End of the Road Festival Review and Pictures

Posted on 8 September 2011
By Samantha Maine
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End of the Road has been a little known gem of a festival for the past few years. But, this year they decided to prop up a brand new main stage and increase their capacity from 5000 to 8000.

Having sold out at their quickest rate ever this year, has the festival succumbed to the commercial plague?

Fear not fellow festivallers, it most certainly has not. Friday afternoon was welcomed in by grungers Best Coast with their stripped back surfer sound. Playing the hits from their debut album ‘Crazy for You’ highlights included ‘Our Deal’ and brand new song ‘Over the Ocean.’

Over at the garden stage, tUnE-yArDs are blowing the crowd away with their eclectic mix of whatever it is that they do.

Bright, colourful costumes, a voice like no other and a couple of guys jamming out in their brass ensemble makes it hard to distinguish where to put this band. But the audience sure do love it, and the band creates one of the highlights of the entire weekend.

Pop-electro lass Lykke Li heads to the main stage at sun set, explaining how she needs the sun to go down to match her band’s goth geddup. Err, get on with it love?

The set pretty much explains itself, with Miss Li cracking out all her big hits. ‘Little Bit’ is a highlight, as the surrounding audience members get their funky feet on. However, it would be nice if she could cheer up a bit.

The Walkmen play the penultimate set of the evening over at the Garden stage. It’s clear that the audience are only ready for one thing – ‘The Rat.’ As soon as it kicks in, all hell breaks loose and the pre-teen festival virgins are up on those shoulders like nobody’s business.

Beirut are the headliners of the night and their folk tinged loveliness is just what this audience are after. Zach Condon manages to capture his spectators’ hearts, as the set claws at the prospect of being perfect.

A solo song as a second encore breaks Beirut down to their very core and shows us just what a great songwriter Condon has proved himself to be. Whatever you do though, just don’t compare them to Mumford & Sons, k?

Little White Lies are curating the cinema tent once again and bring with them classics, new classics and kinda classics.

This evening see’s the return of the Dude to the big screen and with a pint in tow, it seems the perfect way to round off the evening. The magazine even gave away mini-mags on each seat, which was rather nice of them.

Saturday see’s This is the Kit play the smaller, (yet bigger than last year) Tipi Tent. It’s not in a Tipi but there are Tipi’s next to it, which could cause some confusion.

However, This is the Kit proves that’s not the point as they surprisingly bring one of the best sets of the whole weekend. Delicate vocals, stripped back instrumentals and a bassist that looks just like somebody’s Dad, help the band to ooze the next big thing.

The Comedy stage is tucked away deep in the forest, and it takes a few twists and turns to get there. A small yet substantial wooden platform for the up-and-coming lads and ladettes of the comedy world, the compere’s of the afternoon create the first laughs.

A few technical difficulties don’t hold these boy’s back, as they conjure up the audience to sing the Jurassic Park theme tune. Standard.

Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck brought his Americana awesomeness to the Garden stage later on in the afternoon. As his lyrics shivered through each audience member, the peacocks of Larmer Tree gardens decided they wanted to join in too, as they squawked their appreciation across the field.

Despite this, Matthew’s set proved a hit and you could literally hear a pin drop during each song. A perfect example of how respectful End of the Road’s audience is.

Wales’ very own Gruff Rhys brought his grittiness to the main stage much to the delight of his spectators. Although it was hard to depict what the guy was saying in between songs, his tunes brought a refreshing undertone to the festival.

If you fancied yourself some artwork, then Kai’s tattoo’s is the place for you. Having already created the logo for the festival itself, you can pay a measly £3 towards his burrito money for a cracking piece of unique craftsmanship.

Well, that’s if you count the beheaded Beatles and a T-Rex eating vinyl craftsmanship.

The evening’s entertainment comes in the form of the Woods disco. The trees are adorn with fairy lights and there’s a huge wooden ship adorn with DJ’s. Jarvis Cocker would be proud, as the disco floor lights up with every step.

Playing the likes of The Smiths, Joy Division and a particularly sexy Prince, encourages the revellers to drop to their knees in true diva fashion.

As the sun begins to rise, the games area is rife with party goers rounding off their evening with a game of table tennis. There were also gigantic cards and hordes of Guess Who? being taken VERY seriously.

Sunday is the day of food and booze. The festival has managed to offer up some scrumptious offerings at fairly reasonable prices (there’s not a £7 burger in sight.) Pieminister is on form once again, and the Chilli Veggie hot dogs are a delight.

The stand out beverage comes courtesy of the Cider bus. Hot and spicy cider with a splash of brandy can sort any fuzzy head out. Don’t start on them too early, mind.

Laura Marling finishes off her festival season with a truly breath-taking set on the main stage in the afternoon. Playing well-known sing-a-longs from her debut album and throwing in some new tracks from her upcoming album ‘A Creature I Don’t Know,’ it’s obvious this little lady has really come into her own.

Joanna Newsom closes the festival with her unique stance on the indie music circuit. Playing her first solo show in two years, her quirkiness seems to fail to engage the audience past the half-way point.

Her talent is undeniable, but it would have been nice to hear something more than her and her nice little harp. Some backing vocals perhaps?

All in all, End of the Road is bladdy marvellous. A family friendly festival where the kids aren’t in your face, full of merriment, good booze, good bands and awesome evening shenanigans, it is well on its way to the top of the list.

Let’s just hope they don’t let it go to their heads.

Photography by Laura Williams