Live Report: Truck Festival 2017

A symposium of indie's continued vitality...

In recent months the state of indie has been called into question numerous times. Perhaps the biggest casualty of the scene has been the loss of The Maccabees, and while the remnants of the band’s back catalogue filters through the headphones at the silent disco, anyone who was worried about how to fill the void needn’t be concerned. The faces at the forefront of an indie resurgence and the stalwarts who have helped lead the scene for decades appear to have all congregated at this year’s Truck Festival in rural Oxfordshire.

First up on the agenda, we look towards the future. BlackWaters wildly ramshackle delivery and angst-ridden lyrical content in The Nest is utterly captivating, and a strong start to the three-day festivities. Latest cut ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ could easily be a generational anthem for the core demographic of Truck attendees, as soaring riffs reach just as high as the quartet’s undoubtable ascent to success.

Heading to the Truck stage, Bath quintet Bad Sounds’ genre bending delights continue the high octane pace set by previous performers. The five-piece’s discography skirts around funk, pop and electronica which hooks you in from opener ‘Zacharia’. As the skies begin to turn grey The Big Moon follow with a contagious carefree attitude and a selection of picks from their rollicking debut album to brighten up the main stage.

Nostalgia ensues as Franz Ferdinand close the first day, matching a torrential downpour of rain with copious quantities of indie gems. The Glaswegians rocket through their set with the obvious ‘No You Girls’ and ‘Take Me Out’ doing their best to distract the crowd from the adverse weather conditions.

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Saturday on the Main Stage sees Will Joseph Cook hand out perfect pop morsels to the rain drenched crowd. Euphoric cuts ‘Sweet Dreamer’ and ‘Treat Me Like A Lover’ lifts the dampened spirits that the Hill Farm weather has bestowed upon Truck. The singer bounds around onstage wielding an acoustic guitar for a rendition of ‘Biggest Fan’, radiating his infectious, excitable energy outwards. Later on Reading four-piece Sundara Karma pull in one of the biggest crowds of the day, and even manage to make the rain disappear for a short while, as they sear through opener ‘Loveblood’. Ending their set with a riotous rendition of ‘Explore’ Oscar Pollock commands the crowd’s attention seamlessly as they continue to evidence their rip-roaring musical capabilities.

Over on the Market Stage, Bristol quintet The Shimmer Band fuse psychedelic rock and electronic pop creating a meteoric sound that consumes the tent with ‘Freedom’ and ‘Shoot Me (Baby)’ showcasing their anthemic sensibilities.

A particularly electrifying performance comes courtesy of Hull four-piece LIFE. Donald Trump takes a bashing on ‘Euromillions’ as they deliver their musicality as menacingly as the man himself, whilst ‘Popular Music’ is more jovial in its topic but still harnesses the delectable DIY ethos that partners every one of their songs. Chanting at the Oxfordshire crowd, “It’s in your hands” it’s achingly obvious that the band in fact have the entirety of The Nest in the palms of their hands.

LIFE’s set comes as part of a takeover by So Young Magazine, whose growing reputation for curating stellar new music line-ups both in print and at events has seen them earn their stripes during this festival season. Yak dazzle near the top of the bill as always with their exhilarating stage craft. Blazing straight into ‘Harbour The Feeling’ distorted guitars drip from the tents temporary structured walls sucking you into their world whole heartedly. Oli Burslem’s erratic and unpredictable stage manner only heightens the palpable atmosphere that proves they have got organised chaos down to a tee.

Also notable is Palm Honey who tease new strands of psychedelic dream pop following the release of their first EP earlier in the year. London trio Dead Pretties follow with snaking basslines riveting enough to make your fingertips vibrate. The chorus echoes of ‘Confidence’ has the ability to wedge itself into your consciousness and stay there for the entire weekend it seems, and the mystique entwined into Jacob Slater’s anti-charming frontman persona leaves you craving more way beyond their half an hour set time.

Bringing things to a close on Saturday evening are The Libertines. Now notorious headliners on the festival circuit, Truck is a more intimate affair for the iconic quartet and an opportune introduction for the younger audience members to the prolific relationship shared by Peter Doherty and Carl Barat. Joined by Gary Powell and John Hassall, the four-piece rattle through a career spanning set emphasizing all of the endearingly rogue elements that made so many people fall in love with them in the first place. It’s just like ‘The Good Old Days’.

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Taking off his raincoat and putting his hat firmly on, the sun decides to finally make an appearance on Sunday, and just in time for Maximo Park to take to the stage. Vocalist Paul Smith looks every inch the frontman in his cobalt suit and leopard print shirt as he tells Hill Farm, “You’re looking good today, you’re looking good in every way,” before launching into timeless indie classics like ‘Books From Boxes’ and ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’. Elsewhere on site, Tom Grennan’s atmospheric vocal threatens to steal the show yet again, with ‘Something In The Water’ stopping the entire Market Stage in their tracks.

Closing the event by marking a highly anticipated return, The Vaccines dominate the main stage, boldly opening with the first of three new tracks in their set. Pausing to remember their debut with ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ they then catapult into another fresh cut. ‘Your Love Is My Favourite Band’ is single worthy with quintessential energised Vaccines riffs and an animated display from vocalist Justin Hayward-Young, elevating excitement levels for the quartet’s imminent fourth studio album. Pretty much every song they play is a single, reminding festival goers just how poignant The Vaccines are.

Although a wash out weather-wise, Truck Festival’s line-up mixes the cream of new indie, rock, punk and alternative bands with legends of the scene making it very difficult to successfully dampen the spirit of anyone on site.

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Words: Shannon Cotton
Photography: Anna Smith

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