Wednesday, 5 September 2012

End Of The Road

I spent last weekend having a thoroughly fantastic time at End Of The Road festival. From the moment I arrived on the Friday morning and beginning setting up my little tent in bright sunshine it was immediately obvious that a fairly special time was going to be had. The tent only deserves a mention at this juncture due to it appearing somewhat dwarfed by my immediate neighbours for the weekend. Sensible people, and particularly couples, appear to go for tents which one could nearly or actually stand up in and which have incorporated porches separate from the sleeping area. clearly this allows space to move around and store things. Mine, in contrast, is just about big enough to fit me, the contents of a rucksack emptied rather haphazardly (often while attempting to establish whether or not I remembered to pack a phone charger) as well as a surprising amount of wildlife (but that's really a different story!). However, the plus side of having used said little tent twice at festivals this year is that I now imagine that I must be some sort of authority on taking skinnyish jeans on and off in confined spaces without causing injury... No doubt I'll be in the same position next year!
Once inside the 'arena' proper a multitude of options made it possible for just about anyone to be kept entertained and amused at all times of day and night. The music was my main focus but even that wasn't just a case of having stages with bands on at set times. While a schedule of bands very much existed across four quite different stages, it quickly became apparent that many of the bands would also play unlisted after hours sets well in to the night for those who found themselves in the right place at the right time, or who had done a little detective work, or who had seen a band earlier who happened to comment that they might play again. The fact that waiting for a band, or even to see who would come and do a soundcheck in these situations regularly involved sitting on the floor with some sort of beverage in hand made the whole thing even more perfect as far as I'm concerned, as did wondering through woodland lit up with faery lights in the early hours while considering whether to head for a forest disco and instead stumbling upon an acoustic band with fifteen people sitting around watching. 
In common with a huge majority of indie gigs / events that I've been to everyone was spectacularly easy going and friendly which created an absolutely ideal atmosphere throughout. 

Even with seeing almost as many bands as possible I did also manage to watch a couple of films in the awesome cinema setup, peruse some very interesting and different shops and eat a lot of pretty great food. 

Frankly the lineup across the Friday, Saturday and Sunday was nothing short of spectacular, with plenty of bands that I have been very keen to see, others which I knew although not that well and plenty of opportunity to check out stuff which I hadn't heard of at all. I must say that the excellently put together programme was a very handy thing to pick up as it contained extensive information on everything available throughout the festival as well as a short description of every band and artist playing. Extremely handy when attempting to decide between two bands on at the same time!
So many great memories; The ramblingly entertaining chat and really strong songs of Roy Harper, Patti Smith just being Patti Smith, the startling jazz funk odyssey that is Step Kids (who would guess that the new track was going to be 11 minutes long!!), noisy French post punk at 1pm from Savages, the awesome French pop of Concrete Knives, the entirely beautiful sound and slightly disturbing travel stories of Mountain Man, Dirty Beaches being even better than I had hoped even if the power did give up half way through their set, Porcelain Raft's dreamy electro pop, Outfit playing unexpectedly funky semi electronic pop while looking extremely sharp and serious!!

My immediate overall highlight however was Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard, who played two entirely different and utterly spectacular sets covering everything that I could possibly have wanted, including a short lecture on the history of punk, a musical comic book, and a set of songs that are even better live than recorded (which is quite something as they are very good recorded). If possible I actually like the music even more now than I did before the weekend.
Special mention also needs to go to Horse thief who I had never heard of before and who are now one of my favourite bands of the year. A really powerful americana type band who have a spectacular sound and clearly enjoy what they are doing.

I'm sure that I'll remember more which I meant to mention, but that can feature in a slightly less rambling post in the future.
For now, everyone listen to more indie anything...

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