As we left the End of the Road Festival site late Sunday evening, we casually put the car radio on and that timeless Beach Boys classic Good Vibrations came on.
How utterly apt this seemed after yet another extraordinary weekend in the wilds of somewhere down south that’s a bit posh. In the company of fellow fans and lunatics I think I can speak for all 10,000 people attending we all felt some good vibrations at least once or in my case 38 times.
Indeed, how could you not? The weather transformed from biblical rain on the Thursday to a heatwave by the Sunday. The cider flowed like cider, and the music? let me tell you (incoherently) about the music.
Friday commenced with a set from an American band called Sylvie, a core of two guys and one girl aided by several Brits who had been with them on their UK tour. This was their final gig before returning to the States. It proved to be a lovely set of their own material; all soft acoustic West coast chilled out folk with a hint of very nice lead guitar.
Imagine Fleetwood Mac meets America, which on paper may sound inane, but they suited the early afternoon laid back vibe perfectly. They totally won the crowd over with a lovely version of the Beatles’ Blackbird. Just a lovely way to break into the day.
A secret set from Angel Olsen in the woods proved frustrating as she never turned up until we had run out of patience and left ! It must be said though that her headlining slot later that evening was extra classy.
We needed some urgently required rock action, it came in the form of Ulrika Spacek. Lots of lovely feedback and guitar strangling. A little Sonic Youth at times, but that’s no bad thing at all.
Be Your Own Pet are not only the owners of a great band name but are a riot of punkiness incarnate. They riffed their way into our ears. Can you imagine The Rezillos meet The Lovely Eggs, meets MC5? Or is that just me?
Noise levels reaching critical! Let’s go one level higher, with Part Chimp. Oh, my Lord, it’s all fantastic but I think I need a bit of Simon and Garfunkel.
A midnight wander, aching feet, crumpets, bed.
Saturday morning arrives just as it should, just after Friday night, and we’re off.
First up John Francis Flynn, a big Dublin guy with a beard, guitar and an incredible set of folk music, but not as we know it, Jim. Two guys accompany him, one on incredible layered fiddle. Another chap on clarinet and lead guitar. Hopefully Flynn is going to be on all your radars by next year. He mentioned a new album is coming, in the meantime check out his debut I Would Not Live Always. It’s a cracker!
Throughout the day people were recommending we catch the sublime vocal stylings of Arooj Aftab. Wow! There’s ethereal then there’s Arooj. What a voice, backed by a rocking harp player and a demonic double bass player. They conjured up many wonderous ambient soundscapes. The quality of these performances was becoming mind blowing.
The Anchoress in the Big Top on the other hand prompted bafflement on my part, sorry but I don’t get it. Ignore me, the crowd loved her.
The worst kept secret of the day was a surprise set from Wet Leg at teatime. How can you not enjoy their throwaway sing along pop punk ditties? Afterwards I had to go for a lay down on a chaise longue, sorry.
For supper we went for some more vicious angry guitar malarkey with High Viz. Now feeling decrepit we retired from band watching duties. Had another crumpet and went to bed.
It’s not just music at EOTR, there’s kids’ stuff, interviews, an enchanted woodland where on Saturday night we found Dungen a Swedish psychedelic band that blew away the brain cells. There’s literature, stuff to make, stuff to do, make videos, arts and crafts etc etc.
By Sunday the heat was not only a novelty but tending toward alarming. Our magical mystery tour continued and at approximately 4pm my personal highlight arrived.
Teke Teke claimed they were from Montreal. But I think it more likely this seven-piece come from another planet entirely.
Dressed in a riot of colour, with no less than three guitarists, a trombone player in a sailor’s hat, a flautist in a white sixties mini dress throwing some go-go dancing shapes and a grinning vocalist with hand held gong. An almost uncategorizable melange of psychedelic punk madness.
Near the point of collapse I can report from my increasingly erratic notes, Lee Fields was a joy. An Otis Redding kind of vibe. Hands in the air, say yeah!
The Murlocs brought the garage band thang, Divorce brought the Nottingham thang, Grunge pop anybody? They have potential to do great things, one to watch.
The infectious grooves of Ghanian band Alogte Oho and his joyous sounds were great fun and we danced like all Brits do, badly.
At 8 o clock The Allah Las are the second-best band in the world. The end.
It’s a good job I’m off this week.
Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes