Life and Ramblings from the End of the Road
My most enduring memory from the three-day End of the Road music festival we attended last weekend in southwest England won’t be one of the wonderful bands we saw, but the stench from the “AndyLoos.” Not the stench you’re thinking of, but the blue cleanser that is used to erase that stench. If the wind blew the right way you could smell that blue disinfectant while listening to music, walking between stages or sleeping in your tent. It permeated my soul and became as much a part of me as the dirt that was caked on my body after taking just one shower in four days. Welcome to life at a multi-day music festival!
Jill and I love to listen to live music, but also love to find new bands to listen to and End of the Road filled both criteria. Jill stumbled upon the fest while doing some research on visiting England and the timing worked out just right for us to attend. We were fortunate that there was a private service to set up a tent for us and provide us with an air mattress and sleeping bags. But with 10,000 people attending the fest and staying all weekend, space for the tents, showers and loos was at a premium. You knew your neighbors for good (band recommendations) and bad (being loud when they returned to their tent at 4 a.m., then snoring the rest of the night).
For the 10,000 people there were 16 porta-showers and we waited in line for at least 40 minutes during a non-prime time for shower taking before basking in the warmth of a four-minute shower. For Jill to take just one shower in four days is truly remarkable. There are times when we are about to go on a 10-mile hike and Jill will take a shower. When I point out that we’re about to go on a 10-mile hike, she’ll say, “I just feel gross.” I no longer comment when she announces these types of showers, just enjoy the extra 15 minutes of sleep I get.
But I digress. End of the Road is a fantastic festival. There were some name headliners for the three weekend nights (David Byrne and St. Vincent, Sigur Ros and Belle and Sebastian), but most of the bands were ones we hadn’t heard of before doing a little pre-concert research through the online music service Spotify. There was one main stage and three smaller ones, all relatively close to each other so walking between them was not a chore. The food was fantastic and prices for food and drinks were not nearly as outrageous as festivals I’ve been to in the U.S. You even were allowed to bring in your own alcohol as long as it was not in a bottle (I’ve never been around so many boxes of wine in my life!).
In addition to the music, there was a cinema, comedy tent and other activities. Early in the morning before the bands came on, the festival had British authors doing readings and discussions of their books in a library in the woods. We were treated to a very interesting talk by Barney Hoskyns on his book, “Under Foot: The Power and Excess of Led Zeppelin.” After attending his talk Jill said, “I could sit and listen to non-fiction authors talk all day.”
I wasn’t quite ready to commit to that so I said we should listen to some music instead. After three days we saw 33 bands out of the 97 who performed during the weekend and came away with a number of new bands that will make our regular rotation. Our overall favorites are starred.
Chicks who Rock
Matthew E. White*
The Leisure Society
One other random note. After many of the smaller shows the artist would announce that he or she or they would be selling their CDs. I wanted to yell to the people buying them that there was no future in CDs and they should save their money. During our trip, Jill and I have come across a few CD stores and I’ve wanted to run in and say something like, “In the future there is no such thing as CDs and people buy and listen to their music online and through music services like Rhapsody, Spotify and Google Play,” but was afraid that people would be too freaked out meeting someone from the future. Is anyone working on some way for musicians to still sell their music after a show, but digitally? A quick Google search didn’t yield anything.
All in all, we spent more money than we normally would to attend the festival given the cost of tickets, tent set up, transportation and food – particularly since the exchange rate doesn’t work in our favor. The gorgeous setting, incredible bands and chance to see Stonehenge on the drive there and back from the bus window made it worth the cost. If only my future self had warned me about the shower situation I might have been a little better prepared.
Special shout-out to our friends Becky and Jon in England who were our ticket delivery service — thank you!