If there is one major criticism that could be leveled at the ATP Australian line-up, itâ€™s that itâ€™s very male and very middle-aged. In that respect, AfrirampoÂ are like a breath of fresh air. Sure, they have the whole clichÃ©d Japanese female punk band thing, with the colorful outfits (resplendent with artistic face make up), the kookiness of the between song banter, the extreme politeness and telling us that they love us but thereâ€™s so much unbridled joy and a sense of fun that transcends cultures in watching Oni and Pika play. And they really can play, with Pika putting in a really stunning powerhouse drumming performance, providing evidence for their claim that ATP stands for ‘Afrirampo. Top of mountain. POWER!’ Â They are one of those bands that canâ€™t help but bring a smile to your face when you see them.Â J Spaceman is watching them play from side stage, although I donâ€™t think he does smilingâ€¦
From one happy smiley person to another and itâ€™s time for Michael GiraÂ back down at the Amphitheatre stage… One man and his acoustic guitar can often mean the insipidness of a city busker but when itâ€™s Michael Gira and his acoustic guitar it’s a whole different matter.Â With just his voice and guitar, Gira has the ability to both terrify and yet captivate an audience, and deliver a performance of hypnotic intensity that stuns the crowd into silence.Â ApparentlyÂ he sold $800 worth of CDs in three minutes after he played; impressive stuff and a true measure of the impact he made on the audience.
Robert Forster plays a typically classy set and is so eager to play that not only does he sits out on the drum riser before the rest of his band come out to the stage but he doesnâ€™t bother tuning up as the batteries in his tuner are flat. Adele Pickvance plays mum in trying to convince him that he really should tune up before they start, which provides no end of amusement to all the photographers in the photo pit but Robert isnâ€™t having any of it and away he goes, straight into a cover of the Velvet Undergroundâ€™s â€˜Temptation Inside Your Heartâ€™, with Go-Between classics ‘Head Full of Steam‘, ‘Surfing Magazines‘ and ‘Quiet Heart‘ following soon after in amongst his own excellent solo songs.
HarmoniaÂ are another large personal draw-card, and judging by the size of the crowd, which easily dwarves that which Kraftwerk played to in Brisbane late last year,Â I’m amongstÂ a large number of like-minded souls.Â They provide an interesting comparison with Kraftwerk, their Krautrock peers; although they don’t have the stunning visuals of a Kraftwerk show, they sound more contemporary than them, with KraftwerkÂ having aÂ sound, and especially vocals,Â that ultimately betrays the timing of their origins and popularity,Â meaning that they can be easily placed as a mid-70s to early-80s band.Â If you didn’t know better, or didn’t have the benefit of seeing the age of the band members, you could easily mistake Harmonia for a modern-day band and, more than likely, current darlings of the music press.Â As with so many of the bands playing on the Amphitheatre Stage, the combination of the music, the location and the now setting sunÂ heightens the whole experience to a level that just about no other festival can even get close to.