REVIEW: END OF THE ROAD FESTIVAL 2010
More often than not you reach the end of a festival and you are absolutely gagging for home – you want a proper bed, tea from a mug and some full on R&R. But End of the Road Festival is different. You’ll struggle to find anyone who wants to leave. Perhaps it’s the impeccable music line up, the heavenly hot and spicy Somerset cider or the overwhelming amount of ridiculously cool people you meet. Or maybe it’s the intimate secret gigs, the heart-wrenching love songs heard under starlit skies or the notable human pyramid efforts across the site. Whatever it is, it makes End of the Road the best festival in the world. Fact.
For the first year since it started back in 2005, the EOTR crew decided to open the site (the gorgeous Larmer Tree Gardens on the Dorset/Wiltshire border) on the Thursday night, which played host to Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Willy Mason, Allo Darlin and Darren Hayman (of Hefner fame). And what a way to open a festival. Festival goers arriving on the Friday morning were gutted to have missed out on the previous night’s entertainment but the rest of the festival more than made up for it. Opening the Garden Stage on the Friday was CW Stoneking, a mesmerising old school American blues singer (cept he’s not American but Aussie, apparently). Him and his band managed to transport you to a New Orleans dockyard with the awe-inspiring use of some vocal trickery and classic, bare-boned blues.
For those not content on lapping up some spine tinglingly beautiful yet mellow music a la Iron and Wine, Brakes tore it up in the Big Top with their all night disco party and a brilliant cover of Johnny Cash’s Jackson and later it was the turn of Yo La Tengo and Caribou. Sadly, Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley’s DJ set was distinctly forgettable but the Sunday night DJs ramped it up with plenty of dancable tuneage. Deer Tick and Phosphorescent (who look kinda similar and are both awesome) stole the daytime show on Saturday with some storming indie rock and Dylan LeBlanc and Daniel Lefkowitz provided the perfect hangover cure on Sunday afternoon with their soothing easy listening (but not in a crap way)…pretty sure we’ll be seeing more of those boys in the not too distant future.
For those who wanted a little more bite to their music, Drum Eyes and Monotonix (usually more apt for ATP than EOTR) belted out the beats for the hardy moshers/crowd surfers/headbangers. Resident Sharpie tattoo artist Kai (who does all the awrtwork for the festival) joined Drum Eyes on guitar, and boy can that man play guitar! Radiohead drummer, Phil Selway stepped out on his own, with the help from folk favourite and Silver Column Adem and a full band. Radiohead it was not but it sure was pretty good. With a couple of sought after acts dropping out at the last minute (notably Steve Mason and Timber Timbre) other artists rallied round to fill those slots. Allo Darlin, Woodpigeon, Deer Tick and The Felice Brothers get the award for the hardest working musicians of the weekend – each playing at least two or three times over the course of the festival. This included a couple of surprise sets at the piano in the woods – which also attracted some pretty good unsigned acts.
Fresh from a gig in nearby Bournemouth, Errors got the Sunday night party started paving way for the hilarious Adam Green. And over on the main stage was the wonderfully pragmatic The Low Anthem, who treated the front half of the crowd to an impromtu unplugged gig as sound engineers battled with the cables and the amps before proceeding with their set. Aptly ending the festival were veteran rockers Wilco, whose Sad Sad Songs provided the perfect soundtrack to the heartache of realising the End of the Road was nigh…unless you hotfooted it to the Tipi Tent for a set by the supergroup that was The Felice Brothers, Deer Tick and The Low Anthem.
But as with all decent festivals there’s always more fun to be had be it in the form of some serious dancing in the disco in the woods, a Bruce Springsteen singalong under a giant sculpture of some kick ass tent puppetry. Same time next year then…
Words and photos: Laura Williams
by 247 Magazine