’t get Bill Murray. Instead we got the porn freak in an orange Hempfest T-shirt and matching Crocs introducing Raekwon. Even more confusing.
4. Sonic Youth’s ubiquity. They were everywhere. The band itself headlined on Saturday, Thurston Moore played a solo set on Sunday morning, and also participated in a Q&A with curator Jim Jarmusch. Drummer Steve Shelley backed up Michael Rother’s Hallogallo. Lee Ranaldo performed with Text of Light. They were in the halls, on the stages, in the elevator. Lee Ranaldo’s kids were even playing Marco Polo in the indoor pool.
5. Ricky Powell. If watching the public-access legend go through old photos during his self-branded slideshow and proclaim things like John Lee Hooker “fucked the most old hippie ladies” wasn’t memorable enough, witnessing the dude walk into a sliding glass door early Saturday morning definitely was. Sorry for laughing, man, you handled it beautifully.
6. Shellac. Hours after Heartless Bastards frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom joined in on his all-with-money-welcome poker table, producer/card shark/engineer Steve Albini killed it on the mainstage with ATP “house band.” They only had 45 minutes, so no time to grant requests or for bassist Bob Weston to crack jokes during his usual open-ended Q&A session, but their set included “Steady As She Goes,” “The End of Radio,” and shout-outs to Studs Terkel and Kim Deal.
7. The Breeders Wishing Steve Albini’s Wife a Happy Anniversary Speaking of which: when the Breeders immediately followed Shellac on the main stage, Kim Deal and her sister Kelley phoned his Steve Albini’s wife. Apparently it was the couple’s wedding anniversary, and he was here in upstate New York without his bride, so the Deals got the entire room to salute her with “Happy Anniversary, Mrs. Albini!” Dude to my right, cutting through the din: “I LOVE YOUR HUSBAND!”
8. Fucked Up. Things Damian Abraham did during Fucked Up’s near-perfect Sunday-afternoon set: waved an audience-supplied American flag; stuck an opened Oreo cookie on his nipples; put a plastic bag around his head, wrapped the microphone cord around it, then walked around blindly; kissed a dude with a beard on the cheek; gave a piggyback to two audience members; jumped on the back of another; informed the room that he ate an entire box of Count Chocula; dumped a bag of Cocoa cereal on the front; told everyone he’d recently started smoking weed and that it worked better than his anti-anxiety pills; stripped down to his boxers; licked his guitarists face. There were songs too, and they were amazing.
9. Blues legend T-Model Ford. The 90-year-old drew an awestruck, entirely reverent crowd by setting up in both the hall and the lobby and playing unannounced on Friday and Saturday.
10. Hannibal Buress. Dude is hilarious.