In a photo we “aggregated” from our good friends — and colleagues, did we mention that we’re colleagues — at the Asbury Park Press, ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES/ I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR founders Deborah Kee Higgins and Barry Hogan survey all that they’ve summoned into being on the herringboned hardwoods of the Asbury boards.
The wagons have rolled on out of town, leaving just a few stray posters and marquee letters; a last handful of postcards blown like tumblin’ tumbleweeds against the shuttered concession stands of an October weekday boardwalk scene.
Well, that plus the incredible stencil-and-spraypaint creations of guerrilla graphics superstar Shepard Fairey; alternate-universe album art images that still adorn such salty and long-abandoned structures as the Sunset Pavilion north of Convention Hall, and the east wall of what used to be FastLane nightclub on Fourth Avenue. Those punk-icon portraits and exhortations to OBEY will be hanging around for some time — subject to the whims of Mother Nor’Easter, natch.
Oh, and then there’s the major national media coverage in such outlets as Rolling Stone, Spin and the New York Times — to say nothing of the gavel-to-gavel photojournalistic coverage provided by our Facebook pal and Shore-life chronicler Mike Black (a slideshow sampling from Mike’s busy week appears right here).
Nearly 48 hours after the conclusion of the historic All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in Asbury Park — a three-day thrillathon of alternative music, superstar art, classic film and razor-ribbon writing that’s kind of like getting the Olympics, or at least the Breeders’ Cup — the temporary offices inside the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel are packing up and closing down. Subtitled I’ll Be Your Mirror, the Stateside adjunct of the Euro-born “Festival for Grown Ups” brought a lot of exciting things to town for those of the 25-to-50, maturing hipster demographic — a fanbase that, as our own Juicy Jenn Hampton put it, “still wants to see something they’ve never seen before, and who don’t want to have be outside.”
The excitement took the form of breathlessly anticipated top-ticket concerts by Jeff Mangum (performing the golden hits of Neutral Milk Hotel for the first time in eons), Portishead (making their first East Coast appearances since 1998) and Public Enemy (reuniting and recreating the classic Fear of a Black Planet LP) — not to mention sets by Swans, The Pop Group, Steve Albini‘s Shellac and many others, going on inside Convention Hall and the adjacent Paramount proscenium.
But wait, there’s more — guest DJ sets by Awesome Tapes from Africa and Peanut Butter Wolf at Asbury Lanes; Edan the Dee Jay and a Lapham’s Quarterly Literary Stage at the Berkeley; an appearance by director Robert Downey, Sr (introducing Putney Swope at a Criterion Cinemas screening space) — and the September 29 opening of REVOLUTIONS on the boardwalk; an acclaimed and musically minded installation by Fairey, who seemed without question the biggest rockstar in attendance in the days leading up to the big show.
If the very visible Mr. Fairey represented the heart and soul of the festival to the passerby public, the brains of the operation reside squarely with Brit-based Barry Hogan and Aussie-bred Deborah Kee Higgins — a pair of passionate conceptualizers (and, more important, actualizers) who founded All Tomorrow’s Parties as an alternative to the alternative; a more sophisticated, sit-down, artist-curated affair that runs counter to the sweat and writhe and porta-potties of the Glastonburys, Warped Tours and Coachellas of this world, and eschews most of the more obvious “headliner” acts in favor of fervently followed cult attractions, rarely seen musical hermits, even special reunion sets that are destination attractions in themselves.
As the host venues for the first of these fests, Hogan and Higgins chose such faded UK resorts and “Holiday Camps” as Camber Sands and Butlins at Minehead, places of majestic seediness that found their Stateside sister sites in places like the Borscht Belt Catskills getaway Kutsher’s Country Club in Monticello, NY (where ATP did its dirty dancing for three years, 2008-2010) — and Asbury Park, NJ, where I’ll Be Your Mirror made its eagerly awaited debut this past weekend.
Manning the command center at the Berkeley, scouting out the quirks and quaintitudes of the greater Asbury area, dodging drenching downpours and sticking around through the highs and lows of the sprawling multi-platform event (an event that came under some criticism for its arguably pricey passes, and lack of local representation on the band bills), the power couple remained plugged in, in charge, and charged with enthusiasm before, during and after the weekend wingding — including a special October 3 “bonus” concert by Mangum geared to fans who couldn’t raise the cost of a day-pass bracelet.
Despite being based just a couple of blocks from all of this action, upperWETside came late to this party (family obligations, the bane of the VERY grown up, came first) — catching up to Deborah and Barry on their very last afternoon in town, for the interview we were after all along: an exclusive discussion of their Asbury Park experiences, a first look back at yesterday’s Parties and a quick glimpse ahead to Tomorrow’s. Flip the record over for more…