The Portishead Experience - ATP & NY, 2011

How can I even start? In the mid to late 90's my little sister and I listened to very different music. She would go off on 3/4/5 day raves somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the south of France, listening to all sorts of techno/hardcore/dub/goa/drum and bass. I would mainly be found in goth clubs dancing the night away, or at an extreme metal show. Neither of us were very mainstream, and still aren't today, and although I would sometimes jump in a car and go off to find a rave with her, or she would come out dancing with me, there really was no musical common ground between us at that time. Until Portishead and Massive Attack. That musical middle ground between the two of us, bands we could both love equally.

I had never seen Portishead live until this week. And this week I had the amazing opportunity to see them FOUR times. Twice at ATP thanks to my wonderful friends Dana and all of the Thought Forms band members, and twice here in New York at the Hammerstein Ballroom, thanks again to my Charlie, Deej and Guy from Thought Forms. They all made a dream come true not just once, but four times. Every single time Portishead played I was blown away by the amazing sound, by the fact that they may just sound even better live than they do recorded (and yes, this IS possible), and by the effect they still have on me. I had goosebumps, cried, laughed, jumped up and down, felt immensely sad and then immensely happy and wanted to tell all my friends I loved them. All within the 90 minutes they played each night. Over and over again, all kinds of different emotions and feelings with every song, every note.

Seeing the same band four times in a row, especially with a setlist that remains very similar on each night could have been a little boring towards the end, but not with Portishead. I was mesmerized from the first note of the first performance to the last note of We Carry On last night. I feel so lucky and privileged that I was able to attend all of these shows...

It was wonderful to see how the crowd reacted in the same way as I did: some had tears pouring down their faces, others were dancing, singing along and just really enjoying the amazing show. I already knew Beth Gibbons had one of the most beautiful, powerful and emotional voices I have ever heard, but live it is so much better than you can imagine. During the stripped down live version of Wandering Star, with just Beth on vocals, Adrian Utley on guitar and Geoff Barrow on bass, Beth's voice sounds so haunting it still sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it. I do wish they had played It's A Fire, just once, because that is the song I send to my sister whenever I feel sad, but honestly, the setlist is amazing enough as it stands.

I don't have the exact setlist for each night, but you are sure to hear most, if not all of the following songs if you are going to see them on this tour: Silence, Nylon, Hunter, Mysterons, The Rip, Sour Times, Magic Doors, Wandering Star, Machine Gun, Over, Glory Box, Chase The Tear, Cowboys, Threads, Roads, We Carry On (if you are front row you may even be lucky enough to give Beth a hug during this last song).

I can't wait for my little sister to see them when they get to California, just so that she can have exactly the same experience I did.

And this is why I love music so damn much, for this amazing effect it has on me. I really don't have anything else to say, as I want to be able to keep some of the experience close to my heart, so just listen, and enjoy.

ATP/I'll Be Your Mirror 2011 - My Highlights

How can one go about reviewing an entire festival in one post? Especially one where I saw so much wonderful music! It's just not possible, so I am going to talk about the highlights of the festival in this post, will post an article on Portishead later this week, after tomorrow's show, and one on Thought Forms around the same time. And I have enough additional writing material to last me for a year too... So many silly, goofy, funny, serious, entertaining and slightly surreal occurrences to divulge!

As an introduction I have to say that the organisation and location of ATP/I'll Be Your Mirror was wonderful. Asbury Park, right by the ocean, 3 venues within literally a few minutes of each other, great security and staff, amazing bands and music, and a hotel right next door. There was honestly nothing to complain about. This was my first ATP, and I know a lot of veterans were upset that it wasn't in the previous location in the Catskills, but I honestly think that they did a great job. I didn't feel like I was at a festival, but more like part of a community. One of the "rules" in the ATP booklet was listed twice: "Don't be an asshole", and I really feel that everyone abided by that - I didn't meet anyone who wasn't friendly. I shall definitely be returning next year!

My friend Dana gave me her 3-day pass, as she had a photo pass for the festival, as well as a hotel room (lucky me!!). There was so much that I wanted to see (and that she needed to shoot), that I made lists for each day so that I wouldn't miss anything. I actually did really well - I saw everyone I wanted to except or Battles. I am sure I will catch them over here soon though, so I am not really disappointed. So... The highlights...

Shellac. Not JUST Shellac, but a front row right in front of Todd the drummer Shellac experience. Mind-blowing. However minimalist they are, their sound still fills an entire room... A few fun pieces of information: I had forgotten my earplugs, so the sound guy went to find some for me, and apparently gave me some (clean) ones that the drummer found in his pocket. So I just have to say that Todd Trainer saved my ears for the whole festival. Todd's bass drum contains some interesting fillers: a toy squirrel and women's underwear (I wonder if it belonged to the woman on the front row who kept yelling out how she had shagged him multiple times?). Anyway, if you haven't seen Shellac yet, do it. And go with a bunch of questions for their Question & Answer sessions (we got 2 during the set).


Beak> : the one band I absolutely could NOT miss, so even though they were on first on the Saturday, I was there, well in advance, front row, and they blew me away. Can Geoff Barrow do anything wrong? That guy is a musical genius: runs a record label (Invada), produces amazing bands, is a founding member of Portishead, and one part of Beak>. He probably does a million other things too, all the more for me to discover. Great beat, great vocals, kind of surreal, the kind of music I love listening to when I am outside walking for miles and want to disappear into another world. Seeing Beak> live was definitely a major festival highlight for me. I keep reading comments about people wanting to compare them to Portishead... They don't sound anything like Portishead, and that's a good thing. What would be the point in having a side project that sounds like your main band?! Anyway, listen to them.


The Pop Group: yes!!! Back after THIRTY years!!! They were a huge influence on many bands that are popular today, so seeing them was really a treat. It's just a pity that they played at the sit-down Paramount Theater instead of the Convention Hall, but I still had a great time up front with the mega fans. I hope they are going to go on tour now - I know there are many people who would love to see them live.

Jeff Mangum: I went to see him after Shellac on the Friday, but he was already halfway through his set, and I was still completely hyped up from seeing Shellac a couple of minutes before, so the contrast was just too much. I went back again on Sunday with the friend who had actually introduced me to Jeff Mangum a few years before, and watched the whole set. I love the guy, he is just a wonderful artist. Anyone who complained about how strict the security was about switching cell phones off should have read all the signs that were posted. Jeff Mangum didn't want any type of recording or photography, amateur or professional, during his sets. It was actually kind of refreshing to actually enjoy some excellent music without seeing a hundred arms holding cell phones and cameras in the air.

Swans: my first Swans live performance, and I wasn't disappointed. Two solid hours of pure NOISE. Thankfully I still had Todd Trainer's earplugs on me to save my ears again. I knew they were supposed to be loud, but this was beyond loud. PURE WALL OF NOISE. Again, I wish it had been at the Convention Hall, and not in the sit down theater area. It was confusing for everyone who wanted to get up and move to the front and they kept getting pushed back to the seats again, but other than that, what a great performance!


Thought Forms: I know they are my friends but they are one of my favourite bands around right now. they played the last set of the weekend at Asbury Lanes, and apart from there being too much feedback played a good solid set - they are on tour with Portishead this month, so if you haven't heard them already you should definitely check them out.

Oneida: they played a TEN HOUR SET on Saturday. YES TEN HOURS. I stayed there for a while, and just wanted to lie on the ground and dream. Geoff Barrow joined them on the drums for a while (that guy can seriously do no wrong in my book), but Kid, the drummer, is one of the best drummers out there and he seriously stole the show for me. I wish I could have stayed longer, but there was so much to see and do at ATP that I couldn't stop running around.

Public Enemy

There was so much more that happened, that I saw, that I heard, that I felt and that I experienced. I just can't get it all down in words, and in a way, don't really feel like it either. I'm sure different things will be used in different pieces of writing over the next few months...

These were only MY highlights, I am sure that other people had other highlights, but this is my personal opinion. You can of course feel free to disagree... Can't wait til next year!!

Thought Forms - exclusive tracks released via ATP

Thought Forms are on their way over to the US right now to support Portishead on their US/Canada tour. They will also be playing at ATP in a little over a week. Check out two exclusive Thought Forms tracks that ATP have released:

Song For Junko
Ghost Mountain

I'm also going to be having a little party for them at 200 Orchard next Wednesday, where we will be playing some good music and having a laugh, so stop by and join us <3

If yu don't have your ATP tickets yet get them! If you didn't manage to get your tickets for one of the two shows in NYC, then I feel bad for you as I think they are both sold out now.

Thought Forms

I'm SO excited! Not only are Portishead playing twice in NYC this year (Hammerstein Ballroom, 10/04 & 10/05) and also in New Jersey (Asbury Park, ATP - I'll Be Your Mirror festival, 09/30-10/02) BUT one of my closest and most loveliest friends, Charlie's band Thought Forms will be supporting them through-out the whole US and Canada tour!!!

I first saw Thought Forms live in 2006, and then again in 2009. I'm really looking forward to seeing them on a larger stage, playing to a larger audience this year! If you are a fan of Sonic Youth, Slint, My Bloody Valentine and Mogwai you should definitely check them out. Charlie and Deej are amazing guitarists,and have that rare talent of making their guitars sing to each other on stage, with what seems like no effort at all. Thought Forms music really just speaks for itself. You really just need to hear them play to understand the awesomeness of it all.

I'm soooo excited!!!

Official site: Thought Forms
Facebook page: Thought Forms
Debut album on sale here: Invada Records

Photo from the 2009 show.