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Down at the End Of The Road
It seems as though we can't get enough of music festivals in this country. From the first outbursts of sunshine in April to the long summer evenings in September, we are determined to make sure every last hour of sunlight is utilised to the full. Across this period the whole gamut of line-ups and installations are represented, from the basic stage-beer tent-field set up, to the inetrestingly programmed boutique festivals that offer slightly leftfield artists, sustenance and settings. Whatever you want from your festival experience it seems as though there's something for everyone now, from the first time families to the hardened welly wearer.
Since its announcement earlier this year we've been counting the days to END OF THE ROAD FESTIVAL (31st August-2nd Spetember). Not just because of the gorgeous setting at Larmer Tree gardens in Dorset, or the amazing line-up (although the porspect of GRIZZLY BEAR, THE LOW ANTHEM, GRANDADDY and BEACH HOUSE is pretty mouth-watering): our constant feelings of excitement for End Of The Road stem from the regular reports filtering back to us of the many and varied good experiences had by previous year's attendees. Now in its seventh year, EOTR has built a reputation for being a laidback, family-friendly festival with a focus on alternative, folk and Americana music. Due to the nature of the idyllic garden site it's not unusual to happen upon peacocks wandering about the grounds, and macaws calling from the trees. And with full programmes of comedy and cinema sitting neatly alongside the children's workshops, Forest Dancefloor and Healing Retreat, it's easy to see why the festival is a regular sellout and has thousands of returning revellers each year.
But it's the strength of the music programme that is the biggest pull, and beneath the headliners there is a wealth of great music on offer at EOTR this year. GRAHAM COXON, MIDLAKE and PATTI SMITH share this year's top-billing status, and rightly so, but that is but the tip of the iceberg. WILLIS EARL BEAL, TOY and ALT-J all turned in stunning performances at Liverpool Sound City back in May and are definitely worth catching to see how the bigger stages will suit them. ANNA CALVI, VILLAGERS and ISLET will all provide a different atmosphere to the Garden and Big Top Stages, from dark and dramatic Spaghetti Western-like soundscapes to intricately-moving folk ballads, with a dash of euphoric percussive-rave ups thrown in for good measure. And if you want a soundtrack to this year's EOTR? PORCELAIN RAFT's Drifting In And Out, SAVAGES' Husbands and YETI LANE's Analog Wheel won't be far from the final list.
One of the many acts which we're feverishly anticipating at End Of The Road is Philadelphia based troubadour Shai Halperin, known professionally as Sweet Lights. Drawn from a music scene which currently also includes Kurt Vile and Adam Granduciel, both of whom Shai has previously played in bands with, Shai abandoned his lauded The Capitol Years project in 2009 to pursue the intricately woven, challenging pop music of Sweet Lights. In April he released his eponymous debut album on Highline Records to great critical acclaim; The Line Of Best Fit, Uncut and Mojo all attached stars and praise to the record, and although Halperin self-deprecatingly notes on his blog that The Quietus gave the album 0 stars, their review actually described the album as an "unadulterated masterpiece from a perennially underrated man"; if they operated a star based system, it's certain that many would have been thrown at Sweet Lights.
Bido Lito!'s Phil Gwyn caught up with Shai from Sweet Lights to ask what we can expect from him at End Of The Road this year, and to cast some light on his views of Dorset cider.
Bido Lito!: Do you the reviews of your album affect you?
Shai Halperin: I do read them and of course they raise my spirits. I have a google alert set for "sweet lights" so my finger's on the pulse. I also have a google alert set for "finger on the pulse" to make absolutely certain.
Bido Lito!: People always mention Kurt Vile and Adam Granduciel - is it frustrating to always be viewed in that context?
Shai Halperin: Not true. My wife just wrote me a beautiful anniversary card that didn't mention Kurt or Adam once. It did, however, mention the guy from Twin Shadow which I found rather odd.
Bido Lito!: In the credits for 'You Let Me Down', Kool & the Gang appear - how have they let you down?
Shai Halperin: I've brought my "good times and my laughter too" to numerous parties that have ended poorly.
Bido Lito!: What can we expect from the Sweet Lights live performance?
Shai Halperin: I'm performing onemanband style with some backing tracks on an iPod. If it accidentally cues up Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True", I apologize beforehand. And you're welcome. It's just going to be me and my ShaiPod.
Bido Lito!: Who are you looking forward to catching at End Of The Road?
Shai Halperin: Grizzly Bear and Beach House, though not in that order. They're the reason I make make worse music than they do.
Bido Lito!: Dorset, where End Of The Road is based, is famed for its cider. What is your stance on cider?
Shai Halperin: I love cider and so does my 2 year old...though the non-alcoholic kind, of course. His preference in that regard is a nice dry riesling.
End Of The Road Festival takes place at Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset over the weekend of 31st August - 2nd September. Weekend, camping and day tickets are available now from endoftheroadfestival.com. Full details on this year's line-up, as well as a host of other attractions can also be found on the EOTR website.