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Good Friday, 14th April 2017
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Gig Review

Dirty Three, Peaking Lights, Veronica Falls, Django Django, Best Friends and more
No Direction Home, Friday Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire

Article written by Various Writers - Jul 2, 2012

Veronica Falls
The organisers of The End of The Road have flexed their location scouting muscles once more; the Welbeck Estate extends over 15,000 acres and includes beautiful woodlands, farmland, a brewery, a stunning 18th century abbey and, for the next three days, thousands of mud-soaked festival goers – the torrential rain has sadly ensured that the picturesque fields are a churned brown mess straight from the off. The weekend’s forecast isn’t too promising either – wellies and waterproofs essential, it seems.

The main stage is situated by a tranquil and expansive lake with the Abbey in the distance; at sunset this should be quite a view (pity the sun stands little chance of even a cameo today). The rain thankfully eases as Peter Wolf Crier take to the stage and fill the air with catchy, distortion-heavy rock songs. While there’s no obvious stand-out moment the duo barely pause for breath in what’s a brisk, experimental and always entertaining performance. With people still arriving and tents still being pitched there’s only a small gathering for their set; nonetheless they’ve surely recruited a few new fans among those present.

Best Friends
The rain falls once more so time to retreat into one of the bars; today’s guest ales all hail from Nottingham as part of a County Ale battle of sorts this weekend – tomorrow is Sheffield, Sunday Leeds. From the delights of Castle Rock’s Pale to the luscious Magpie’s Gold, Nottingham is already looks good for the gold medal.

With the rain not relenting and the temperature plummeting, it’s time to trundle through the mud over to the rather inappropriately titled Dust Bowl - the site’s mid-size tent stage- for Sheffield’s Best Friends. The four-piece specialise in energetic garage-rock and although by no means the finished article yet, tracks such as the break-neck ‘Wasting Time’ suggests a very tuneful future indeed. The band’s brightest star is undoubtedly the lead guitarist - be it surfing or squealing – his input slices through each song wonderfully, demands your attention and crucially doesn’t let go. A band to keep both eyes on.

Peaking Lights
It might be early June but it’s bitterly cold now; even the idea of walking across the site for a warm cider seems ludicrously risky. The safer option is Peaking Lights in the Dust Bowl. Musically, the Wisconsin duo are a Galaxy away from what we’ve seen thus far – Indra Dunis’ soothing vocals glide through the psychedelia, dub, reggae and krautrock that her husband Aaron Doyes conjures up on his laptop. It’s a real sonic treat, but visually speaking the band offers nothing at all and unfortunately the warmth of the songs is occasionally cooled by the non-existent stage persona. You’re never going to get a mini mardi-gras from a band creating all the music from a computer but Peaking Lights really could’ve made some (or any) effort not to look so mundane. It’s like they’ve simply lifted a desk from their basement and dumped it onstage while Indra rehearses and Aaron renews the home insurance. Still, the great music alone gets the audience dancing for a much-needed thawing of the toes.

Dirty Three
Headlining the Lake Stage tonight is Dirty Three, who opt to start things somewhat appropriately with ‘Rain Song’; the trio immediately throw themselves into a loosely-structured jazz frenzy that stirs some awkward shuffling in the crowd. The sight of Warren Ellis & co in full aggressive flow, seemingly all charging through several songs at once, is undoubtedly an acquired taste but fans of these Post-Rock behemoths would’ve had plenty to savour tonight. ‘Sometimes I Forget You’ve Gone’ is given extra menace by Jim White’s syncopated drumming while the more conventional (and beautiful) ‘Some Summers They Drop Like Flies’ should’ve gone some way to convince even their fiercest critics to offer a thumbs-up. But even if you didn’t warm to the music, with Dirty Three you’re always guaranteed some hilarious if cryptic musings – not to mention the occasional lugubrious-yet-uplifting tale - courtesy of Mr Ellis; tonight we had thoughts on writing emails to dead friends and nearly dying in a portaloo (which involved a last gasp rescue by Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino). Bonkers and brilliant enough to make you forget about the cold, miserable weather and the first time today a much-needed festival atmosphere has threatened to emerge. Let’s hope it stays dry tomorrow. (by Pete W)

So we’ve straggled through three miles of single track estate road at an average speed of 2 miles an hour, negotiated the car park slope (quickly becoming a mudslide) and entered the site in the middle of a monsoon. So having bought wellies and a damp burger, our first date is with Diagrams. This illustrates some of the teething problems with No Direction Home; for its first year it’s just End of the Road on a smaller scale, many of the bands (like Diagrams) having played the bigger festival. In the case of Diagrams, formed by ex-Tunng man Sam Genders, they’re rightly placed mid-afternoon, with melodies nice enough to make people forget the weather but not really remember them like you’d recall, say, Tunng. You won’t forget West Yorkshire’s Wet Nuns though. The topless drummer’s impressive tattoos see to that but their shrieking two-piece blues attack is mostly empty bombast compared to the likes of the Pack AD, for example.

Django Django
Django Django seem to getting bigger on the sly and now it's breakout time. We originally saw them in a side tent at End of the Road a few years ago and today they’re on the Lake Stage at No Direction Home. In that time, according to our London-centric perspective, they’ve climbed the greasy pole of London live venues from shithole to swanky. We can see why, with their dancey electronic rhythms, neat harmonies and exotic overtones, as they play pretty much the entire debut album. Their art-school pop hits the Beta Band cult hero button, if not yet the Franz Ferdinand popstar one, with feet-friendly rhythm-fests like ‘Waveforms’ and ‘Skies Over Cairo’ inspiring some the first wild mud-dancing we’ve seen so far. Our evening finishes with half a set by Veronica Falls. Their amphetamine indiepop - the bullet-speed percussion chasing guitars in full flow, with practiced harmonies perched precariously on top - is excellent, new songs fitting well with established favourites, but even that isn’t enough to protect us from the marrow-freezing winds and we depart through lakes of mud towards clean beds and hot showers. (by Ged M)

For more pictures of the festival, go here.


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Foxtails Brigade "Far Away and Long Ago"
North By North "Pistoletta"
Die Liga der gewöhnlichen Gentlemen "Nach dem Spiel"
Theatre Royal "The Days Grow Hotter"
Oliver Gottwald "Freunde fürs Leben"
Heart/Dancer "Outro"
Clowwns "Idiot Bouncing"
Double Denim "Wide Open"
Flout "Rainchecks"
The Scenes "City Of White Blankets"


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