After a very relaxing Friday, I was eagerly anticipating what the third day of the End of The Road Festival would bring. The Saturday was, surprisingly, my quietest day for music – there was no one I was absolutely dying to see, which made my day incredibly free and easy as I spent it leisurely meandering between the stages (which is effortless, due to the short distances between the stages and the wonderful sightings you may find on your way).
The first act I stumbled across on Saturday was Nérija, an all-female, London based group specialising mainly in Jazz music. As a midday set, they worked perfectly combining some chaotic brass sounds with some groovy tunes. Their performance was at the Garden stage, which turned out to be my favourite stage of them all due to its spacious yet somewhat hidden feel as it is based within the gardens themselves rather than a usual, open field. The Garden stage was a suitable fit for Nérija, as much of the crowd were sat or laid across the grass, enjoying the funky sounds the band created. The band differed a lot from much of the other music I saw over the weekend, but this is not a bad thing; the End of The Road gives you lots of opportunities to discover new, different genres that you may have never considered before.
After Nérija, I made my way over to the Tipi tent (being sure I stopped by in one of the many food stalls on the way to grab myself some yummy veggie goodness) and decided to check out Happyness, an alternative rock duo. They were a complete contrast to the previous act I had just witnessed, and the first thing I noticed was the drummer in drag. The band later announced that it was exactly two years to the day since she made her first drag outing, which is pretty heartwarming and I was excited to hear their sounds. However, I was unfortunately disappointed, as the drag drummer seemed the only memorable part of their set for me. Although the guitar was nice and relaxing, I was not captivated by their tunes (but this may be in part due to the torrential rainfall that occurred halfway during their set, meaning many people chose the tent for rain shelter, rather than an interest in the band…).
After this unmemorable experience, I made my way slowly back over to my favourite stage once again (the Garden stage) to see what type of music they had going on. I was lucky enough to catch Lonnie Holley, who provided the crowd with some funky tunes, entangled with some important moral and political messages. Before he entered the stage, the audience were given an introduction into Holley’s life and hardships. It was quite eye-opening, and he was such a character onstage that this remains probably the best surprisingly enjoyable set I witnessed all weekend. He had people laughing, dancing, and just generally enjoying themselves, and being surrounded by his music and this joyous atmosphere was a truly memorable experience.
Luckily, the rain had cleared up and the weather was calming down by the time Holley’s performance was over, so I was able to stay by the Garden stage during the gap between performances, as I was fairly certain I wanted to catch black midi’s set, after all the greatness I have heard about them. Before I knew it, they had entered the stage in the most energetic manner I had seen out of all the acts. The crowd seemed incredibly excited, as I could see endless bobbing heads varying in ages across the sea of people throughout their songs. I thought their set was interesting, and the excited, happy response from the crowd as they emerged on stage has definitely inspired me to check out their music properly.
As black midi concluded, it began to get a lot colder so I decided that the only solution to this was to grab some dinner before heading back to the tent for a rest. I ended up in my favourite food stall of them all (the Pasta Bar – Fastfood pasta?! That I can eat at a festival?! Sign me up), and then started to make my way back to the tent. I did not get very far, however, as then Kate Tempest was brought to my attention, performing on the Woods stage. As she was a late entry to the festival line-up due to Beirut’s (devastating) drop-out, I thought I was not really interested in seeing her perform particularly, and just wanted to wrap up warm in my tent. However, her performance was so captivating that I was forced to pause my journey back to warmth as I just had to keep watching. I was stood right at the back of the field, away from the main surges of the crowd, however every single person around me was entirely focussed on the stage. With only one voice, I was extremely impressed at the influence Kate seemed to have over the entire crowd, who all seemed frozen in motion as they listened to her heart-wrenching, poetic songs. A particular favourite of mine was ‘All Humans Too Late’. I was entirely overwhelmed with emotion as she ranted, “the racist is drunk on the train / the racist is drunk on the interest / the racist is drunk at my dinner table / shouting their gunshots and killing us all / they still live supported by structures / and nations / and power”. After Kate’s set, it was definitely time to call it a day as I was left shivering in the sudden bitter coldness. However, I was not disappointed with finishing the day early – the wonderful array of acts I had seen today satisfied my musical cravings, with Lonnie Holley and Kate Tempest equally fascinating me in their own unique ways.
The End of The Road 2020 will take place at the Larmer Tree Gardens from September 3rd to September 6th, and tickets are now on sale here.