Truck Festival 2009: Rated!
Hill Farm, Steventon, Oxfordshire - 25-26 July
Overall - 9/10
Thomas Truax, musician/entertainer/inventor extraordinaire, while declaring his love for Truck during his Sunday night set in the Beat-Hive, sums up this weekend in one sentence: "You can walk from one end to the other in five minutes, meet everyone along the way and the rest is just a big party." The cosy capacity of just over 5,000 plus 120 bands across five stages over two days really does make it feel like a big party. The up and coming indie bands dominate the Barn Stage, while the Ash and Supergrass headline the Truck Stage.
You can almost watch two bands at once - four of the stages are that close together. There's no separate VIP area here so everyone hangs out in one field with many bands inviting everyone to meet them at the bar later (there's only one bar too). The Barn turns into a rave after midnight, the Village Pub Stage hosts Sweet Lady Genevieve's Rock n Roll Party indie disco and/or you can just head over to the camping field where DJs will keep you rockin' through the night. This is just about as independent as you can get for a festival. All of the above for a mere £70 with nearly all profits going to charity, what more could you ask for.
Getting there and back – 8/10
There are trains to Didcot followed by an easy bus journey to Steventon or ticket-holders can share a cab with other Truckers from Didcot Station for a few quid each, but it's too far walk from the station to the site, so don't try. There are also buses from Oxford and this year a cheap festival bus service from central London directly to/from the site. Driving is also quick and easy, but is discouraged so parking will set you back £10.
The site – 8/10
Farmer Alan Binning moves the cows out of the barn into the neighbour's field his lovely Hill Farm, which is set in the picturesque village of Steventon, Oxfordshire. Head Truckers, Robin and Joe Bennett can then move their crew in as corn fields are fenced off, the grass is cut and stages big and small take shape. There are plenty of recycle points and a very diligent Truck cleaning crew that keep the site immaculate through out the weekend. It does, however, take a while to get use to the smell of cow dung at the Barn Stage.
Atmosphere – 9/10
The atmosphere is a cross between a village fete and a school leavers’ end of term party accompanied by the best soundtrack you could imagine. The food tent is run by the local Rotary Club – what a mighty fine burger they cook - and the Village Pub Tent is run by, you guess it, the village pub. The majority of the local residents get involved in this festival and everyone seems to know each other. Their generous hospitality makes outsiders feel right at home. The glue that binds the ambience is everyone's love of good indie music. Leave your attitude at home as it won't be welcome here. Come to Truck expecting to discover your new favourite band and making loads of new friends along the way.
Music – 9/10
This is a tastemakers’ festival. From full on indie rock to alt-folk to lo-fi electronica, even Malian blues man Vieux Farka Toure, son of late Ali Farka Toure, makes an appearance. The line-up includes stars of tomorrow as well as established stars of the past and present. Come with an open mind and you won't see a bad performance. There is overwhelming support for local Oxford acts with the always-amazing-live Supergrass and The Candyskins keeping the Britpop torch lit, plus newer Oxford bands like Stornoway, The Epstein and From Light To Sound to mention a few.
A Place To Bury Strangers – 9/10
Apparently, much to this reviewer's perplexed horror, some people don't get these New York City rockers. As some shift closer to the stage, others move away mouthing things like “too loud” as they go. These are the deafening, dirty, pounding rhythms your mother warned you about. You'll be sucked into the scuzz rock vortex and taken away to the most euphoric rock guitar heaven ever imagined. What's not to get about that?
The Xcerts – 8/10
Young and tremendously entertaining rockers The Xcerts have all of the angst with none of the anger. They have melodic hooks abound throughout their uplifting set. Watched by Sam Isaac, Frank Turner and Sam 'Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.' Duckworth in a packed Barn Stage on Sunday, it would appear they're as much a 'band's band' as they are a fan's band.
Young Husband - 8/10
Getting up for a band at 11am on a Sunday after an all night rave in the camping field is almost unimaginable. Imagine, we did, and what a joy to discover this band playing their first ever festival. The unfeasibly young looking Euan Hinshelwood AKA singer/mastermind of Young Husband has a remarkable grasp of good American psych pop. Here we have an indie college radio star in waiting. This may be the first (of many) festivals for this line-up, however Hinshelwood and drummer, Pete Baker, can also be found backing up Emmy The Great in her band.
Ash – 8/10
They introduced their new single, 'Spaceshot', which is Ash back to their best. The entire field dances in delight throughout the two-hour Saturday headline slot on the Truck Stage.
Isn't it always the weather: hot and sunny on Saturday – great. Cold, cloudy and very windy on Sunday - dull.
Missing most of Hot Rats' set
Only managing to squeeze into the Barn Stage Sunday afternoon for Hot Rats, AKA Gaz and Dan from Supergrass, at the very end (but we did see their cover of The Cure's 'Love Cats' which was brilliant).
Missing Pulled Apart By Horses' entire set
As the rain threatened Sunday early evening, a clever dAsh back to pack up the tent successfully beating the looming deluge leaves us feeling smug. Then the realisation dawning that we had just missed Pulled Apart By Horses. Fail. (Reports back say it was an outstanding set).
Brighton's hardcore punk band The Ghost Of A Thousand's singer Tom Lacey is the ring-leader of chaos at their set in the Barn by jumping in the crowd, starting a circle pit, yet somehow keeping hold of the mic and still singing. For the average festival security staff, this is a nightmare and things can get ugly. But for the stocky, somewhat scary looking, security guard in the Barn, not only did he help Lacey in and out of the pit (on several occasions), tend to punters needing assistance and hold the microphone cord above everyone's head, he did so with the most enormous smile you've ever seen, as if he was a god-like creature protecting his flock. Now that is punk rock. Job well done sir.
By Alison Kerry