At 12:38 a.m. Monday morning, My Bloody Valentine walked onstage at Kutsher’s Country Club to play their first American concert in 16 years. In brief: It was seriously, incredibly, mind-numbingly loud. Perched in front of several Marshall stacks and a screen flashing psychedelic images, the band turned out 90 minutes of innovative psych-rock, covering a good chunk of Loveless, their beloved 1991 album. They also played 16 solid minutes of unadulterated white noise just before closing their set. Though their dreamy tunelets sometimes got lost in the mix, the guitar sound was manicured, ferocious and otherworldly. Bob Mould and Patti Smith came out to see the show; in fact, Smith and Kevin Shields were milling around Kutsher’s together beforehand.
The band’s performance marked the close of All Tomorrow’s Parties, a three-day festival in upstate New York’s Catskills mountains devoted to loud, arty guitar rock and full-album sets. Saturday was all about smaller-name bands, as duo Lightning Bolt churned out noise punk from their set-up on the floor and Shellac, a Chicago trio featuring producer Steve Albini, turned out spiky minimalist rock and took questions from the audience (sample query: “Does God suck?”). Brooklyn indie rockers Les Savy Fav’s performance was punctuated by the antics of frontman Tim Harrington, who had fans ferry him around the room on a ladder and invited 40-something fans onstage to close out the set.
On Friday, Built to Spill performed 1997’s Perfect From Now On in its entirety, with Doug Martsch and Co. playing loose, loud and relatively faithful to the record, jamming out some of the already lengthy cuts. The Meat Puppets also played Meat Puppets II and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore took the stage to churn out all of his 1995 solo album Psychic Hearts. Moore seemed playful as he ran through the album — which features a load of excellent fuzz jams, dissonant guitar spills and some of his punkiest songs ever — bantering with the audience before “Cindy (Rotten Tanx)” about how “this next song is not about Cindy McCain — at least I didn’t think it was.”
For more on All Tomorrow’s Parties — including photos and videos — visit the Rock ‘N’ Roll Diary.