End Of The Road 2008: Rated!

Larmer Tree Gardens, 12-14 September

End Of The Road 2008: Rated!

Alison Kerry on 17 September 2008

Overall - 9/10

The setting is spectacular and the music is amazing.  The vibe is one of the best of the festival season thanks to the small intimate setting and hardcore music fans.  This independent festival, now in its third year, was full to its 5,000 capacity and once again proved to be an enormously triumphant event.

Getting There and Back - 9/10

From Salisbury train station organisers provided free festival coaches to the site but they also encouraged festival goers to try LiftShare, which is a free website putting people in touch with each other to fill up cars to the festival.  Sounds scary, but since your with like-minded people, we only heard of happy endings.

The Site - 10/10

Larmer Tree Gardens is such an idyllic setting, it almost feels wrong to have loud music.  Wild peacocks and parrots roam free, even amongst the crowds.  The secret woodland areas, which are covered in thousands of fairy lights, make you feel like you’re in a hidden wonderland. Plus, the camping areas are not only flat but they have showers – an extreme luxury for any hardened festival goer.

Atmosphere - 9/10

All the punters mix and mingle with each other in one of the friendliest atmospheres of the festival calendar.  All ages groups are represented and with no back stage area, the bands hang out around the site making it really feel like you're at a private party.  There was only one torrential downpour on the Friday afternoon before summer weather for Saturday and Sunday kept everyone smiling.

Music - 9/10

The crème de la crème of independent music.  This year the festival had a strong Americana and Alt-country vibe, from classic indie veterans like Mercury Rev, American Music Club and Calexico. Up and coming indie darlings are all represented like Noah and the Whale, Laura Marling and Pete And The Pirates.  Secret sets and impromptu gigs throughout the night in the Bimble Inn and The Local tents kept the unique vibe going with the feeling you were involved in something really special.


Bon Iver – 10/10

Jaw dropping, spectacular, moving set from Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, and his band.  It wasn't enough for him to release one of the most beautiful albums of the year but he surpassed expectation by leaving the audience in stunned silence.  It was the talk of the festival for the next 24 hours.

Mercury Rev – 8/10

The indie stalwarts with their spacey, dreamlike Americana couldn't be more suitable for the beautiful setting of this festival. Walking through the gardens lit with millions of fairy lights with the sounds of Mercury Rev rising through the trees is the stuff of fairy tale.  

Noah and the Whale – 8/10

The perfect indie-popsters who seem to have played every festival this year, pulled a huge, adoring crowd but unfortunately their afternoon slot only lasted 30 minutes.  We'll look forward to next year when they'll hopefully play for twice as long.

Laura Marling – 8/10

Fresh from her Mercury Music Prize nomination, the 18 year old continues to defy explanation with her deep sultry, tortured soul voice.  Marling more than lives up to expectation live and is sure to be around for many years to come.

Kimya Dawson – 8/10

Not a great singer and an even worse guitar player, but as a poet, she is phenomenal. Her poignant story telling set to basic singing and basic musicianship turns into the most endearing set of the weekend. Everyone falls in love with her instantly and she receives huge cheers.


Low – 2/10

Not the most exciting set, made far worse by an unexplained tantrum from singer, Alan Sparhawk who swung his guitar around and then launched it into the crowd at the end.  A lame attempt at rock n roll behaviour, perhaps, but the only thing he achieved was looking like a complete ass.  Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Conor Oberst – 5/10

He really is a great musician, but oddly his banter with the crowd was perplexing: "Hi, we're The Killers from Las Vegas."  Then after each song kept saying they were another band from whatever town.  Very bizarre and kind of boring.

Two Gallants – 6/10

These two San Francisco natives have a very large cult following in the UK with their alt-folk indie story telling.  I'm not sure if it was nerves from playing on such a big stage or if they were suffering from jet lag, but it just didn't seem to get going during their late night set.  They're brilliant musicians and make a huge impression for just two of them on stage, but there was a distinct lack of atmosphere.

Random Events

There was a secret 70's style lit up dance floor in the woods which could be reached by taking a wrong turn through fairy-lights in the woods.  So wrong, but oh so right!

There was also a library in the woods filled with book shelves waiting for you to chill out and indulge in a bit of light reading.

Another secret woodland pleasure was the ping-pong table, which had a queue of 15 people at one point.  Perhaps the recent Olympics inspired everyone to thinking they could have a gold medal worthy game - whilst wearing wellies and indulging in organic cider of course.

The best random discovery was the piano in the woods, which also had people queuing to have a go.  Large crowds gathered around for a proper sing-a-long throughout the weekend.

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