It’s hard not to be charmed by the woodlands of Larmer Tree Gardens during End of The Road Festival. With trees covered with thousands of fairy lights and bird-shaped origami, the festival site is transformed into a hipster paradise of all things quirky and cool. Even I found myself crushing on the natural beauty of the area this weekend, and saw all my Tumblr-fantasies of vintage clothing and natural beauty coming true in front of my eyes.
It's hard not to be charmed by the woodlands of Larmer Tree Gardens during End of The Road Festival. With trees covered with thousands of fairy lights and bird-shaped origami, the festival site is transformed into a hipster paradise of all things quirky and cool. Even I found myself crushing on the natural beauty of the area this weekend, and saw all my Tumblr-fantasies of vintage clothing and natural beauty coming true in front of my eyes.
Arrived the night before the festival after a tortuous three hour journey in a old, rusted Ford Fiesta, I found myself swimming through a sea of old mods, hippies and Mac Demarco look-a-likes with their Nike-branded old caps and oversized jumpers in the desperate search for a site to pitch our tents. Emerging from a pile of blankets, coats and jumpers (basically anything that would keep me warm) into the cold, sharp morning, ready and prepared for my musical time travel to the 1970s with Ryley Walker. As he took over the Garden Stage, the audience was instantly captivated with his out-of-this-time presence. After the first few tracks, the audience was yearning for more Walker-led nostalgia in the pastoral setting of the woodlands greenery. He proved to his audience that he's not just Nick Drake, an American-inspired reflection of the 70s, but a man in love with the past whose sound is transitional yet looking to the future.
After traveling through time with Walker, I headed towards the Big Top where I was told to encounter “a hysterical sonic onslaught” by Amsterdam-based Fumaca Preta, a band previously unknown to me. According to the program, their sound would mix tropicalia with psych rock, metal and voodoo. Needless to say, I was intrigued yet slightly frightened; something which quickly escalated to stunned silence as I entered the tent into a Salvador Dali-esque fantasy of flying elephant sculptures, starry ceilings, and weirdly-clad men making a lot of noise on stage. Needless to say, this wasn't The Persistance of Memory, but rather the gloriously over-the-top stage dressings of Fumaca Preta. Providing a startlingly-good show, the band took their audience on a sonic acid trip to the Moon and back introducing us to their chaotic-yet-ingenious mixture of genres and Hispanic traditions. It was the perfect starter before returning under the stars of Big Top for one of one of the most anticipated acts of my festival Friday – POND.
In the work of POND, musical democracy reigns and as this group of sonic-space explorers took over the stage in Big Top on Friday afternoon, the audience was treated to a performance full of laughter, audio insanity, and far-out psychedelia. Lead singer Nick Allbrook danced around the stage like a shaman and guided us through a show that easily turned out to be one of the best gigs of the entire festival weekend. The band’s ego-free forcefulness took us over like a lightning, striking a couple of tears in the eyes of yours truly simply due to the transcendental brilliance of their show.
After I'd finished crying through the end of POND's set, I started preparing myself for the Friday headliner and sonic dreamboat Tame Impala. The thought of spending an hour and half inside the world of Kevin Parker exhilarated me and I found myself telling everyone “I’m don’t think I’m ready for this”. I mean, just to add some context, I’ve had insomnia for as long as I remember and when Innerspeaker and Lonerism came out I spent my sleepless nights listening to it through cheap headphones in the darkness of my room, distracting myself getting lost in their world. Hence the excitment at finally getting the chance to experience them in a festival like this, and surrounded by sea of likeminded people. Unfortunately, Tame Impala did not quite offer the show I had expected. Whilst musically the show was pure perfection, it lacked personality. Despite the band playing a vast selection of tracks from all of their three albums and blowing the crowd away with a mind-blowing renditio of “Let It Happen” to open, the band’s stoic presence and Parker’s cold and forced chit-chat between the songs left me feeling torn and (truthfully speaking) bored. Regardless of my cynicism, the music spoke more than the band’s presence; I was left in awe when listening to the crowd singing along with every single song the band played. From the classics of “Elephant" to tracks like “The Moment”, the crowd loved them; and even the bored pessimist in me remembered why I fell in love with this Aussie group in the first place.
Tune in tomorrow for our Part Two of our coverage of End of The Road Festival!