Two exotically-coloured parrots fly past the double-decker Somerset Cider Bus while its staff busily brew a sweet and dangerous concoction on the grass outside…
Just one of the highlights of last year’s End of the Road festival, which proved to be a real feast of everything pastoral and indie.
End of the Road is one of the new crop of festivals inspired by Crickhowwel’s Green Man, taking everything seriously from the music down through the food and drink to the various side-attractions that give it its variegated charm.
Its manifesto speaks with a freshness of not giving the time of day to over-hyped bands, giving the ones they select more stage time, employing friendly staff and keeping advertising at bay. Then there’s the landscape and wildlife of the Salisbury Larmer Tree Gardens estate, richly populated by peacocks and their young like some childhood fairytale.
It’s the trip back to childhood that maybe makes the idea of a music festival so exciting, and EoR abounds with quirks of colour and character. It’s absolutely superb for kids, painting, storytelling, face painting, circuses, clowns, puppet shows and a wooden forte playground just some of the activities that will centre around the Family Area, while the music is a hearty concoction that looks as if it’s been compiled with a definite passion rather than business sense.
Last year saw a great influx of older American folk troubadours take the main stage Sunday by storm, and this year it’s continued with Southern gothic underground eccentric Jim White joined by old-time blues maniac Seasick Steve, while Howe Gelb and Charlie Parr fulfil their on-stage promises from last year to return for another bash. There’ll also be the crazy US beat-pop of Danielson, beguiling acoustics of Scout Niblett and Stephanie Dosen, bittersweet garage folk of Willard Grant Conspiracy and the dusty rock of Midlake, playing their only UK festival date of the year, to get your sweet tooth into.
2007 sees EoR teem again in with a great dollop of the new Scandinavian pop underground. Last year’s highlights such as Fanfarlo, El Perro Del Mar and Suburban Kids With Biblical Names succeeded by the equally mouth-watering likes of Herman Dune, The Concretes and I’m from Barcelona, while the booking of pure melancholic Nordic genius Jens Lekman stands out as something of a masterstroke.
The Viking game kubb (a dizzy mixture of baseball and skittles) will interject some quaint athleticism to the proceeding, and there’s lots to keep you occupied during any quiet times with cinema and comedy tents, a healing field, tug-o-war (oh yes), and a Rough Trade record store conveniently placed on the middle grass expanse.
Last year also had a great selection of established and burgeoning UK indie acts, and this year sees ex-Hefner troubadour Darren Hayman joined by the likes of Pete And The Pirates, Brakes, British Sea Power, The Bees, The Twilight Sad, Hush the Many, The Wave Pictures, Slow Club, The Broken Family Band and Sunny Day Sets Fire to make up another dizzy underbelly, while main stage headline slots go to the worthy likes of Yo La Tengo, Super Furry Animals and Lambchop.
If you want to catch them all however beware of the Bimble Inn tent lurking nearby, as if you waltz in there, in our experience you may not want (or be able) to get out. Spontaneous local performers inhabit this enchanted cider/real ale den with gentle cats and inebriated acrobats, and it really is a hub for a festival of festivities and art that’s not to be missed. Come rain or shine, you won’t want to see the autumn in anywhere else.8 Acts Not to Miss
Midlake Tim Smith’s fantastical lyrics are married to complex, layered melodies of such richness as only they can sustain.
Darren Hayman Ex-Hefner man purveying a healthy range of ageing classics and new lyrically-inspired gems.
Jens Lekman Cult Swedish singer-songwriter who’s songs drip with a beautiful poetry and melancholia.
Pete And The Pirates Reading indie upstarts with a penchant for brilliant, up-tempo three-minute nuggets.
The Concretes First sign of the beguiling orchestral indiepoppers without lead singer Victoria Bergsman, who’s taken off to form Taken by Trees.
Architecture In Helsinki Propulsive, whirling-dervish pop from a band with a stage show to match.
Slow Club Brilliant boy/girl duo apparently influenced by Leonard Cohen and Rod Stewart, but sounding more like the disco of your dreams.
Sunny Day Sets Fire British/Italian/Hong Kong amalgam, character-full, melodic and a brilliant live act.