It’s the End Of The Road as we know it … and I certainly felt fine. Over the first weekend of September, I camped at a music festival, for the first time ever (well, discounting a disastrous visit to Reading Festival back in the mists of time, when a friend and I ‘camped’ without a tent, and left the next day, cold, wet, and miserable). End of the Road is rumoured to be the discerning muso’s music festival. By no stretch of the imagination could I be called a discerning muso, so I’m delighted to welcome the first ever guest blogger to GoosterontheLoose, the fabulous Fiona Freel, who is indeed a discerning muso, a writer who packs a punch and a veteran of EOTR to boot. Take it away Fifi!“The first weekend in September saw my annual pilgrimage to the End of the Road (EOTR) music festival, set in the idyllic surroundings of Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset. Preparation took the form of raiding the supermarket for baby wipes, chocolate, crisps, hand sanitiser and, of course, several boxes of wine.
On arrival at the site, Daisy and I set about putting up our tents, while Steve and Sara decided to pick a fight with theirs; it started with a stand-off, then there was a torrent of abuse followed by full-on violence. Three almost perfect erections later, we celebrated by cracking open a box of the blushful hippocrene and discussed who we were going to see that evening.
This year the choice of bands and artists was almost overwhelming, requiring the avid music fan to be in two or three places at once. I inevitably missed some of the people I had intended to see, such as Josh T Pearson, Joanna Newsom, Okkervil River, Timber Timbre, White Denim and Drum Eyes. In other instances, I only caught some of the sets and then regretted my laissez-faire attitude to punctuality (often brought about by the lovely cider and real ales on offer). I really should have seen more of Gruff Rhys, Lykke Li, Willy Mason and Wild Beasts, to name but a few.
Of the musicians I did manage to see in their entirety (twice), Bob Log III, an EOTR regular, was definitely my favourite. Dressed in a human cannonball outfit and signature motorcycle helmet with telephone/microphone attached, the one-man-band slide guitar supremo worked the crowd up into a frenzy playing his inimitable style of party music. With a repertoire including ‘Boob Scotch’ and ‘My Shit is Perfect’, the sexually-charged log man claimed ‘I only play three songs – but I play them damn well’.
Other highlights included Tinariwen, a band of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali; the Unthanks, who treated us to some clog dancing and whose beautiful title song from their latest album Last reduced me to tears; Beirut with their unique take on Balkan folk and impressive brass section which included a sousaphone – an instrument you wear as well as play; and the Leisure Society who did an excellent rendition of ‘Me and Julio down by the schoolyard’.
As the festival progressed it just got better and better. On Sunday night, after an impassioned performance by singer-songwriter John Grant, Daisy and I wondered off to the piano stage and found ourselves singing Bohemian Rhapsody with a clanger and two cheeky farmer boys – one wearing a romper suit and the other a wet suit. The besuited boys, minus the Clanger, mysteriously proceeded to chat us up. Why would two 20-year-olds be interested in two females who were, ahem, almost twice their age (and a bit whiffy after three days of camping at that)? Aaaaah, paid £15 to get in, sans tent and needed somewhere to spend the night – mind you, it was getting nippy so vaguely understandable I suppose. To chase away the chill we did what any self-respecting last-nighters should do – shook our respective booties down at the forest disco while indulging in the odd nip of whisky.
Now celebrating its sixth anniversary, this year saw a few changes at the EOTR. A new stage (the Woods Stage) and a bigger capacity – rumoured to be 12,000 – double the amount of previous years. This made the campsite a bit busier but essentially it was still a great festival. The old faithfuls were there – the Somerset Cider Bus, the Chai Shop organic café (where the theme from the Muppets played as we waited for our fry-up) and the Routemaster tea bus. See you again next year EOTR.”