We’ve all heard that festivals were better in the old days, with no marketing and slogans staring at you all day long, good food cooked on site, and a line-up of musicians to die for. We also all know this isn’t true, as history clearly shows that Carling invented Reading Rock, Milk (it’s a brand too you know) invented Glastonbury, and Clear Channel have owned everything since the dawn of time. At least, that’s often how it seems. But tucked away on the border between North Dorset and Wiltshire are the Larmer Tree Gardens. Here, peacocks roam freely and parrots nestle in trees, and for one weekend at the very end of summer a small slice of the aforementioned fictional past was resurrected.
The End Of The Road Festival was born to signify the end of a long summer of festivals, and to remind those interested how different the experience could be. Upon entering the site, Gigwise is immediately hit by the personal touches which make the weekend what it is. The area is small, with tents, play areas, cider buses, stages, shops and even a small football pitch within a five minute walk of each other. With the capacity at only 5000 the festival also lacks that cramped feeling so inherent elsewhere, and also allows you to easily bump into the previous night’s acquaintances the following morning (be that a good or bad thing). Band members frequently turn up next to you in the queue for some tea and there’s always a member of I‘m From Barcelona in view. It’s all these touches which are inescapable, and help make the weekend special.
After all that, what about the music? Day 1 was really simply an introduction to the weekend, with only a handful of bands on offer. Shamefully however, Gigwise missed most of Friday evening’s entertainment, though we did manage to catch Micah P Hinson headline the Big Top Stage. As consistent and contradicting as ever, Micah sounds fragile and frightening in the same breath, controlling his voice in such a way that betrays his young age. ‘Close your Eyes’ gradually hypnotizes before punching you back to reality, while ‘Possibilities’ somehow portrays hope in the face of obvious heartbreak. Set closer ‘Patience’ takes heed of its own advice and disposes of its own introduction as Mr Hinson launches straight in, amps up to 11 and vocal chords at tearing point, to finish a fantastic set and one of the many festival highlights.
As the first night is spent dancing away (on stage) with various DJ’s, Gigwise feels certain that the following weekend will not be the usual festival experience.
Originally published on www.gigwise.com