Rararararara. 'The End of the Road' festival was the first outdoor festival last weekend that I've done for three years (maybe two) and blimey I'd forgot how tiring they are. The big difference between the last outdoor festival and this for me was that this time round, Sian, Gareth (my gig kemosabe) and I hired a six berth motor home aka Camper Van Beethoven aka The Gilded Palace of Sin. We'd talked about doing it for years but at SWN last year we finally got our shit together. I say we, it was Gareth how organised the hire and drove it. He said it was like driving a house, and I've never been as easy going about driving down to a field for three days in dodgy weather,
The festival got going with a bang with a Thursday night set from Ezra Furman who was as brilliant and fragile as he was when I saw him earlier this year, a comedy cover of 'Like a Virgin' helped to pep up a packed tent.
After the best night's sleep I've ever had at an outdoor festival the first band up were Mazes. The line-up could easily have been put together by my man Marc Riley, and it was because of him that I knew Mazes, who are sorta low-fi indie and were so great I bought their album later in the Rough Trade tent.
Amazingly I've never seen The Wave Pictures cause they gig a lot and play Cardiff often. It was a good, if noodly set cut short for us a smattering of rain which sent us scurrying back to The Gilded Palace of Sin. The comfort of the GPoS, a bottle of Prosecco and some fine cheeses meant I missed Peggy Sue but came up smiling for Steve Malkmus who has a strong start and finish but sagged a tad in the middle, don't we all. The headliner for the Friday was Saint Vincent and turned out to be one of the festival highlights of the festival for me. I last saw her supporting Grizzly Bear around five years ago and she's come a long way since then. She's upped the theatrical element of her show while being utterly original. I really want to stay up and enjoy whatever 'EofR' had to offer after dark, but I was exhausted.
"I try and get out but they pull me back in!" It was a leisurely start to the start and my first order of business was watching 'Dalek Invasion Earth: 2150AD' in the cinema marquee. I always cringe when Peter Cushing says "I am Doctor Who." the marquee was stupidly hot so only stayed for 45 minutes and people were laughing in all the wrong places! Still it was hard not to crack a smile when Peter Cushing opens a headset to reveal some transistors and says "Yes! Very sophisticated!"
bailed on the Daleks to see Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger primarily just to gawp at Sean Lennon, which I did for three songs. It was pretty decent light psychedelic rock, it was uncanny how similar some of his mannerisms were to his Dad. I hadn't been blown away by Hockworms when I'd heard them on the Riley show, but live they were amazing, they batter you with a wall of sound which bares more than a resemblance to Bo Ningen. Another Riley favourite were Unknown Mortral Orchestra who I was looking forward to but didn't really touch the sides on the day. There was a trio of Welsh acts Sweet Baboo/Cate La Bon/Gruff Rhys which I missed because I'd seen most of them pretty recently and we wanted to chill out at the GPoS before The Flaming Lips. There ain't no party like a Flaming Lips party and they busted out all the moves and it was a great of the top psych extravaganza enhanced by one of the inflatable aliens deflating half way through the set before an emergency pump restored him to rude health. I imagine the sight of seeing him slowly collapsing was similar to seeing Keith Moon slumping on his drum set. Buoyed by the glitter and spectacle we went to see The Archie Bronson outfit but much like the aforementioned alien we began to deflate and left after four or five songs.
Sunday morning we wandered over to the Rough Trade Tent, to see that Viv Albertine would be doing a signing at 12, her book 'Music, Music' is brilliant so I got two copies signed for friends. It was lovely to meet her but I think she thought I called her book 'feminine' when I actually said 'feminist' and it was odd meeting someone you've never met before but have just finished reading very intimate details about. There on the board was also a signing by Richard Thompson, one of my all-time favourite singer/guitarists. I was just happy that he was playing and the thought of actually meeting him made me stupidly happy.
First act of the day was Kieren Lenoard who is a sickenly talented seventeen year old who played a blistering set.
A late addition to the bill was Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear. I absolutely love his track 'Silent Song; and bumped into my mates Captain Keef and Anna. It was the second track he played so it was win win for me and even though he had to restart it I thought it was amazing. So three songs and then I started queuing for Richard Thompson.
Sian once gave me a valuable piece of advice "Don't be a twat." which I try to live by, This is particularly relevant when I met an artist I admire, so I told myself that I wasn't going to gibber at Richard Thompson. I did want to have my photo taken with him but my battery was dying and the two 'selfies' (I loathe that word) weren't partially flattering to me. He was a lot taller than I expected and had a look of bewilderment on jus face. I was wearing my fourth Doctor t-shirt in honour of the upcoming Radiophonic Workshop set.
"Cool t-shirt." Richard Thompson said to me.
Well one succeeds." He signed my hastily bought CD, I told him I was looking forward to his set, I shook his hand and I wasn't a twat. I walked away with a massive shit eating smile on my face. After a quick refresher it was back to see Richard Thompson's set, which was brilliant, any day I see '1952 Vincent Black Lightning' live is a good day.
Next up was the Radiophonic Workshop who Sian and I geeked out to. It's so odd to see Dick Mills on stage when the last time I saw him was on stage at a Doctor Who convention thirty years ago. They are like Public Service Broadcasting's grandparents. Of course they left the 'big hit' - The Doctor Who theme - till the end and it was brilliant, an amalgamation of two of the big versions of the theme. Everyone came out of the tent with massive smiles on their faces.
Seeing the 'Phonics Big Hit did mean that I missed some of tUNEyARDS set, and as I was at the back of the field she sorta washed over me, which is a shame as she's a brilliant performer. Didn't do my favourite song though. I have no idea why I missed Yo Le Tengo but the final band of the festival was White Denim, but by then I was struggling. They were great but I only saw about four songs before retreating to the GPoS.
Talking of the Gilded Palace of Sin it had to be back at the hire place by 10am the next day, so we had to rise at an eye reddening time to get it back.
A brilliant festival, though I didn't get to see as many bands as I'd hoped, but I never do. It was great to hang around with my next door neighbour Steve who'd come to EotR with his mate Nick.It was weird finding the layout for a new (to me) outdoor festival and in terms of friendliness and size it reminded me a lot of Greenman. Loved it, and hopefully will be back for its tenth anniversary next year.