On a weekend where festivals of many different stylistic shades and attendance sizes took place across the UK, one stood out for hanging in there, true as ever to its core values, beside failing weekenders and others that have become too big to take risks. Truck, held on a farm in Oxfordshire, has kept the ego in check and the prices accessibly low ever since debuting in 1998.
Truck offers friendliness, community, reasoning – and organisers even give punters permission to bring their own alcohol onto the site. But even if you don’t stock up on the booze en-route, the on-site options are plentiful, from hoppy ales to fruity ciders. It’s with one of these in hand that we settle in for our first main stage set of the weekend: Deap Vally.
The two-piece has no problem in rousing a conspicuously young crowd into action, drawing on debut album ‘Sistrionix’ for a collision of grungy guitar refrains and clattering drum solos. Kids In Glass Houses aren’t kids anymore, but their fans might well be. “Is anyone here over the age of 15?” asks frontman Aled Phillips. The affirmative response might imply near adulthood, if it wasn’t for its high pitch. We move on.
The Barn Stage is actually in a barn, manure stench and all. Cerebral Ballzy are here, their thrashing punk a fairly incongruous complement to the authentic farm environs. It’s not quite doing it for us, so it’s time again to switch focus: The Cribs are about to headline the main stage.
The Yorkshire-formed band of brothers (pictured, main) have a lot of love for Truck – the festival put them on in the Barn a full 10 years ago – and play a set that focuses on the hits they’ve racked up since. ‘Men’s Needs’ and ‘Mirror Kissers’ feature, and the overall impression is that they’re a band that’s very much still got it. In the Barn, Jaguar Skills (pictured, below) closes the night with a 10-tunes-a-minute mix that leaves us drained, such is its relentlessness.
Thunderstorms threaten to deafen and soak Saturday’s revellers before a note is struck, but ultimately the heavy rains give this pocket of the British countryside a miss. Birmingham foursome Swim Deep are therefore able to keep their heads above water for a set of early 1990s indie that’s very easy on the ears. Local lads Stornoway follow, their folky performance full of heart-melting melodies, clever rhythms and, and times, some bizarre lyricism. The home crowd adores them, singing along to just about everything.
Delayed by a solid 45 but soon enough spilling the hits, Roots Manuva placates an edgy crowd at the Market Stage with numbers like ‘Witness’ and ‘Dreamy Days’ attracting the loudest cheers. But soon enough it’s time for what seems to be the day’s biggest draw.
White Lies’ set features material from right across their three-albums-deep catalogue, and are full of an unparalleled energy that sees songs jerk from dark and moody tones to intense and uplifting choruses. They’re evidently delighted to be here, and that feeling’s reciprocated by the crowd: gangs of glow stick-waving teens go bananas, completely oblivious to the Hobgoblin-supping bloke with a brolly in their midst.
Because at Truck, everyone’s here for a good time.
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Words: Josh Taylor
Photos: Tony Bruce