Wednesday, September 26, 2007

End of the Road Festival – Saturday


Saturday dawned bright and clear, with the prospect of a sunny day ahead for the Baby Growl's festival debut. The word was that the ‘special guest’ in the Big Top at 12:15 might be Gruff Rhys. We thought we might make it to the festival site in time for this, but with baby and all her related stuff to organise, it was never going to happen. In any case, there was no special guest.


One of the things that you can’t really do with a small baby and her baggage is to dart from stage to stage to cram in as many bands as possible. So we had to forget about Slow Club in the Bimble Inn, and head straight to the Garden Stage where Loney, Dear was starting off, get settled down and have some lunch and enjoy the Swede’s set from a distance (that's them on stage in the picture above). He seemed to play most of the recent Loney, Noir album. And good, we didn’t miss Saturday Waits, his most lovely song.

Download: Loney, Dear – Saturday Waits

Then disaster! Or at least an annoying omission from the baby’s gear. Ear defenders! As super-paranoid parents we did the cheesy thing and bought the Apple Martin-style ear defenders to protect the tiny ears. In the middle of nowhere it’s possible to play it pretty loud without disturbing anyone, and even bands which I previously thought were quiet strummers seemed just a bit too noisy. So I had to drive the eight miles to the cottage and back to get the luminous muffs, and miss I’m From Barcelona’s set. Oh well. Since they seem to be guaranteed a slot at this festival, maybe next year Isobel will enjoy their balloons and primary-coloured music.


Next, the Big Top and the first chance to test out the ear defenders as Shara Worden hit the high notes in My Brightest Diamond’s magnificent set. She’s quite brilliant. She can sure rock, but it’s really all about the amazing voice. The epic arrangements of her Bring Me the Workhorse album translate impeccably into the live setting, with the odd cover thrown in (Edith Piaf springs to mind). A real highlight. But did the ear defenders work? Hard to tell, since the girl slept throughout.

Download: My Brightest Diamond – Magic Rabbit

The Swedish lounge with its pleasingly ramshackle furnishings, animal mask decorations and records being played at the wrong speed proved a convenient place for a quick baby feed. Then a stroll around the field found The Young Republic taking way too long to start their first set of the festival in the Bimble Inn (there were two more to come), and back at the main stage, Joan as Police Woman just finishing off her performance in her bright red tights as we settled into a new spot on the lawn. People laugh at the ear defenders. I would too if I were them.


Next up is King Creosote and his Fence Collective allstars band (Pip Dylan on electric guitar, OnTheFly on drums and Uncle Beesly on bass) playing largely from his new album Bombshell. It’s an album that’s still new to me, and that I’ve still to fully warm to. I love Kenny’s voice, so lovelorn and so well suited to the stripped down melancholy of his sparser tunes. The new album finds him in more guitar pop territory, and live it’s all pretty noisy indie rock, which is all very well, but there are plenty of people out there doing noisy indie rock, and it pains me to hear (or maybe not hear) Kenny’s wonderful voice obscured by so much rocking out. It’s only on the quiter songs where I think he fully comes into his element. And I’m not sure the Baby Growl likes this new direction either. Either that or the ear defenders were uncomfortable. Or this infernal racket was stopping her sleeping. In any case, full attention was not given to the King and the Fence boys this time around.

Download: King Creosote – Not One Bit Ashamed


Feeding ourselves and the baby meant that a good chunk of the Danielson Big Top set was missed unfortunately, but what I did get to see was just thrilling. I guessed that the crowd in attendance in the larger-this-year tent would be a pretty select one, because Danielson, and in particular Daniel Smith’s high-pitched yelp, is an acquired taste (some of my friends left after a few songs, but I understand). But once you acquire it, you’re hooked. I just love them, and have spent enough time immersed in their music over the past year to consider them as nothing other than a pop band. Others may beg to differ, but watching them is a glorious thing indeed. And family travels meant that they could have Elin with them this time as well for even more of the family flavour. As they finished with Five Stars and Two Thumbs Up (“and that’s what we think of you” Daniel tells us twice) I’m so happy that missing anything of this set becomes my biggest regret of the weekend. I have other priorities now, I keep telling myself. And I do.

Download: Danielson – Time That Bald Sexton


After hearing some of Brakes and The Bees from the car park as we ate our lip-smacklingly good Pieminister pies, we headed back to the Garden Stage with a fed and sleeping baby for Super Furry Animals’ headline set. It was much anticipated, as Gruff Rhys and co are one of Mrs Growl’s and my oldest favourite bands. We bonded over a mutual love for the Welsh wizards back in the late 90s and have since been to more of their gigs than we care to remember. Plus the new album is becoming a firm favourite. So what better for a family outing? They played a load of the hits, then a few from Hey Venus! Some complained later about a lack of energy, but from back where we were it all seemed pretty fine to us, and they even delved into some of the more obscure parts of their back catalogue as they played songs off every one of their albums. So something for everyone then: hits for the casual observer, new tunes for the Johnny-come-latelies and hidden gems for the crusty old fans. A quintessential festival set then? We were happy anyway. And the baby? Again slept through most of it, apart from waking to the noise and having to be coaxed back to sleep by a walk through the magical fairy-lit trees.

Download: Super Furry Animals – Ice Hockey Hair

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

it was pictish trail not pip dylan.
AND HE ROCKED.

The Daily Growl said...

Whoops! schoolboy error.
He did rock. Though that was my problem really.

is that you Matthew?

Alice-Rose said...

oooooh you missed out on I'm From Barcelona: and you were definitely right about My Brightest Diamond's set being a highlight, however my top 3 sets have to be:

Scout Niblett.
Impromptu acoustic set on the piano near the fairy light world by Herman Dune.
David Thomas Broughton.

SHEER GENIUS!

Good weekend though, eh!