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- Truck Festival »
Those of you who didn't get down to this year's Truck festival in Oxford should take note. It may not be on the grand, and corporate scale, of Reading and Glastonbury but hey size isn't everything! Probably the most indie of all festivals - food is provided by the local rotary club, ice-cream by the vicar, beer from men in dresses - it is run and organised by village residents and Oxford's up and coming Truck label and the weekend saw bands from all around the UK playing on the back of trucks, in a barn and in various tents.
The weekend began by catching Brighton's newest bright-young-things, Coin-op on the main stage. Recent single 'Democracies' on Fierce Panda is a chaotic shouty free-for-all affair with manic guitars and synths. Unfortunately, playing on such a large stage at 1pm does not do them any favours and ultimately they fail to impress.
Next up the barn stage saw the awe-inspiring post-rock soundscapes from **Mountain Men Anonymous**. Leaning more towards Godspeed! they create sublime melodies that twist and turn before reaching epic, deafening peaks that seem to reach inside you and shake every bone in your body. It's dark, haunting and utterly beautiful; it's just a shame that they all insist on sitting down so only those right at the front can see how they do it! Something which cannot be said for Scotland's Lapsus Linguae, a band that still escape any possible definition and quite frankly scare me. They spit, they fight and they play music that sounds like an aborted Tori Amos butchering death metal - quite frankly it's amazing. Not only do they pull off one of the best sets of the weekend they also win the prize for best heckle comeback - _"Has anyone ever told ya, ya look like Brad Pitt? NO! AND YOU NEVER WILL!"_
After all that rock it was a relief to pop into the Trailer Park tent for Truck's KTB. The sister of Goldrush's Bennett brothers is certainly keeping up the family tradition of writing beautiful heart-wrenching songs that'll stick in your head for days to come. With minimal backing from various Goldrush members KTB's melodic folk musings certainly put a cheer in everyone's hearts and received one of the best receptions of the day so far.
It was soon time to 'rock out' again with Oxford's Young Knives on the main stage. In the last six months they have quickly established themselves as one of the city's best new bands and although their Supergrass-esque melodies may be a little too commercial for some, their harsher edge certainly makes up for it. Notable highlights were 'Autobahn' and 'English Rose' as well as often-bizarre onstage ramblings. With an album due out soon on Shifty Disco, the Young Knives are definitely ones to watch.
As the afternoon began to waver, and the drink began to kick in it was time for the big boys to come out and play. Cardiff's Mclusky were certainly one of the highlights of the festival and despite being on the main stage still managed to blow everyone's socks off with a ferocious barrage of bass and gut-wrenching vocals. If you haven't witnessed them live yet then you really should, _'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues'_ and 'Gareth Brown Says' were notable highlights but I guess loud songs with swear words always appeal to me. As did the bizarre keyboard driven antics of Fonda 500. With singer Simon donning his furry bear hat and dancing away behind his keyboard they added a touch of weirdness to the proceedings - imagine Salako or Gorky's stranger moments - and they even led the crowd in a sing-a-long 'Happy Birthday' to Robin from Goldrush, bless.
And so, no Truck would be complete without the Goldrush boys and as darkness descended they turned out one of the most memorable sets of the weekend. Despite generators cutting out mid set nothing seemed to damper the crowds, or indeed Goldrush's, enthusiasm. With a recent tour support with the Flaming Lips under their belts, Goldrush now seem to be truly fulfilling their potential with the confidence to match beautifully crafted songs like 'Same Picture' or next single 'Wide Open Sky'. We even get treated to a special video message (eventually!) from Wayne Coyne before the band launch into a stunning cover of the 'Lip's 'Waiting for Superman', complete with bootlegged footage from the live show.
Jetplane Landing faced the daunting task of following Goldrush and they did so with style. Their hard rocking angular guitar sound backed up with terrific melodies was the perfect end to the night although to be honest I cant remember too much except them getting the crowd to howl at the moon and Truck's head honcho Chloe stage diving into the crowd - now you don't see Michael Eavis doing that!
Despite having no sleep I still managed to stumble about and catch a few bands! First band of the day (at 10am!) were Caught on Tape. Their punky pop songs about their English teacher (they were all aged 12-15!) and the brilliantly titled 'Truck Festival' got all of us in a good mood to face the rest of the day and even had the likes of Lapsus Linguae, MBICR, and TROT moshing.
The appearance of Lefthand at the festival set quite a few A&R tongues wagging, that is until someone realised they weren't 'The Lefthand' currently being hyped out of proportion around London Village… Despite this their blend of post-rock/Joy Division-esque bleakness certainly impressed, although my hangover could have done with something a bit lighter. Thankfully I was spared when the lovely Black Neilson decided to do an impromptu acoustic set in the chill-out tent. Although guitarist Will seemed quite worried that his parents were watching him for the first time and that 'we're really crap today' they nonetheless turned out a wicked set, easily winning over the crowd with their drifting Sparklehorse melodies and quite frankly stunning tunes.
One surprise of the festival was Oxford's Simlex. Playing in the mostly acoustic Trailer Park stage they decided to go completely mental. Singer Lee Christian is without a doubt one of the scariest rock beasts I have ever witnessed. After goading the crowd into throwing bottles at him ('the fuller the better') he then proceeds to scare the living shit out of everyone present, even Lapsus Linguae. Musically, Simlex are a full on rock assault forcing Lee's tales of bedroom fantasies down your throat until you pass out or puke. After trashing the stage and throwing himself off it Lee was to be found later shaking and throwing up backstage with a satisfied smile on his face.
The final band I caught before I really lost myself in a drunken stupor was the fabulous NPB from Dublin. With a singer who looks and dances like a demented Elvis and a sound owning much to the likes of Jon Spencer and garage blues rockers like the Dirtbombs, NPB showed us all that you don't have to come from Detroit or New York to be cool. Even on the main stage they put on a great show and as recent single 'Loaded' finished the set, I slowly passed out.
So hey, all in all an amazing weekend, great bands, lots of drink and all for charity, sure beats V2002…