Stewart Lee, comedian and muso of note, to curate ATP 2016
- Henry Northmore
- 24 June 2015
Trawling through his best writing on music, we predict who might play the funnyman's music festival
A long-time fan of the fest, Lee is a departure from the usual musicians who pick the acts each year (previous curators have included Mogwai, Shellac, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, My Bloody Valentine and Pavement).
'Of all the ATPs I've attended: the 2001 weekend, when Tortoise curated it and laid American free jazz, European improv noise, alternative country rock, alienating stand-up comedy, ambient electronica, 80s hardcore, 70s CBGBs nostalgia, smart-arse post punk, Dutch anarcho-jazz and all manner of unexpected cross-currents on curious young people, remains a pivotal point in my musical education,' explains Lee. 'It's a great honour to be allowed to attempt something similar. Bring bucket, spade, swimwear and an open mind.'
No details of the artists playing have been announced as yet but scouring through Lee's numerous musings as a sometime music correspondent for The Sunday Times, The Guardian, NME and more gives us some insight into what we might expect.
'I calculated the scale of the problem. Those prolific genius artists were just the start of it – I had 6ft of Fall CDs.' The Guardian, Aug, 2010.
'Morrissey works the room, at one point shamelessly crouched in a spotlight with his back to us while [Chris] Pooley extends the descending riff of an extended fade into a cinematic moment of melodrama that still manages to tug the heart strings, for all its forced theatricality. If Morrissey’s self-absorbed sadness is really an act, then it’s an act that works brilliantly. He closes, bare chested, with a knowing and valedictory 'Last Of The Famous International Playboys', like a battered prize-fighter holding aloft a hard-won trophy that he has no intention whatsoever of surrendering.' The Sunday Times, Jan, 2008.
'I may have missed The Sex Pistols at The Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1976, but I was there for Sleaford Mods at the 12 Bar in 2014.' NME, Oct, 2014.
'I didn't really like pop music until 1981. My dad was going out with this woman and I went round to see him, and she gave me a cassette of this Madness album [Absolutely] which had just come out, and it had 'Baggy Trousers' on it. It had a certain air of the forbidden about it, I suppose, because there were songs about kids being naughty at school and stuff. But it was good because it took you backward into listening to punk. It also took you way back into listening to ska and old reggae, and Mod British bands like the Kinks.' The Quietus, May, 2011.
'Howe [Gelb]’s compelling musical process sees chance strategies and slapdash instant composition collide with a thorough working knowledge of classic rock, an approach sometimes as likely to thrill as to spill. But it’s an addictive ride…' The Sunday Times, Nov, 2010.
'For me, the 66-year-old saxophonist is the greatest living exponent of free improvisation. […] Parker's ensembles clearly take risks, and the possibility of failure, like a wobbling wire walker, demands attention; and Parker himself, his lungs heaving in endless circular breathing solos, is clearly hard at work, with something of the circus strongman about him.' The Guardian, Apr, 2010.
'One of our most misunderstood and maligned talents, and Johnny is one of the greatest comedy characters ever created. Johnny’s live performances, whether they succeed or fail, always do so spectacularly.' Esquire, Dec, 2004.
ATP 2.0, Pontins, Prestatyn, North Wales, 15–17 April, 2016.