The All Tomorrow's Parties festival touches down in North America next week for their fourth annual east coast event. Things are a bit different this time around, as the three year's running location at Kutsher's in Monticello, New York has been swapped for Asbury Park, New Jersey. Saying goodbye to Kutsher's is difficult, although the charming but hopelessly dilapidated resort in the Catskills will live on in the memories of ATP devotees. It's hard to say that this year's ATP is more high-profile than past iterations – the first annual iteration of the revamped American fest boasted an exclusive performance from My Bloody Valentine, after all – but having secured the one-two punch of Portishead as headliners/curators and an exclusive Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel) performance, ATP feels even more like the can't-miss event of the year than usual. But the headliners are only a small part of the story at any ATP, there's also that touchy subject of the “vibe.” The friendly crowd of hardcore music devotees and the comparatively laid-back atmosphere permit lasting friendships to be forged over a late-night beer or even between fans and artists. The obscure and unique acts that ATP presents throughout the day. Here are five acts with slightly lower name recognition you won't want to miss at this year's ATP.
Band: Oneida Presents The Ocropolis
Music Snob Credibility Factor: The Ocropolis is Oneida's studio, and for eight hours on Saturday they'll be re-creating it at ATP, allowing a peek into their creative process while they jam continuously with a rotating cast of guests drawn from the weekend's lineup.
Why It's A Must-See: This is only the third time Oneida has presented the Ocropolis, as much a musical marathon/endurance test as it is a tribute to Oneida's boundless creativity and single-minded dedication to their artistic ideals. You're guaranteed to see and hear things you've never heard before and never will again. The best part is you can drop in and out of the Ocropolis between acts, if you feel the need to escape the main stages and spend some quiet time contemplating the universe while Oneida aurally berates you with droning rock.
Band: Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
Music Snob Credibility Factor: One of the more obscure bands of Matador Record's storied early '90s stable, not even last year's hot ticket Matador at 21 fest could land a Thinking Fellers reunion (the groups has performed only sporadically since 1996). It took Animal Collective's ATP in the UK earlier this year to get the job done and now American fans have a chance to catch the group in action.
Why It's A Must-See: Thinking Fellers did play a stateside warmup show for the ATP gig, but it was in Boston. On a Tuesday. With a few weeks notice. Did I mention it was in Boston? In their time the band perfected a noisy brand of indie pop/rock then quietly dropped off the radar. Their profile has been so low since the mid-90's they make Chavez (who are playing the same Friday) seem like giants by comparison. Despite this, they've maintained a loyal and well-deserved following and it's unlikely you'll get a chance to see them in any other context.
Band: Silver Qluster
Music Snob Credibility Factor: This is a one-off that's an absolute coup for kraut and psych rock nerds and the chillwave bloggers who have followed in their footsteps. Simeon is the sole remaining exponent of Silver Apples, an audio oscillator-based 60s cult group. He's teaming for the first time with Hans-Joachim Roedelius, a titan of German experimental music best known for his participation in Harmonia and Cluster.
Why It's A Must-See: First time musical encounters between such strong personalities are notoriously difficult to predict – will this be a seminal David Bowie/Queen moment or more of a Chris Cornell/Timbaland thing? – but having seen Simeon in a blistering impromptu collaboration with Oneida last year (perhaps an encore at The Ocropolis is also in the cards?) the potential for a legendary meeting is there.
Band: Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog
Music Snob Credibility Factor: Ribot's most prominent work as a guitarist is playing hired gun to legends like Tom Waits, Robert Plant and Elvis Costello in addition to his decades-long collaborative relationship with underground jazz stalwart John Zorn. He also maintains a stable of projects, Ceramic Dog being one of his most active – a true band, rather than a project – and featuring the rhythm section of Shahzad Ismaily (bass) and Ches Smith (drums). The duo are accomplished players in their own right, their C.V.s filled out by stints with Will Oldham, Xiu Xiu, Carla Bozulich and more.
Why It's A Must-See: Although Ribot is familiar to anyone with a passing interest in the current downtown New York jazz and improv scene, he rarely mounts extensive tours and given the busy schedule shared by all three members, a Ceramic Dog performance on this scale qualifies as a priority. Expect a virtuosic assault, as all three members are some of the best at what they do.
Band: Foot Village
Music Snob Credibility Factor: Foot Village made quite a splash at Portishead's ATP earlier this summer in the UK. The band has four drummers and a conceptual back story involving creating a new country and surviving the apocalypse that informs many of their song titles and lyrics.
Why It's A Must-See: Foot Village are more at home in packed DIY spaces like their Los Angeles hometown venue the Smell than on ATP's biggest stage. They're sure to take advantage of all the attention in unexpected ways. Although an all-percussion album can be a hard sell, Foot Village comes into their own with the live show. East coast appearances by the band are rare in general, and you know if Portishead booked 'em twice in a row, there's gotta be something going on.