Truck Festival 2005

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Andrew Future | 24 July 2005

Hill Farm, Steventon. 23-24 July.

Held at Hill Farm in Steventon, outside Oxford, Truck is where proper indie kids go. Half the bands are unheard of, the food is cheap, the booze is cheaper, the people are dead friendly and there's not a brand name to be seen. Anywhere.

When it started in 1998, the idea was to have a true alternative to the beer weekenders, with a dodgy rave geezer running a dance tent in a barn and a main stage constructed from two trucks, giving the festival its the name. Needless to say it's all a lot more professional now, yet from the second you walk in, Truck has the inimitable charm of a festival unmolested by corporate hands.

The festival site resembles a huge school fete. The Rotary Club run the food stand, the wine is 1.25 a cup and the stages consist of a barn, various small marquees and the main stage which is outdoors. Like Glasto, the barn smells of cow's arse, although this could be the Biffy fans.

Day one (Saturday) features an array of delights, which range from Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly (acoustic troubadour versus laptop electronica) through the Interpol-raping Editors (chart hitting Brummy badboys) and of course DJ Badger (who played a blinding 'set').

Of course for the thirty quid entry fee you can't expect superstars and this of course has upsides and downsides. The upside is that you get a clutch of truly decent new bands. Take the proggy, post-grunge ravings of Essex trio Engerica for instance. And of course you get to see the likes of soon-to-be-megastars Battle, doling up their Cure-ist, post-punk with gushings of effects pedals pop like there's no tomorrow. The equally raucous Kaibosh go down equally well on the Lounge Stage (a small tent rather than a sofa) - a twisted hulk of de-tuned riffs and firey dynamics.

Editors totally ram the barn - with many left outside for their mid-afternoon set. Not surprising given their recent chart success and blanket press. Reassuringly, they are as good as we expect, grilling through their dour but often beautiful debut record, The Back Room.

Naturally, the problem with Truck is that quality control is often a problem. There are so many shit bands there really is no point naming them. There are many new bands who need to hone their live sets more and there are others who are either embarrassing or just heinously retreading what's gone before. The Operation (Sunday, Trailer Park Stage) make a damn good job of impersonating The Stereophonics, for example.

It must be stated though, that wine at 1.25 does lessen the blow of bad music.

It also makes you forget quite how last century Capdown are. As a live band however, they're probably the best musicians at the whole event. Brutally mashing up ska-punk with varying degrees of singing, shouting and reggae, it's certainly up there with Absentee's set in the Lounge, which is the polar opposite: drab, northern miserabelia by the promising Manc sextet, somewhere between a sludged-out Elbow and late-Pulp.

The Young Knives were always going to be one of the weekend's highlights and for the hordes crammed into the Trailer Park tent, they don't disappoint. To us, the angular, Gang Of Four-ish off-pop sounds the same as everything else. And that's the same story with much of the music on show.

Goldrush - the guys who run Truck - attract a decent enough crowd for their late afternoon singalong but come on, if we're being honest, it's bland, middle-of-the-road fodder than many people do many times better.

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