The 22nd Truck Festival promised to be epic with the current Mercury Prize Winners Headlining on Friday, and originally no less than three out of the twelve nominees for 2019. This was unfortunately cut down to two as Fontaines DC had to pull out of several festivals due to health issues. We wish the band well and look forward to seeing them on the road again soon. They have had a hectic couple of years, culminating in the release of their debut album, Dogrel, and subsequent Mercury prize nomination.
I was gutted that they had dropped out as they were one of the bands at the top of my list to see. None the less I headed down on a sunny Friday looking forward to catching as many of the bands on an excellent bill. Paul, photographer, was already on site and had caught up with the acts on the Thursday, which saw great performances from Swimsuit Competition and The Van Ts. Lady Bird were the perfect warm up for Headliners, Slaves. First on the main Truck Stage on Friday were Candy Says, a local electronic pop band from Oxford.
Then the crowd built rapidly increased for what was going to be an epic set, from the Mercury Prize nominees, IDLES. Singer Joseph Talbot has commented on their new album, Joy As An Act Of Resistance, saying “This album is an attempt to be vulnerable to our audience and to encourage vulnerability; a brave naked smile in this shitty new world.”
So the day after the announcement of a new Prime Minister, this performance was bound to be supercharged. It lived up to expectations with the band exploding onto the stage and during the first song the number of guitarists on stage halved as Mark Bowen jumped into the crowd and crowd surfed. Throughout the hour long set there seemed to be a rule that only one guitarist was allowed on the stage at any one time as Lee Kiernan and Bowan took it in turns to surf the crowd.
In a blistering set that really seemed to have caught the mood, full of political comment, IDLES set was more like a headline performance. This was proper punk! Not bad for 2.30pm, and only the second act on the Truck Stage on the first main day of the festival. They certainly set a high bar for the acts that followed.
The band with the difficult job of following IDLES was Lucia, who were discovered as buskers on the streets of Glasgow and have gone on to play with the likes of Black Honey, The Big Moon, Neon Waltz and The Undertones. Front woman Lucia Fairfull was full of attitude and swagger and every number that was belted out was a banger. They did a really good job and did not seem fazed at all by following the Idles. They are well worth checking out.
As the Truck stage was being reset I checked out the other stages. First was the Market Stage, which is festival’s second stage and the largest indoor stage where Heavy Lungs, a post punk band from Bristol were playing. Then I ventured over to the Nest, a smaller indoor space resembling a small circus tent, Where I discovered Inhaler, a four-piece band from Dublin fronted by Bono’s son, Elijah Hewson.
Next on The Truck stage was the excellent She Drew The Gun. They are a Psych pop band from Liverpool fronted by singer Louisa Roach. They won the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent competition in 2016 and were sure to put on a great set given the current political situation and their politically charged songs. A lot of music throughout history has been about getting social comment out to an audience and She Drew The Gun are very effective at this.
As a complete contrast, Feet, ‘a bunch of Wronguns from Coventry’ were on at The Nest. The bearded bassist was rocking a blue summer dress, and this group of glorious misfits put on a brilliantly funny show. Ironically they played one of their tracks, English Weather, which bemoans the summers we normally have, whilst the Nest was roasting in the muggy heat of the afternoon. I was pleased that I had ventured back to catch this wacky band. Look out for them!
Clean Cut Kid were next on the Truck Stage and were a contrast to the bands on previously. Two of the band members had very impressive beards and I was expecting something fairly heavy. I suppose the presence of a Mellotron should have given it away, but Clean Cut Kid delivered an early 70s American band vibe with fuzzy guitars. Their set was very tight and they played a stand out song, Brother Of Mine, which they dedicated to Harvey. I do not know the back story but this was a very beautiful and poignant moment.
One of the stand out names on the bill for Truck festival was Lewis Capaldi, and he was next up on the main platform. The crowd was building nicely as people were flooding out of the other areas. His backing band, dressed in bright red suits, came on to the Champions League theme.
Then Here Comes The Money, by Naughty By Nature blasted out and Lewis took to the stage like a WWE wrestler, but dressed in black. He told the crowd ‘If you like Rock and Roll you won’t this but if you like chubby guys singing sad songs you are in for a treat’
He belted out a set list of songs that are now becoming standards, and his voice was faultless. In between songs he engaged with the crowd often singling out people to talk to. The funniest moment was when he stalled mid sentence as he noticed a ‘dildo on a stick!’
I was looking forward to seeing Yonaka in the Nest, after having seen them last year supporting The Amazons. The place was now absolutely steaming and Yonaka were raising the temperature even further with their frenetic set.
The band were like whirling dervishes and Theresa Jarvis was like a woman possessed belting out song after song. All of them were bangers and the crowd and band were totally engaged with each other. Theresa seemed to be really pleased with the reaction from the crowd, and Yonaka had managed to draw an impressive crowd coming over from the main stage. The Nest was overflowing, which only goes to prove that Yonaka are one of the best live acts on the scene at the moment.
Nothing But Thieves were the penultimate act on the Truck Stage. After Lewis Capaldi, they had the job of warming up the crowd before Wolf Alice took to the stage. They did a pretty good job of it too. They had the crowd jumping with their funky alt rock. Whilst Lewis Capaldi had induced a lot of cuddling in the crowd, Nothing But Thieves created a lot of crowd surfing and even a guy in the crowd dressed in a lime green full body suit.
The first day proper of the Festival seemed to have gone far too fast when the Friday Headliners took to the stage. Earlier we had seen a Mercury Music Prize nominee, now we were treated to the current holders of that prize, Wolf Alice. Ellie Roswell said ‘ This is exciting we are headlining a festival’, which they are now getting used to after a massive 2019. They looked and sounded, every inch the headliner. The crowd, who were already warmed up were ready for what was always going to be a cracking set. Ellie held them in the palm of her hand number after relentless number.
It was a fitting end to what had been a scorching first day proper. The heat had been relentless, as had some of the acts, but as the night drew to a close the rain set in, and we all wondered if we were going to be in for some of that English Weather that Feet had warned us about. With IDLES and Wolf Alice, it seemed as if it was two days with two headliners. The highlights for me, apart from the second half of the bill on the Truck stage were IDLES and Yonaka. Bands to look out for are She Drew The Gun, Clean Cut Kid, and, if you want a great feel good show, check Feet out.
Live Review by Tony Creek & Photography by Paul Lyme at Truck Festival 25th& 26th July 2019.