Truck Festival

Keeping it low-key and grassroots, your friendly village festival plays host to the slacker king. Hill Farm, Steventon, Oxfordshire (July 19 – 20)

Midday, Saturday. While grime blares from the nearby Beat Hive, a vicar counts his money. “Twenty… 40… 50 pence change. Thank you.” This is how it works at Truck. When you need an ice-cream, you go see the vicar. As festivals go, Truck’s always been the village fete that punched above its weight. There are Rotarians on the (cheap) chips stall, and a cosy, charity feel across the whole site, so that every time you turn a corner you half-expect to meet someone thwacking a piñata. Sometimes, that can blindside you. Fleeing from one of Youthmovies’ more ‘esoteric’ time signatures, we stumble across some old dudes covering Dodgy’s Number 12 smash ‘In A Room’ reasonably well. Turns out it’s Dodgy. “We’ll take a wage cut to play our new song,” they plead to, at best, muted response… Even These New Puritans look like they’re on holiday, selling out on their monochrome dreams in favour of rocking a few pastel tones, though singer Jack Barnett’s sticking with the chainmail for now, thanks. He’s also blooming into quite the little showman, discarding his guitar to roam the stage, seizing the mic and waggling his finger in time as he froths about “Heracliytus and Thales”. Fruity.

Though still not the fruit everyone’s come to admire. With a missed flight and a cancelled gig already on his account this weekend, pundits are questioning whether Evan ‘Troubled’ Dando is going to make it here at all. Exchanging cigarette for plectrum in one fluid movement, Ev jangles out the first chord of the classic album ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’, which The Lemonheads are here to play in full (minus ‘Mrs Robinson’, natch). Dressed Gap-casual, he looks mainly unaged since the days when he was hanging from the rafters at Oasis gigs. There may be no words beyond two soft ‘thank you’s, but there’s still a powerful authority to his presence. Beneath the blank composure and hair that falls over his often-closed eyes, he offers small signs he’s still with us, like when he changes ‘My Drug Buddy’ to ‘My Truck Buddy’. As they exit, we’re left with two images. One: a great songwriter reappraised and renewed. Another: a performer who’s still uncomfortable with performing. But wouldn’t it be heresy for the slacker generation’s king to try too hard?

Gavin Haynes