We'd bought tickets for ATP quite a while back. As ever, I'm impressed that they don't arrive until four days before the event. Always good to start off by giving the punters the idea they might never arrive. The last time I'd been to ATP was when it was at Camber in a run down Pontins. The group I had been with then were the same this time, with the additions of DL, RVR and Custardape. A pleasing mix, and nice to see every- one after the hiatus following Dislocation. The Nightmare Before Christmas was curated by My Bloody Valentine, who had chosen an eclectic mix of acts for the three days we spent in a Butlins in Minehead. The results of this mix were mixed. A sizable proportion of the acts that we chosen seemed to sound like sub- standard MBV wannabes, which a cynic would view as an effort to make MBV's 3 nights of headlining the Centre Stage the best performance(s) of the festival. It meant that the acts that really stood out for me, and I think this goes for the people I was with, were the ones that sounded nothing like MBV. The MBV performance itself (I went on the Friday but not again afterward...once is enough), was OK. I think for a band with such an important place in our collective musical heritage, this isn't exactly glowing praise. Obviously, as a shoegaze act, the stage performance is limited, but MBV seemed to avoid even a brief contact with the audience. The sound was terrible, in the sense that the sound engineer managed to blend a series of fairly distinct instruments in to a murk. Songs were discernible for sure, but from where I was standing, it was a dirge with no audible vocal (Shields complained sporadically about this). The crowd , as with almost every band I saw, were largely motion- less, so I couldn't say if the majority enjoyed or not. DL definitely did, which is perhaps to do with stage proximity. In the throng, the atmosphere is different; further out it was just an average gig, with some interesting song choices obscured by a sound engineer. Highlights, as I say, were non-MBV related. Foremost of all was Sun Ra Arkestra, led by Marshall Allen. They played a set which as ThomPPW suggested was geared to an audience of people who may not necessarily have more than a passing interest in Sun Ra (Space is the Place, Nuclear War are 'obvious' choices). Nonetheless, I found it to be a revelatory experience. It is not often I find myself genuinely feeling a performance, but this was one of those occasions. I think it was largely because of the history of those involved (seeing Allen leaf through perhaps a thousand pages of music notation amassed over fifty+ years) and the legacy of the songs. The energy was amazing, meaning it was impossible not to move to the music, despite a large portion of the audience trying in vain (a recurring theme this year). Excellent variations on Merry Christmas Baby and Spaceship Lullaby's Holiday for Strings, along with Knoel Scott's 'space dance' making it a gig I'll remember for some time. The high pointd spread over the weekend include Josh. T Pearson's Texan railroad set, and our attempts to stop Liam finding and arse licking him afterwards... we failed...Gemma Hayes delicate set complete with a beautiful little Kate Bush cover...Mum's set, lacking in pretension and brimming with fun/joy... beaming smiles from all throughout...Warren Ellis apparently wanking someone off for a quid... missing much of Sonic Youth in pursuit of crowd based practical jokes...breakfast refuge in the Sun and Moon...Chris being constantly hilarious, even whilst urinating...an early morning Ariel Pink set replete with raincoat adorned lunatic... who later turns out to be the lead singer of the Lilys, who were/are shit...De La Soul making some of the crowd move...Liam drinking too much on Friday... Overall, a mixed bag. Good acts were few and far between. The setting was odd, a mix of rundown (maybe because it was out-of-season, maybe because that is what Butlins is normally like) 'Disneyland for Rednecks' as Warren Ellis put it on Sunday night, and gaudy spectacle. The site is obviously chosen for getting the most people in, but it meant the music was spread thinly over three stages (Reds being largely redundant) and the atmosphere was non-existent. There were nice touches for sure, the availability of drinks that weren't overpriced lager being one of them, but the highlights came from the company I was with and not the festival I had paid money to be at. The music was patchy as I've mentioned, redeemed by Sun Ra Arkestra, Mum, Dirty Three, Yo La Tengo, Gemma Hayes (I thought I'd hate her, but she was cracking), Ariel Pink, De La Soul, Sonic Youth. Too many MBV wannabes and not enough edgy experimental fun. It seems peculiar that the most exciting stuff came from a band that have been playing variations of similar material for over half a century.