“For those of you still on the fence, hop off, get over here to grab your tickets, if there ever was a reason to irresponsibly spend some of your rent money this is it.”
Waking up in the back seat of my car after what seemed like forever and being modestly baked by the eternal summer sun we get in Iceland, I have the customary, “where the hell am I” moment.
Sit up, rub my eyes and take a look around at this weird surreal place, totally flat not a sole around apart from my buddies passed out in the grass next to the car. Apartment buildings as far as the eye can see, all seemingly uninhabited, very ’28 days later’. As my wits return to me the presence of a giant radar dome and the words, “property of NATO, no trespassing” help jog my sleepy memory, we’re at the old airbase and this was ATP Iceland.
Full disclosure I worked at ATP last year running the merch. Having a decent sized team allowed us to hop out and see plenty of the excellent music on offer in addition to enjoying the raucous partying on the base post gigs.
An ever epic performance by Ham, a rousing kick off to my first day with The Fall and Thee Oh Sees, a fantastic performance by Apparat Organ Quartet and the bone shaking sounds of Ghostigital were some of my personal highlights. Not to mention a minor scare when headliner and all round devilish legend Nick Cave took a step into the void and fell off stage. Relatively unscathed Cave promptly got back up and finished his set to rapturous applause from the audience.
Post shows there was usually good fun to be had at an afterparty in one or another apartment building on the base (would this make them barracks, technically, guess so, party at the barracks!) details of which are hardly fit for publishing, but you get the idea, nudge nudge wink wink.
I missed out on the movies but with curation in the very capable hands of none other than Tilda Swinton and Jim Jarmusch I’m sure it was a killer set of films perfect for those post partying / pre partying daytime hours.
There’s something special about ATP, having been to one in Minehead, UK (equally sureally staged at a Butlins family holiday camp) , a couple of years prior I found myself remarking on how similar the vibe was. Albeit hard to pin down there’s a kind of edgy misfit surrealism you don’t get with your run of the mill festival. Partially it’s the crowd partially the eclectic lineup, striking a perfect balance between local and foreign acts, great combo.
Whilst waiting for a burger, dutifully supplied by Reykjavík favourite Tomma Borgari, I overheard someone say, “yeah, we booked our flights as soon as the date was confirmed being ATP we knew it would be good, plus we get a trip to Iceland out of it to, double win”. Double win indeed, Iceland of course still holds its own as Europe’s Alt-Cult-Mecca. However even for locals spending a weekend on the old base, that for so long was off limits to most people, is a truly surreal experience not to mention the amazing line up supplied by ATP. My only real recommendation is that if your going to go, which you definitely should, stay on site, trust me, totes worth it.
For those of you still on the fence, hop off, get over here to grab your tickets, if there ever was a reason to irresponsibly spend some of your rent money this is it. Tickets.
And now for a little fire-side (ok, email) chat with founder of the festival Barry Hogan by Chris Sea.
1. How did ATP establish its first connection with Mogwai?
Mogwai approached me about 20 years ago, they were looking for a dancer like Bez from the Happy Mondays or like cressa from the Stone Roses and said that i would be Mogwai’s Baz. After numerous auditions we both decided the world was not ready for my onstage dancing as I was so ahead of my time.
2. What was the process of getting access to the Keflavik base like?
Tomas Young of Ohmstrif approached us about doing it there as he had been going there since a young kid and thought it was a perfect location for a festival like ATP.
3. Have any relics of the American presence been discovered?
Yes we found all of Colonel Andrews’ sex dungeons located underneath the airbase. He was incredibly kinky.
4. Are there larger ambitions for ATP Iceland outside of the base?
Yes we are thinking of putting on a festival for seals in the lagoon where the glaciers are, It will be seal only policy. Seal the musician is the only non-seal who is allowed at the event. He is a legend amongst the seal community.
5. What are the band’s responsibilities as curators?
This ATP was curated by ATP Iceland but Portishead who headline the Friday night have curated the movies over the weekend so you gotta check out the great films at the cinema that they picked.
6. Whats the relationship between you and the bands that curate?
We normally ask them to clean our house and if we like the job we let them curate. Factory Floor did a terrible job so they are never going to curate.
7. Is there a 100% hands-off approach to curation?
Yes we like to put the event on hands free cruise control and use our mobile phones.
8. Were other sites in Iceland considered before the Keflavik base was chosen?
No, we only ever considered Ásbrú.
9. Will you be attending this year’s ATP in Iceland?
Yes, I bought my tickets for the event when they first went on sale. I am hoping I am lucky enough to be upgraded to a VIP pass.
10. Which new countries would you like to see ATP expand its reach to?
I’d like to explore all of South America, maybe China, and Japan again.
For more info, seal related or otherwise, check out ATP Icelands site over Hjah.