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Joanna Newsom, Beirut, Mogwai, Midlake, Laura Marling, Lykke Li, Best Coast, Emmy the Great and others at Larmer Tree Gardens Review

End of the Road


This Year Larmer Tree Gardens once again lay host to the intimate festival that is End of The Road, which, now in it’s 6th year had a line-up to out-shine all those that had gone previously.  Set in the picturesque county of Dorset, this year’s festival boasted a new main stage and an additional 2,000 people from last year but still as always managed to make one of the most enjoyable and personable weekends of the summer.

This End of the road is without a doubt a festival for real music lovers, without the generic chart-topping acts that are seen frequenting other festivals around the country. Just by looking at this year’s headliners, it became apparent that the organizers meant business and they didn’t disappoint.  The reason that End of The Road has survived while other small festivals have fallen by the way side is due to it’s Niche fan base who get supplied the music they want (Folk, Country, Indie, Rock and a few select electronic acts). 2011 was no exception.

At the forefront of the bands that took the festival by storm were the very contrasting headliners of BEIRUT and JOANNA NEWSOM.  Beirut drew a huge crowd with their brass heavy, Balkan folk-tinged indie and Joanna Newsom with her haunting but stunningly beautiful solo set which struck at the heart of all who were present at the main stage on Sunday night.  Although there were performances by much quieter acts such as the eerie TIMBER TIMBREJOSH T PEARSON and a wobbly solo set from PHOSPHERESCENT’S Matthew Houck, other acts such as the comical BOB LOG III and the always impressive and popular THE WALKMEN got people dancing and screaming along to their songs. 

When it came to really making people’s feet move, then there is one band in particular that stood-out. I am of course talking about the brilliant TUNE-YARDS led by Merrill Garbus, whose tribal afro-pop infused with folkie chaotic funk brought the crowd to life with the expert use of a looping machine, saxophones and a voice with such a huge range that it would put Freddie Mercury to shame.

End of the Road lures not only the public back into it’s grasp but also some artists, who can’t seem to escape it’s charm and were back for the second or third time.  The notable OKKERVIL RIVER headlined the Garden Stage with both a moving and energetic set, showing that they are worth every word the critics have been saying about them. WILLY MASON similarly woke-up a hung-over Sunday crowd and kick started the early afternoon with material from both of his previous albums and strong new material that was not lost on the audience’s ears.

WILD BEASTS made their first appearance at the festival in a supporting headlining slot, coaxing out a large following and proving themselves to be talented multi-instrumentalists. Hayden Thorpe’s vocals carried over the succumbing audience as he soothed, shocked and awed in equal measure with the skill of his extraordinary falsetto. Fans were left wanting more, but fulfilled at the professionalism they had encountered.

I could continue to waffle on about how KURT VILE was the best thing there and is going to be huge, or how TINARIWEN wowed with their classy desert blues but I would be writing for hours.  Instead I will just invite you, no, implore you to take the opportunity to see this fabulous festival for yourself. Witness the beauty, mystery and magic of a festival still very young but one in which we would be blessed to grow old with, year after year.

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