Photos by Hannah Broughton
Aug 31st – Sept 3rd | Larmer Tree Gardens
A lot of people describe End of the Road as magical and tbh, they’re not wrong. There’s something otherworldly about a festival that meticulously crafts every aspect of itself – whether that be art installations, secret shows or laugh-until-your-belly-hurts comedy – to relieve you of your every day and transport you to a place that feels necessary.
Now in its 12th year, the festival is held in the stunning surroundings of the Larmer Tree Gardens, which means you can watch your favourite acts while surrounded by gorgeous forestry and the odd peacock. The team are known for their hand-picked line-up and this year was no different – End of the Road is one of those places where newcomers are given a platform, garnering a reputation for taking chances and hosting bands before they hit the serious big time.
The first three days of the festival saw gorgeous weather that ushered in a heartier atmosphere than 2016’s soggy affair. For the second year in a row, the festival welcomed a Thursday headliner – this time, Slowdive – who proved themselves to be a huge draw, with most of the site packed full. Elsewhere in the Tipi tent, Bo Ningen were doing what they do best – blowing the ears off of their respective audience.
Friday morning welcomed back Adam Buxton, who in previous years has recorded episodes of his podcast at the festival site. Welcoming comedian Laura Davis and headliner Mac Demarco as guests, the heaving comedy area was a must for most of the festival’s attendees. And with Mac performing a couple of solo numbers and chatting about England’s “shit selves”, it was an insightful start to the weekend.
Margaret Glaspy killed it over on the main stage while Parquet Courts and Real Estate were the perfect additions to the glorious weather. Later, Mac Demarco’s headlining set (complete with Vanessa Carlton cover and teenagers eating pizza on stage) proved him worthy of the spot – in true EOTR fashion, this was his first headlining slot at a UK festival. A risk definitely worth taking.
Saturday was all about the beautiful garden stage, with a stunning performance from up-and-comer Moses Sumney and a raucous party put on by Car Seat Headrest (complete with an audience member bringing an actual car seat headrest to the show). It wouldn’t be surprising to see EOTR promote Will Toledo and his pals to the headlining slot come 2018.
With the sunshine continuing, it was a chance to discover the festival’s extended disco and woodland area. With fair ground games, a ferris wheel and art installations, plus the newly Twin-Peaked cinema, the area was as heaving in the day time as it was come nightfall. The healing gardens were also back, offering everything from an Indian Head massage to Reiki, plus with the library just down the rainbow-ribboned pathway, there was hardly a moment to catch a breath.
The rain came on Sunday and boy, did it pour. Thankfully, the Tipi tent stage played host to the likes of The Legends of Country, Nadia Reid and Allison Crutchfield and the Fizz, meaning this covered stage was packed out for most of the day. However, the weather didn’t deter those from witnessing career-defining sets from the likes of Waxahatchee and Perfume Genius over on the Garden Stage; the latter proving to be one of the best shows of the year by far.
With the rain not letting up until the early hours, it was a chance to sample the Planetarium – a new 2017 addition – and to take a stroll around the in-house art exhibition (where you could be digitally inserted into The Simpsons’ living room). It also helped that Sunday night’s cinema programme proved to be one of the best of the weekend, with screenings of the Death By Audio documentary, followed by 2014 cult-favourite The Guest and topped off with one of the best films in recent years – Get Out.
With a chance to experience the festival in both weather extremes, 2017 proved to be one of End of the Road’s strongest years ever. It’s a festival that focuses on the little touches – like cutting lyrics into the leaves of the forest or hosting secret shows at their tiny piano stage – and that’s what makes it so damn magical. We can’t wait to be swept away again come 2018.
Early-bird tickets for 2018 sold out in a record 35 minutes. Tier 2 tickets are on sale now. Check out Moses Sumney’s cover of Bjork at the Piano Stage below.