Episode 2 of our review of the excellent End of the Road festival 2016 edition. As very often at End of the Road, the density of good bands and artists is so high that one has to do choices sometimes. My experience of festivals taught me that attending bits and pieces of concerts is not that great as one never really feels the mood so better to enjoy fewer gigs but the right way. Long justification probably to miss today’s headliners Animal Collective, knowing I found them quite boring the only time I caught them on stage a few years ago at the Pitchfork Festival.
But let’s start with no further due with Eleanor Friedberger on the Garden Stage, probably one of my favourite places in the world! Eleanor was one half of sis’ & bro’ band the Fiery Furnaces and she is now in a solo career with already three excellent LP’s. For those Franz Ferdinand fans out there, let me confirm that indeed she was THE Eleanor from “Eleanor, put your boots on” at a time when she and their singer Alex Kapranos were more than musical friends…Anyway, this was a great start of the day for me as she performed songs from different periods of her career. Although this is true that the songs she plays under her own solo name are probably less difficult to deal with in terms of structure than the Fiery Furnaces ones, she still has an air of mystery which makes her one of the leading female artists of her time. That day was her 40th birthday too so no better way to celebrate than being on stage with a cake.
Not a long way to go from the Garden Stage to the Big Top and catch U.S. Girls, the project led by Canadian artist Meghan Remy. I can acknowledge that something was going on here…but not sure what exactly… I did not stay long as did not succeed in feeling anything to be honest.
Back to the Garden Stage with the first revelation of the festival for me with Whitney, a band I was not familiar with. The set was beautiful and the way their drummer/singer Julien Ehrlich leads the band with a mix of humility and bravado is probably one of the reasons. If you like the Byrds and R.E.M., this band is for you and their first album “Light upon the Lake” is one of the records of the year so far.
I relaxed afterwards in the Tipi Tent with a few songs from the very nice and charming set from Blue House, a band probably to follow in next months.
Back to the Garden Stage for the next show from one of my favourite current bands: Field Music. They have been regularly in my end-of-the year lists but do not have the recognition they would deserve. Field Music is based around the nucleus of brothers David and Peter Brewis from Newcastle and all their records (including those from their solo projects) are more than recommended. Their music is difficult to describe so I will give influences such as Steely Dan, Prince, Prefab Sprout or even Danny Wilson for those who remember that band… Despite them arriving literally 1 minute before the supposed start of the show and thanks to the great help of the festival stage guys, they performed as always a very fresh and exciting concert.
A quick walk to the Big Top again and here I was attending Jamie Lee’s band MONEY live. Their music is very intense and sometimes a bit embarrassing to watch as too represented by the personality of their leader. Better to listen at home or on headphones than to see live as far as I am concerned but maybe I was not in the mood after the previous shows. Anyway, I still recommend their new album “Suicide Songs” to be listened to…even if the title already tells a bit about the mood of it all…
I finished Day Two with concerts #7 and #8 again on the Garden Stage with two old American friends. The first one was Matthew Houck who has been doing constantly great music in the last decade under the monitor Phosphorescent. His set was probably the best I have seen of him as I felt he really had a perfect balance between traditional American country-rock music and his very unique voice and sensitivity. As if the Byrds (again) has listened to too much Joy Division. Grab him live if you can.
On the other side, I was quite disappointed with Catpower‘s concert… Sure, her voice is superb, she has very good musicians…but there is something which to me sounded and looked a bit fake and without too much emotion. I have never been at ease catching her live as well as it feels like this is a real struggle for her. To be fair, maybe I was feeling also the tiredness of the day…so I left before the end of the gig to be ready and full of energy to live and review Day Three. Stay tuned!