What if I’m actually anchored in a cave, delirious and scheming, with a messenger dove that flies out to do my dirty work? You’d never know. I recently enjoyed a lovely festival called End of the Road in South Wiltshire, UK. Hope you enjoy the D-rated music journalism.
So begin the chronicles of making my phone battery last four days. Episode 1: Protagonist asks stranger for the time in peripheral effort to make friends. Episode 2: Protagonist asks ‘Who’s playing now?’ in successful attempt to communicate with common interests. And yes I regret buying black and white film, leave your snarky comments to yourself.
Amongst many highlights is Wand, who are absolutely magical and paint this intriguing, mysterious atonal narrative before resolving to familiar riffs and powerful rhythms. Big props for experimentation with a violin bow on guitar. Kikagaku Moyo are as psychedelically mental as I’d hoped, combining rock with traditional Japanese sounds and blasting our ears off with bass guitar which was so flawless it didn’t matter. Deerhunter and Courtney Barnett are definitely better performers than any of the teletubbies, and Crack Cloud and Squid hit it so hard I think a few balls dropped in the audience.
I’ve written an open letter to a man sitting behind me during Stella Donnelly.
Whilst I appreciate your loud opinion on the premium position for optimum auditory enjoyment, I must offer a rebuttal. Sitting at the back in the centre surely gives you some worldly perspective. However, I’m not here to engage in intercourse with eight-legged crawlers or discuss the size of my big toes, like you are.
I want to see pores open and allow salty droplets to fly loose on the crowd, see triumph or alarm or awe animate their faces, feel the pumping jumping energy and be part of the off-kilter cacophony of white people dancing. Did you notice that the percussionist snuck a photo of me and the rest of us when he thought no one was looking?
I realise the irony of this as I’m sitting, reflecting, in the exact position I’m throwing under the bus. And that’s perfectly fine with me, I’m about to move. One day I may even share your opinions and enjoy unpacking complex concepts like toe fluff. But for now, squeeze me against the barrier so the crowd evaporates. I’ll stay here until a careless push or heel-crushing stumble pops me out of that helium balloon. Enjoy the acoustics from thirty rows back, my fedora-clad friend.
Someone who hates toes.
One of my favourite festival activities is the internal Royal Mail service. Messengers deliver notes or fan mail. Wicked! I think. Time to get my poetry read by a stranger. Off I go writing an angry, whiny stream-of-consciousness alphabet soup addressed to “a thoughtful-looking young fellow milling about the literature tent.” I’m at peace with my anonymity and the prospect that an unsuspecting lad will unfold a piece of my batshit brain. This is all well and good until a live podcast at the literature tent is interrupted by a postwoman.
There’s a kerfuffle as my poem is delivered to not only the hosts at the literature tent but THE ENTIRE INTERNET. I don’t stay to find out if they read it out loud because my throat heartbeats and beet-red face would give me away. Maybe they do read it. You’re welcome to listen to the episode if you don’t believe me. It’s called Backlisted.
Later, in the company of ‘Chardolini’ (my best friend and also the cheapest goon sack I’ve ever purchased), I’m ridiculously early to see Sleaford Mods. Surely it says something about the British that hundreds of them will queue up an hour in advance to see someone who cares so little about being seen.
‘Jason! Do B.H.S.!!’ yells a feathered hat during the sound check, ‘Remember that gig in Hamburg?!’ I want to kick his beefy shins. Have some patience. I’m already a SuperFan after listening to his talk earlier in the day about anger, alcohol and pretentiousness. I hear it from him: the Tourette’s-style head-hitting during performances is to remember the words.
I meet a nice lady who says she’s taken half a pill and left her three kids over the hill with her husband who was less than thrilled. We mosh against sweaty bodies and join in head nods. She tells me I’m bold to come alone and that her friends were old but I could come and dance if I wanted to. Age doesn’t bother me, I say, and beneath rays of green and pink we pay no respect to Prince.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before and maybe tried it too but there isn’t anything rawer than throwing yourself alone and half-sober into the middle of a dance floor. The karaoke bar is one step too far because there’s a middle-aged turtle man chewing his face off and gyrating like a gear stick. If anyone has resources on the psychology of mosh pits, please get in touch.
My early morning snooze goes smoother than expected sans sleeping mat. The grass is squishy and the ground is flat, no mosquitos or bugs or bats. The drawstring is so tight there’s only an Eskimo mouth hole of body bag. I pop my noggin out the taught nylon prism and see other prisms in ranging colours coated in morning fog.
I leave with an overwhelming feeling of being given a gift—some precious intangible phenomenon that makes itself known as a bready grin and effervescent limb-twitching sensation. I wander towards the beckoning call of Agatha Christie and three hours of bus travel carrying embers of delight. There’s some roadkill on the way back. I don’t think it’s a dove.
Phrase of the day: Are you here by yourself?
Music of the place: Flying Golem - Wand