04 September 2022 (gig)
21 September 2022
This is our third year at End of the Road, so we're already prepared in the knowledge that whatever we think we're expecting it to be, it will be something completely different.
We've done the obligatory 2 minute youtube audition for everyone on the bill as means to try and narrow down who we're going to see and to a certain extent that works, but at End of the Road, the line up is so diverse and eclectic, you never quite know what is going to grab you by the throat. Some things you know you'll love, some you won't know why you love them, and some you won't love at all. No matter, there's always another stage, or a real ale bar but a short stroll away!
With school about to kick off again for kids across the country we started Friday off fittingly by going to sample a bit of English Teacher, followed by Highschool. Both bands giving us a different slant on indie guitar/post punk and drawing big crowds to the Woods (Main) Stage and Tipi Tent accordingly.
There's a new stage this year called the Boat, after wondering around the rest of the site and finding our feet we decide to head down and check it out. It is hidden deep in the woods somewhere, and is a very low stage with, yes indeed, an actual boat as a backdrop. Fat Dog are due on, we have no idea what they're going to be, and quite frankly still don't , but they were great. They consisted of a singer dressed in a martial arts outfit, a bassist a saxophonist and a keyboard/electronic gadgets guy. An impossible to pin down fusion of pop, punk, jazz, electro and whatever else they saw fit to throw in. They had a mosh pit going somehow within seconds, the singer spending half the time in the crowd after safely manoeuvring the 1 ft high stage. For a band I'm pretty sure 99% of people there had never heard of before they had the crowd in their hands and turned the boat stage into a boat party.
We had been planning to check out Wu-Lu, but by the time we found our way out of the Fat Dog experience and found our breath they had finished. After stumbling across a bar that seemingly sold only ferociously strong cans of craft ale we got lost in a bit of a haze until we found ourselves back at the Boat for Snapped Ankles. This stage was made for these guys. They dress as trees, say no more. Their ferocious mix of electronica, punk, dance, art rock (yep, they're another really hard to categorise band) has to be seen and heard live to really get the full picture. The Boat Stage tent was full and bouncing. The only criticism is that the stage is too low, unless you're at the front you can't see the band.
Fleet Foxes are one of those band that no matter how many times I listen to them, I never hear them do one better than Mykonos. Tonight was the same. We walked into the main stage field just as they started this epic masterpiece and it's still one of my favourite moments of the festival. It was enough though as they clashed with Black MIdi who I was convinced I was going to enjoy more than the last time I saw them. I didn't. They had the crowd going and plenty of people seem to enjoy their weird jazz timings. There were some great moments including an interesting take on Purple Haze (or possibly another Hendrix number) thrown in there somewhere. I've only ever seen them live and not really listened to their albums, I will do so beforehand next time and try and give them a fighting chance. Tonight, for me, they out experimentalled themselves.
Saturday's proceedings saw a few clashes for us early on so we stayed for a few raucious in your face punk tracks from Sniffany and the Nits and left having been entertained but also feeling like we'd been thoroughly told off for something we didn't do. Over to the Woods stage for a bit of a sit down and chill to the hazy lazy pshychedelic vibes of the Heavy Heavy. I always loved Jefferson Airplane and these guys carried off a similar kind of vibe, perhaps with less LSD intake though.
Starcrawler were a big pull on the main stage a bit later on, less people sitting around on picnic blankets than for Heavy Heavy and a lot more in your face. They sure have a lot of attitude and put on a great performance but after about an hour it was seeming a little style over substance,
TV Priest in the Tipi tent were superb. Forty Five minutes of pure power, volume and noise. Singer Charlie Drinkwater gave an emotional insight into one of the songs which was about his bandmates pulling him through a tough time. Heart on the sleeve, emotional and great entertainment.
We ventured over to the Boat stage to see if anything quirky was going on, as often seems to be the case over there. We weren't disappointed. We didn't know anything about Taraka whatsoever, but were slightly surprised when a lady in a red dress appeared on stage, no band with her, just a bed and duvet. A backing track proceeded to play out to which Taraka flung herself around on the bed, jumping up and down on it hitting it, quite frankly going crazy to some pretty hook filled psych. It seemed a little more like a performance art piece than a live act. A loud (God like?) voice kept coming from the speakers talking to her/us in-between the songs. The whole experience was bizarre yet strangely mesmerising. The performance wound to a close and she then proceeded to invite everyone up on stage with her, so we did as we were asked. At this point there were some pretty nervous looking stage crew hanging around as 100 or so people clambered up on stage with her. Some sat, and the rest of us stood quietly around whilst Taraka grabbed a guitar and played a few beautiful acoustic numbers. It started of bizarre and ended being a lovely intimate live experience. Keep an eye on that boat stage!
Pixies, it's what a lot of us are most excited about this weekend. For some it's the first time, for others not, but the excitement and anticipation was the same for all. There was huge age range in the crowd tonight and it was fantastic to see so many younger faces down at the front ready to experience the noise, the melodies, the screams. They came on stage, led by a new, slimline Black Francis. There's no pussy footing around, it's straight into Gouge Away, the crown becomes liquid, there's an instant mosh pit. Everyone, young, old and in-between seem to know all the words, and all fail to scream them back with an iota of the power and raw intensity that Francis seems to possess. What follows is an all out assault. Wave of Mutilation is followed by monkey Gone to Heaven, then Debaser. Pretty soon after, Something Against You, Isla De Incanta, Caribou. No chance for a breather. It's frantic, it's sublime. By the time we're about half way through the set and we've had the immense U-Mass and Planet of Sound (though for some reason the kids didn't seem to know the Trompe Le Monde stuff very well) in a row we need a bit of a lull. We get one that lasts a bit too long. They knock out 6 new (or more recent) fairly slow numbers in a row. It's good stuff, but a lot of them almost sound like they're a different band. Most of us are hanging out for a few more bangers to scream along to, it doesn't happen. Here comes your man and Where Is My Mind are still fantastic, Wave of Mutilation(UK Surf) version is a surprise inclusion bearing in mind they already played the full speed version earlier, but, as Francis would say, Hey!
Pixies closed the set with Neil Young cover Winterlong. We left feeling a mix of euphoria and disappointment, if that's possible. The way they arranged their set was, old fast ones, newer/post reformation ones, then slow ones. I think if they had substituted Winterlong for perhaps Bone Machine and Broken Face there would have been a different feeling at the end of the gig. Admittedly, I am being very fussy, but it stayed the subject of conversation for the rest of the evening and I woke up the next morning to hear our neighbours having a similar discussion over their burnt sausages. On reflection, and looking at the setlist as a whole, Pixies were superb, kept about 3 generations of fans enthralled for the most part and still kicked ass like no other band out there can rival. Legends often don't get identified until they've quit or died. These guys are living it. No Vamos though! Joey must have hit a bum note in rehearsal...
Stephen Durkan and the Acid Commune kicked off Sunday in the Big Top. We watched Stephen whine and moan over his bands dark instrumental drawl. It was a bit like The Fall without the sarcasm and twinkle in the eye. Stephen at one point said something along the lines of " I bet you're thinking, why am I stood here listening to this miserable Scottish bloke drone on and on". Clairvoyant skills he had aplently, we left to find a bar.
Sunday was al about Kurt Vile for us. We were lucky enough to hear word of a secret set early afternoon on the tiny little Piano stage, tucked away in the middle of the woods. Kurt came out clutching his acoustic guitar and with a shy smile gave us four beautiful tracks, delivered with warmth and emotion. We felt privileged to be witnessing this guy bare his soul in such an intimate setting. As well as having a unique delivery and personable approach to his song writing and performing, he just comes across as the nicest, genuine kind of Guy.
Later on that evening, the strains of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rang out over the main stage PA before Kurt Vile And The Violators came on to carry on the good work of the late legend. We got a superb set full of Vile classics, personal favourites being Runner Ups and Bassackwards. Kurt's guitar skills are phenomenal yet understated, his vocal delivery is cool yet warm, and his violators consummate professionals. To see this guy twice in a day has made this festival for me.
The best kept secret, and late additions to the festival are saved until last, and almost didn't happen at all. Sunday evening saw the rain that had been threatening all day raise it's ugly head. We were patiently waiting for BDRMM to come on to the Tipi stage at 11pm when shortly before the stage manager came on and told us to evacuate as there were concerns of the tent being struck by lightning! We did as we were told and had a boogie (in a seemingly safe wooden framed) different tipi tent's disco. Eventually the threat apparently passed and we headed in to see a sadly shortened, but outstanding set from Hull's modern shoegaze officionados. The performance was effect pedal heavy, mesmerising and all encapsulating. We were held in a wall of psychedelic wizardry for the best part of an hour. Fresh from supporting Ride on their recent "Nowhere" tour these guys have not only taken on the mantle but are running out of the park with it. Listen to them.
This festival really is a treat for the true music lover, such diverse tastes are catered for that you won't love everything you see, but you'll end up loving some things you see that you never thought you would, and that's what a festival is all about. It opens your mind, helps keep your wallet closed (you can take your own booze in!) and the food, such a diverse range of delicious mouth watering independent outlets, the Dosa's....you will never look back! Stick it in your diary for next year.