Student summer ends in September. Usually after a soggy Solent adventure has climaxed feet-up in a pop-up Pringle tent, dressed as a Pirate (by morning you look more like Mr. Smee than Johnny Depp), but this mantra is all but ignoring one of the best kept secrets on the UK festival circuit, and Online Music Editor Tristan Gatward says it’s in our back garden (if you fancy a short hike along the A303).
When you get to the End of the Road Festival, you’ll be met with one of the most up to date, exciting line-ups in Europe. So exciting that Laura Marling doesn’t even make it onto main stage (although she is headlining one of the stages in the green fields). The main stage trio kicks off with Tame Impala, whose third studio release due the 17th of this month, Currents, visualises the concept of a small cola ball being lost in a tide of purple jungle on the album artwork. Kevin Parker’s strong riff led rock is the psychedelic keyhole into real ground breaking music, not just in quality but in foot-stomping euphoria, tripping back to 60s pop with an delectable punch.
Earlier in the day, performances from the likes of London’s lilting art rock Django Django, and Montreal cerebral post-punk preachers Ought, whose record of last year More Than Any Other Day was an intellectual highlight when we met with them at GreenMan. Kings of modest minimalism (in everything including name) Low, and Ty Segall’s garage threesome Fuzz hold the lower stages alongside Mercury nominee East India Youth. Afterwards, an array of animal themed pubs from peacocks, bears and black crows introduce festival cuisine to craft ale and real food.
The Saturday of the festival sees an eclectic run through of fragile indie from Exeter favourite Flo Morrissey and heavier statements ranging from Ex Hex to Girlpool, accommodating their world getting bigger. Indie pop and alt-rock continues around the second stage with Mark Lanegan and Saint Etienne, but the main stage holds the real show. The Unthanks will bring an infectious shindig with shanties and Shipbuilding, marking out Sting’s tracks for his recent musical, performing Kipling poems and shipbuilding tales long before the Police-man set his heart on Wallsend woe. Friday’s psychedelia continues with My Morning Jacket, before the first UK festival appearance from Sufjan Stevens crowns what will be a special night, having penned one of the most candid records of the decade.
The final day condenses Pitchfork’s merry minions to a stressed wreck. The Woods are topped by Alvvays, Future Islands and The War on Drugs, where the Garden is cut by Marika Hackman, Mac DeMarco and Laura Marling. Critics (I) have put it down as the most heartbreaking lineup clash since the dawn of time. Whether Sam Herring’s honest gyrations followed by rock that wears its heart on its denim patchwork sleeves that takes your mind, or the goofily cool DeMarco and friends, the end of End of the Road’s strikingly and powerfully dense lineup won’t be bettered by a festival this summer.
For more details check End of the Road’s website here.
Tristan Gatward, Online Music Editor