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Good Friday, 14th April 2017
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Gig Review

End Of The Road is 10!
EOTR Festival 2015: Friday

Article written by Ged M - Nov 24, 2015

End of the Road is 10! We were there when it started as a modest undertaking with big ambitions, we were there when the demand for Fleet Foxes caused them to open the Woods Stage the following year for a bigger audience, and we’re here again (we’ve only missed 2014) when it’s now a well-established medium-sized festival with an impressive roster of acts (Sufjan’s first festival appearance!). Though it has media partners and some stages have partnerships with particularly sympathetic labels (this year it’s Heavenly on Saturday’s Garden Stage), the festival resists corporate sponsorship. So it’s all craft ale in the tents and good food in most directions, including Shepherds’ orgasmic ice-cream (that’s not the actual name but it’s close to the universal effect). And then there’s the music...

Frazey Ford
We strike out on arrival on Friday though. My accomplice hisses “bongo alert” as we catch Fumaça Preta. They give good copy to journalists who like to spout nonsense about the mix of Tropicalia, heavy psych, Hendrix riffs and acid-drenched funk but the band are much less than the sum of their influences, a riot of colour who sound dull and bland. Much better is Frazey Ford, formerly of the Be Good Tanyas, whose voice is a thing of wonder and whose songs are soulful Canadiana. ‘Bird of Paradise’, with feathers made of folk and jazz, shows off her voice, while the set ends with new tracks recorded in Al Green’s studio with his Hi band, on which the master’s expressive soul touches have seemingly rubbed off.

We catch some of Nadine Shah’s set and enjoy the between song banter and her ‘refugees welcome’ t-shirt but the songs themselves are dark, dense, and unremarkable. There’s a lot of early PJ Harvey and Anna Calvi in the performance but the Harv and Calvinator have already done it and we don’t need copies. Torres is another one who borrows from the Anna Calvi wardrobe. Her set is raw and intense, with much guitar strangling, but it’s too tight and bound-up; it’s only at the end that she starts unwinding and her songs become more layered and nuanced, and therefore more enjoyable. Ought are entertaining, though not always intentionally. Their post-punk is edgy and attractive, with Pulp and Talking Heads clearly major influences, though you can’t help but think that singer Tim Beeler has a case of Salford envy, such is his uncanny Mark E Smith impersonation (this is the only band during whose songs you can shout “I’m totally wired” and it sound like a natural part of the lyrics).

King Khan & BBQ
We also hear a few songs by Pond in a packed Big Top. This is the psych-rock band from Perth, Australia who are mates with Tame Impala and sound like a new Pink Floyd. Their mildly trippy psychedelia floats by in an amiable fashion without causing too much concern but we bail out when they take a seriously prog rock turn and become seriously dull musos.

Weekend highlight #1 comes with The King Khan & BBQ Show. This sees His Majesty and Mark Sultan with their awesome display of filthy minded garage rock. Wearing bondage gear (nipples on show and way too much flesh), they produce loud atavistic rock’n’roll, with so much soulful howling, punk energy and sexual tension they could attach electrodes to their testicles and light up the rest of Dorset. The sheer filth of ‘Tastebuds’ is bad taste genius. We then stumble across Natalie Prass playing the Garden Stage and are mighty pleased that we have. Hers is a soulful confection of the best American music, from Gram Parsons and Ryan Adams to Dolly Parton and Springsteen and she’s an excellent sport too: spotting fancy dress versions of Marty McFly and Doc Brown in the crowd, she persuades the Doc to join her on stage and her band launch into an impromptu version of ‘Johnny B Goode’ that is brilliantly judged and played.

Natalie Prass
Continuing our wanderings, we stop to catch a few songs by Django Django. Though their second album was a disappointment, live they’re a dependable festival choice: upbeat, rhythmic and shouty, they encourage audience dancing but it’s just a little bit comfortable and predictable (no different to previous Django Django shows) so we don’t linger. Much better to head for Fuzz in the Big Top. Ty Segall is drummer (and what a great drummer!) with Charlie Moonheart on guitar and vocals and Roland Cosio (wearing some sort of wizard’s cloak) on bass. They’re fast, fuzzy and direct, except for their long and freeform instrumental at the end, channelling Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer (needing only the Pink Fairies for a high value snooker ball set) but my ears are weeing blood by the end. They’re so comfortable with each other they pause briefly while a girl, who breaks her arm being dropped during crowdsurfing, is helped out of the tent (still grinning widely) and immediately resume mid-song on Ty’s command: “second verse…”

Jane Weaver
Jane Weaver gets upgraded from the intimate Tipi Tent to the Big Top so we get to see and hear her sci-fi Europop. She looks like some alien creature (until she speaks Mancunian and brings things down to earth). There’s krautrock, acid-folk, spacepop and music from those European serials that the BBC used to cheaply import in her mix, and at times she’s reminiscent of Still Corners who played the same tent the same day a couple of EOTRs ago, but on the magnificent ‘Don’t Take My Soul’ she just makes brilliant and catchy oddpop.

We catch a bit of Tame Impala on the Woods stage – nice light show but it’s music made by a bloke in a bedroom for other blokes in other bedrooms (drugs optional, headphones recommended) and drifts by in unexciting fashion apart from the mighty ‘Elephant’ which gets the blood flowing on a cold night. Low, headliners on the Garden Stage, are a much better prospect. It’s a world away from their 2008 appearance where Alan Sparhawk had an onstage meltdown and threw his guitar into (at?) the crowd. This time they’re austere, minimal and none too active onstage but they make an intense sound, focused on new album Ones And Sixes but picking on classics like ‘Especially Me’. Their music has a soulful throbbing: Mimi’s drums are restrained but pumping at the heart of the Low organism, Alan’s guitar is powerfully understated, Steve Garrington is ubiquitous on bass and keyboards, and the glorious commingling of Alan and Mimi’s voices is the cherry on the top – full of real life and real heartache. The night is cold and the Low sound is fragile but somehow warming, a perfect end to the day.


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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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