Apologies for being slow in getting this posted, I've been struggling to figure out how to put such an amazing weekend into words. One advantage of this is that there are now already some great in-depth accounts of the weekend(see here for a massively in-depth review and this blog - no tags annoyingly so you'll have to find the posts yourself - for a more personal account) leaving me free to pick and choose just the bits I want to mention in detail without feeling I'm leaving out any important information. I'll try to make sure there's a bit of detail for any bands not covered elsewhere but I make no promises, my memory is pretty shocking and most of the available space was taken up with a few of the more spectacular moments.
From the very first moment things were going well. I'd made a disgustingly early start (left the house at about 6.40) but this meant I hit Salisbury station at 10.30, before the majority of the festival crowd, so I was able to jump on the first bus to arrive and had my tent up well before the rain hit (End of the Road 1, Latitude 0) There was still a while before the first band so it was time for a quick tour of the site, and what a site it is. The first area you come to seems much like a miniature version of any other festival site, a ring of shops in a field with various stages dotted round the edge, but behind this is the entrance to Larmer Tree Gardens itself, housing the main stage and comedy stage. For some reason it hadn't occured to me that this was going to be the sort of garden people would pay just to look round for the rest of the summer (I know, the name should have been a clue) and the stupid grin which was to sit firmly on my face for most of the weekend emerged for the first time at the thought of watching bands in a place like this.
The afternoon was spent wandering around catching bits and pieces of anything which sounded worth a look from my brief myspace investigations as there were few bands I knew well. I caught some or all of Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltzin, Gossamer Albatross, Cats in Paris, Kelley Stoltz, The Acorn and Lonely Ghosts. My memory of this period is a bit hazy (I'm blaming the cider - think I started a bit too early) but I distinctly remember being particularly impressed with The Acorn and my notes suggest all the others were quite watchable too.
Finally it was time for someone I did know and had seen before - Laura Marling. I thought the show I caught on the church tour earlier in the year was amazing but this was even better, despite being in the relatively anonymous surroundings of the big top. After a quick stop off at Dirty Three, which confirmed my suspicions that I just don't get it, it was back to the tent for Robyn Hitchcock. I'll be honest, all I knew about him was that he was in a band who Six. By Seven once covered (The Soft Boys - I Wanna Destroy You) but I'm bloody glad I went along. This was a guy who had clearly been doing this for long enough to put on a decent show in his sleep and despite not knowing any of the songs I thouroughly enjoyed it. If only I had any money I'd be picking up a selection of CDs from his back catalogue right now. Next on the list was Robyn G. Shiels (2 Robyns in a row, what are the chances?) and at this point I must thank Manuel for mentioning him in a post the other day, I doubt I'd have gone along otherwise and would never have known what I'd have been missing. Actually bumped into Robyn at the cider bus the next day and he gave me a free album (which is, incidentally, top notch) after I explained how I'd ended up seeing him.
Headliner time, tonight's being Conor Oberst. For various unimportant reasons I wasn't entirely in the mood for this and it didn't seem Conor was either, what with the sarcastic comments (anyone know what he has against Arcade Fire?) and ending the set on a truly cheerless song. I wandered off midway through to see Dead Meadow but the Local was completely rammed and the stage in there was so low I couldn't see anything so gave up and went back for the end of Conor. After this I just milled around the site for a bit, I had been planning on catching the Pictish Trail but ended up hanging out with some randoms* and drinking more. Sadly I have totally forgotten their names, as I have the name of every single person I met over the weekend except the ones whose names were conveniently written in the programme (more on this later...) I suck, I know. Sorry to anyone who wanted a mention on an obscure blog.
Written an awful lot more than I expected, was planning on a single post but it looks like I'm going to have to split it into days. Saturday to follow soon.
*Of course, everyone there was a random to me as I went all on my own.