Since its humble beginnings in 1998, Truck Festival has stayed exactly that – humble. It is a festival with a simple structure and an effortless feel about it. The festival is snuggled into the picturesque village of Steventon and resides on a farm, with cornfields fenced off around the main arena. This Oxfordshire festival revolves around the people and thrives on a sense of community, with even the majority food stands being run by the local Faringdon and Didcot Rotary Club. The atmosphere is welcoming and chilled, with few exclusive areas and benefits. It is a festival where everyone is treated fairly and artists don’t seem like elusive creatures, yet instead they blend into the crowd just like everyone else.
The festival is made up of five stages all pretty much all within 5 minutes of one another, which is great considering just how packed the line up is with exciting artists. The audience this year seems to be mainly youths and overexcited fangirls/guys, possibly due to the amount of young bands on the line up.
The first band to open up this year’s festival and the Market Stage is Haiku Salut. Unfortunately with such an early slot (11.45) and the campsite having only opened at 10, meant that next to know one was ready to watch the band, leaving the floor space pretty much empty. The next band up was Lost In The Riots who kicked off the Barn Stage (a stage literally set up in a barn). The crowd here was small too, but it seemed that it did not matter too much to the band as they played with such enthusiasm that they could of been playing to no one, or the biggest crowd imaginable. Over on the main stage, Habitats started the stage with plenty of summery tracks and bounce, evoking plenty of energy throughout the crowd. After this, the dancing continued throughout the whole day.
Acollective, a band from Israel, continued the playful beats on the main stage as they attracted an audience of mixed ages, who joined together for the small party at the front. The big band delivered complex music ranging in sound from acoustic to dub-like in the space of 10 seconds. Over on the Virgins and Veterans stage saw Chipping Norton band, Cassels take to the stage to deliver a noteworthy performance full of scratchy guitars and dark undertones. With just two instruments, the sound was impressive and full of strong intricate styles.
London based band, Big Deal brought the dreamy tracks to the main stage yet etched through a sense of grunge, particularly on tracks ‘Talk’ one of their more known songs and ‘Swapping Spit’ taken from their second album ‘June Gloom’. Their crowd were not necessarily the most dynamic of the day, but a lot of love seemed to be given to the band particularly from individuals who sang along to each and every song. From the moment Catfish and The Bottlemen stepped on stage, the full force of the crowd’s youthful exuberance was felt. Launching through big singles like ‘Kathleen’ and ‘Fallout’, the Llandudno band gave possibly the liveliest set of the day to perhaps the liveliest crowd of the day. Lead singer Van McCann appeared genuinely surprised and humbled by the size and devotion of their fans as he continuously thanked the crowd. The band are quickly becoming sought after in the festival circuit, as they left Truck later to travel the country to play both Latitude and Somersault Festival.
Coming from California, Deap Vally easily adjusted to the climate and proved to be the wisest act, as they were not wearing jeans and jackets like the other bands and therefore did not seem to be as affected by the heat. They smoothly played through tracks from their debut album ‘Sistorix’ filling a set with plenty of dirty guitar riffs and gritty drum solos. After Deap Vally there is a little serge to the Market Stage where Little Comets were starting their set. The tent was already brimming to the edges, forcing many people to stand or sit outside. Little Comets have been around for a little while now and have conquered a chilled sound which is yet so easy to dance to. Essentially Little Comets have a perfect festival sound and it looked like that everyone in the crowd agreed despite being crammed into a small sweaty tent.
Back at the main stage Welsh pop-punk band, Kids in Glasses Houses stepped out onto the stage. Ahead of their farewell tour, the band unleashed some powerful rock ballads here at Truck. Despite the lead singer begging the audience to ‘pretend it’s 2008’ (perhaps this was at the height of their career) and some ex emo-esque fans desperately attempting to start moshs in the young crowd, I think it is fair to say that perhaps the band are just not best suited to this particular festival. The next band to follow were Peace. A band that seem to be continuously blossoming in the industry, with an extreme following of devotees. The Birmingham quartet drew a huge crowd as they played through tracks from last year’s debut ‘In love’. However, new tracks ‘Money’ and ‘World Pleasure’ were possibly the highlights as they caused the real movement and vigour throughout the hoards of sweaty fans. It is fair to say the love they received as the sun went goes down over the stage, provided such a euphoric feel that this could easily have be the night’s headliner. But they are not.
It has been ten years since The Cribs first played Truck Festival on the Barn Stage and it is clear that they are more than suited to the bigger stage and time. As the lights lifted and the Yorkshire band appeared the crowd erupted into a full force of excitement. It was inevitably going to be a set full of affection and passion judging by from the crowds throughout the day. Here at Truck people do not seem to give a care about how they look or sound, instead everyone threw themselves into moves and belted out the lyrics along to the band’s indie anthems. Surprisingly with the crowd’s overall age seeming to be younger than the average Cribs fan, the big tracks like ‘Mirror Kissers’, ‘Hey Scenesters’ and ‘Men’s needs’ still gained the same amount of applause that they would of done in the past.
As the clouds began to lift and Saturday’s sun came out, the first band to take to the main stage were M+A. Considering the early slot, there didn’t seem to be that higher of an expectation for the band as Truckers seemed to have brought brunch to eat in front of the stage. This was a great mistake as many members of the crowd soon rose to dance to the EDM duo’s tracks. It’s no surprise that this band were the winner’s of this year’s Glastonbury’s emerging talent competition, as they attracted more and more people to get up and move as their set progressed. Later on the Barn Stage, Radstewart’s set was a set worth catching. They are a four piece from Wales with a sardonic sneer and a jolly 90s sound. They played a swift and cleanly executed set, yet there was a messy feel to it. Perhaps it is that when they began the sound was not what you expected or that the singer had an awkward stage presence. Either way it made for one of the best sets of the weekend for a smaller band.
Similarly to friends and fellow Brummies Peace, both Superfood and Swim Deep were lucky that the festival had attracted adolescent, playful fans as both bands caught considerable sized audiences, willing to attempt moshs and crowd surfs. Superfood brought their 90s groove to create bouncy movements and chirpy squeals amongst admirers. Tracks such as ‘TV’, ‘Bubbles’ and ‘Superfood’ proved to be favourites on the farm. Despite issues with sound management (bass too loud and vocals too quiet) Swim Deep managed to avoid storm clouds and brought sunshine for their set as they played through tracks from their 2013 debut ‘Where the heavens are we?’ with style and merry spirits.
Stornoway brought their folky, melodic cheer to the main stage and being a fairly local band they were greeted to a great ovation and many sing-alongs. This year’s festival closed with White Lies. The band delved into tracks from all three albums bringing out hearty choruses and morose tones that the crowd responded to with such eagerness. The band were more than modest about the crowd’s enthusiasm and the fact they had been given the opportunity to headline the festival. Older tracks like ‘Farewell to the Fairground’, ‘To Lose My Life’ and set closer ‘Bigger Than Us’ went down as specific treats both for the band and crowd due to the reception. White Lies proved to be a celebrated choice to end the Oxfordshire gathering.
With a cracking line up and cheap tickets, food and drink, it is fair to say that Truck is certainly cheap and cheerful.