The Futureheads, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Electric Soft Parade, Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies, The Young Knives - My First Truck.

Holly Barnes 14/08/2006

Truck Nine took place between the 22nd and 23rd of July 2006.

Day 1: Saturday, and everything I own is completely sodden. Getting off the bus happened to coincide with the beginning of a storm that seemed focused right over Steventon alone. Running from the bus stop to the café opposite takes all of 20 seconds, but in that time the damage is done. Fellow storm-survivors rib my boyfriend for jinxing us all with his over-eager application of sun cream during the bus journey from Oxford. It's good-natured, but I still feel a lot more relaxed when the offending lotion is removed from sight. Pitching a tent in such conditions proves a little tricky, and I feel more than a little twat-like in all the waterproof clothing and Wellingtons (having never camped before), but this transforms into an intense smugness upon seeing fashionistas in skimpy mini shorts, vests and flip flops slip in the mud and freeze in the downpour. This all takes a while, but by the time we get to round to seeing the music we came here for, the sun is beginning to poke around the clouds and spirits are soaring again.

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly's previous singles Call Me Ishmael and Whitewash is Brainwash soundtrack our struggles with the tent, but we catch the tail-end of the set on the main Truck stage, getting a quick burst of Sam Duckworth's piercing voice and guitar/ trumpet combo. There's a little too much politics for my liking, but the audience are in good humour and his uplifting songwriting is just the way to ease into the festival attitude. Onwards and upwards, I thought. Sticking with the main Truck stage, Brakes put in a solid performance of punchy start/stop blasts and countrified indie, with Eamon spitting the words out as if his life depended on it. Most of their album Give Blood receives an airing, as well as a couple of b-sides, such as Porcupine or Pineapple which gets a good portion of the crowd singing along. One of my personal highlights of the festival, I was of course ecstatic to get a double-helping of the White brothers (they of The Electric Soft Parade, more of whom later), but Brakes have emerged as a confident, idiosyncratic band in their own right. No more talk of super groups from now on. Maybe.

I'm at a loss to explain what happened in the next couple of hours. No bands were seen in this time frame, which is a bit of a waste, but we were just too relaxed to care; I can only presume we were exploring, and eating. The Rotary Club's pasta salads were extremely tasty, as were the less healthy burgers and chips. The supply of Coke cans kept me in supply of mixers for the rucksack vodka stash, while the boys were happy with the beer tent in the main field. Stalls in another field provided amusement: brightly coloured plastic ukuleles, retro-looking t-shirts with crazy logos, cheap sunglasses. And then there was the Disco Shed. It will be a thing of legend, I'm sure: one shed, two blokes, mixing decks and a glittery disco ball. There were plant pots and garden gnomes, all on a little hill where countless people danced well into the night. It was truly magical how good that little shed and the music emanating from it made everyone feel.

This walking around three fields all day must have been tiring because the boyfriend snoozed through Goldrush while I soaked up the sun and sang along- finding that I knew more of their music than I had supposed and thinking that I should really investigate further. After all, Robin of Goldrush was the instigator of Truck Festival in the first place, and the driving force behind it still- hats off, sir. Organising a great event and producing an irrepressibly, fun performance! Up and wandering again, we find ourselves in the Performance tent for a stand-up comedy set from Simon Amstell (he of Popworld sarcasm fame). Like his interviews it's remarkably hit-and-miss; unlike the interviews, it's more miss and very cringe worthy. I came away having learned three things, and having those drummed firmly into me: Simon Amstell is gay, Jewish, and his live show is unfunny.

Escaping, the Lounge tent gives us the entertainingly terrifying Suitable Case For Treatment. Loud and metally and very shouty, the set ends with only the singer rasping out the words “Be afraid of the dark” over and over until each and every person in the audience is suitably creeped out. Awesome. They are eclipsed, however, by the glam bluesy heavy rock of The Black Madonnas who have people dancing, nodding along in appreciation and laughing at between-song banter. There are strange black leather outfits, lots of hair and a power-out- its all a bit Medieval, and there's no doubt that this crowd likes it. Despite their pleas to hang around until the power came back on (we were plunged into darkness) were largely ignored, but had we not been so eager to see The Futureheads, we would have stuck it out, I'm sure. As it was, though, the main stage headliners split their time between debut eponymous album and the more recent “News and Tributes.” The audience participation was fun, harmonies sounded pretty damn good and the newer material, such as “Burnt,” was just as fantastic live as on record. Thumbs up here, even if the “News and Tributes” title track didn't get an outing on this occasion.

Post-headline act and it's all about flitting from tent to barn to circus top. The barn and two tents housed some amazing drum'n'bass and electro, from the Fresh Out The Box residents, Jungle Drummer, Aphasia and Carlos Santan, among others. Dancing in Wellingtons had never been so appealing. Elsewhere, the Trashy Indie Disco was a little disappointing, so it was off to the Disco Shed, which must, must, must, make an appearance at future Trucks. And so the first night ends.

Day 2: Sunday, and it's up early (ish) to catch the disgustingly talented Chris McMath fill the main field with the sound of his multi-layered, complex-structured songwriting. Led by a powerful voice and accompanied by Nintendo DS noises and laptop loops, it's enjoyed by many but misunderstood by one bolshy musical cretin who shuns the experimental and exploratory ethos of Truck. And who throws an orange, dumbass? Rachael Dadd packs out the Market stage with her beautiful, beautiful folky songs. I spend most of the set deciding which of the three band members I most want to be: Rachael herself (pros= THAT voice, pretty clothes), her violinist (who seems to lose herself in melodies), or the brunette on guitar, vocals and accordion who also writes amazing songs. Jury's out, and I leave babbling about how much I love them all. Back to the Barn, and My Awesome Compilation are great, but eclipsed totally by Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies who are melodic but heavy, accessible and tight but by no means simplistic. A wave of noise just keeps coming and all are in agreement that this is, in fact, incredible. The guy on trumpet deserves a mention as well- his playing is so clear and amazingly audible above the sheer volume from the band.

Regrettably, 65daysofstatic, who the boyfriend wants to see, clash with established favourites The Electric Soft Parade, so I trade in the boy for a mate who also worships the ground Tom and Alex White walk on and we saunter off to grab a perfect spot at the Truck Stage. It's been a couple of years since I last saw them live, but ESP don't disappoint. The focus is on recent EP The Human Body, which is an inventive, melodic, coherent and wildly underrated record. It also sounds bloody brilliant at Truck, even if it takes a bit of gruff reprimanding to get people off their asses to join us in front of the stage. When I approach Tom later that evening to gush embarrassingly at him, he reveals that the band is in the last week of recording a new album. From what we heard in their set and the strength of the EP, this is an exciting prospect indeed. 65daysofstatic, it seems, were good live- the boy returns wide-eyed and excited and off we trundle to see Jetplane Landing in action. They surprised and energised; those who went in die-hard fans remained so, those who (like us) went in 'just out of interest' got more than we bargained for. These are four smiley blokes who love what they do, playing rhythmic, sometimes spoken, sometimes sung, post-hardcore till there is no one left unconverted. Ace.

The Young Knives, it seems, were already familiar to their audience over on the main stage, and relaxed into their starring role. A mix of the catchy singles, less well-known album tracks and light-hearted banter, the kids of Steventon particularly enjoyed the set, bouncing about at the front manically. “Here Comes The Rumour Mill” and “The Decision” are every bit as good as I hoped, and the showmanship is there too- House of Lords looks like Ronnie Barker rocking out, which is just plain amazing. During this, a quick trip over to the Barn tells us that not in a million years are we going to be able to pass through that queue and pile in to see the lovely Regina Spektor. I hear she was superlative. Alas, it was not to be. Mystery Jets alleviate the pain though, and to my delight newer tracks such as Half In Love With Elizabeth prove to be more than a match for Making Dens material. “You Can't Fool Me Dennis,” “Alas Agnes” et al has the whole crowd singing along; Blaine thumps kitchen implements strapped to him with metal rods, Henry looks dazzling in a shirt that looks like a chess board and the image of Syd Barrett surveys the crowd from onstage. With all their ramshackle charm, inventive storytelling and boundless enthusiasm, Mystery Jets sum up the spirit of Truck. The smiles on the faces of the crowd are as wide as that immense blue sky above us.

Now, all that's left is for us to revisit the Disco Shed for the last time, take part in some excruciating campsite singalongs and retire for the night. So, My First Truck is over, but most definitely not forgotten. It's a small, relaxed festival with a friendly atmosphere and an incredible variety of music and performances on offer, for the measly sum of 40. My only qualm about recommending Truck to other people is the problem that tickets to next year's event are going to be in low-supply and high-demand. Of course I want to go to TruckTen!

Pictures by Jill Faure, Squib and Miles Walkden.