Monday, 28 September 2009

End of the Road Festival 2009 - Friday

This festival really is my idea of heaven: 3 days, 5000 people, loads of space to camp, 4 stages spread over Victorian landscaped gardens, real ales, great food, a piano in the woods, a disco floor in the woods, and lots of Americana type bands (though also many that wouldn’t want to be tarred with that particular brush).

Paul dragged me along last year, but cried off this year in favour of convincing his friends and loved ones to take a leisurely stroll up a really big mountain. So it was left to me, Judith, Chris, Sue and Craig to bow down to the might of the pedal steel and the Saw. The highlights as I can recollect them:


After managing to get past every traffic cone in the country and set up camp with huuuge tents we found ourselves past midday and thus at the perfect time to crack open the first of many cans. The highlights of the day:

Having given a polite five minutes to Charlie Parr (think: old bloke trying to cash in on Seasick Steve’s audience) we fetched up at Spokes (think: Mogwai meets Pink Floyd, and certainly one for Rich to keep an eye on). Lots of lyrical guitar work followed by loud thrashing, but also a few with vocals. I didn't know much about them but had been doing my homework on Spotify and had them down as a possible. It’s worth copying the CD that Chris bought.

From here it was quick swerve around The Duke & The King (album is being raved about, but I just don’t get it) and over to the Garden Stage to see Shearwater (think: late Talk Talk meets Wilco).

This band were spectacular. All members kept switching instruments (which in my book proves that they are REAL MUSICIANS) playing absolutely fantastic music, but the best of the bunch was the drummer who looked like he was deputising from Motley Crue or Poison – lots of big blond metal hair and tight silver waistcoat. The illusion was however shattered when he came to the front of the stage to play the clarinet or the xylophone. And no devil horn signs. I looked up the band and, even more spectacularly, the drummer’s real name is Thor! How rock is that!

Conveniently coinciding with the end of the set was the phone call to say Craig had arrived. We took along some Cider to help him catch up, but it wasn;t really needed as he had his magical coat on, with the pockets filled with a bottomless supply of Strongbow cans. With Craig unpacked it was off to seeDirty Projectors (think: too clever by half…so sort of like Vampire Weekend, but without really sounding anything like them. Or late period Talking Heads (they have recorded a duet with David Byrne, so that’s close enough)…see the trouble I get myself into by trying to compare bands?). This band was worthy but kind of dull. Most songs sounded like they were four songs stuck together and some of the songs sounded like it was four different songs played at once. We left to find the bar (which was easy – it’s at the back of the stage!).

Headliners were Explosions In The Sky (think Godspeed You Black Emperor meets every post rock band that Rich loves).

Lots of long, instrumental, guitar driven music with lulls and crescendo’s. Craig and me were quite taken with this, but Judith found it dull (no choruses) and demanded we all go and play.

So off to the piano in the woods and then over to the Cider bus where they refused to let Craig buy the Cider Brandy at £7 a shot for us all and would only let him buy the £1 a shot paint-stripper. Then on to the Tipi tent to see which unannounced bands were going to play. Stayed to see The Duke & The King faffing around for a bit, whilst all of our party fell asleep one by one, then it was off to bed.

Another great thing about End Of The Road is that they have a Record Shop. It’s right in the middle and is stocked full of CD’s by the bands playing and also of similar type bands – so basically stuff I love.

If there was ever a mythical cave behind a waterfall full of treasures, then it would probably look like this CD shop…except then they would be free, rather than just competitively priced. So you watch a great band; you then have to walk past the CD shop. You go the bar; you have to walk past the CD shop. You go for a piss; you have to walk past the CD shop. And even better, it seems to be always open!

So we were camped down by the fence and the nettles i.e. the boy’s urinal. This was great during the night, but come morning it starts getting a bit busy with women cooking on the stoves they insisted on bringing along. So the option for a piss is then to take a two-minute walk to one of the blue and grey portaloos (I’ve heard them described as Turdis’s, which I think is clever) or take a four-minute walk to the urinals…and past the CD shop in both directions! How great a start to the day is that?

Anyway, I’m perhaps rambling a touch.


  1. But rambling in a very good way. I thought that Explosions in the Sky were a bit British Sea Power ish, and thats good. Friday night was excellent, it only took me an hour or so to get there from work, I had mates waiting to help me pitch the tent, inflate the airbed and even to hand me a can of cider. Plus I met a Hare Krishna monk who told me I had a very good aura.

    End of the Road is my favourite festival.

  2. 'A very good aura' = Smells of cider?

  3. No, this was pre-cider but post-me giving him a pocketful of change to buy lunches for poor people.

    Some people can just recognise those with 'good auras'. No doubt Hare Krishna monks are highly trained in it.

  4. I've had sleepless nights mulling over the whole is Glastonbury better or is EOTR better conundrum and I've decided EOTR is better. Glastonbury is hard work.

    I figure that you could an EOTR type festival at Glastonbury if you just stuck to south of the railway, so The Park, Avalon and all the green fields...but there'd still be too many people. And you'd no doubt miss what your mates were up to. I think the answer is to just do both.

    EOTR is supposedly modelled on Green Man, so that's firmly on my Radar for next year (same weekend as V). 10,000 people, so double the size, but still a good size.

  5. I think EOTR is better. Despite it being a really well managed festival that plays the sort of music I like, I think though that the overriding factor for me is size.

    You are right about Glastonbury being hard work, even if I turn up with nothing more than a couple of bottles of rum and a pop up tent, its still a long trek. Followed by more long treks between events. Long Treks + poor hygiene = nappy rash. There are too many people too. Or rather too many people I dont know. If it was just us lot then that would be so much better. Plus the odd monk to say nice things. In fact life would be so much better if it wasnt for all the people you dont know, making a noise and getting in your way.

    Anyway, I enjoy Glasto. Its far better than the other big festivals, but I'm liking the small ones better. So, I'm happy to do Green Man next year as long as I can fit it around whatever job I'm doing then.

  6. And let's not forget the flag waving bastards at Glastonbury. If you are at the main stage nowadays, you just end up watching it on video screens. You get a better view at home.