Festival Review: End of the Road 2011

I had huge expectations for End of the Road festival, the perfect line-up, the non-corporate sensibility, the gorgeous setting, the right sort of crowd, would I be disappointed? No. Its every bit as lovely as expected.

For me, End of the Road was completely about the music, I saw so many wonderful sets and came across so many fantastic bands. The additional site features were an extra, but a much enjoyed extra. The Rough Trade Shop was a great idea and had several band signings daily. The woodland area was lit up beautifully with lots of wonderful secrets to be unfolded as you walked through the trees. The atmosphere was peaceful and family friendly, it’s about as far from Reading and Leeds as you can get.

And the music, well, WOW. Joanna Newsom headlined the Sunday night, my main reason for attending the festival and I was completely blown away. She was heavenly and I was so grateful to get the opportunity to see her in that setting. The audience was quiet as a mouse, quite unusual for a 12,000 capacity venue. Joanna played completely solo and I think everyone of those 12,000 people was captivated by her sound. She is such an incredible talent and I shall wait in anticipation for her return to the UK.

Other highlights included, of course, Miss Marling who previewed many tracks from her new (and incredible) album ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’ (buy it now!!!). Josh T. Pearson provided humor amongst his 6 minute long break up songs and was a delight to see. Other Lives lived up to the praise I have given there album ‘Tamer Animals’. Willy Mason, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Staves were also all as lovely as ever. My two favorite new finds of the weekend were Dan Mangan and The Mountaineering Club.

Dan Mangan has the voice of Marcus Mumford but possesses a more chilled out country sound than the sons. At the end of the performance, which was on the main stage, he came right into the crowd and got everyone singing along. Truly in the EOTR spirit.

The Mountaineering Club were incredible and I will be writing more about them soon. A sound incredibly unique and voice which couldn’t fit more perfectly, it was one of my favorite performances of the weekend.

Overall, EOTR was a wonderful experience and I glad I got to go and experience what all the hype about the festival is about! They are starting a second festival next year in early June called ‘No Direction Home’ I am very excited about what we can expect from that!

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