The Fall do rock, if only you knew what they were playing on first day of EOTR

End of the Road 2011 review

published: Mon 19th Sep 2011

The Fall

Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September 2011
Larmer Tree Gardens,Tollard Royal, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5PT, England MAP
adults £145, youth (13-17) £120, child (6-12) £55 - all SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 12000
last updated: Mon 11th Jul 2011

Celebrating its 6th year, End of the Road has now become a must festival for those who are put off by the over commercial bigger events like Reading and V. Run by passionate, selfless organizers who just want to share their favourite bands with like minded individuals, without any need to flaunt how amazing they are for their egos.

Held in the grounds of the attractive Larmer Tree Gardens in north Dorset near Shaftsbury, EOTR runs for three days and one extra bonus night on the Thursday (this year festival favourites Herman Dune played that night only, a shame they weren't a part of the main event).

around the festival site (2)
Like all festivals there are the usual food and drink stands, but these won't rape you of all your money for a piece of cow ankle and tongue. The food and drink is very reasonably priced and may I say the fish n chips were almost gourmet. But even if you don't fancy pocketing out for the stalls the festival welcomes all food and drink onto its premises, apart from glass bottles. So no food Nazis at the gate.

There are workshops for all ages available, from circus skills or folk stories. There's ping pong in the woods, Kubb( Swedish traditional cross between skittles and chess) and a chance to reenact scenes from cult films like 'Back to the Future'.

Of course there are multiple stages filled with music and comedy and a cinema showing the very best in film all weekend. With the addition of a new main stage called the Woods there was even more choice than any other year, and without having to open the doors to too many more punters.

around the festival site (2)
I arrived Friday afternoon, living only 40 minutes from the festival I didn't need to pitch a tent. After making sure for the fourth time of adjusting my Tesco bag to my car aerial in order to re-find it later that night, I packed up my various bottles of energy liquids and water and without any queueing I was let into the grounds.

I found myself seated on a gorgeous sunny afternoon to bare witness to Micah P. Hinson at the Garden Stage (no stranger to the festival himself, this time with a string quartet and his arm in sling. But still sporting sunglasses to look the part. His set was mainly made up of 'Pioneers Saboteurs' He spent most of his time being a charming self depreciating troubadour, but sadly the songs didn't quite work in the format, which was a shame. The biggest reaction he got was when he bigged up Simon and Sofia for not making a festival full of "corporate cocksuckers".

Maybe due to having the majority of the audience ( mainly made up of bearded men in glasses with various tote bags by their sides) sitting reading, sucked away most of the atmosphere, so I decided to check out a more poppy act on the new Woods stage, the muchly hyped Best Coast.

Best Coast
For one of the 'well known' acts to appear at the festival they still only had a few hundred watching their California grunge pop. They sounded exactly like the record and played all their singles including a new track 'Gone Again' but they only work well in short doses and their songs including their new addition don't fall very far from the same tree as 'Boyfriend'. Bethany Cosentino looked rather gorgeous in her hat, but with the band mainly rooted to the spot for the performance they needed to change up the set to stop it from becoming rather samey. So I decided to check out the grounds of the festival, not being there for four years. After walking past some tents of rather obscure acts, I thought I would venture into the world of comedy.

I have never been to a comedy stage at a festival and why not. Having to walk through endless tents of workshops, with topless guys wearing far too many beads I came face to face with a huge sign saying comedy. So I assumed that this must be the place, but no, another walk further away from the main festival area led me down a hill to a secluded space. Filled with haystacks, a small wooden stage and what seemed like a huge bra hung up along the branches of the trees to give a few people shelter from the forces of nature.

around the festival site (2)
Amazingly since it was so hard to find, there was over a hundred in attendance having a whale of a time to Matt Crosby & Tom Parry. These were like minded comedians, who were music fans and obvious fans of the festival, who could easily perform their enigmatic, ironic wit in front of a like minded crowd. After playing their same hour shows all August to anyone and everyone in Edinburgh, they must have been delighted to play their best of sets in such a pleasant environment and we loved them.

As I could hear the Tune-Yards over on the Garden stage it reminded me that I was mainly here for music, so music is where I went in search for. Back to the Woods stage to see the return of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Now playing to a much more energetic audience than the previous act, the New York indie act bought over songs to make us dance. And dance we did, they seemed to have fun and encouraged us to join in with as much hand clapping and singings as we could muster. 'Satan Said Dance' even made their merchandise fall of their side of the stage. The band interchanged instruments between songs just seemed to enjoy being back on the road. 'Is This Love?' is the closest thing to hearing Granddaddy play live and as they performed a drawn out 'Young Blood' I for one will definitely be left highly anticipating their new album.

Lykke Li
Only to return from again from a quick toilet break (yes at this festival they are quick, and have soap!) to see Swedish pop siren Lykke Li, standing near the front I was surrounded by over a dozen Spaniards who seemed overly crazy for Li, but why not. She can certainly make an entrance and with the sun coming down, dry ice filled the stage and an army of black entered the stage in anticipation for the singer’s bleak pop. She enjoys the over dramatics and po-faced, she sings out her lyrics to 'Sadness Is A Blessing' with gusto and clawing hand gestures. Certainly is quite refreshing change from the majority of singer songwriters on show during the weekend. She even seemed to come out of her icy persona and raise a smile during 'Rich Kids Blues'.

I rushed off before the Spanish decided to invade the stage and found my self watching the final songs of The Walkmen, who seem to have made an effort to arrive in their Sunday best. They have such an intense sound live that at times I was worried that Hamilton Leithhauser head was going to explode with his booming vocals. Luckily there wasn't any brain popping mishaps and they got to play their trademark 'The Rat' to the delight of one drunken fan who had been shouting out for it every time there was a break in their set. The song is still remarkable live and sadly they may not ever top it.

She Keeps Bees
Over at the Tipi Tent She Keeps Bees were playing to a full house, so I moved my attention onto the Woods headliner Beirut with what seems like the entire high school music lesson cupboard contents on stage with them. Zach Condon certainly have their own sound, but although I can admire what they do, I struggled to be impressed with the actual songs. It all seemed very much a 6th form school prom, and as the night was getting on, standing stroking my chin in a cold field was not what I needed so off to see the post-punk legends The Fall it was for me at the Garden stage.

The Fall
After a long wait the band came on stage and started playing, waiting for Mark E Smith to arrive, eventually the ever so withered Smith, strolled on stage and for the next hour I had no idea what the man said into the microphone. This isn't so useful when you want to write down what tracks they played for this review. Luckily keyboardist and wife Elena Poulou (who never lets her handbag leave her shoulder through the entire set) is left to sing on a couple of tracks as Smith is more preoccupied with playing with the guitarist Pete Greenway's amp volume to sing himself. So it's a nice change to hear some diction before Smith finds another mic on stage to take over as chief slurrer. For a man with over 30 years of experience with microphones he seems to still have so much trouble holding a stand. Though all this is rather enjoyable in a car crash type way, it's amazing how he gets away with such behavior all down to his legendary status. At one point he stops the songs and gets them to play 'Cowboy George' instead, he then takes out a lyric sheet and begins to sing. As if we could hear the lyrics anyway! The band seem to go along with the dictatorship of their leader and when for entire songs they have their amps turned off they still play with gusto. The backing band play superbly and The Fall do rock, if only you knew what they were playing.

As the festival headliners left their stages, the only thing left was a disco in the forest, some surprise guests at the Tipi tent or Storytellers at the comedy area. I returned to the comedy clearing. Where after waiting for the said comedians to return from watching (and later mocking) The Fall, I enjoyed half a dozen stories from a variety of comedians including Simon Munnery, and Thom Tuck compered by the lovely Sarah Bennetto. I was even more taken when my 5 word rock star story won me a badge and a free magazine. So at nearly 1:30am I walked back to a field full of metal and hunted for my car.

around the festival site (1)
review by: Fran Jolley

photos by: Jason Wood

Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September 2011
Larmer Tree Gardens,Tollard Royal, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5PT, England MAP
adults £145, youth (13-17) £120, child (6-12) £55 - all SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 12000
last updated: Mon 11th Jul 2011


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