When the Drive Like Jehu ATP weekender was suddenly switched from Pontins in Prestatyn to the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, alarm bells should have been ringing - and indeed probably were for many people. I, however, continued to keep the faith - and so the news that the event has now been cancelled on the grounds of "its lack of financial viability" comes as a crushing blow, though of course not quite as crushing as for those who had forked out for it, whether they did so blissfully unaware of ATP's track record or very much against their better judgement.
In a lengthy message posted on their Facebook page, accompanied by a picture of a toilet roll with "ATP" written on it, the curators expressed their hurt, disappointment and anger: "It's a uniquely cruel hoax to appeal to Drive Like Jehu's ego and ask us to create a program based on personally inviting the bands and musicians that have inspired us and changed the way we hear music and then subject them and their supporters to this." They explained that none of the bands wanted to cancel, but several of them found themselves left without the means to make it across the Atlantic.
There was also a sense that the band are angry at themselves for failing to heed the warning signs: "We were so committed to seeing this through that we remained hopeful (blind in retrospect) amongst the ritualistic turmoil and crisis and trusted their solutions that would ensure that the show would definitely go on and the attendees would be treated fairly and the bands would be respected and celebrated."
Surveying the carnage, the Quietus' Alex Marshall has pointed the finger of blame at everyone: Barry Hogan and his now glaringly obvious lack of business acumen, for sure, but also the fans, curators and bands who have persisted in trusting him. Long-time ATP ally Stuart Braithwaite took to Twitter to (quite rightly) denounce those being "gleeful" about the whole sorry situation, but provoked a barrage of reasonable, non-abusive comments from people who had clearly lost patience with ATP, including Hookworms, who appear not to have been paid for their appearance at the Loop weekender back in November 2013. Braithwaite's Mogwai bandmate Barry Burns had an exchange with fellow ATP advocate Geoff Barrow, with the Portishead man conceding that it's "hard to argue when the skint bands you love don't get paid".
No doubt the ugly repercussions and accusations will continue to rumble on over the next few days and weeks, but this really does look like curtains for ATP, who have surely lost any residual brand loyalty they still had. A crying shame, particularly given that despite the odd logistical hiccup (and John Cale's withdrawal) last weekend's bash curated by Stewart Lee appears to have been a roaring success.
Thanks for the memories, ATP.