End of the Road ’12 – Best Sets of the Weekend

So that was End of the Road. Lordy!

I had a ball, really, a much brighter experience than Green Man this year. To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s because of the weather (GM = foul; EotR = mostly fine), but for me End of the Road far outshone Green Man in pretty much every respect. I was very impressed with EotR – they just seemed to do everything right.

Hmmm… next year…

Lucky Seven – Best of End of the Road ‘12

I’ve not been entirely idle since then. As usual I have a mountain of recordings, some of which I’ll post about soon, some of which I may never use. But while I’m sorting myself out, I thought I’d put together a Best of… compilation of some of the recordings I have. It’s hardly exhaustive – I saw some great sets and by all accounts missed some great sets too. Also some of the great sets were not unfortunately great recordings (combination of wind on the mic / being surrounded by gibbering ninnies / being a gibbering ninny myself…)

Anyway here goes:

Midlake – “Roscoe”

A combination of a long day and the first rain of the weekend meant I was hanging on a bit when Midlake made their way onto the Garden Stage. Pretty much straight away however, I was woken up by a really accomplished performance, mixing material from The Courage of Others and The Trials of Van Occupanther with a few new songs. Lovely set which the band themselves seemed to really enjoy. All very good mannered too…

 Alt-J – “Tessellate”

Nearly missed this set altogether, drinking and chatting with friends, and when we rolled up at the Big Top, we were met with the biggest crowd I saw in there all weekend. Once we’d elbowed our way in (and I’d lost all the people in was with), Alt-J put on a really tight performance, going through most of their record, in what felt like an absolute sauna. Indeed at times it felt like listening to the recording itself so polished was their performance (I don’t mean that in a bad way…)

Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard – “Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song”

Didn’t really know anything about Jeffrey Lewis and actually missed his scheduled Garden Stage spot earlier on the Friday. Fortunately, he did a few songs later on that evening in the Tipi Tent. What a character he is! His songs were alternately garage-y, throw-away, poignant and always funny. Another highlight was his PowerPoint presentation on the history of Punk Rock on the Lower East Side 1950-75, all written in limerick form, which really needs YouTubing…

First Aid Kit – “Emmylou”

Another set that was packed out, and which I also nearly missed part of was this one by First Aid Kit. I really didn’t realise they were so popular, but with hindsight there was a bit of a buzz about them for most of the previous day. Just the three of them but they made an enormous noise and went down very well.

I Was Gone – Woods

The reason I was late for First Aid Kit was that I simply couldn’t tear myself away from Woods on the Main Stage, who were a bit geeky at first but really started to cut loose about half way through and by the end were really “wigging out” (I think the term is…). Once I’d got used to Jeremy Earl’s high pitched vocals, it was all good from there…

Analogue Wheel – Yeti Lane

About half way through the weekend I started to feel that I was spending too much time seeing bands I knew, (and in some cases had seen before), and not enough time investigating new bands. So for that reason, I ditched Patti Smith and went to see French psychedelic duo Yeti Lane. Best decision of the weekend, didn’t regret it for a second. The duo consisted of a drummer with electronic noodling duties and another “wigging out” guitarist. Particularly liked their retro, Doctor Who-style electronics desk…

Ghost of St Paul – Gravenhurst

Last set of the weekend was Gravenhurst, who again I didn’t know at all, but was realty impressed by. A really quiet, precise set that finished rather too quickly and prompted me to buy the last two releases.

A lovely weekend altogether…

Best of End of the Road ‘12

No use in hiding the joy from the bright noon sun

A rather nice bonus came my way Wednesday night, when Martin from Uprock Narratives and Unknown Pleasures e-mailed me to say that he had a spare ticket to see Texas five-piece Midlake at the Fiddlers in Bristol. Any self-respecting blogger has heard and read a lot about Midlake recently, and a number of people have recommended their new album, to me (even my own uncle).

But, well, being rather snooty about these things, I haven’t really given my full attention to them and tend not to write about bands that are already well-covered. Still, gift horses and all that…

The Fiddlers is a pretty good venue (though a little hard to find) which has quite a nice feel to it and a good sound. First up was a guitarist, whose name I missed, who was OK but nothing to get too excited about. Next, however, was an Irish singer called Fionn Regan with a rather groovy haircut who kind of reminded me of Roddy Frame and who brought with him an almost feral drummer to spice up his songs. The pair of them were excellent, playing a number of intelligent and interesting songs, backed up by some real tub-thumping from behind. I loved them.

Midlake

I do have a bit of a tendency to shoot my bolt a bit at gigs, getting over-excited about support bands and not quite “getting” the main act. So I was beginning to wonder if this evening was going to be another one in this vein, but I needn’t really have worried; Midlake were also excellent.

Led by Tim Smith (a name dear to any Gloucester rugby fan, for entirely different reasons) and boasting some sort of music college pedigree, Midlake are really a very clever bunch, not averse to wearing a few dodgy influences (or guilty pleasures, as Martin would have it) on their collective sleeve. They seem to be quite a jovial bunch of fellers too, despite the melancholic edge to their songs, and are all ridiculously gifted musically, swapping guitars and synths over in a bewildering fashion. At one point four of them were all playing at various keyboards. They managed to make it sound rather rough around the edges, though, and in my opinion, their songs were the better for that. (I’m listening to Bamnan and Slivercork now, and although it’s pretty good, there’s a little bit too much production for my liking.)

Being a beardie myself, it was also rather encouraging to see three of the band sporting facial hair (real beards too, none of your normal pop star nonsense). At times, I thought they looked a bit like the Band, and, like the Band, there was a feeling of not quite being able to nail down which decade Midlake have come from, which again I rather like.

This being Partly Porpoise, and me being something of a snob, I’d really have preferred to post a track by Fionn Regan, but unfortunately there are none legally available at the moment, although you can stream them here. But, hey, Midlake were great, so at the risk of looking like some sort of slutty ratings whore, I’ll post some of the tracks available from their site.

Cheers guys, a really good evening… (And thanks, Martin)

Some of them were superstitious

Kingfish Pies

And while we’re at it, Bars and Guitars has posted the text of an e-mail he received from Tim Smith’s Dad, which makes rather pleasant reading.

Good on you, Billy Gene, you should be proud!