Wednesday, 30 September 2009

End of the Road Festival 2009 - Saturday


We awoke after 9 hours uninterrupted sleep (minus visit to the nettles) to another sunny day. Feeling surprisingly chipper, and with little lasting effect from the paint-stripper. After a trip to the CD shop, it was time to while away the morning generally talking crap and to perfectly time a visit to a Turdis. Judith was off to visit relatives for the day and, once he was full of bottomless pocket Cider and paint-stripper, Craig had rashly let slip that he had the Beatles Mono box set in his car and once plied with even more paint-stripper had offered to lend it to me. With trip to the car park duly taken, we were rapidly approaching the magical midday bar opening. So, with backpack and magical pockets replenished, we were up and running.

First up was a visit to the Leisure Society. Craig had these on his radar, as they, like many of the smaller EOTR artists, tend to play his local workingman’s club. We arrived mid set and enjoyed some pleasant Americana type music. They did however finish with a first rate cover of The Beatles’s Something. I always believe it takes a certain amount of confidence – or stupidity – to tackle a highly recognisable Beatles song, and they pulled it off.

Unfortunately we missed Bob Log III, which is a shame as he looks interesting

After a visit to the CD shop it was time for one of my must-sees of the weekend The Low Anthem (think: Tom Waits meets Neil Young). Band consists of a singer with a headband (edgy!), a girl looking somewhat confused – though Craig thought she was just a bit sulky – and another bloke. They all kept switching around instruments and played some truly beautiful music. One of the highlights.

Next up on the garden stage was Broken Family Band (think: Squeeze meets Libertines meets C&W band, but this is what they have to say about themselves: We all have different tastes, but we all love Mr. Blue Sky by ELO and Stop The Bleeding by The Bronx. Steven thinks he's Mister Eclectic, with his newly-downloaded Nigerian pop compilation and his adolescent Black Flag fetish, but really it's bad taste masquerading as fashion sense. No-one's impressed by a man with one token Marvin Gaye album. Jay is stuck in the 80s and hopelessly lost to Joe Satriani, Van Halen and all those florid men with shiny guitars. The only saving grace for this 'dude' is his passion for AC/DC and Stephen Malkmus b-sides. Micky has never made a secret of the fact that he likes Oasis. He goes nuts for sappy stuff like Band Of Horses, Howling Bells and even Coldplay, but he's the guy sending those youtube clips of Travis from Blink 182 playing drums in the noddy. Gavin is like a quiet horse, gently grazing forever in a field of 1970s "Soul Reggae", but he’s not fooling anyone – turn your back and there's some cruddy early 90s pop punk leaking out of his stereo. Jets To Brazil? Really? Three of us still like Rival Schools for christ's sake. Early on we were aiming for a country/folksy take on pop music, and we've gradually developed 'our own thing', which is perhaps a bit noisier).

The band had recently announced that they would be splitting up after this and a few other dates and, not really bothered to promote their new album, they played songs to make us laugh. Nice line in self-deprecating humour too, as in “to keep thing simple, the next song is in the same key and with most of the same chords as the last one”. Their set was very well attended and they went down a storm, though they did cause some distress at the end when they announced that they were off to spit-roast a peacock.

After two highlights in a row, it was back to the tents to drink beer and sit on the chairs we had been carrying around for the last few hours. This also neatly coincided with the arrival of Sue and her stock of ice-cold Stella and (no doubt) fresh raspberries. Suitably refreshed, it was time for the evening.

Next on my list was a visit to see J. Tillman at the Tipi tent. Unfortunately, it was too full and we ended up sat outside in the sunshine. Although perhaps not so unfortunate, as he was one of these artists who couldn’t be bothered bringing along a band, so was just strumming away on acoustic. As Judith was now back with us, we queued again to get in for Blitzen Trapper (think: Wilco meets the Beatles). This lot were on my must see list, but the tent was so full and stupidly designed, we couldn’t see anything. So it was off to the garden stage via the CD shop.

Next up were perhaps the highlight of the weekend, Okkervil River (think: Morrissey meets Springsteen). This band were simply fantastic, with each song something of a stirring anthem. Big thumbs up from Craig and Judith, though by the end of the set Craig was starting to flag and do the fall asleep stood-up routine he learnt of Copey. Off to the bar, a quick trip to the CD shop and then some food.

And here’s a clip of Okkervil River playing in the afternoon at the piano in the woods (it takes a while to get going, all you impatient instant gratification seekers)

Okkervil River at the piano in the woods

Headliners for the garden stage tonight were Fleet Foxes (think: Crosby, Stills & Nash meets The Byrds). Everybody raves about this band and I’ve tried really hard to like them, but I just can’t see what the fuss is about. The songs I like most seem to have Pan Pipes in them and inexplicably remind me of Fernando by Abba. Anyway, we tried, but all the messing around for two or three minutes between each song really does detract. So, to the strains of Fernando, we bade farewell and went to play in the woods.

First stop, the piano: some people doing Bohemian Rhapsody and then I tried to get them to do the 118 247 advert. They gave me short shrift, so, undaunted; it was off to the disco floor. Eye Of The Tiger, Livin’ On A Prayer. Come on! The classics! So we did our “guess who this is” dancing game (I won, naturally). There was also a game of musical statues, which I decided needed judging, but after a while Judith told me to stop as I was scaring and intimidating girls. And I’ve just remembered that we had lost Craig by this point. Where did you go, mate?

Tired and emotional, Judith and I headed off to bed. However Chris and Sue were having none of it and were off to watch Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley DJ. By all accounts a bit of a fiasco as (a) they had no idea what to do and (b) they were pissed. Jarvis apparently went all Professorial and started to dismantle everything, whilst Richard Hawley stood back and took the piss (much as Paul does, if you are struggling to put away your tent).


  1. The guy in the chair and the trumpet players reaction on the video is class. I think I might like that Okkervil River lot. Andy just to piss off the bad guys can you copy me a CD please. I just know you'll have bought one by now.


  2. I had completely forgotten about that picture!

    CD coming up - I bought it a the CD shop on site(and then another on CDWOW).

    I hadn't appreciated until later that Shearwater are an off-shoot band formed by the Okkervil River singer and the then keyboardist/singer. They kept both going in parallel for a number of years, then decided to each focus on one.

    A lot of these americana bands do this sort of thing; Centr-Matic are a cool band and exactly the same members are also in South San Gabriel. I think it's good.

  3. You do know some shite