End of the Road Festival has grown up but still enchants
Deep among the undulating Quantock Hills, difficult to find and obscure of music lies the last festival of the summer. End of the Road at Larmer Tree Gardens has been thrilling hardy festival goers since 2006 when its free spirit and exclusivly non commercial attitude excited a group of music fans exhausted by the mega-fest of Glastonbury, disappointed by the mainstream festivals or new to the whole festival thrill.
|Gruff Rhys shows his appreciation|
And so six years on the festival has grown, over the years we have seen other thrilling acts, Fleet Foxes, Midlake, Super Furry Animals, Calexico, King Creosote, Seasick Steve, Yo La Tengo, Wilco, Conor Oberst, The Felice Brothers, plus the wierd such as Bob Log III and the hauntingly lovely The Low Anthem, Lanterns on the Lake, The Accidental, Bon Iver, The Unthanks and yet more Richard Hawley.
This year a lot has changed, with a new stage where toilets, showers and tents once stood, a different entrance, rejigged car parks and a new comedy stage deep in the woods. With it have come more people, there must be over 12,000 now and it shows in the way that everything is just a little more crowded. I'm not complaining however, it's still a wonderful festival, free of commercialism and with some wonderful touches.
|Tony Law lets the kids take charge on the|
Comedy Stage in the woods
|Grooving at the Secret Disco|
Food plays an important part in the festival experience and again EOTR has it right, there is nothing overly branded or brash. Many of the vendors are local, mostly using organic produce. The one disappointment this year was Pie Minister who had run out of Matador (beef, chorizo, olives, butter beans & sherry) pies by 5pm on Friday (despite my Tweeted requests before and during the festival). I was looking forward to that nearly as much as I was to seeing Midlake!
Foody find of the festival was The Story, smoked pork and beef platters, warm and tender, packed with flavour, just right for a chilly evening. A special mention too for The Tea Stop and their double decker bus, great toasties and real china.
|Midlake concentrate hard on growing|
Find of the festival were Megafaun, rootsy, harmonies, humour and musicianship, just the thing for a Sunday afternoon at the Garden stage. While Lanterns on the Lake shimmered with their dream pop cross between Mazy Star and The Cocteau Twins and Beth Jeans-Houghton's mellow voice belied her funny, acerbic lyrics.
But its not all about the music at EOTR, its the attitude of all the festival goers, chilled, relaxed, happy and tolerant. It's the 3 year old's in Half Man Half Biscuit T-shirts, the Somerset Cider Bus, the views over the hills, the peacocks and Victorian folley's, the elderly couple rocking out to Brakes and the gentle sound of rain on the canvas of your tent to accompany the pluck of Joanna Newsom's harp.