Monday, September 25, 2006
End of the Road Festival - Saturday
Saturday started for us with a bit of wandering and peacock-spotting, followed by at trip back to the Big Top to check out Metronomy. I liked them. They’re about as well-known for their remixes as their own stuff, but their compositions sound good. Live, they’re bound to get Hot Chip comparisons – except it’s only three guys with synths and keyboards, and Hot Chip don’t have a sax player. Or funny t-shirts with a big plastic balls on. Or choreographed jerky guitar movements. Their electro is probably also a bit dirtier and less poppy then their more famous peers. It’s a shame I had to leave them early to go to see Absentee.
Download: Metronomy - You Could Easily Have Me
I was keen to see Absentee again, even if only to introduce Mrs Growl to their rough-cut charms. She hadn’t seen them before, but I thought she’d like them. She did. In fact, I’m finding it hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t. Unless they have issues with Dan Michaelson’s super-gruff vocals of course. Recently I’ve been finding that their Schmotime album is one I’ve kept coming back to again and again. And not just because it’s at the top of the artists list on my iPod. Live they’re a treat, with their harmonies and their fuzzy guitars and their parping horn section. Amongst the Shmotime faves, they squeezed in a new song which sounded mighty fine.
Download: Absentee – Something to Bang
Next up on the main stage, Swedish chanteuse El Perro Del Mar came on with her big coat, her acoustic guitar and her band and played some lovely melodic acoustic music which washed over us as we lay on the grass. The peacock liked her too it seemed, adding its loud squaking to the polite applause that followed her first song. To be honest, not many of the songs really lodged in my memory but it was a nice way to spend half an hour or so. Here’s one track that did linger.
Download: El Perro Del Mar – This Loneliness
After a quick bite to eat, we headed to the Big Top to find The Boy Least Likely To already had started their set and had pretty much turned the tent into a bit of a kids’ party. It wasn’t just the BLLT balloons – they brought two large creatures (roughly approximating an elephant and a dog) to dance on stage with them. It was all very twee, which kinda goes with their music really. I heard their album a while back, but apart from a few stand-out classic pop numbers, it was all a bit dull. Live, they’re a much better proposition. They’re a tight band, churning out their breezy indie pop, and it’s all pretty hard not to like. Unless you’ve got an aversion to big animals and balloons.
Download: The Boy Least Likely To – Be Gentle With Me
I wasn’t particularly drawn to the Electric Soft Parade. But we were wandering around wondering where to go next, and we thought why not check them out. We hadn’t heard ESP before, but who knows, we might like them. And yeah, they were alright really. Decent guitar pop. One bonus was that they had a song that sounded just like Teenage Fanclub. Nice.
Download: Electric Soft Parade - Lose Yr Frown
We left the Garden Stage to catch Semifinalists in the Big Top. I was keen to find out if they really were rubbish, or if they were just seriously hampered by the crap sound at the Lumainaire where I saw them earlier in the year. And you know what? They were brilliant. I’m still finding it hard to believe they were the same band. They do have some punky, yelpy songs, but they seemed to be replaced by a set of electronic power pop, chopped up with lovely drawn out melodies. As I’ve said before, they’re an odd band. They rely a lot on backing tracks, and they all sing. They performed on a darkened stage, with a light show and a lots big shadows, which added to the atmosphere. Definitely one to watch, and I've since got their album, which is a treat.
Download: Semifinalists – You Said
As well as a few Swedish artists on various stages over the weekend, Saturday saw a big showcase of Swedish Bands in the Bimble Inn. We had to check out at least one of these. And that band was Suburban Kids With Biblical Names. I had heard of them at least (who wouldn’t forget a name like that). They were great. Sprightly indie pop, peppered with breezy harmonies, with a cheeky backing track propelling them along. It’s not music that will change the world, but it did put a smile on our faces. There were even people dancing among the sprawled crowd on the floor of the tent. I think they were Swedes.
Download: Suburban Kids With Biblical Names - Funeral Face
We briefly caught British Sea Power doing Remember Me as we made our way to the Big Top to see Simple Kid. They’re still doing that tree branches thing. They should really get some new tricks. We walked into the tent just as the Kid struck up his opening number King Kong on banjo. What a great start to the set! We knew next to nothing about the man known to his mother as Ciaran McFeely, but we left truly converted to the cause of the Kid. It was just him and his laptop, which regularly provided beats and other backing goodness, and opened the way for the evening’s special guest – Kermit the frog, who leant his own magic to a duet of It’s Not Easy Being Green. One of the easiest reference points for Simple Kid is Beck, and at least one track sounded quite like Loser, but the Kid has his own particular charm. The appropriately woozy set closer Serotonin (also his new single) was another highlight. So, a good discovery then.
Download: Simple Kid – The Average Man
After that, we couldn’t decide whether to see Badly Drawn Boy or Guillemots, and when we realised that neither of us cared too much about either of them, we headed to the Pavillion for a bit to sit around and hear James Yorkston play some old blues and reggae (nice work) then back to the Bimble Inn, where we settled into some big comfy cushions until the wee small hours, first listening to British Sea Power and their mates doing an extended jam session, then just chatting to friendly strangers whilst supping some of the Inn’s fine organic ale. The people in the tent next to us raved about Guillemots the next day, but we didn’t feel like we had missed anything.