Monday, 26 July 2010


So Friday took me for the first time in my life down to Oxford! Oxford, the land of dreams, of charming old buildings enlightened tourists and anxious students on the verge of nervous breakdowns, I felt cleverer just being there. But alas no, I was not there to sample the delights of the colleges or indulge in a little splurge at the covered market, which I must admit I thought was called the cupboard market, a whole market for cupboards? I thought, those crazy clever Oxfordians, whatever next?! I had travelled down to this lovely part of the south to make my way to Hill Farm for the annual Truck festival. For England it was rather roastie toastie on the Saturday and much of the day was spent lolling around in the sunshine getting glitter tattoos and picking grass. This was a particularly lovely past-time in front of the main stage. Unlike the larger festivals, there was no oppressive need to get to know your fellow fans underarms or spend an entire set being nudged in the head by adolescent moshers (aren't you glad you aren't 5"3). Many festival goers were happy to lie on the grass and let the music come to them. Power to you hippies.

As with any festival, I didn't get to see every musically talented soul on this verge of grass, but I will pick out some of the highlights and regale you with tales from my whimsical weekend, in no particular order.

Borderville (boredomville is a bit harsh..)

I was pretty excited to see Borderville, had heard only good things about them and their self styled cabaret theatricality. Gracing the main stage is the perfect place to showcase this flamboyance. My anticipation was heightened by the fact that the four piece were joined by 'Glamour' a string quartet. Dulled by a false start, blamed by vocals, Joe Swarbrick on a hangover, they went on to deliver a rather tame performance, and in fact my companions had begun twiddling their thumbs and looking bored by the third song. To add insult to injury, Mr Swarbrick went on to shamelessly plug and encourage listeners to make their way to the front to purchase their piece of quirky heaven. I still think there is potential, perhaps a smaller stage would have been a better place for them to shine, but their slightly predictable pop riffs and lyrics didn't go down a storm on such a large space that they sadly just couldn't fill.

Good Shoes

Good shoes seem to be a vocalisation for indie teen generation dreaming, no matter how dark 'No Hope, No Future' (name says it all) is pitched. Besides 'Everything I do' which I consider to be just a bit strange, these London lads lived up to what they are meant to be, to fifteen year olds that is. Their small army of fans could be seen strutting in Good Shoes merchandise up and down the grassy fields, gulping down their underage beer and insisting on declaring love for Rhys Jones (or a strong steady handshake) whenever he chanced a quiet moment with people of his own age. Not my cuppa chai, but made a lot of young people happy.

La Shark, pretty insane if you ask me...

With zilch prior knowedge of La Shark, I didn't know what to expect. If I'm honest I only stumbled into their set as they were playing between two other bands I wanted to see. My first thoughts were, 'oh no, not another one...' by that I mean bands that take their so-cool-it-hurts level to the point of being plain ridiculous. Each wearing boiler suits, or playing half a set with your long hair (not on the undercut side) covering your face, wearing masks, that sort of thing, generally turns me off. But these guys were so watchable, particularly lead vocals, Samuel Geronimo Deschamps (surely not?) who informed the crowd that despite his erm... otherworldly behaviour and profuse sweating, this was the first gig he had played 'sober.' Before ploughing off the stage in a frenzy and leaping without forewarning into a backflip. Luckily for him, there seemed to be an intuitive crowd decision that this copacabana style shirt wearing man was going to do something unexpected and the best thing was to steer clear to avoid a nasty yet no doubt colourful accident. They all looked mightily pleased at their unwillingness to be ordinary, and I was pleased for them. Yet for all their exuberance and energy, on being advised to jump on the ground when Geronimo did on numerous occasions, he was left on his own to stand carpet burns as his trendy counterparts looked on. Better luck next time lads. 

Is Tropical

As aforementioned, I just don't really get group masking techniques. Watching these chaps set up, my time was spent wondering just how they get their hair quite so peculiar. But a short soundcheck later the faces that everyone had seen were covered up by a slightly pretentious Michael Jackson style masking device. Apparently this is to eliminate the idea of a front man within the band. I can see how that worked, because behind a mask they were all non-entities, completely... Singing through a mask lost any words, or meaning or connection with the audience, which was unfortunate, because having listened to their recorded stuff, they aren't all that bad, strange hair or not. It also kind of grossed me out to see them drinking through the mask, imagine the smell! I didn't really feel any the wiser for having seen them, but their stuff is good, check it out.

Egyptian Hip Hop (awww)

My first thoughts when I saw these foursome setting up, were surely not?! They look so young! But that should definetly not be a reason not to take them seriously, even if they aren't egyptian, or playing hip hop. Behind those nervous wrinkle free fresh faces are clearly tick tocking thoughts of complicated and intricate melodies. The rabbit in the headlights look that continued throughout their set was understandable for their instrument swapping, mac touching ways. The sound in the 'Village Pub' stage did them no favours. As with other bands I had seen in there, the vocals were not as clear as they could have been, but this was not the fault of the band. Recently produced by Sam Eastgate from 'Late of The Pier' fame. With a string of festival dates up and down the country this summer, I see bigger and better things for these seventeen year old darlings.

Ms Dynami-teeehee

My only criticism of Truck, was that before the Barn stage, the crowd control was useless, for want of a better word, despite about 15 'Crowd Safety Officers.' It was not their fault that there was a crush getting in, but it wouldn't have taken much for an event organiser to arrange a better queuing sysem for their ever inflating ticket price. There didnt seem to be much sense in a squashed single file queue where people were jumping the barriers, just to get in to find there was still a lot of space left. Once through the squish (holding onto my chums hands so as not to get swallowed in the bodies), 'The Barn' was rather civilised, despite the ever present smell of cow manure. Well, civilised until the douche in front of me peed on the floor and a rather intoxicated 80's throwback 'skinhead girl' decided to dance in it in a slightly strange slidey movement. The crowd chanted 'Dynamite' and I didn't know what to expect. Having not released an album since 2004, and my most recent recollection being her 2002 album 'A Little Deeper,' I was surprised about her popularity, especially since she made it to the stage nearly an hour late. This aside, when she did arrive, along with DJ Free and sincere apologies, my hesitations and pre judgements were entirely unfounded. She is a true performer and even the stoniest of trendy indie kids couldn't help but jump around. My favourite part was her drum and bass finale with DJ Zinc, and I can honestly say I would see her again.

DJ Zinc

I was most looking forward to DJ Zinc, and was not dissapointed. Happy memories of driving too fast to Arena albums came flooding back and his fill for Ms Dynamite's lateness was greatly received. Legend.


Already a fan of Stornoway and their infectious mix of Belle and Sebastianesque vocals and catchy easy listening set up, my review of them could be a little biased. I read recently that drummer Rob is on his gap year between school and university, but he's thinking about deferring his place at Birmingham University for another year. I think I can say quite safely, that lovely as Birmingham is, he can take that 'risk.' Having played the 'BBC Introducing...' stage just last year, the step up to the main stage in their home town is a great achievement. Onwards and upwards, I am a little bit in love...

Overall Truck was great fun and value for money, the food and drinks were not overpriced like so many festivals, and served by the local Rotary club. On top of that, all profits go to charity, which can't be a bad thing! Sadly I lost my watch there, but I am hoping event organisers may find it before a cow does. It can't be good for cow intestines. I was pleased to see families, although underagers could be irritating at times. If you prefer your festivals chilled out and chatty to hardcore drug infested raves, this ones for you. See you next year Truck.

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