Truck Festival 2012
Artrocker got man of many words Stuart Gadd and photo whizz Kane Howie down to one of the best new music festivals - Truck
While the absence of Glastonbury this year must be a woad wearing elephant in many festival goer’s rooms, there are still other ways of getting your musical kicks on a farm – Truck Festival is thankfully back. Under new management after going into administration last year, with a pretty unique location, including a barn stage powered for sound by rooftop solar panels, the event on Hill Farm, Steventon provides an unpretentious festival experience as well as an electric mainline to a hot scene in nearby Oxford.
With volunteers from the Oxford Rotary clib serving food the vibe’s wholesome and a nice antidote to trendier events. This means grass roots indie in a musical sense, as well as in that of still being a genuinely independent event. With the festival’s accessible size ( about 4,500, and this year has sold out) its easy to graze plenty of emerging acts alongside some bigger hitters like alternative veterans Future of the Left. Main stage got off to a fine start on Friday with Gabriel Minnikin mimicking Johnny Cash steam train rhythms in rollicking style before Oxford scamps Poledo sound rather like Graham Coxon playing his secret record collection, That is, they bring spastic guitar, sputtered lyric and bass rumble to angular US indie – they’re a cool thing. Birmingham’s John J Presley then bring an impressively individualized take on Nick Cave blues. Out there post rock elements mix with vocals that recall Tom Waits and Joe Cocker as much as their louche, ferocious drummer resembles Jarvis. On the main stage great Oxford hopes Fixers bring deep Beach Boys homage through a gauze of dubby effects (with shades of approbation for their obviously trashed singer) before back at the barn it’s Oxford’s promising and sharp dressed Spring Offensive, whose highly literate miserabilism sounds like Wild Beasts crossed with the Wicker Man soundtrack.
With time for a detour for affordable lentil dahl and onion bhaji’s, evening brings vocal extravagance mixed with nature trappings from Guillemots before Mystery Jets tread the main stage for a headline set that’s enjoyable even if you’re not a massive fan.
On Saturday, bright sunshine mixes with music more suited to the bucolic setting. Oxford’s ToLiesel are a real find, bringing alt country flavoured power pop joy in the vein of Wilco and Son Volt before Oxford space cadets Flights of Helios are exceptional and odd, bringing evocative hints of Elysian 60’s pop like the Zombies as well as Irish lament to some serenely medicated Spiritualized passages. On main stage Emmy the Great has outgrown Shoreditch hipster folk to become an artist of stature, her lilting delivery dropping into some understated musicianship.
Then on main British Sea Power’s set buzzes with cat calls and owl hoots during one of the festival’s highlights. ‘No Lucifer’ sees the crowd calling back its Big Daddy chant also as widescreen sound heads for the horizon while ‘Mongk 2’ brings the buzzing Joy Division dread. In comparison headliners the Temper Trap seem tamed and radio fodder – as farming analogies go though, it’s been a mess of fun.