Oxfordshire’s Truck Festival may not be the first festival that comes to mind but our trip this year makes a case for it being the best in the UK. The line-up was headed up by lots of great bands like Catfish & The Bottlemen, Manic Street Preachers and Kodaline with a plethora (love that word) of great student guitar bands.
RaW1251 AM’s Neil MacQuarrie & Nick Harris travelled to the festival for us and bring you a review as well as not one, but two podcasts full of juicy Truck Fest info and interviews. Here from them now:
Oxfordshire’s Truck Festival (not to be confused with Peterborough’s Truckfest, the yearly UK haulage industry event) has been running since 1998, and every year it’s getting bigger and bigger. One look around the site tells you exactly why: this is a home-grown, honest festival. 2016 is the first time the event has run over three days, and with headliners this year consisting of Catfish and the Bottlemen, Manic Street Preachers and Kodaline, this is easily the festival’s most impressive year so far.
While on the first day it took a while for punters to beat the traffic, that didn’t stop the music – one of the first real standout acts of the weekend was Pumarosa, and they didn’t let a little rain get them down – with a sweeping, ethereal sound, they hypnotised the early arrivals to the festival and gave a great idea of what the days ahead had in store. Friday continued to impress, with Eliza and the Bear getting the Market stage jumping and Britpop-style rockers DMA’s performing a nostalgia-infused set, all building up to the grand finale – Catfish and the Bottlemen. While they’ve only been around for a couple of years, their growth as a band is impressive to say the least – frontman Van McCann had the audience in the palm of his hand and the band performed a set that really drove home their hitmaking prowess.
Saturday morning and people were up bright and early, by festival standards at least, for an exercise session with the legend that is Mr. Motivator – a surprise hit and possibly, believe it or not, one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, and the day just kept getting better. Earlier in the day Samm Henshaw gave a fantastic performance and had the audience singing like a ‘sexy choir’, and later in the day newcomers Sundara Karma demonstrated their rising popularity, with the whole crowd dancing and singing along like their songs were classics.
A personal highlight was Swim Deep, who absolutely nailed their set, culminating in front man Austin Williams climbing up the structure of the tent during the epic ‘Fueiho Boogie’ – a truly electric performance. Headliners Manic Street Preachers then took to the Truck Stage and while the crowd were perhaps a little more sedate than they had been during the previous night, the singalongs could likely be heard for a long way into the countryside. The crowd was a little younger than the band are used to, but they were clearly loving the performance, even taking a moment for a stunning acoustic rendition of the song ’30-Year War’ from their recent album ‘Rewind The Film’.
As the final day of the festival reared into view, early acts like Beach Baby, Pixel Fix (who were playing their last ever gig) and Get Inuit still managed to draw quite the crowd, and even the smaller stages of the seven on the site were getting some love – many who come to this festival seem to truly be in it for the music and were willing to go and see bands they’d never heard of before. A music scene in its purest form. The day rounded out with a triple threat of excellent bands – Everything Everything, Mystery Jets and Kodaline. While those three acts are all very different, they were all equally popular with the crowd, with Mystery Jets notable pulling one of the biggest crowds of the weekend to the Market Stage, and I feel that these three acts really showcase one of the best things about Truck: the variety. I feel there are very few festivals where Young Fathers can grace the same stage as Hooton Tennis Club and still pull it off, but Truck does that with incredible ease.
When the festival was started back in the late 90’s, its aim was to provide an alternative to the ‘commercial and predictable’ festivals like Glastonbury and with a whole host of surprises up its sleeve, Truck has most definitely achieved this aim, and then some.