review archive

Truck Festival - Hillside Farm, Steventon 24th July 2005

“We are stardust, we are golden. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the, uh, cowshed.” We’re lounging on the grass, first vodka and cokes happily sliding down our throats and Joni’s kind of appropriately belting out ‘Woodstock’ over the PA. Excellent, someone’s remembered to pack more than one cd to play between bands this year. Our journey back to the garden of earthly delights that is Truck has involved ousting regulars from their customary seats on the 35a from Oxford. They look on in disgust as their local bus for local people is taken over by the scruffy old kidz with their scummy sleeping bags and er boxes of wine (hey, this is middle England).

Kitten says, 'Be Prepared festival revellers'
Get in line, sunshine Having trundled prettily to the festival entrance, we’re taken aback by the sight of an enormous queue snaking its way out across the car park field. Huh? We just strolled in last year. This is what happens when you use new-fangled internet-no-tickets-sent-out booking systems. S-l-o-w-l-y we edge to the front, past piles of empty vodka/whiskey/beer bottles. There’s no glass allowed on site you see, it being a working farm and all, don’t want to hurt the cows tootsies/ puncture the tractor’s tyres, eh? I’m just hoping the contents of those empties has been decanted into placcy bottles and not down people’s necks, or we could be about to enter a field of comatose bodies.

We make it through the gates in time to take a quick turn around the site, buy cokes from the tea stall and make it back to the acoustic tent in time for The Eighteenth Day of May. Hurrah! I love the May and their gorgeous pastoral psych-folk strimblings. This setting suits them to a t(ee-pee), too; clouds a-scudding, trees a-rustling, green fields a-stretching, so it’s a shame that they’re stuck out here in the wee acoustic tent (next to the organic beer stall, mind), before folks have had a chance to acclimatise themselves to the weekend’s rustic proceedings.

Hurrah! EDOM
The band gamely twangle through a set which includes ‘Good King Wenceslas’ soundy-likey ‘Eighteen Days’ and marvy recent single and top song about hanging ‘The Highest Tree’. A butterfly (okay, it’s a moth, but let’s at least try to be poetic) lands in the hair of the girl in front of me as drummer, Karl, gets out a where’s-me-washboard autoharp to strum during the trad. ‘Lady Margaret’. Meanwhile, a gaggle of uncouth boys can be seen through the back of the tent leaping about in ironic hey-nonny-no fashion. They’re taking the piss, but it occurs to me that a tent bulging at the seams with people high on fermented apples throwing down jigs and, er, stripping the willow, would go down a treat here. And anyone who’s counted up their bruises after a proper Celidh will tell you, folk musicians are hard as.
Zea, buring Indie Pop, years ago. Back in the main field, the place is filling up rapidly. This year there are queues for things like beer and toilets, whereas last year you could just stride on in there. Up on the Truck stage, Villareal trundle on with some sort of bubblegummy sounds and we kick back in the glimmering sun with a ‘cocktail’ or two. Ahh, this is pleasant…hang on, here are The Mystery Jets, doing a sort of post-millennial Specials skank amidst much clattering and funkery. They do their single, ‘You Can’t Fool Me Dennis’ and the kidz all get up down the front and wobble to the eccentric lumpy pop vibe. I get bored and wander into the Trailer Park tent just in time to see rinky-dink techno scamps Zea derangedly hammering out the tooth-rattling, ‘We Buried Indie Rock Years Ago’ whilst throttling themselves with guitar leads. I wake up a bit. There’s just time for The Schla La Las to admire my nail varnish (called ‘Melt’ how very goth) before we go to inspect Summer Of Mars in the Barn. Now, SOM look good on paper, ex-Vera Cruise, links to that Glaswegian lovely pop-rock scene, a new record that’s, yow! ‘haunting’ AND ‘melodic’. In reality, they turn out to be a bit dull, whilst the smell of cowdung in here is so strong it starts taking on a hallucinatory quality and I feel myself drifting back to childhood. Cripes.
Back out in the fresh air, we learn that a field in broad daylight is not really conducive to eyelinered up prowling pop like what Cherubs are cranking out on the Truck stage. They’re sort of ‘Planet Earth’ meets Josef K, i.e. more of that FF-inspired cranky, moody early 80s stuff. I’m bored of that now. Then there’s Sexy Breakfast, yeah cheers, nice name, ‘You wanna Rock right at the back?!’ they cry, ‘…’ says the audience. They proceed to do sort of bleepy, rappy, ravey-davey bibbling sampley stuff. I don’t know, I’m feeling a bit bibbling myself.
Never mind though, ‘cos it’s time to stand up for The Schla La Las, who’re looking radiant in white Marilyn Monroe halter-neck billow dresses. The sun blazes down hotly as they cheerily rattle through a thrills ‘n’ spills aplenty set. Thrill! As Hanna and Piney rock their guitars back to back like old geezers do. Spill! your vod and coke as you dance like a mental to ‘Are You Ready’. Piney spits out a petulant ‘Shallow Girl’, ‘Hawaiian’ comes out sounding particularly discordant, there’s the crotchety garage rumble of ‘Bitch’ and then a spot of cheerleading as George fixes a broken string, ‘We’re at Truck! We don’t give a…’
Into the Trailer Park tent now, for Motormark’s addled, ferocious disco. Blamma blamma! it goes as Jane Motoro marches authoritatively about the stage looking like Jamie from Vichy Government if he went completely loopy and turned up in drag to wreck your wedding. She’s barking to the beatz being thwacked out of the drum-machine as a luxuriantly lipsticked Marko Poloroid cranks out scariness on his guitar. They viciously rip through a marvellously stentorian version of ‘My Sharona’. Its disorientating chaotic greatness with a steely grip on your shoulder.
Battered and dazed we stagger over to the Barn to check out them there Editors, but it turns out everybody else here has the same plan. Like some kind of heavy-handed ‘following the herd’ metaphor made flesh, there’s big queue to get into the cowshed. I remember my old Granny's dictum, 'Never queue to get into a cowshed' and we wander off to revel in the joy that is the Edible 5Ft Smiths’ gleefully shouty grungey pop and marvel at the aceness of Bod, the coolest bass lady since Debbie Googe. Then it’s time for the ever-entertaining The Young Knives who throw in some dance moves amongst their catchily clanging songs of urgent dancing to the radio and purposeful good sounds. Henry twists his body in unfeasible ways, handstanding on the bass-drum, flicking out nifty kicks and spins. Splendid work.
Simon's Alphabetical Beard

I seem to be thoroughly ensconced in the Trailer Park tent now and as I’m waiting eagerly for Fonda 500, there seems little point in moving. This turns out to be a good plan as 65 Days Of Static are a revelation. They play devastating music for these pre-apocalyptic times, twisting swathes of post-rockin’ wonderment into terrifying new shapes by adding the terrifying crunch of drum ‘n’ bass beats. It sounds vicious and moving, and the brief hollow of silence that’s left once the final song fades is soon filled with the audience’s impassioned chant of ‘we want more!’ Kitten Painting band of the weekend.

Brrr, luckily we can shake off the icy grip of beautiful desolation 65 Days have cast across the tent with the turbo discotheque wonderment of Fonda 500 who go for a hyper good timez mix of tippy top pop tunes, including the plinky knees-up of ‘Computer Freaks of the Galaxy’ and joyful golden oldie ‘Super Chimpanzee’, plus a clap-your-hands-say-yow! cover of Brakes’ ‘All Night Disco Party’. Plus of course there’s Bod, the coolest bass lady since D. Googe, making her second appearance of the day. We dance ourselves silly, lost in their blunder woogie-land.

By now we’ve seen what we came for (a large man in a woolly hat adorned with fluffy bears ears singing, ‘Simon’s Alphabetical Beard’ - damn it’s funky), but decide to have a squint at The Raveonettes on the Truck stage. After the last few gloriously messy hours in the Trailer Park tent, it’s like being at a proper serious pop concert, with swooshing lights and excitable fans lined up on the front barrier. The Raveonettes fizz glacially and all the young girls nod along dispassionately. The first half of the set is filled with tracks from new lp ‘Pretty In Black’, with those Mary Chain fuzzbombs of old replaced with a picture perfect retro sound, tied up tight with vintage 50s ribbon. Blonde befringed Sharin introduces one song with, ‘We were privileged to record this song with Mo Tucker of the Velvet Underground. Mo couldn’t be here tonight…’ A ha ha ha! This makes me giggle lots and we decide it’s probably time to climb onto the 35a back to Oxford, blinking in the dark, shivering at the sound of Biffy Clyro wafting through the English summer night.
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