Monday, 31 October 2016

End of the Road

As  an attempt to max out on the last remaining daze of Summer, at the start of September I packed some sun cream, a waterproof poncho and some temporary tattoos and set off to the green fields of Dorset. It was the weekend of End of the Road festival, tickets for which I had booked as soon as I saw The Shins were on the line-up, one of my favourite bands to keep me company when walking home at night or to listen to whilst drawing.

From the moment I arrived, this was unlike other festivals I had been to: smaller, more relaxed; frankly just nicer. From Reading in 2008 to Benicassim in 2014, I was surprised to realise here no-one was going to set my tent on fire or piss on me if I fell asleep outside. Or if some twat did play up, my neighbourly campers would have my back. Amazingly, you could pretty much make it as feelgood or as hardcore as you wanted, with people losing their shit to GOAT alongside young kids on their parents shoulders, co-existing in harmony around shared experiences.

As  expected, the tunes were to die for, with four nights of packed programming and lots more to discover during the daytime - from little known bands, vegan food, art installations, croquet on the lawn and children's activities to Stewart Lee getting grumpy inside some kind of Tolkein-esque hut in the woods and late night discos on a ship.

One of my favourite elements was a postal service, delivering mail throughout the festival to those described by the sender, recipients ranging from toilet attendants to the bands themselves, with some acts mentioning their letters during their set. During most performances or just when milling around, you would see cloaked festival workers dropping off letters from strangers and friends and spreading fascination, joy and a sense of everyday magic. Me and Laurie sent a note of appreciation to the lighting guy in one of the tent stages for his work live mixing the effects to match the performance, describing his position and what he was wearing.

Standout performances came from Savages [above], The Garden, Field Music, The Oh Sees, and listening to final night headliner Joanna Newsom in the pouring rain was one of the most magical experiences of my life, leaving me feeling like my humble human heart had turned to pure gold. I even expressed my love for The Shins [above] through a special tattoo [below] for me and my best friend to wear, alongside designs for the other headliners.

In  short, End of the Road was a much-appreciated dose of escapism from everyday life in the city, with a strangely balancing effect rather than one of ringing you out completely and hanging you up to dry like a soggy sleeping bag. To my delight I took away a lot of inspiration from the awesome female acts on the bill, especially those new to me like Shopping and Feels. I kinda now want to do more to celebrate women in music in a creative way. For more on this, check out End of the Road 2016 line-up is a triumph for female headliners in The Telegraph.

Kudos EOTR, I like the cut of your jib.

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