ATP Mt Buller: Part 1

Waking up in Merrijig the first thing you notice is that even at the bottom of the mountain it’s cold enough to make getting out of bed a struggle. But once that’s been achieved and some breakfast eaten it’s a short and scenic 20 minute drive back up the mountain. After dropping my stuff off at the Corio Ski Lodge the first thing to do is sort out my photo pass, which happens effortlessly for once and with confirmation of the ‘mystery’ act, not that it was ever much of a mystery.  I also find out that if I had stayed on the mountain the previous night I could have caught (and been able to photograph) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and The Saints sound-checking, as well as a secret midnight show from The Stabs in the ABOM building, and the opportunity to try and gate-crash Nick Cave’s welcoming BBQ

The first band of the weekend are The Holy Sea, and it’s a nice chilled start to the festival, with the ever growing numbers joining those already relaxing around the natural amphitheatre that surround the stage. The band have an air of The Triffids to them and looking through the ATP program it’s no surprise to find that they are also from Perth. Their influences are confirmed when they cover ‘Raining Pleasure‘, which with Texas Tea also recently covering it for their second album. ‘The Junkship Recordings‘, obviously makes it the current Triffids song of choice. Although it’s a good song, and both The Holy Sea’s and Texas Tea’s versions are fairly faithful covers, it does feel like a bit of a missed opportunity to cover one of the many classic David McComb songs, although maybe they are considered too much of a musical holy grail to cover and do justice to.

The Holy Sea

The Holy Sea

Second band on the Amphitheatre Stage are Hoss, who turn out, not very surprisingly and to great relief, to not be the American hip hop band with the same name that has been playing on the ATP Australia last.fm radio station that has been much listened to in the days leading up to the festival.  Instead there’s an instant change from the acoustic-based, melodic and lyrical Holy Sea’s set to a much grittier and heavier punk sound.   For the few songs I see, it’s a bit average and unengaging, but largely harmless.

Hoss

 Hoss

Next it’s a walk up the hill to the Bourke Street stage, for the first band on the festival’s main stage, the much talked-about Dead Meadow.  The hill is deceptive as from the bottom it doesn’t (a) look that far, and (b) look that steep but it really takes it out of you, with an unhappy realisation at the top that it’s just the first ascent of many that is likely to be done over the course of the next two days. 

 Mt Buller - The hill to the main stage

Dead Meadow are a band that you could probably guess what they’re going to sound like as soon as you see them and before they play a single note;  they’re possibly three people of the most pallid and anaemic-looking people that you’ll ever see, an even more astonishing observation considering that they’re from LA, hinting at a lifestyle that doesn’t include much time spent outside, and the drummer, with his centre-parted golden locks and dodgy moustache, looks like he’s travelled in time from 1970.  So their brand of stoner/psychedelic rock is no surprise to the uninitiated.  However, it just feels a bit too early in the day for them and for us, and by all accounts their second set of the festival, inside on the ABOM stage early the following evening, is a much more fitting time and place (as is their excellent ATP show at the Brisbane Powerhouse the following week).

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Dead Meadow

Although it’s only been about 15 months since I last saw Bill Callahan play, I don’t actually recognise him when he comes out onto the stage, and somewhat embarrassingly don’t recognise him to the point of taking photos of Mick Turner, only realising my mistake when Bill walks up to his microphone and starts singing.  In those 15 months since the show at the Troubadour he’s grown his hair and a bit of a beard and has turned into Edder Vedder… In addition to having Mick Turner on guitar, he’s also by Jim White on drums, and whilst the band is under-rehearsed, with Bill Callahan leading the others through the changes, it doesn’t matter as you can just close your eyes and listen his rich and soothing voice, with ‘Diamond Dancer‘ and ‘Cold Blooded Old Times‘ being amongst the highlights.

Bill Callahan

Bill Callahan

Jim White - Playing with Bill Callahan

Mick Turner, easily mistakable for Bill Callahan c.2007…
Mick Turner - Playing with Bill Callahan

Melbourne all-female super-group Beaches have been garnering column inches in the music media and receiving very favourable reviews for their debut album over the last few months but are disappointing and largely unremarkable during the few songs that I see.   They are the type of band that no one would pay any attention to if they came from Brisbane, even if they had an all-female line-up, and seem a bit undeserving of the hype.

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

More ATP Mt Buller photos on flickr.

2 Responses to “ATP Mt Buller: Part 1”

  1. […] tunes from the 1990s, something that might have been used on the soundtrack to Wipeout.  As with Dead Meadow, it feels like their set is too early for them and too early for us. A later set, ideally one after […]

  2. […] were a huge disappointment at ATP Mt Buller earlier in the year but watching them tonight it’s like watching a completely different band, […]

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