This review’s arriving later than most so there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this you’ve already read other outlet’s EOTR write-ups. Reading them myself is funny, given that they are uniformly adulatory and most ascribe the festival with a definitive label; best festival atmosphere, best festival lineup, best family festival. I myself last year called it my favourite UK festival, for its melting pot of all the reasons above. It’s so beloved because it snugly fits the jeans of accessibility and decade-old waterproof of music nerdery, assumes effortlessly the sunhat of incorrigible enthusiasm and the stodgy wellies of laidback ease.

Cast your eye over the demographic sweep of End Of The Road, and pay attention to their incurable grins and appalling dancing, and you’ll appreciate that what the festival runners have built is a playground, where the building blocks are conveniently prepped for assembly. A scrapbook weekend of bands to see, pad thai to munch, yoga to ache, and moments to genuinely cherish, which you compile in the three-day-hangover haze of the days after. I think that’s why End Of The Road is held in such universal regard; it’s a playground, but an immaculately designed playground.

Unblemished blue skies illuminated its toysets for the duration; the four main stages, the cinema, literature tent, arts centres, horizonless street food stalls, resplendent, and infectiously and unfailingly happy, though by late evening the temperature sharpened. The crisp cold which greeted Thursday night’s offering of part math-rock part surf-punks Shopping and EOTR regulars Yo La Tengo – this time offering a more hits-oriented setlist than their last appearance – accentuating both bands’ strident melodies. Thursday, normally the languid easing-in for the days ahead, debuted the Loud & Quiet silent disco, its old vs. new theme successfully tempting many attendees to peak early, and was huge fun.

Friday was a break-less marathon of Acts I Wanted To See, kicking off with the droll stylings of Stella Donnelly, and then the hazy vocals and impeccable jazz-soul-rock fusion of Nilüfer Yanya, whose charisma and casual cool belied the understated precision of her songwriting, a trait shared by Tirzah, who had just released her magnificent nu-soul debut. Lucy Dacus’s amicable nonchalance was more harmonious with the self-effacing verve of her own indie rock, at times vulnerable and also triumphant, while Big Thief sounded fine, but were missing something… not something as arbitrary or buzzwordy as a “spark”, but rather a genuine note of urgency. Given how much they’ve been touring, tiredness is understandable, if slightly disappointing.

St. Vincent killed it. Rather than stretching to find a balance between style and substance she effortlessly emanated both, a lightshow bombast and vociferous guitar shredding sustained by a perfectly paced setlist and valuable melodic tweaks to songs like ‘Cruel’. Despite the backing of the vast majority of the msuic press, it still somehow, inexplicably, feels like Annie Clark is in some way underappreciated, the epochal bridge between popstar and rockstar who subverts both those archetypes.

Saturday and Sunday were both days of amicable surprises and long-term favourites delivering the goods. Julien Baker and Omar Souleyman were exceptionally visceral, though both for binary-opposite reasons, and the transition from the former to the latter was funnily jarring. Hookworms, Oh Sees, and James Holden, are probably all in my top ten favourite live acts, so seeing them back-to-back was exhilarating in its most straightforward sense, by turns thrashing and beautiful. Screaming Females, Haley Heynderickx, Richard Dawson, and Amen Dunes are all artists I’m familiar with and have enjoyed, but they were low-key some of my festival highlights, exhibiting an enthusiasm for their own music and underscoring a refined attention to their craft that conspicuously stood them out.

Iceage were the latter-day glam punk icons the Arctic Monkeys think they are. IDLES were as unifying and affirming and straight-up banging as they’ve always been – and in a Summer of seeing them multiple times – it again felt like a gig to treasure as they grow into their capital-G Greatness.

Leaving the tent after IDLES I felt like walking on air, with a spring in my step, with a buoyancy only elusively captured by such clichés. Backgrounded by a pink sunset shadowing the Dorset fields, surrounded by hundreds of people gurning off the thrill of good live music, was a picture-postcard nightcap to my time at EOTR 2018, the festival of memories ending on the most vivid. Its only demand (fee of admission aside) is that you oil the wheels and prop up the scaffolding with passion and empathy, by raising your lukewarm tin to the spotless sky and ensure the pit’s fallen comrade gets to his feet safely. In this way IDLES encapsulate EOTR’s energy; this psychic bond between band and festival, and their adoring crowd.