As I had had such a fun time at Larmer Tree Festival in July I couldn’t wait to get back to the Larmer Tree Gardens for End of the Road Festival a month later (29/8 – 1/9 2013). Luckily the same team of people coordinated the volunteers, so I knew it was going to be a great experience. I had one shift helping direct people to the best car parking spots and two shifts at the garden stage and had a great time with the other volunteers. There was also a stewards kitchen, where, in exchange for a small donation, we could help ourselves to hot soup, bread, coffee and biscuits and share the latest volunteer gossip.
Due to lack of time I sadly never made it to any of the wonderful workshops. What I really loved though were all the creative little details and projects. There was, for instance, a ‘shower karaoke’ set up in the forest (see picture below) with some hilarious impromptu performances by cheerful festival goers. There were also several readings in the mornings with the author and audience nestled into a clearing that also functioned as the woodland library with free books to borrow. There even was an ice cream churning tandem and a festival post office. Someone I met got a letter delivered to her temporary abode with the sender just addressing it as something like ‘blue tent between shower blocks and main stage’. Awesome.
The music schedule was totally packed. Four stages hosted lots of excellent UK and international acts including Sigur Rós, Efterklang, David Byrne and Belle and Sebastian. To my delight, there was a good cross section of genres. Pokey Lafarge were very entertaining and had the crowd in front of the Woods stage dancing in the middle of the afternoon. I also managed to catch a few songs by Nashville’s Diana Jones (great new album) and a Q&A with famed producer and musician Ethan Johns in the Tipi Tent. Other bands to watch were the very chilled Fossil Collective, big-voiced Tennessean Valerie June and Scot RM Hubbert (great songwriting and guitar).
The festival’s ‘secret gigs’ were another exciting highlight. I missed a couple of the ones in the forest while I was on shift but the very last evening more than made up for it. One of my favourite EOTR 2013 bands, the Barr Brothers (Canada) played an extra set in the Tipi Tent followed by Caitlin Rose, who, after having played the main stage earlier that day, had hardly any voice left, but still delivered a great performance.
Being such a lightweight when it comes to staying up late after an eventful day, I kept myself awake on the last night by sipping an amazing hot chocolate with espresso shots and all the trimmings from the bright red tea bus. Oh and really, really loved the hot spiced cider when temperatures dropped in the evenings, must have it at home this winter.
The crowd was much fun to hang out with. Already met friendly folks from Italy, France and Norway on the bus to EOTR and a couple had even cycled there all the way from Paris! My tent neighbours introduced themselves when I set up camp on Friday and everyone made sure to savour this summer’s last rays of sunshine. And let’s be honest, it was the summer of the century (so far) and End of the Road was the icing on this year’s festival cake for me.