Saturday, 27 August 2011

End of the Road Festival 2011 - Preview

End of the Road Festival is one of the success stories in another year that has seen many smaller UK festivals cancelled or run at large loses due to poor ticket sales. It has managed to buck the trend, keeping to a modest capacity and selling out several months in advance. It takes place on the 2-4 Septrember and if you're going you can find a handy clashfinder to determine what bands to see using this link.

The reasons? Probably because the festival has grown a dedicated niche fan base who return year after year knowing that End of the Road will supply the type of music they like (folk, country, indie and rock are heavy on the line up – there’s only a small amount of electronic music and the likes of hip hop or dubstep don't get a look in), in a setting they like (the lovely Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset – complete with roaming peacocks and pretty woodland), with an audience of a similar mind set to themselves, with plenty of attention to detail in the festivals design – there are little surprises round every corner that delight and enthral. End of the Road is the antithesis of the likes of V Festival in every respect and is all the better for it.

The festival sets out some of its key objectives on its website, namely that:

*You won't get all the over hyped bands headlining.

*Most bands play longer sets than usual.

*You can eat a range of quality food.

*You can drink a range of quality beers.

*The staff and security care about everyone and show respect.

*The festival takes pride in being an independent festival.

*The crowd will be there for the MUSIC.

It is this last point that is the most important. Breaking More Waves has been attending festivals for nearly 20 years and in that time one of the most noticeable changes as more and more festivals appear on the market is the behaviour of people who go. With a few exceptions, in the past people chose to go to festivals because of the music. These days an increasing number go because of the ‘experience’, ‘their friends are going’, ‘it will be a laugh’ or ‘to get wasted’. Sure these things have always happened at festivals, but in the past they’ve been secondary to the music. In the last few years there have been times when bands have played at festivals whilst a small but significant proportion of the audience stand there chatting, completely ignoring the performers, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they’re even playing. One suggestion for these changes in behaviour is the mass media coverage that festivals now get – these days it seems that as part of your summer routine it is imperative that you go to a festival – it’s as much about ‘being there’ than the music for some. Thankfully you won’t see Zane Lowe or Jo Whiley sitting in a commentary box proclaiming how amazing everything is at End of the Road Festival, which maintains a low mass media profile.

So, to the music. For this is the most important thing. End of the Road is very much a serious music lovers festival. 'Serious music lovers' is a phrase which can sound rather stuck-up and worthy, suggesting that such people are chin-stroking disdainful intellectuals who look-down on anything that isn't full of deep complexity. This isn't what we mean. Serious music lovers, real serious music lovers, will appreciate all forms of music and understand that music can be full of fun and a great source of entertainment - it doesn't all have to be weighty or have heavier connotations. One of the characteristics of serious music lovers is that they will always give a performer their full attention and respect - irrespective of if they like it or not. Thankfully End of the Road's audience is full of serious music lovers.

If you’re going here are Breaking More Waves 6 recommendations of acts to see in both audio and audio / visual form (2 for each day), although frankly we could have chosen at least 20 for this list with ease, and besides if you’re the sort of person that’s going to End of the Road you probably know all the bands on the bill anyway.

Dry The River (Friday 14.15-15.15 Woods Stage)

Fresh from slots at Reading and Leeds festivals expect edgy and rousing alt. folk rock from this London based band who are blessed with melodies, energy, delicate violins and growling walls of noise.

Dry the River - "New Ceremony"

tUnE-yArDs (Friday 16.45-17.45 Garden Stage)

tUnE-yArDs is the inventive and quirky musical project of Merrill Garbus - an absolute must see at End of the Road as she hasn't bombarded the UK festival scene this summer. Mixing tribal afro-pop, funk-folk and a bold chaos of ideas to create something utterly unique her second album Whokill has been one of Breaking More Waves highlights of the year so far and we fully expect it to appear on a lot of end of year lists.

Austra (Saturday 16.00-16.45 Big Top)

Pulsing beaty synths, operatic vocals and songs that get under your skin. Like tUnE-yArDs, Austra is effectively a one woman project - that of Katie Stelmanis, but the songs are fleshed out in the live arena by an ensemble of other musicians.

Austra - Beat and the Pulse (Still Going Remix)

The Unthanks (Saturday 18.30-19.30 Garden Stage)

We make no apology for stating that The Unthanks are one of our favourite bands of the last few years, possibly with all things considered our absolute favourite. They have now managed to produce not one, not two, but three of our most listened to albums, the latest of which - Last is an incredibly downbeat yet gorgeous folk album. Probably the only time you'll ever get to hear a band sing songs about children being buried in a mining slag heap burial disaster and enjoy it and even if you don't it will probably still be the only time you get to hear a band sing about children being buried in a mining slag heap burial disaster. The Unthanks make sadness sound utterly beautiful, but watch out for their in between song banter is often surprisingly humorous.

Lanterns On The Lake (Sunday 13.30-14.15 Big Top)

The words 'eagerly anticipated' are often used with no real justification. Eagerly anticipated by who we wonder ? Well let's be clear, the debut album by Lanterns On The Lake, released through Bella Union next month is eagerly anticipated by Breaking More Waves. The live experience of Lanterns On The Lake is like having all of your emotions crushed into a tiny box and then exploding it with everything that is life affirming.

Sapsorrow by Lanterns on the Lake

Wild Nothing (Sunday 19.15-20.15 Big Top)

In between two further must see acts - Laura Marling and closing headliner Joanna Newsom why not get a little bit of fuzzy C-86 indie guitar pop into your life with Jack Tatum aka Wild Nothing. His music may pay hommage to 80's bedsit indie in bucketfuls, but its well executed and has more than a sprinkling of melody.

Summer Holiday by Wild_Nothing

No comments: