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It’s a telling sign of just type of festival All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) is when the biggest name they’ve had in years pulls in the smallest crowd – poles apart from the mainstream horrors that are V Festival and Reading Festival. Granted, said name wasn’t revealed as part of the full line up, listed only as ‘Secret Guests’ but it was widely rumoured to be Scottish chart toppers Franz Ferdinand. Nevertheless, the twee confines of Butlins in Minehead managed to attract a reasonable number of equally twee musos. Curated by fellow Scots Belle&Sebastian, this could be the quietest ATP in recent years in terms of sound output but as always there was fun to be had for the whole 72 plus hours.

The fact that every other person appeared to be Scottish probably had some impact on the old party spirit, taking a break from necking tonic wine and whisky only to sup on a much needed Irn Bru (no offense intended, hell I’m spiritually Scottish!) Most ATPs I’ve been to have had a real US flavour to them and while this one pulled in some decent acts from across the pond – including Jenny and Johnny (Jenny being Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley fame), Dirty Projectors and Best Coast. America and Scotland united for some melodic duetry (I think ATP warrants the invention of new words!) from Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, who also did a secret set at End of the Road festival earlier this year.

Wiltshire oddball Julian Cope did his thang on the Pavilion stage before one of the newer Scottish bands, Frightened Rabbit rocked the party. Friday night belonged to Fence Record’s Silver Columns who racked up some audience action in Reds (Butlins nightclub) and paid tribute to the curators by covering a Belle&Sebastain song; and to Foals who were in danger of losing a massive chunk of their audience due to the clash that was St Etienne but they proved themselves to be little more than has beens, managing to turn some of their awesome back catalogue (particularly Nothing Can Stop Us Now) into little more than poor karaoke fodder – which The Zombies also did to a certain extent but with an open cheesiness that became quite endearing.

Thankfully Sons and Daughters picked up the pace a bit on Sunday with a much heavier set than one would expect, a camp delight full of glitter and sexiness. But the prize for the best performance of the weekend undoubtedly goes to 90s hero and former Orange Juice frontman Edwyn Collins who formed a makeshift supergroup for his afternoon set in the Centre Stage of Butlins comprising Teenage Fanclub, Alex from Franz Ferdinand and Ryan from The Cribs (who sadly weren’t elsewhere on the line up). Collins, who continues to power through the aftermath of two massive brain hemorrhages, had the (very hungover) crowd from the start and played through the applause to treat us all to a rare rendition of his solo hit, A Girl Like You.

So yes, while ATP has the potential to be a pretentious hotbed of painfully twee hipsters it’s actually one of the best festivals out there and one where you cannot fail but come away with no memory, a four day hangover and a phone full of random’s numbers. Good times!

Words and videos: Laura Williams
Photo: Mason Saf