Truck Fest by Cat O’Neil.
It’s been six long years since I last attended Truck Festival, look since when boutique festivals with eclectic musical line ups have become two a penny and taking the whole family to a festival has become the norm. Despite expansion into neighbouring fields Truck is still centred on a working family farm and retains the friendly charm that made it so special in the first place. Read Cari Steel’s great review of this year’s Truck Festival.
Truck Festival 2011. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Now into its 14th year Truck Festival is well known as a place to discover great new music before it becomes widely known. Thus it made sense that the new Clash Stage was hosted by Transgressive Records, Heavenly Recordings and Bella Union on different days – all of which are top quality independent record labels.
I was only at Truck for the Saturday, and so sadly I missed many people I would have loved to see. But in less than 24 hours I managed to pack in a wealth of talent. Here’s what I saw.
Richmond Fontaine were just taking to the main stage as we perched our tent on the hill side high above (offering a perfect view of the sunset). They offer a blend of scuzzy reverb and throaty heartfelt Americana that was perfectly suited to the relaxed afternoon crowd.
The local Rotary Club members were hugely in evidence at Truck, doing everything from selling chocolate bars from a trestle table to running a fully automated burger making operation raising money for worthy causes.
Playing the Clash Stage; Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou signed to Heavenly earlier this year.
There was also a chance to sample Truck’s very own beer: it was very good.
Sea of Bees played to a not entirely supportive audience, but she managed to win over the more beered up members of the crowd by the end. For despite her sometimes strange delivery who can fail to be moved by her incredible talent?
Monument Valley at Truck Festival by Hollie McManus.
Discovery of the festival was Monument Valley over on the Wood Stage, who battled a few technical difficulties to deliver a wonderful set of yearning, introspective tunes about heartbreak and loss. No surprise to find they are friends of Amelia’s Mag favourite Alessi’s Ark.
Over at the very popular Last.fm Stage the trendy Oxford hordes were enjoying the dancey sounds of Trophy Wife, an Oxford based band. Judging by numbers this was THE place to hang out, with music curated by Blessing Force, a local community of musicians, artists and writers.
I’ve never really understood the appeal of Young Knives (yep you’ve guessed it, another Oxford born band), but they played a solid set on the main stage.
Stalls at Truck are carefully chosen to support local and ethical retailers, and one of the most eye catching was a new business based on revamped and upcycled books. Bookish had a beautifully laid out stall that was a real magnet to festival goers. I urge you to check out the Bookish website too.
Edwyn Collins at Truck Fest by Cat O’Neil.
I’m a little ashamed to admit that I wasn’t that aware of Edwyn Collins, though it turns out that of course I know some of his best known songs from his time with seminal 80s band, Orange Juice. On the Clash Stage he delivered a soulful and impassioned set that earned him copious love from the crowd, but it was obvious that something was wrong. Only later did we learn of the two debilitating strokes from which he has bounced back admirably, releasing a new album and continuing, despite his frailty, to deliver a series of masterful live performances which really lift the heart.
Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals by Melissa Kime.
Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals fame put together a typically sweet set, though I’d be hard pressed to pick out any single song for he’s an artist whose tunes seem to meld into one. My favourite moment? When he left stage wielding a banner stating THE TERROR OF COSMIC LONELINESS.
We had to squeeze right into the back of the tent to hear hot tip Benjamin Francis Leftwich, whose soulful set was possibly not truly appreciated by the already drunken local teenagers. Read my review of his new album Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm.
Marianne Cheesecake by Rebecca Strickson.
In the Cabaret tent we chanced upon some saucy Burlesque with Marianne Cheesecake.
Sarah Cracknell at Truck 2011 by Rebecca Strickson.
We meandered back to the Clash Stage for a set by Saint Etienne. Despite the fact that I have never before seen them live they took me straight back to my university days, when I listened to seminal album Foxbase Alpha pretty much on repeat. The young lads next to me fell totally in love with Sarah Cracknell, who looks as amazing as ever and had great stage presence.
On a last tour of the site we discovered ODC Drumline: thrashing drums, men in masks and an MC who delivered a well timed tribute to Norway and Amy Winehouse (I found out about her death on Saturday afternoon).
Local teenagers were entranced by the heaving dub step at Boxford Dance Village, but for us, it was time for bed after a packed and entertaining day.
- Review: Truck Festival 2011
- Festival Preview: Truck
- Wood Festival 2011 Review: Goodnight Lenin, Thea Gilmore, Telling the Bees
- Wood Festival 2015 Review: A Family Friendly Musical Paradise
- Wood Festival 2011: a special preview interview with founder Robin Bennett