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Festival Review and Photos: ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror, September 30 – October 2, 2011 – Asbury Park, NJ


Photo by Christopher Alvarez


Apparently the “Day/Month/Year” of the final performance of DD/MM/YYYY in the United States was 02/10/2011. Self-proclaimed as free of style and genre, the experimental Toronto outfit was all over the place physically and musically, swapping instruments, rhythms, energies, and time signatures. DD/MM/YYYY ended their brand of unclassifiable chaos while it was still in its peak.


A band like Deerhoof should be challenging thanks to their experimental nature. Deerhoof should also be grating because of their penchant for noise and often shrill vocals, or even annoying with gibberish lyrics about bunnies and pandas. Yet, Deerhoof has a distinctive immediacy thanks in part to their high-energy and live performances that are a delight. As restless as their latest album Deerhoof vs. Evil is, the San Francisco quartet defied simple labeling as they countered complex rhythms with childlike wonder as Satomi Matsuzaki leapt and kicked her way across the stage. Deerhoof’s combination of fun and weird can fill a large stage as large as the Convention Hall as easily as a club, even more so than when they opened for Radiohead on their 2006 tour. And the award for the weekend’s most awkward between-song banter? Drummer Greg Saunier, by a landslide.

Photo by Christopher Alvarez

J.G. Thirlwell’s Manorexia

Manorexia might not be as well-known as some of J.G. Thirlwell’s other projects such as Foetus or his compositions for The Venture Brothers, but it is just as intriguingly classification-defying. At its core a free-flowing, sample-based project composed on a computer but recorded with organic instruments, Manorexia comes across as a deceptively conventional live act at first. Supported by a string section and vibraphone player, Thirlwell summoned samples via his laptop, and the ensemble lulled the audience into feelings of hushed tranquility while gradually developing a sinister unease. J.G. Thirlwell’s Manorexia was the kind of rare performance from a unique artist that defines All Tomorrow’s Parties, and here it was one of the festival’s best kept secrets.

Photo by Frank Mojica

Company Flow

Photo by Christopher Alvarez

Public Enemy

Although billed as performing Fear of a Black Planet, Public Enemy opted for a remixed version, meaning the set was loaded with hits from Planet, It Takes a Nation…, and beyond. Backed by a band with metal leanings and the turntable wizardry of DJ Lord (who masterfully connected the subversiveness of Public Enemy with Nirvana), Chuck D showed why he’s still one of the best MCs in the game, with his politically-charged rhymes as relevant as ever, while his foil Flavor Flav was a bundle of bottomless energy. Whether running back and forth from one end of the stage to another, leaping into the crowd, or commanding them to jump, Flav kept the energy levels high. Apologies for a pun so painfully obvious that it has to be a cliché by now, but do believe the hype.

Photos by Christopher Alvarez


There are not many artists that can pull off headlining two nights of a festival full of fascinating artists, but one of them is Portishead. Performing their first shows on the east coast in 13 years, Portishead were the main attraction on Saturday and Sunday nights, giving their 2008 album Third the proper tour it deserves. On both nights, the band struck an equal balance between the older and “newer” material, with the latter coming across as a deliberate rejection of the much-maligned trip-hop label that became synonymous with “lifestyle music.” Opener “Silence” gave the classic Portishead sound a krautrock twist. With its militaristic, gunfire-like synth march, “Machine Gun” was as experimental as it was visceral, and on Sunday night, Chuck D accompanied it with a verse from “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos.” “Sour Times” and “Glory Box” sounded more seductive than ever, while “Wandering Star” had its sensual beat stripped away to give it a delicate haunting quality shared with “The Rip.”

The vocals of Beth Gibbons ran the gamut from sultry to pained, and the effect never ceased to hypnotize. In “Threads,” the penultimate song of both headlining sets, Gibbons unleashed an otherworldly anguish so overwhelming that the frustration behind it defined comprehension. Yet, at I’ll Be Your Mirror, Gibbons appeared to be in high spirits, smiling throughout and even jumping into the crowd for a brief surf at the end of set finale “We Carry On.” Most unsettling of all is this uncanny ability to tap into the vastest of emotional depths seemingly at will. Disconcerting, but gorgeous? Portishead is back and better than ever.

Photos by Christopher Alvarez

DJ Shepard Fairey

Photo by Christopher Alvarez

Crowd and More…

Photos by Christopher Alvarez

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