All Tomorrow’s Parties (DVD)

Best of the fest

If the thought of a musical festival summons images of muddy fields, windswept tents, toilets from hell and ticket prices that require a re-mortgage, you’ve obviously never heard of All Tomorrow’s Parties. These independent weekenders held throughout the year at British holiday camps are the genius of Scottish band Belle and Sebastian, who invite musicians and other creatives to curate three days of live music, movies and arts and the results are – according, at least, to this excellent documentary – a slice of hedonistic heaven.

The camera don’t just capture the music – although snatches of the likes of Nick Cave, The Gossip, Patti Smith, Micah P Hinson and a plethora of emerging talent are likely to have you bouncing around your living room – but the whole essence of the festival. This is music as it’s meant to be, stripped of advertising, merchandise and lip-syncing. And so we see impromptu sets outside the chalets, on the beach, wherever and whenever there is a gathering and a guitar. And those involved are clearly having a ball – even those some of these artists could fill stadiums in the blink of an eye, the freedom offered by these intimate, back to basics gigs makes their sound more raw, more invigorating.

And this ethos filters down to the filming, with camcorders and mobile phone footage from over five years of festivals capturing the intimacy between artists and audience, the joy and free-spirited enthusiasm that will have you booking tickets for the next All Tomorrow’s Parties event before the end credits roll. 5 stars

Extra Features
There’s over an hour of full-length performances, plus a commentary from ATP promoters Barry Hogan and Deborah Kee Higgins. The DVD also comes with a 40 page anniversary booklet including artwork and programme introductions, and codes to unlock exclusive online content.

Directors Jonathan Caouette & All Tomorrow’s People
Distributor Warp Films
Format DVD
Released November 16