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ATP vs Pitchfork

The finest, frankest and latest review you'll read this year of the festival at Camber Sands.

After waiting an eternity for the group I was travelling with to get their shit together, we hit the road, and our pre-war bus seemed a perfect match for the Martin Parr-esque location towhich we were headed. Being a Camber Sands virgin – and having heard the enthusiastic ravings of practically every ATP aficionado – I was full of hope, and, by the time we got there, Plymouth Gin. 

The first night started with an upbeat and manic performance from Man Man who leaped, bounded and snaked all over the stage. Then I ran upstairs to catch a tiny bit of Vampire Weekend who were disappointment by comparison. The "energy" was flowing (or perhaps the drugs were kicking in) and I began to lose my friends, my sanity and, obviously, my phone. From what I can remember, the night turned into an energetic blur of noise, feedback and fun, with standout sets from Sebadoh and Ween

Awaking with the world's worst hangovers we ventured out into the complex. The sun was shining and the heat was building. In the main room the perfectly-timed and soothing sounds of Bon Iver began the day well, but the heat inside and the lack of air conditioning was becoming a pain. The stifling atmosphere, plus with the difficulty in getting a drink unless smuggled in, was turning our respective hangovers into a form of torture.

Next I managed to miss Yeasayer and Born Ruffians due to a short coma on the grass outside. Under the dwindling sun we smoked our lungs black waiting for Les Savy Fav. The one thing I am still struggling with when I watch bands is the non-smoking. Fuck, smoking used to cover a multitude of sins: stale booze, sweat, boredom and farts. Sadly, it does so no more.

Les Savy Fav burst on to the stage unexpectedly in an explosion of skin tight lycra and turned in a brilliant performance while Hot Chip rounded off the night with a perfect rendering of Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U". I hated the track then and still do. The frolics continued afterwards in the Queen Vic, and various chalets, especially in the one that advertised "four sluts… three beds".

The beach was calling on the final day, but I have never witnessed so many chavs and filth. I must have spotted at least five used nappies floating in the surf of mixed rubbish. The sun was so harsh that it was impossible to venture into the venue except in short sharp bursts. The likes of Marissa Nadler and Jens Lekman made doing so worthwhile, but hard. 

The evening brought us Black Mountain who played a haunting and captivating set. Of Montreal and No Age kept spirits high, as did our dwindling supplies of booze and drugs. The Meat Puppets played to an eager crowd as their energetic bassist, who threw some of the biggest gurns I have ever seen, started to piss me off. Staying downstairs I ended the weekend on the brilliant Caribou.

ATP have just announced The Nightmare Before Christmas 2008, curated by Melvins and Mike Patton.