Entering the Larmer Tree Gardens in early September might feel like you are falling into the same trippy rabbit hole Alice fell into. Whilst you might not be invited to a tea party with a group of bizarre creatures, going to End of The Road Festival stands for letting go of your nine to five job and entering a vortex of genuine kindness, musical discoveries and spiritual experiences which allows you to let go of your inhibitions.
In End of The Road, the long lost 1960-1970s festival spirit is reincarnated. Flirting with the legacy of Woodstock’s hippie psychedelia, the festival’s no gates and no VIP area policy allows you to wander through the festival area with your homebrew and a sense of belonging hidden in your bumbag whilst eyeing on Kevin Parker of Tame Impala or Mac Demarco chilling in the distance. End of The Road is a festival for those who feel the need to escape from the world and serve at the altar of music. Founded in 2006, End of The Road has managed to secure its place as one of Britain’s finest small festivals catering a wide audience who stand by their “no bullshit, just music” type of ideology. When looking at the line ups of the past, there is a sense of love and care that can be experienced when reading out the names like Sigur Ros, Bon Iver, Caribou and Midlake.
End of The Road is a celebration of musical craftsmanship. The “no barriers” policy of the festival area takes a more abstract form when looking at the line-up. The festival holds onto its initial dream of presenting music in a way that respects the musicians and the audience. This year, you take a hike in the woods and find yourself enjoying the headliner Sufjan Stevens’ tender melodies or have a wander around whilst admiring the several installations and works of art spread around the festival location. End of The Road is the place you want to get lost in the “woodland wonderland”, as the festival organisers call it. You can get sucked into Tame Impala’s forceful and carefully curated indie psychedelia, dance wildly to the obscure tunes of Django Django or get teary eyed at Marika Hackman and then go, chill and have a laugh at Mac Demarco.
Whilst End of The Road was born due from founder Simon Taffe’s dedication for unique musical experiences, it also offers a wide selection of comedy, talks and even healing parlours providing spiritual guidance. The festivalgoers are treated to organic food and local beers at “reasonable prices” and served by the “caring and well mannered staff”. And that, my friends, is god damn lovely! Whilst End of The Road may now sound like a hipster wet dream, it is a genuine attempt at reaching out to engage with music lovers in a unique way. Instead of being a boutique festival catering to the wealthy middleclass hipsters fixing their fixies, End of The Road invites everyone to the party and it is a party not to be missed.