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Truck Festival - Hillside Farm, Steventon 25th July 2004

Refreshed after a good night’s sleep on curiously high beds, we trundle through the sun-kissed Oxford countryside back to Truck to be greeted by the blank eyed stares of those who have spent the night under canvas. People slump wearily on the grass waiting for the breakfast beers to kick in and for The Evenings to prepare toast and jam Live! Onstage!

'Can everyone take a step back -people are getting crushed here. Sadly I miss this crumb-based extravaganza. I’m busy wondering if you can put vodka in a banana smoothie and watching The Relationships strum out their shimmery, spiralling guitar pop. It sounds like 80s Byrdsy janglers (and Kitten homies) The Avons, which is a mighty fine sound to start the day with. At the front a small girl jumps up and down furiously waving a sparkly streamer above her head. It’s the most enthusiastic reaction to first-band-on syndrome ever. She’s joined by the hippy with a ribbon in his hair who seems to swirl on regardless throughout everything. The Relationships play a song called ‘Living In A House With Brian Jones’. Says it all really.
Not sure who to choose to see next, we peruse the programme for inspiration and are intrigued by its description of Chris McMath as ‘one of the most eccentric and imaginative solo performers of a generation.’ Blimey! Over to the Trailer Park tent it is. Now, far be it for me to accuse the Truck programme writers of hyperbole, but all I can see is a nondescript bloke doing quirky solo acousto strummage. S’alright, but nothing spesh. He could at least make us some jam sandwiches or something with The Evenings’ leftover ingredients.

There’s still an air of dazedness to everyone as we tiptoe out the back of the tent and over to the Barn for some kidz poonk rawk shoutyness from Red Shift. They’ve got those guitars that go ggg ggg gggg bludgeon, bludgeon and the singer has a good ‘Yaaarrrr!’ teenage poonk voice. As I’m not a 17 year old boy wearing them baggy trousers it’s not really my thing, but if I was I’d think this Rocked. Dude. Plus it’s quite exciting to be standing in a cowshed on a Sunday morning with a glitterball sparkling overhead and NOISE ricocheting off the concrete floor, rather than stacking bales or something.

Chikinki

It’s time we glammed up in this here cowshed, so here come Chikinki with their masht up beats and weirdy weebly keyboard soundz. They sound like they’ve taken the freak-out stratosphere-canoodling bits of Super Furry Animals and built monstrous floor crunching dippy dance pop songs out of them. There are lush melodies and funky bits and bleeps and it’s all jolly invigorating, although the singer seems to take his strutting hipstered Jaggerism rather seriously. Come on, it’s a laugh mate. Check out your mad scientist bespectacled keyboard man, now there be cool.

Stumbling out of the barn, we feel like we’ve been to a proper gig, and eagerly look around for the next bundle of pop fun. A fine squonking noise is ratcheting from the Trailer Park tent, so we squeeze our way in to find the Young Knives are curly blokes playing itchy guitars. They belt out scratchy, angular tunes laden with insistently groovy half-witted riffs. The singer has a semi Feargal Sharkey warble to his voice (but without the Sharkster’s latterday wankerage) and does an ace jump off of an amp, flying high above our heads, but luckily not ripping through the tent’s canvas ceiling.

The Young Knives
Onwards! Boo it’s started to rain, but then, hurrah! It’s stopped again. To the Barn to dance like a loon as The Cribs throw themselves hither and thither across the stage, snorting out their tumultuous, exuberant songs. The Cribs are pop stars and their set is over far too quickly for my liking.

The best thing to do now is to immerse oneself in some cabaret rock with lashings of campness, so here’s Do Me Bad Things in the Trailer Tent. They are frankly, horrifying. There are four meat ‘n’ potatoes big hairy rock men ripping out sleazy, scuzzy riffage. So far so what you say, but look closer. The two guitarists who look like they’re from any ten a penny shifty garage combo are wearing bright slashes of red lipstick to compliment their trucker caps and long hair.
The Cribs can fly!
Do Me Bad Things - aieee! And argh! What’s this? A skinny man in the same lipstick and a pink leopard skin shirt is writhing about the stage shrieking in a theatrical manner, the big queen. He’s backed by a motley looking trio of ladies belting it out in a similarly overboard way. Do Me Bad Things seem not so much a band as a theatre troupe and their set has the air of a musical that’s been hi-jacked by rock ‘n’ roll reprobates as the lead vocalists chop and change amongst the nine-strong band personnel. It all looks like ace fun and seems queasily alien in the bright white confines of this tent.

Staggering out, we seize upon Kaito’s squeaky beaty fabness to charm our alarmed senses before sheltering in the merch tent, talking to Gary Crib and clutching a falafel (which is eyed hungrily by the Chikinki singer – careful, you won’t be able to squeeze into those hipsters any more).

It’s 5 o’clock – time for a bit of class, eh? What could be more classy than an orchestra? Unless it’s The Orff Orchestra playing to a crammed Lounge Tent. When I say playing, I mean various drunken Schla La Las clad in evening dress and masks plus a Black Madonna all hollering out spine chilling versions of top pop faves like ‘How Soon Is Now’ to a massed kazoo accompaniment. But hey, this is an equal opportunities song mangling environment, kazoos are handed out to the audience and we’re all ready for a cathartic (in the same way that vomiting can be cathartic) rendering of ‘Daydream Believer’. This is great. A bloke next to me is having problems playing his kazoo, ‘You’ve got it the wrong way round’ prompts an Orffer. He turns it round and blows feverishly before sulkily declaring, ‘This kazoo’s rubbish.’ I consider explaining to him how to play a kazoo, but it’s really not worth it, is it?

The larks continue back in the Trailer Tent with gonzoid sludge rock trio The Black Madonnas. They play big dumb knee-trembling songs of funky shoutyness like ‘Cross Fire’ full of fuzzzz and ‘c’mooaan!!’s and ‘Dirty River’ full of low-down bass and squawling guitar. In his red jacket, the singer looks like a cross between a deranged ringmaster and a batty toff riding out with the hounds. Meanwhile, the guitarist is rocking the ‘I’m just wearing whatever I grabbed off the floor (in 1984)’ look with a ‘vintage’ (i.e. jumble) Radio 1 tee shirt. But never mind the band, check out the audience. A gaggle of eye-linered young boys bounce their way to the front and start laying down some fine ‘n’ funky ‘interpretative’ dance moves. These are soon augmented with some avant garde stripping. Boy one removes his tee shirt and uses his scarf as a er, bra. Boy two goes for gold and just pulls down his trousers and pants, continuing to jump about all the while. Some Schla La Las (still drunken) join in (the dancing) po-going and punching the air. This is the best audience reaction since the little girl with the ribbon. The Black Madonnas - roll up roll up
Time for one more band before we leave this haven of pop nonsense. So to the Lounge Tent, where a drunk old man is passed out on the settee, for the Youth Club Tape Club Crew. This consists of some Lesbo Pigs, but mainly Winston Echo, a round, curly-haired boy, playing simple sing-song folk-pop on guitar with shamble beat drumming.. There’s a song about being a pirate called ‘Aaargh!’ Which gets the drunk bloke roused enough to shout, ‘Fuck you and your family!’ ‘Thanks!’ replies Mr Echo. This is incredibly funny. We all clap along happily to another song, glad to be doing something useful. The short, sweet set is thoroughly endearing and quite soothing after the preceding chaos. We’re left with the warm glow of community and not having filled the coporate coffers as we amble off over the fields into the sunset.
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