Truck Festival, Hill Farm, Steventon : Sat July 23/Sunday 24
Diverse line-up and hippy ethnic make this small countryside festival the son of Glasto
If Michael Eavis decides he likes his holiday next June a bit too much, then he can retire happy in the knowledge that Glastonbury has a worthy successor in Truck. Co-founder Robin Bennett of Goldrush (who play a triumphant homecoming set on Saturday) tells NME he would even be prepared to cultivate an Eavis-style beard. Set on a farm in Oxfordshire, this is a small festival with a big soul. “But where are the mobile-phone recharging stations?” you ask. V’s that way, pal. The most corporate thing you get at Truck is some Fyffes bananas branding on the smoothie tent – from which all profits, as is the case for the whole event, go to charity.
Appropriately for a festival that doesn’t give a Truck about fashion, Biffy Clyro headline on Saturday and Team Biffy is out in force for this pre-season friendly. Many hours earlier, the beautifully bucolic Eighteenth Day Of May literally kick things off, trying to instigate a “folk riot” with the throwing of the weekend’s first plastic pint glass.
But it’s the Mystery Jets who are the ideal band for this festival: out of sync with everything and all the better for it. God only knows what’s prompted them to create this deranged, funky sound, which is more than can be said for the very, ahem, known pleasures of Editors. Having said that, they prove so popular, we can’t get into the barn where they’re playing. We were hoping to hilariously describe Battle as sub-Editors, but ‘Isabelle’ is good enough to divert attention from the smell of cowshit, just like Patrick Wolf’s cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ diverts attention from his Dickensian street urchin/mullet combo. Briefly.
With the Trailer Park Tent overflowing for The Young Knives, we opt instead for Absentee’s gorgeous, countrified take on The Velvet Underground. Talking of the Velvets, The Raveonettes feature their legendary drummer Moe Tucker – on tape, unfortunately – and their tales of urban sleaze make much more sense than they should out in the countryside.
If Truck really is the new Glastonbury, then Sunday’s got the weather in the bag. Rain sends the lily-livered packing, but the hardened Truckers party on in the barn. This gives Winnebago Deal twice their usual crowd, though their thrash-grunge is oddly muted. Brakes have no such trouble, with the Tenderfoot/Electric Soft Parade/British Sea Power love-in drawing the dancing types. ‘All Night Disco Party’ might explain why the organisers are feeling hazy today. “We were in the acoustic tent until late and the sound kept going off,” says Robin. “It was the same generator as the tea urn, so every time someone made a brew, the PA cut out.” With Truck being as loved-up as it is lo-fi, Towers Of London sadly don’t need the beefy security they’ve laid on for that rumoured bottling. ¡Forward Russia! have more luck, chucking themselves around like somebody hid At The Drive-In’s Ritalin. By now the sun’s out and only The Magic Numbers will do. They beam through the hits and hits-to-be, before treating us to a beautiful version of The Smiths’ ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’. And as we leave, with a firm promise to return next year, a lady asks over the tannoy that all tent pegs are removed, “because the cows are coming back tomorrow and they don’t like them”. Keep on Trucking.
Nathaniel Cramp/Rebecca Nicolson