Wednesday, October 01, 2008

End of the Road Festival 2008 – Friday

Although the whole EOTR experience is wonderful, it’s the music that most people are there for. My musical adventures started properly about 9:30pm on the Friday when I popped up to the Bimble Inn to see Devon Sproule play her wistful take on acoustic American folk music. There were songs from her Upstate Songs record, her latest Keep Your Silver Shined, a Neil Young cover and a triumphant ending on current album stand-out Old Virginia Block. A good start to proceedings for me.

After a while drinking and chatting with Mrs and Mr Toad, next up was Akron/Family, but unlike last year’s amazing Cargo show, I wasn’t feeling so tuned into their set. Maybe because it was at a festival, I was less tolerant to their hippy meanderings and I just wasn’t feeling the improv noodling. But after a wander through the magical gardens (made slightly less magical due to excessive mud) I returned to find them striking up Ed is a Portal, which with its all-singing, all drumming, all dancing madness was a real treat. They didn’t take the roof off like they did in East London last winter, but it was still a lot of fun. But then the hippy shit started again, and I was off to The Local tent more something more to my taste.

I knew very little about The Miserable Rich beforehand, other than that 6Music’s Marc Riley is a big fan, and it’s only now that I’m finding out that they’re from Brighton, but I was mightily impressed with their set. Lead singer James de Malplaquet cut a different figure from a lot of the performers at EOTR. Instead of bearded scruffiness, James’s nearly cropped hair, jacket and stage manner (and surname, come to think of it) suggested more of a gentleman and dilettante. They play a very pleasing chamber folk-pop, with cello, violin, double bass and guitar with nary a drum in sight. Which made it all the more remarkable when they launched into a cover of Hot Chip’s electro-pop classic Over and Over, which has to be heard live to be fully appreciated. It was one of my favourite shows of the whole weekend, and definitely a band to keep an eye on.

After hanging around The Local for what I thought was going to be Fence Collective types The Pictish Trail and Rozi Plain’s double act, I was surprised to see a familiar sight from last year’s EOTR – Julian Saporiti of The Young Republic with his Rolling Thunder Revue-style whited-up face, setting up his gear on stage. So no Pictish and Rozi (they ended up playing the following afternoon) and instead a YR covers set, which has now become an EOTR staple. Sure, you can think of this as throwaway karakoke fun, but I think that the songs that Saporiti and co perform offer something of a window into the soul of the band. When a first heard The Young Replublic, I had them firmly down as indiepop, but hearing them play Dylan, Chuck Berry and other rock classics, as well as Wagon Wheel by fellow Nashville residents Old Crow Medicine Show, shows off their true colours as a rock and roll band, with a dash of the ol’ country. But more on them later…

After that, I contemplated hanging around for what might have been Pictish Trail, and what might have been a set by last year’s festival favourite David Thomas Broughton, but tiredness prevailed, as did a suspicion (later confirmed by DiS chatter) that a late-night set to a well-oiled crowd might not be the best place to hear Broughton’s quiet songs and freeform theatrics, and I headed to bed. So far no more rain.

Download: Devon Sproule – Keep Your Silver Shined
Download: Akron/Family – Ed is a Portal
Download: The Miserable Rich – Over and Over
Download: The Young Republic – Isis


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