Within walking distance (just about) from home, Truck is my local festival. But even though it’s just down the road, I’d still never been until this year – and it didn’t disappoint. Truck is a small, intimate festival in the Oxfordshire countryside. Unlike any festival I’ve ever been to, you have to drive through a small rural town to get there. Although most festivals are in fields – with Truck the fact that it’s on a farm is more evident than ever, especially with one of the stages being inside a converted barn! The one thing that really struck me is how friendly it is; parents have no qualms bringing their children along for the weekend, and everybody is happy to help each other. With the local rotary club serving food and a great focus on local music, I can see why people return to Truck year on year.
The first act we saw were Fickle Friends on the main stage. The Brighton-based five-piece made a good stab at getting the crowd going, especially in the sweltering heat. Their breezy indie-pop went down a treat; particularly track ‘Swim’ which made the rounds online in February.
Next up were Flyte in the market place stage (a small brightly-coloured tent). Although the band seemed pretty nervous, they performed a short set of well-written pop songs. With excellent close-knit harmonies, the market place tent soon filled up with revellers. Saint Raymond followed on the same stage, and I was surprised to see how many people came along knowing the words to every song. Saint Raymond has steadily built up an avid fanbase, and this really showed when he played ‘Everything She Wants’ and the crowd knew every word. The camaraderie between bands on the Market Place Stage was apparent, with each act praising the former or those playing after them and sticking about in the crowd with the punters to watch their friends!
We headed back to the main stage to see Catfish and the Bottlemen. Singles like ‘Kathleen’ and ‘Homesick’ got the audience jumping – and we saw our first (but definitely not the last) mosh pits of the weekend! Running back to the market place (stopping quickly for a drink served to us by Douglas Castle from Peace in their cocktail bar takeover) we caught Eliza and the Bear’s set, which was my standout set of the weekend. Truck is a festival where people will go even if they haven’t heard of the music, and just watch whomever they may stumble upon. It’s a testament to Eliza and the Bear’s set how many people just popped into the tent to see what was going on, and didn’t leave until after they’d finished! Their live band was well rehearsed and vibrant, and the live trumpet resonated around the tent.
We headed over to the main stage, and watched Deap Vally from the Ferris wheel (definitely my preferred way to catch live music now!) Proclaiming that they felt like ‘eating some corn’ and telling the audience they could meet them in the cornfields that evening, the duo blitzed their way through an electrifying set.
Little Comets were one of the fan favourites of the weekend – with a totally full tent and everybody singing along, it wouldn’t surprise me if people had come to the festival just to see them! Dan Croll followed, and after seeing him at Blissfields festival a few weeks ago, I knew he wouldn’t disappoint. His soulful vocals, combined with a killer live band made his performance one to remember. His better-known tracks such as ‘Compliment Your Soul’ and ‘Home’ made the crowd go crazy, but not a single song in his half hour set was a let down.
Peace performed before headliners The Cribs on the main stage. Although their set was technically brilliant, with incredible live playing from each member of the band, I didn’t find it very gripping. While singles like ‘Bloodshake’ and ‘Lovesick’ were brilliant, I just felt like something was missing from the set. We dashed back to the market place tent to catch a bit of Los Campesinos! who were magnificent. Frontman Gareth interacted with the crowd with ease, with relaxed banter which included introducing on of their best-known tracks ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ as ‘Creep’ (in reference to Radiohead).
We headed back to the main stage for The Cribs headline set, and unfortunately were left disappointed. After a day of incredible live music, The Cribs concluded with a poor set. Vocals were all over the place, harmonies were dissonant clashing chords, rhythm parts were all over the place and crowd interaction verged on embarrassing. Not even crowd pleaser ‘Men’s Needs’ (which was basically sung by the audience) couldn’t make up for the below par performance.
Although The Cribs left us on a bit of a downer, the Friday at Truck was full of brilliant performances from upcoming bands (who I have no doubt will be headlining festivals like this in five years’ time!)