I have really enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts on the festival, but thought as this was indeed my first End Of The Road, I would bring a few of my own thoughts to the table.
I have been to numerous festivals over the years, from the big festivals like Leeds back in my teens with friends, to Primavera, Orlando Calling, and Laneway Festival in NZ to the likes of Camper Calling when we first decided to venture back into the festival realm with kids. But I had seen the lineup to EOTR year on year and was determined this had to be out next family festival. I knew little of anything else in regards to activities beyond the music, the atmosphere, the stages and location prior to making this decision, but thought it was somewhere I needed to experience.
And while reading everyone's thoughts on the festival prior to going, I can't quite believe just how unique EOTR actually is. The entire vibe was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
We rocked up in our campervan a little after 5pm on the Thursday evening (also our first campervan festival as my wife was unwilling to tent it anymore!) and I can honestly say the weekend went by so fast we were amazed we got so much packed into it. Between the bands across all stages (the Garden was indeed as special as it had been made out, while the piano stage was a curious little find), the movie tent, the games area, Aardman's workshops, the Effing Forest, the Rig and circus tent, the whole family had a blast. We didn't even get a chance to venture out to the comedy stage such was the wealth of activities on offer.
Particular highlights were the Ferris Wheel (though finding a time it was open was difficult - stewards seemed oblivious), the photo booth, the disco, and the wonderful set up of the forest.
As for the music, The Murder Capital were immense, not seen a performance like that for a while, the way they reworked their set list from their recent tour to build the set into an emotional roller-coaster was overwhelming at times. Mitski was also great, quite a change in style from the rather minimalist acoustic set I saw her perform in Manchester on the Puberty 2 tour a few years back. Low were majestic, Jarvis was Jarvis, Crack Cloud, Wand and Shame dominated the Big Top. Black Midi swept across the Garden and made a great old racket, while Du Blonde sounded good, though I missed half her set due to queueing outside.
Fontaines were disappointing, literally so flat, glad I left early to get front and centre for The Murder Capital. Same with Spiritualized, who just felt so remote I couldn't really get into.
To be honest though, whilst we went for the music, the festival proved why it is held in such regard. It is much more than just a music festival, it's an escape, a journey into a magical land and one filled with some of the loveliest folk I have ever met at a festival. I wasn't bothered by the chair debate, which when you ventured further forward seemed to dissappear anyway, while my little girl loved having a good rock out on her dad's shoulders (and while she did urge me to go closer, I did try to acknowledge the obvious dangers of this on certain stages!). The festival had more than enough to entertain two adults, a 7 year old and a 1 year old, which was surprising to say the least!
So all in all, we have booked to go again next year, hopefully the weather holds out as well as it did this year (and a campervan really helps with the evening chill) and we encounter some more wonderful people at a delightful festival.