Truck Festival 2012 review

'The kind of festival that will restore the faith in those that have had it tested'

Photographer:Chloe Chaplin

23 July 2012

That Truck’s 15th anniversary festival is even happening is a triumph in itself. Problems and poor ticket sales dogged last year’s event, and saw it move into the hands of the owners of Derbyshire’s Y Not. With this change came a move to a back to basics approach, and it shows. The festival is refreshingly lacking in ego from top to bottom and there is a genuine sense of community running throughout the site.

It also benefits from a line-up that is a mix of guaranteed indie hit-makers, established bands with critical adoration and solid fanbases, and local heroes.

Clock Opera (7.5/10) are a revelation on the main stage, bathed in green light with lead singer Guy Connolly’s deep, emotive lyrics at times sounding like he should be related to Paul Buchanan. 'Once And For All' brings an until-then sleepy crowd from their knees and sets a marker as the first pivotal musical moment of the weekend.

Tim Minchin (8/10) is a leftfield choice for such a late time on the main stage, but he proves the bookers of Truck right with a set that makes the right balance between stand-up and songs. Somewhere between Frank-N-Furter, Jack Black and Eddie Izzard, he balances moments of silliness like the ‘Cheese’ song with touches of touching sensitivity. Outrageously talented, he’s the sort of bloke that makes you a bit angry that you can only do a couple of things well.

Headliners Mystery Jets (8.5/10) then do exactly what is expected of them and bring the house down with a career-spanning set. Frontman Blaine spins and swivels on his chair at the front as he plays at the keyboard or picks up his guitar. The two big singles from 'Twenty One' - 'Two Doors Down' and 'Young Love' - unsurprisingly garner the biggest sing-alongs of the night, though it's 'Serotonin' and final song 'Flakes' that are the most affecting.

Sunday begins with Kill It Kid (9/10) and they prove once again that they are a band destined for big things. Having seemingly dispensed with the folky noodling and ballads of their debut, they are now a balls-out rock 'n' roll band, even when they are playing 'Wild And Wasted Waters', a Woody Guthrie cover that lead singer Chris prefaces with an urge for the crowd to “stop just listening to synths and get into some real music.”

'Heart Rested With You' has the whole band lurching and twisting across the stage, whilst 'Dirty Water' sees Chris and keyboard player Stephanie brilliantly bouncing off each other’s vocals. With their Zeppelin-inspired Blues they are a must for any fans of the Jack White school of rock and roll.

Afterwards, Dog Is Dead (7/10) draw a teen-heavy crowd, and it is easy to see why with their Maccabees-esque harmonies and instantly danceable tunes. With their first album due later in the year, it seems the boys from Notts have all the raw materials to become bona-fide indie darlings.

The low-key Americana of The Low Anthem (7/10) sits well with the early evening crowd and a stage glowing orange. At times, though, their music drags a little, and something more is needed to get the pulses racing. Fortunately, they do that with their last two songs, especially a cover of Tom Waits’ 'Down There By The Train' that glories in its use of the clarinet and is dramatic enough to comfortably be declared the stand-out tune of the weekend.

Frightened Rabbit (8/10) then draw the 2nd Stage’s biggest crowd of the weekend, and they perform the punchy but emotional card perfectly. They look visibly moved by the reactions of the crowd to tunes such as 'The Twist', and when they ask the audience to help them with an ‘aaah’ during 'Swim Until You Can’t See Land', they get assistance in abundance. It's a powerful spectacle, and solidifies the proposition that they could and should transmit their music to a wider audience.

Chock full of bands, Truck is the kind of festival that will restore the faith in those that have had it tested by the follies and hipster posturing of some of its contemporaries. Its back to basics approach and simple layout – not to mention the fact it sold out - show that the festival spirit is alive and well in this country. All hail.

By David Hillier



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