Trucking Awesome

Truck Festival
July 23rd – 25th 2010
Steventon, Oxfordshire
Francesca Baker
It‘s easy to see why The Guardian awarded Truck festival the accolade of ‘Best Example‘. This year‘s Truck Lucky (there‘s a Macbeth style reluctance to reference the fact that 2010 is the festival’s 13th birthday) was testament to the success and devotion that founder and fueller Robin Bennet has devoted for this baker‘s dozen years, taking the festival from a few bands literally falling off the back of a truck, to an essential part of Oxfordshire‘s music calendar, and jewel in the boutique festival crown.
Giddy enthusiasm with self deprecation and an old soul perspective on the young soul‘s emotions is what we expect from Los Campesinos, and they did not disappoint. Songs such as ‘I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know‘, ‘We’ve Got Your Back (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #2)‘ and ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed‘ are as turbulent and somewhat essential as their titles suggest. Thomas Truax came out early Sunday morning to serenade us all with his self built The Hornicator, opening with a curiously oddball ballad entitled ‘Cannibals Have Kidnapped Our Nicole Kidman.‘ More a visual delight, like Tim Burton had done a supermarket sweep in the Early Learning Centre, than an aural one. We left at ‘Ode To The Elderberry Tree.‘ The impossibly cool Blood Red Shoes rocked through their sizzlingly sexy sounds, angsty and driven throughout, with newer album ‘Fire Like This‘ sustaining the firecracking mania that favourites such as ‘I Wish I Was Someone Better‘ and ‘Try Harder‘ evoked in the crowd. Quality of the banter was a little disappointing though – less of the shark facts, eh, Laura-Mary?
With one hit song, and one miss song, The Gullivers opened the Barn stage on Saturday morning, and if their punk-cum-broody style didn‘t provoke love in everyone of the crowd, the bed hair come hither looks of singer and keyboardist Sophie certainly did. Darwin Deez were the surprise highlight of the day, the lanky hippy and his band performing hilarious dance routines in between, and during, their captivating and buzzing alt-disco hits. Brontide entertained with their mish mash of ska, wailing monkeys and tribal calls, all tied together with a big Indiebow.
Mixed verdicts from our group for alphabetbackwards, although bizarrely we all cited the same bits of evidence – 1. Clearly influenced by Frank Turner 2. Songs about Polar Pears & Primark 3. Attempting to be astute 4. Gangly dancing. You be the judge.Good Shoes, were, er good, but not as good as other times, the crowd of 15 year olds determined to only be happy when Morden was played and they could thrash in the mosh pit and beat each other until their little hearts were content. Not calypso in sound, but more reminiscent of the frenetic buzz and sugar rush that comes from too many pina coladas in the sunshine, Is Tropicaldevilishly mingle genres, twisting bleeps with quivering cadences, and throwing heart and soul into the proceedings, until the music produced can only be described as how Skittles would sound if they were songs.Wandering into the Village Pub I was informed that La Shark were ‘good, but whacky.‘ ‘Well’, I responded ‘all the best things in life are.‘ Half an hour of flute, flips and French from La Shark confirmed this. Ramshackle psychedelica of the best kind.
Chad Valley’s wonderfully airy and serene dance, like Ibiza on a Sunday morning is like the b-side of the cluttered electro pop of Hugo Manuel‘s other project, the much loved in Oxford Jonquil. ‘If you see no other band this weekend, make sure you seeKeyboard Choir’ we were told. If ‘d seen no other band I probably would have run as fast as my little legs would carry me, never to set foot in Oxfordshire again for fear of being tarnished by the evil musical spirit of crapness that seems to pervade. No, that‘s not fair – the local teenagers dressed in boxes of tin foil seemed to love this guitarless and lyricless bunch of blokes pressing the demo buttons on their keyboards.
The Monty Python-esque Luke Smith raised a few smiles and knowing eyebrows, with his sidekick on the guitar reading scripted jokes about tours and t-shirts, and a judicious melody called ‘Facist Fun‘, al about the kind of fun you should be having. A twist on trad folk, provincial darlings Ute never fail to demonstrate why BBC Oxford are backing their chaotic and jittery whimsical pop.

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