Back from the End of the Road

18 September 2007

Back after a weekend away at the End of the Road festival, and what a weekend it was. Wonderful weather, great company, and only the briefest hints of rain. It felt pretty special: a small festival (only 5000 tickets), lots of families, great food, wonderful music, and a schedule that never felt too crowded, but always yielded serendipitous discoveries wherever you looked. Highlights included:

  • Bumping into a musician practicing on the piano in the piano garden, and being his audience for a while
  • The peacocks! (Larmer Tree Gardens has several resident peacocks, who would happily wander around the paths)
  • Finding that friends I wasn’t expecting (Ben-Rizla, Tim) were also there
  • Discovering Midlake in their wonderful 90-minute set
  • Darren Hayman + co’s impromptu secret bluegrass gig in the piano garden
  • Hush The Many playing a lunchtime set like it was a headline show (and subsequently chatting to Nima from HTM the next day – November 9th, at the 100 Club if you want to see them again)
  • The fantastic burritos at the Mexican place – their breakfast burrito was a triumph
  • I’m From Barcelona‘s hilarious, uplifting, ecstatic afternoon show – crowd-surfing-on-a-lilo and all
  • Jim White‘s humble, delightful songwriting
  • Cooking breakfasts and lunches on our Trangia
  • Architecture from Helsinki – at times bewildering, and then just as I’m about to leave, they bring it around with some dirty four-to-the-floor. They battled poor sound to give a good show
  • Finally getting to see Salter Cane perform (congrats, Jeremy!)
  • The stage invasion during SFA‘s The Man Don’t Give A Fuck
  • Standing around the fire at night with some particularly fine hot chocolate
  • Kurt Wagner’s majestic, delicate closing Lambchop set

There were many others, but that should give you the idea. Alex and I spent a while trying to describe what tied all the acts we saw together, given they felt so disparate. But in the end, there was definitely one thing that brought them altogether: a shared sense of humility. The organisers were thanked in practically every set; the festival lauded similarly. So many musicians and bands just seemed so thankful to be there, and would always inform the audience of this – usually prior to thanking the audience themselves. And they all meant it. It felt wonderful to be at such a gentle, honest festival, which made up in heart what it lacked in bravado.

Already, I cannot wait for next year.