Supergrass, Sky Larkin, Pulled Apart By Horses, Errors, Fanfarlo - Truck 12- review

Steven Morgan 13/08/2009

It was the twelfth annual Truck Festival with more people and less trucks than ever but as there were so many great new bands, let's not waste time on precursor.

As we headed victoriously from the campsite, passing the twee party sound of Six Day Riot, we settled for our Truck festival cherry pop in the form of the replacement for the now defunct Colours, Tubelord. The sound in The Barn was reassuringly loud and clear, unlike the overwhelming stench of shit which reminded you what this venue was used for during the other 363 days of the year. Harmonies clashed against pockets of noise in songs bursting with ideas, though perhaps it was too early in the day to appreciate the storming of the crowd by their pig mask wearing front man or perhaps it just wasn't necessary.

Next up were Dear Reader, bringing the pace down to Radio 2 friendly levels more fitting with the time of day. Cherilyn MacNeil's voice lilted centrally above the melodies which showed a reserved maturity in their simplicity, a quality that was rarely repeated over the course of the weekend amongst so many bands opting for the kitchen sink over a more subtle approach.Though, despite my opinion, they're the first band of the day to start to get the crowd moving; evidently embracing the joy of repetition

After this great start, it's up to Detroit Social Club on the Truck stage to bring us back down to earth with their plodding nostalgia rock laughably utilising three guitarists to make a sound plain enough for one.

All of this was quickly forgotten as Fanfarlo took to the stage. Their epic folk indie anthems were the perfect sound to get people off the floor on their feet and vaguely shuffling, the only way people know how to dance with music like this. Their grandiose sound reminded you why you initially got into The Decemberists back before they indulged too much in their prog tendencies.

Over at The Beat Hive, the three-piece, sequence drummered, Two Door Cinema Club were simply fantastic with their eye scratchingly catchy tunes dropping hints of influences from so many unexpected places, but tied it together in a lean, efficient, incredibly danceable hook laden package.

It became quickly evident that We Were Promised Jetpacks have their eyes set on much bigger stages than The Barn as they worked through their set of 4/4 songs building up simple melodies. Though enjoyable for one or two, you couldn't help but feel that there was something missing from their overly familiar sound with not enough to separate them from their peers.

We only stuck around briefly for the beginning of Crystal Fighters set as their phasing, conflicting beats, excessive dependency on arpeggiated synths and flat vocals saw The Barn rapidly empty as the grace period ended during their second song.

Vieux Farka Touré stuck out on the line-up like a sore thumb. His set focused heavily around his chorus heavy guitar solos against a more traditional sonic backdrop very reminiscent of his father and doesn't take long to tire of. There's an audience for this music, as the increased average age of those in attendance show, but to me the loose song structures felt not much more than a convenient backdrop for indulgent solos.

The magnificent Errors's set suffered from the side-effects of an excessively bouncy stage meaning that the majority of it was plagued by sound problems that saw entire songs missing central synth lines. The looks on their faces during the first half of said it all, with Simon Ward lamenting the crowd that not even removing his shoes to stop the bounce was enough. Despite these setbacks, the band played with an added verve during the second half as a unity formed between the crowd and band in this bond, overcoming the adversity.

Back on the main stage, Damo Suzuki rambled alongside his latest bunch of Sound Carriers that seemed to include the Truck Monster as we arrived. Due to the improvisational nature of the set, the lack of progression really gets to you over its long course, but for a little while, the plethora of musicians evidently having great fun on stage proved to be quite contagious. Even Tim Wheeler joined in alongside a cellist playing her instrument like a guitar and the second drummer using anything he could get his hands on for drumsticks.

To finish the night off were Ash. Long past their best, most popular material and with Mark Hamilton looking more like Antony of Johnsons fame these days, the set was simple fun yet nothing more. After the quality of musicianship seen over the course of the day, it almost felt insulting to see this band ramble through a set of absurdly simple pop punk. The songs from 1977 stood out a mile as being the only ones not entirely disposable. The ribcage loosening bass of Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs's relentless DJ set was just the antidote to dance the night away.

The second day began as any day preceded by a night sleeping in a field following a prolonged consumption of alcohol would, sluggishly. The queues for breakfast were long, but resulted in just the right nourishment to send us back into the Barn for Maybeshewill. Demolishing the crowd with a set of electronically tinged instrumental post-rock containing more than its fair share of palm muted aggression fused with various sound bites which don't quite cut above the guitars and so do no more than remind me of The Manic Street Preachers's Holy Bible. A pleasing result after we were ready to write them off as emo bores based on appearance alone.

We caught some of Young Husband's lilting indie rock that made me yearn for some Pavement, but after only catching the tail end of their set it wasn't enough to form a robust opinion, but enough to want to hear more.

Over at the Beat Hive Mr Fogg was setting up for his first completely solo show. Each of his tracks reworked with drum sequencing, and sound triggering to replace what once was his backing band. The songs remain absurdly catchy and the man put on a valiant show as his drum machine fell victim to the hideously vibrating stage. It's a good, if nervous performance and one that shows promise in this new live set up of his once he becomes more comfortable with it.

The Long Insiders suited the afternoon lull well playing their gentle alt country to a sedate audience. Their progressive builds and atmospheric mood reminded me a little of The Cave Singers in the sense that they make such captivating music from such basic raw components.

Next up were Sky Larkin, whose affable pop punk is passionately delivered. The relentless intensity on drummer Nestor Matthews's face from makes you worry for his health and the banter from Katie including the threat of Nestor breaking our faces is semi-believed considering the circumstances. The set is captivating with lean tunes that don't rely on obvious hooks or big sing-along's to draw you in yet do so regardless.

It was a bit of an anticlimax to shuffle over to the Truck stage for Dive Dive's Americana pop punk with hints of emo. Though there was nothing wrong with their layering of Joey Santiago guitar work over chugging guitars with hints of Placebo and soaring vocal melodies, it fails to capture the spirit of the crowd on a Sunday afternoon.

We left early to catch the latter half of Sportsday Megaphone's set at The Beat Hive which seems to encapsulate pure fun. He bounced through tune after tune with his tweeness charming the crowd on the back of his being frankly great as he intertwined 8-bit synths with hooks big enough to reel in a whale. His closing cover of Ever Fallen In Love got the few bearded types amongst the crowd smiling in their happiness to finally get to sing along to song that they knew.

After a brief respite that included catching some of The Candyskins inoffensive take on 90s college rock, a blistering cover of Nirvana's Radio Friendly Unit Shifter from We Are Enfant Terrible in front of a crowd erupting with excitement and some thrashy punky tunes from The Joy Formidable, it was over to The Barn for Pulled Apart By Horses.

Their set was intensely ferocious, each song taking on a whole new level of heaviness in the live setting and the intense stage show causing a mosh pit to erupt in front of it. With PA stack jumping, stage diving and crowd surfing aplenty, the set just felt like one big party from start to finish, amplified by the anything-goes nature of Katie Harkin coming up on stage to join them for a chaotic closing number.

Moving on to Hot Club Of Cowtown afterwards couldn't be any different as we were treated to some nostalgic 1920s era swing from three incredible musicians who knew how to entertain the more sedate crowd in front of them. As their songs continued to descend into elongated solos, we make our way to the main stage for the closer of Supergrass's set.

Though not many people's number one choice for headliners, they had enough strong songs in their back catalogue to get the crowd through the heaviest rain of the weekend. A generous number of early songs amongst a few from their most recent album saw a crowd mostly happy to sing along and gently sway their way to the finish. A rapturous closer of Caught By The Fuzz left a field of festival goers more than satisfied.

Till next year.

Photo of Pulled Apart By Horses@ Truck 12 property of Louise Roberts: