* For some, let’s call them the nerdiest music nerds at a festival catered to music nerds, the eight hour Oneida jamathon at Asbury Lanes was one of the biggest draws on the second day of All Tomorrow’s Parties. Throughout the session special guests came and went. First, they were joined by members of Chavez. Later it was Portishead. James McNew of Yo La Tengo was a constant contributor throughout. When I took in two hours of the eight hour jamathon Saturday evening they were helped by a bearded man wailing on clarinet and a young lady whose Karen O vocals sounded like a wailing clarinet. That cleared the room. It had the bartenders hating their lot in life. It had security guards dreaming of George Thoroughgood concerts. The free-form, improv jazz swarm was even difficult for critics to take, especially this one and his delicate GI. Still, I persisted. The never ending groove took a pleasant turn around seven when Shinji Masuko of the Boredoms plugged in his guitar. Now we had smoky, five guitar, psychedelic freak outs, shock-heavy drones, and shattering noise set to a motorik beat. Tasty. Sure, not everyone got Oneida, but if you did get it, boy did you get it good.
* Before taking in The Horror’s 5:00 set at the Convention Hall, I scribbled in my notebook, “Why hasn’t this band ascended to the A-list in the states?” They have a quality sound, mixing elements of dark and gothic new-wave, UK shoegaze and krautrock. They’ve got the songs, like “Endless Blue,” Sea Within a Sea,” and “Who Can Say.” They also have a certain presence about them on stage — Five spindly, shadowy figures surrounded by smoke and heavy echo. Yet, something seemed to be lacking from their performance and I can’t quite pin it down. Perhaps additional visual elements would help, as they’re not the most engaging bunch. The critic in me is uncomfortable with that notion. Shouldn’t the jams be enough?
* Oh, Kool Keith still looked cool in his shades and glittery head wrap, but he moved about as well as Fred Sanford during Ultramagnetic MCs evening set at The Convention Hall.
* Note to Jersey Boys: When you say “Hey Buddy” in the same tone as someone from the Midwest would say, “Go Fuck Yourself,” you’re not being just as rude as someone saying, “Go Fuck Yourself.”
* On a related note, like I’m really shocked by how many young women from New York City speak like valley girls. Like, gag me with a spoon.
* I overheard a conversation between a Jersey Boy and Valley Girl and the gist was, “All music is good if it speaks to one person.” Slice off my toes with butter knives. Stick bamboo shoots through my eye sockets. Kick me in the balls with steel toed boots. Gag me with a spoon. I don’t know how I stayed quiet during that one.
* Jersey Boys and Valley girls aside, I’ve found everyone else in Asbury Park, both the festival goers and the locals, to be very friendly.
* Portishead were very impressive. One might think their electronic, almost sample based sound, would translate to the live stage. One would be wrong. Geoff Barrow has assembled quite the talented crew, more than able to recreate those vintage spy themes and hip-hop beats heard on their earlier work. Barrow scratched and mixed in some amazingly harsh bits of white hot noise into “Mysterons.” Meanwhile, The Convention Hall proved itself to be the perfect setting for Beth Gibbon’s vocals. It accentuated her lovelorn wavering tones on songs like “Sour Times,” increasing their emotional bite ten-fold. Impressive and stunning.
* Due to the limited capacity of Asbury Lanes, the third music venue of the weekend, I skipped out of Portishead early. Hey, they’re playing a second headlining set tonight, and I could catch the buzz behind British buzz band, Factory Floor. There is some buzz there. This trio has a uniquely danceable mix that could appeal to rockers and electronic music heads alike — Downtrodden and despondent vocals, whirring synthesizers, motorik beats and a slight nasty streak which emerges when they up the squelch, up the static and up all of the other discomfort levels. Additionally, this is a band with loads of promise whose profile will only increase once their DFA single drops this fall. Still, with all that promise and all that possibility there were times during their late night performance that their ambition got the best of them. One could hear the galloping effect of being half a beat off when they tried to mix their numbers into one continuous set. It would end up taking electronic knob tweaker and drummer 15, maybe 20 seconds to set matters right. With more practice and more performances there’s little doubt they’ll get there. Tonight, they were enjoyable, albeit uneven, doing just enough to make sure many of those in attendance will keep their ears focused on the trio going forward.
* One last note before I leave for some Browns football and one more day of music. That image up top comes courtesy of
Shepherd Fairey’s Dawn of Man’s Saturday night installation — A giant, dancing, space ghost monkey projected on a house across the street from Asbury Park Lanes.