The tents are getting set and the peacocks are in place for one of the most unique and carefully-curated festivals England has to offer. Taking place in picturesque Larmer Tree Gardens, the rightfully-beloved End of the Road provides an excellent wind down to the festival season.
End of the Road 2018 boasts one of the festival’s strongest line-ups to date, with Yo La Tengo summoning the buzzing intimacy of their vast back catalogue on Thursday night, world-beaters Vampire Weekend playing their only UK date of 2018, St. Vincent returning for a set that should be just as brilliant as her headline set with David Byrne in 2014, and finally Canadian genius Feist, who brings her amazing 19-year discography to the rolling Dorset fields.
We’ve decided to explore End of the Road’s spectacular lineup and choose 10 of our must-see acts:
Brooklyn four-piece Big Thief use their music to illuminate the anguish moments of life with a stunning level of care and craft, and last year’s incredible album Capacity stood as testament to their talent. By turns beautiful and disquieting, Big Thief’s attention-to-detail playing and frontperson Adrianne Lenker’s potent lyricism, make their set a must-see for both the initiated and the curious. Look out for me tearfully singing along to ‘Mythological Beauty’ on Friday night!
Plying their sinister trade for a decade now, post-punk outfit Protomartyr bring the spirits of The Birthday Party, The Fall, Pere Ubu and Joy Division together into an awesome brew. We’d highly recommend donning your black cape on Friday night and delving into the Big Top to catch cuts from last year’s acclaimed Relatives in Descent, the group’s first LP released via Domino.
Three forces of nature combine to make up New Jersey’s Screaming Females; spearheaded by virtuoso guitarist Marissa Paternoster, the band shift indie-rock in colourful new directions through head-spinning invention and sheer musicality. Having steadily gained fans since 2012’s breakout record Ugly, you can expect the band to draw from their excellent latest album All At Once in front of an adoring crowd on Saturday afternoon. I’ve been waiting to see Screaming Females since I heard Ugly so this is going to be a big one for me and for all those who have been following the trio over the years.
Wedding singer-turned-festival-favourite Omar Souleyman tragically couldn’t make 2016’s edition of End of the Road due to family issues. It’s heartening to see him back on the bill for 2018 and his set is going to be one the weekend’s most anticipated. For those unaware, Souleyman was a famed performer in his native Syria before recordings of his powerful sets started circulating, leading to the release of his first international LP Wenu Wenu - produced by Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden - in 2013. Since then, Omar’s legend has grown and his immediately-loveable and infectious sound promises to be a huge hit as he lets love emanate from the main stage on Saturday afternoon.
Dan Bejar’s Destroyer project has been producing idiosyncratic excellence since 1995, creating records that function as miniature romantic worlds located within our own. Destroyer’s lush, atmospheric songs lift Bejar’s smart lyricism aloft through sounds that vary from Broadway-esque show numbers to Springsteen-style anthems to glorious ambient landscapes. Last year’s excellent Ken presents yet another stellar chapter in Destroyer’s cinematic history and I can’t wait to see Bejar and his band bring the album to life.
Nilüfer Yanya’s music immediately grabs your attention: her distinctive, lyrical guitar playing and direct, cool vocals give you no choice. Her recent slew of excellent EPs - especially single ‘Golden Cage’ - serve as a primer for a set that’s bound to win the rising talent a broader fanbase. Be sure to catch Nilüfer Yanya while she’s still playing her sharp soul on smaller stages - she won’t be doing so for too much longer.
Portland native Haley Heynderickx makes warm folk with a heavy heart, presenting her immense grasp on the craft over 30 beautiful minutes on her acclaimed debut I Need to Start A Garden. That spectacular debut has since seen Haley rightfully embraced by the music press and lead to a brilliant Tiny Desk concert earlier this year. Wry, genuine and crawling with character, Haley’s songs are gems to behold and look to blossom in the setting that the Garden Stage provides.
Ever since Japanese Breakfast’s debut album Psychopomp turned pain into life-affirmation, the band have been hotly tipped, delivering even more beauty on their second record Sad Sounds From Another Planet. Ostensibly a rock band, the outfit, lead by luminary frontperson Michelle Zorner, draw in flourishes from shoegaze, ambient, electronica and pop to form the interplanetary alignment heard in their music. Standing as an essential example of how imagination and songwriting nous can propel a band to their best, Japanese Breakfast’s Sunday afternoon set is a must-see.
Mulatu Astakte is known as ‘the father of Ethio-jazz’, a distinctly Ethiopian spin on jazz that fuses the genre with soul, Latin rhythms and Afro-funk. The genre’s forefather will be hitting the Garden Stage on Saturday night, bringing the sound he’s pioneered since 1963 to Dorset, of all places. Bringing an entirely different flavour to the End of the Road pallet, I highly recommend paying respects to a true original during your festival.
Terms like ‘ferocity’ or ‘brutality’ tend to be associated with heavy music - but Bristol’s IDLES are far more interested in tenderness and humanity amongst the maelstrom. The five-piece’s music is an elemental mix of gargantuan bass, pounding drum patterns and needling guitar interplay over which frontman Joe Talbot uses his darkly comedic lyricism to grapple with inequality, outdated masculine frameworks, the damages of hedonism and whatever else is puncturing his psyche, leaving it all on-stage. One of the most vital live bands playing today, IDLES will bringing their latest record Joy As An Act of Resistant thundering down upon the Big Top on Sunday night and I can’t bloody wait.