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End Of The Road 2012, Larmer Tree Gardens, North Dorset

“At End Of The Road 2012, some cracking sets were seen post-midnight, ‘secret’ gigs that half the festival seemed to know about”

When a pop veteran like Van Dyke Parks (think a 1960s Ben Folds Five) declares his love for a festival that is only a few hours old, the odds are good for a warm and fuzzy few days wallowing in indie-rock.

Indeed, it is notable how many acts across the festival’s four stages mention the good, friendly vibes infusing the Dorset countryside air; Patti Smith (pictured above), during a rollicking, hit-strewn set, is even moved to give a spontaneous ode to the wonder of the surrounding trees. The setting is very scenic – and Smith remains reassuringly off the dial.

Patti Smith is moved to give a spontaneous ode to the wonder of the surrounding trees

Now in its seventh year, End of The Road has certainly put its stamp on the UK’s festival scene, but still retains that niche, boutique feel sought out by the modern, thirty-something festival-goer. Decent tucker helps (plenty of organic on offer, of course), as does an impeccably chosen line-up that never strays too far from a 6Music playlist.

There’s a lot of beards around, not least amongst headliners that include Grizzly Bear (the harmonies gets somewhat lost amongst the grizzle), and the Mark Lanegan Band, who create a hypnotic bluesy noise on the Garden Stage.

Some cracking sets were seen post-midnight in the Tipi Tent, ‘secret’ gigs that half the festival seemed to know about. Horse Thief stood out, with their high-energy angular rock, and the entertaining, soul-searching folk-punk of NYC’s Jeffrey Lewis won a whole new set of fans.

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The dark space of the Big Top stage seemed a little incongruous amongst the festival’s pastoral ambience, but it suited some: I Break Horses and Savages were both clearly at home, although Alt-J’s eagerly awaited set could not compete with the heat exhaustion of a packed crowd.

Check out the blogosphere, and you’ll find as many personal highlights of this year’s EoTR as there were pints of real ale. Personally, I’ll take away the wild acoustic musings of minor legend Roy Harper (“Space is an ashtray!”), and Tindersticks brewing up a delicious slow, gothic funk in masterly fashion.

The driving drizzle seemed to compliment Graham Coxon’s electric performance

The rain held off until Sunday thankfully, but soggy conditions were not going to dampen spirits. The driving drizzle seemed to compliment Graham Coxon’s electric performance, the newer songs fizzing through the elements with confident ease (I do wonder why so many fawn over Jack White, when we have our own modern-day guitar hero in the former Blur guitarist).

It was left to Grandaddy to bring the curtain down, their hummable widescreen rock a suitable soundtrack to last orders. The punters went home very happy. Just like Mr Parks predicted.

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