Festival Review: End of the Road – Saturday

As thousands of bleary eyed festival-goers awoke sweating in their tents as the sun beat down on them, still harbouring the muddy wellingtons and rain-lashed clothing from the day before in their porches, it was clear the second day of End of the Road was going to be an absolute belter. Welcoming the Indian Summer onto the main stage from midday were the warm, deep vocals and slow paced soothing tunes of London five-piece Absentee, who briefly burst into more stompy, upbeat rock to showcase the sound of their new album Victory Shorts, due out on September 22.

After the branch and bird-covered main stage had thrummed with electric guitars and vocal bass from Dan Michaelson that would give Barry White a run for his money, it was the turn of North Carolina trio Bowerbirds to hypnotise those assembled with their animal themed Americana. Parading their close harmony singing and constantly changing instruments the band, who dwell in an Airstream caravan in the middle of nowhere when not touring the globe, could easily get a reputation for tweeness from listeners who fail to properly absorb the darker themes of Phil Moore’s vocals.

Bad news for anyone who missed Noah and the Whale’s packed out mid-afternoon slot – the band had to cut the set short to jet to the states, hot on the coat-tails of fellow troubadours Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling, and won’t be back until their Birmingham Barfly gig on October 11. The ukulele and fiddle favouring folksters made the most of their short time on stage, however, as lead singer Charlie Fink crooned out fans’ favourite Rocks and Daggers and the ubiquitous 5 Years Time, without which approximately a third of radio time this summer would probably have been dead air. Joined on stage by brass duo The Ocean Horns, the Londoners played like a band ready to go and conquer America – we’ll find out how ready they actually were in about five weeks’ time when they return.

Fink and co could have proved a tough act to follow, but followed they were in a flurry of folk, rock and roll from the American deep south in the form of Nashville’s Young Republic. Clearly influenced by both Bob Dylan and 60s legends like the Rolling Stones, the five-piece produced a vim and vigour rollercoaster of a set in which frontman Julian Saporiti threw his arms around with reckless abandon while blasting out a succession of storming tracks, culminating in a spectacular cover of Dylan’s Isis.

Words: Mike Didymus