If you’re not a risk-taker, you probably shouldn’t be in business at all. But, to be in the business of running an outdoor festival – exposed to the elements and exposed to the market’s wild fluctuations – you need a truly adventurous spirit.
End of The Road was born from a half-baked idea scribbled on the back of a cigarette packet, and was made possible through sold houses and quit jobs. The first year, 2006, was a creative triumph, but a financial disaster. Currently getting ready for its eleventh year, with a loyal audience and fuller piggy bank, End of The Road is proof that some risks are worth taking.
This has remained in the festival’s ethos since day one, so why play everything safe now? Why get caught up in a headliner-chasing rat race; going for the same, limited selection of bands deemed to be worthy of that illustrious main stage slot? Why not take a gamble on things you love, artists you believe in. How can someone not be headline-worthy just because they’ve never headlined? (Joseph Heller would be proud.)
In any case, headliners are just a small part of the line-up and, for us, it’s about strength in depth and real quality all the way down the bill, where we can take even more ‘risks’. We’re happiest when we hear talk of someone discovering their new favourite band one sunny afternoon at Larmer Tree Gardens. That’s what festivals have the power to do, and should be doing.
Some have remarked on our ‘brave’ curatorial decisions. Perhaps we get to be bold because we’re a small independent festival, answerable to no-one but ourselves, but we’re not sure our decisions are brave, exactly. For us it’s always just been about booking the bands we love and have faith in: the exciting unknown newcomers; the stratospheric game changers; the true performers and the ones on which we’d gamble it all. For us, that’s the norm.
End of The Road is one of our fave nearby festivals — find out more here.
Marvel at headliner Joanna Newsom’s ‘Sapokanikan’ here: