We woke up to the last day of Truck to glorious sunshine again. Given the stories we had heard of other festivals during the weekend, we felt extremely Lucky in Oxfordshire. I was still in the media tent writing up day 3 when Paul went out for the annual Mr Motivator workout. He was in the pit with his camera, of course, not working up a sweat. Mr Motivator, aka Derrick Errol Evans, had drawn a crowd as large as a headline act to the Truck stage, who were working off hangovers. Considering this they were pretty energetic.
First up on the Market stage was Annabel Allum, a Guildford-based singer-songwriter who has been described as one of the most vitally sarcastic voices in the indie scene. She was constantly on the move and was a fascinating act to watch. her fuzzy guitar with really catchy hooks, got your feet tapping. After performing Eat Your Greens, she confessed that this was her fourth festival in a row and that the hangovers were kicking in. You would not be able to tell as she gave her energetic performance.
After briefly seeing The Dolly Mops on the Truck stage, I went back to the Market stage to catch the highly rated Swimming Girls from Bristol who have supported Pale Waves. Their opener, Holy Place, which appears on their EP, Existential Fears, was a revelation with soaring guitars and synth. Vanessa, their frontwoman has a distinctive style with shades of Stevie Nicks and Suzanne Vega. They followed with I Don’t Want To Get To Heaven, and commented that they had released their first EP before playing 1 2 Many from it. This had an 80’s vibe to it and I think this is a band to watch.
Deco, were on the Truck stage and informed us that they had been to Y Not Festival and had woken up with puddles in their tent so Truck had been lucky. They played an uplifting set with a bit of a Caribbean feel to it. The crowd were chilled, either knackered after a workout or nursing hangovers, but still enjoying the sun.
One person who was definitely not nursing a hangover was Alfie Templeman, on the Market stage. The 16-year-old multi-instrumentalist from Bedford had real confidence. With his young band, he was assured on stage and it is good for the soul to see young people that are creating and writing good original music, and not only aspiring to sing derivative pop from the school of X-Factor.
Cassia, from Macclesfield, were making their first main stage appearance on the Truck stage and brought an African feel to it. It is easy to see that among their influences is Fela Kuti as they brought their Afrobeat-flavoured indie pop to the Truck. The music complimented the weather and the chilled out vibe at this stage.
I was amused by watching some poor guy who wanted to lay back on one of those loungers that you fill with air by running with the end open. It was difficult for him to do so with only about a six-foot gap in the crowd. He managed it just in time to hear Cassia sing a cover of Hello, by Dragonette, reimagined with a world music flavour. For a first main stage appearance, the Macclesfield duo did well.
Although it had been a nice relaxing day, I was now in the mood for some noise and energy, and the only place to go was the Nest stage. Paul had wanted to educate me on Gaffa Tape Sandy, a garage rock band, formed in 2015 in Bury St Edmunds and now based in Brighton. This was their second year running at Truck and the Nest was overflowing with people who were not saving energy but wanted some good old fashioned loud rock ‘n’ roll. While Gaffa Tape Sandy launched into their high octane rock I saw one reveller boldly stride into the tent wearing flip flops. I was sure that was not going to end well! Kim Jarvis said, “Thanks for coming – there are a lot of you”.
I was glad Paul had encouraged me to see Gaffa Tape Sandy, as they performed numbers like Headlights, limbs were everywhere. I looked into the crowd and there was a girl hoisted on shoulders, she must have been about seven and was pointing to the stage and punching the sky like everyone else. It was great to see a youngster being brought up so well by her parents, not on vacuous TV manufactured pop.
Early on in the set, I heard the most random chant I have ever heard for a band. the crowd started chanting, “Oh Bury St Edmunds”. Whilst I was watching the band I missed a novel way that Paul was trying to capture the action, by being in the middle of it. Luckily there is photographic proof, care of Kane Howie Photography. Paul the Crowd Surfing Snapper.
While the crowd at the Truck stage were feeling mellow there were issues for The Japanese House, as they started a little late and seemed to be having some issues with the sound. Amber Bain had to ask several times for the vocal levels to be adjusted. Her dreamy layered indie-pop was again tailor-made for a warm Sunday afternoon as she played numbers such as You Seemed So Happy. Due to the late start, I was only able to catch a few numbers in her set before I wandered over to the Market stage again.
Whenyoung, a trio originally from limerick but now based in London, were playing the Market stage next. Niall Burns’ jangly guitar intro and then Aoife Power’s soaring vocal on A Labour Of Love, made me sit up and listen straight away. It was an anthemic start to their set and the Market stage crowd were reacting positively to them. Up until then, the indie bands in the line-up had been more pop-oriented but Whenyoung had far more substance.
Andrew Flood was pounding the drums in The Others, which made an even more expansive soundscape. What had been a sedate crowd were now jumping about, clapping their hands and generally getting lost in the sound cascading from Whenyoung. Aoife, in a white trouser suit and black top had an iconic stage presence. Whenyoung are well worth looking out for.
The crowd at the Truck stage was building up nicely now. Sea Girls, an indie rock band with members drawn from Lincolnshire, Rutland, Leicestershire and Kent, fired up Damage Is Done. They play ridiculously catchy indie tunes with singalong choruses. They put a lot of energy into their performances which re-energised the crowd and drew them into the stage.
When they played their second number, Closer, frontman, Henry Camamile, got closer, by jumping into the pit and sitting on the barrier, getting level with those at the front of the stage. Then he went a stage closer by actually getting into the crowd to sing the song. Afterwards, he said, “As you can see I am having a great time. So was everyone else”.
The Nest was getting rowdy again with Martha, who are an Indie Punk band from the gloriously named, Pity Me, Durham. They went straight into, Wrestlemania VIII. They continued throughout their set producing a relentless wall of noise. Their imaginatively titled songs demand to be heard. Lyrically they are rich and they play with insanely catchy riffs.
We were in for a real treat next as Hot 8 Brass Band took to the Truck Stage. They were completely different from any act that had stepped onto the main stage. They are a brass band that come all the way from New Orleans and blend hip-hop, jazz and funk styles with traditional New Orleans brass sounds. I have never seen the like before at a festival, but I want to see more.
The sun was shining and the band were playing, it doesn’t get much better than this. There were trumpets galore, trombones, saxophones and even a sousaphone, which is like a funky tuba used for marching bands. They played numbers like Sexual Healing and even Love Will Tear Us Apart. band Leader, Bennie ‘Big Peter’ Pete said, “Let me do my thing”, no one was going to stop him. See this act if you get the chance.
Who would have thought that Dodiemania would be a thing, but at the Market stage it appeared that it was. Dodie, singer-songwriter, author, and YouTuber from Epping, Essex started with Would You Be So Kind. The crowd sang all the words and cheered, whenever there was a lull. Dodie seemed genuinely surprised by the number of people that had packed into the tent, and the reaction she was getting from them. She said that would not say it but, “How the Truck are You?”.
Playing guitar, ukulele and keyboards she had the crowd in the palm of her hands as she sang Monster, She and Human. She told us that ‘It is a dream come true’. Sick Of Losing Soulmates became a karaoke. Then as if anyone wanted any encouragement Dodie said ‘who wants a sing-song’, she picked up a ukulele and started performing a cover of Sweet Caroline. Everyone sang every word and I must admit it was so, so, so good!
It was the first time for You Me At Six at Truck, and they were going to make the most of it on the Truck stage. Josh Franceschi said that they were pleased to be at Truck Festival as it was a festival that a lot of young music fans come to. He was giving his all during the opener, Fast Forward.
After a day of chilling, the crowd were ready to party to the end. Having performed Lived A Lie and Underdog, it seemed that You Me At Six were going to sap every joule of energy out of the crowd. The only concern was whether they would have any energy left for Two Door Cinema Club.
The whole band were working hard, with sublime percussion and basslines and catchy riffs. In the middle of the 14 song set, Boris Johnson got a mention again. Josh said, “Boris Johnson is PM well I didn’t vote for him”, he referenced the young music fans and said, There should no boundaries, whatever sexuality you are, do what you want to do. Don’t listen to old men like Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. You know more than them”. Then they launched into Take On The World bringing a real connection with the song.
I wanted to visit the Market and Nest again before the end of the festival, so I headed off the Market stage first, where Kate Nash was performing. She came onto the stage to Come On Feel The Noize, wearing a pink flowing dress, resembling a giant candy floss. She was full of fun. Aptly she sang Life In Pink.
The Market tent was packed to the rafters and a lot of the crowd had to settle with watching from outside. She told us that she had learnt some hard lessons after being dropped by her record label, and the main lesson was, “not to take shit from anyone”, then sang the emotion-filled Agenda. The trouble with two acts being on at the same time is that you have to choose whether to see half a set of both or miss one. I chose to do the former, so missed Foundations.
So it was off to the Nest for the last time, to see The Futureheads. The post-punk band from Sunderland were in full flow. I have promised myself to catch them live again if the opportunity arises. The Nest, like the Market was also heaving so I had to watch from afar. The demographic at this stage was different, They powered their way through standard after standard. At one point in the set frontman, Barry Hyde showed his fun side by trying to embarrass bassist, David Craig by saying that not only was he good on the tambourine, but his tambourine playing would define Truck 2019. It was good but it did not surpass IDLES. The set was fun and like most of the performances at the Nest, it was loud and full of energy.
The Festival had flown by and now was time for the closing act. With the Stage bathed in red, everyone was now at the Truck stage. Two Door Cinema Club started strongly with Talk. Three songs in and Alex Trimble said, “Thank you for spending this time with us. I think we are going to have a good time together”.
He was not wrong, everyone was dancing and enjoying the last moments of the festival. Halfway through Bad Decisions, however, the band stopped and Alex explained that there appeared to be some trouble in the crowd at the front of the stage and asked a young woman if she was OK. It seemed she was, so they started Changing Of The Seasons. It was a nice touch to stop to make sure people were safe.
Benjamin Thompson, Two Door Cinema Club’s touring drummer was brilliant, and Alex’s vocals were faultless. I do not know if Alex had caught You Me At Six’s set as he said, “I hope you have left something in the tank for us”. Everyone was dancing, singing and generally having a great time, almost as if this was the start of the Festival. The crowd went ballistic when What You Know was announced, and Two Door Cinema Club took advantage by dropping a new song, Satellite.
Alex told us that they had played Truck before 10 years previously and, “not so many people turned up”. He continued to say that he didn’t want to leave the stage but that they would be made to. Two Door Cinema Club played an impressive 19 song set and as the last bars of Sun were fading, the closing fireworks began. That signalled the end of Truck for another year, on the main stages at least, there was still fun to be had around the arena.
This had been my first Truck and hopefully will not be my last. I have this festival firmly in the diary now. The acts had been varied and generally brilliant. There had been no respite, as soon as the Truck Stage finished acts were beginning on the other stages. The organisation and timings had been like a military operation, and I had managed to cram in forty-six bands – I was not able to check out the Virgins and Veterans stage at all!
There were no massive queues, food and drink was reasonably priced and I had not noticed security as all the revellers were good-natured. In fact, I did not see an argument or hear a cross word. Just a varied crowd, having a great time. The stewards and backstage staff were absolute stars. Even the toilets were great!
I cannot even blame the weather as, in comparison to other festivals, we had glorious weather. Special thanks go to Kane Howie Photography for allowing us to use the picture of Paul, and Sarah, Nathan and all at The Outside Organisation for looking after the media team so well. The thing that makes a festival though is the people, and the crowds at Truck were amazing.
There were many great bands and performances during the long weekend so I thought I would conclude with my favourite acts on each stage.
The Truck Stage – IDLES stole the show early on, on Friday. A headline performance and a large crowd as the second act of the festival on the main stage was a definite highlight that set the bar high for all those that followed.
The Market – I was totally unprepared for the beautiful brutalism that was The Murder Capital. Another afternoon performance that grabbed you unawares and left you wondering what the hell had happened. This band are very different, ooze swagger and attitude, left me slightly afraid and will be huge.
The Nest – This one was difficult as many great bands played, including one of my favourite artists, Sean McGowan, and Gaffa Tape Sandy, if not only for Paul crowdsurfing, camera and all. Yonaka rocked Friday night though, in the oppressive heat, they raised the temperature even further with their blistering performance.
This Feeling – This one was fairly easy for me. Red Rum Club brought a totally different sound to the stage, and what a sound it was. Echo And The Bunnymen meets Ennio Morricone. Every number was a banger. I came out of that tent with a smile so wide, it would take an army a week to wipe it off.
Live Review by Tony Creek & Photography by Paul Lyme at Truck Festival 28th July 2019.