When the Drive Like Jehu weekender was cancelled in April, less than a week before it was due to take place, the writing was very much on the wall for festival organiser ATP. As a result, yesterday's official announcement that "ATP Festivals and live promotions are closing down", and that the scheduled ATP Iceland festival has been scrapped, shouldn't have come as a surprise - but that made it no less painful a revelation, personally speaking.
As I've said before, I've admittedly never been stung by previous cancellations that have left prospective attendees (both bands and punters) out of pocket for travel and accommodation costs as well as tickets. However, I'd sincerely hope that the general reaction to the news among music fans isn't one of Schadenfreude. Clearly, Barry Hogan has increasingly infuriated a lot of people due to his naivety and lack of business acumen, but, as a veteran of no fewer than eight ATP weekenders, including the very first in 2000 (curated by Mogwai), I refuse to bash him and the organisation he founded, which has without doubt been responsible for some of the best festivals I've ever had the pleasure of attending. Where else would you get the opportunity to play poker with Steve Albini, barrack Stuart Braithwaite while he's in goal in a 5-a-side match, watch Tricky do yoga, whizz down waterslides with tattooed and bearded Godspeed You! Black Emperor fans or find yourself in a dance circle with members of Los Campesinos?
ATP's statement promises that all UK shows "will have new promoters appointed and tickets transferred", but their demise begs the question of whether any other promoters might be tempted to step into the breach as regards organising holiday camp weekenders. It's all a question of economic viability, I guess - something that seems to have been distinctly questionable in recent years. Here's hoping someone can find a way of making it work and recreate the full ATP experience again.