Keyboard Choir | Photo credit: Daniel Paxton
Realisations on the Sunday of Truck 2010 – 15 year-old girls were one of the biggest demographics at the festival for some reason, being asked by 17 year-old lads to buy booze from the bars for them makes me feel old, and waking up in a tent is as horrible as ever, starting my day with fitful stop-start sleep which would have made me madder than a sackful of angry badgers if it wasn’t for my sunny disposition and having been at such a serene festival.
Despite the unpleasantly early opening to my morning on the second main day of Truck 13, a number of petty distractions meant that the first band we really got to grips with was one Keyboard Choir at the Beathive, by then quickly becoming my favourite stage due to how fantastically bijou it is. It’s like being played to in half a grassy-floored golf ball, fractionally larger than normal, with coloured drapes hanging from the ceiling. Yeah. Unfortunately, I was less than impressed with Keyboard Choir, which to me consisted of a few blokes making a hell of a lot of electronic noise and not a lot of music, whilst failing to infect the crowd with their admirable manic enthusiasm.
Far, far better was Miaoux Miaoux, aka Glasgow’s Julian Corrie, who the afternoon’s next entry on the same stage. Completely unknown to me, Miaoux had the subtlety that Keyboard Choir lacked, and really impressed with his one-man-band skills, deftly looping and returning to his guitar as he laid out tunes on his keyboard. After the serious lack of artist-talk which had afflicted Saturday, Corrie was happily talkative, sounding genuinely happy to be at Truck – something he projected onto the few of us lucky enough to see him. He might even have pipped Visions of Trees to be my favourite act on the Beathive all weekend – thoroughly recommended.
After a little wander around and some well-timed sustenance courtesy of the incredibly friendly and well-organised Rotary Club staff (well I say courtesy, it did cost money), we found ourselves at the Truck stage catching the end of The Flowers of Hell. By 2pm it was very, very hot and I think I was a little heat-hazed but I vaguely recalled hearing of this “trans-Atlantic rock orchestra” before. Their sizeable squad helped them fulfil the “big band” niche Bellowhead had filled out so expertly the night before, and whilst they were a little tricky to get our heads round from the off, I chalked their cerebral rock up as something to check out later. A Silent Film, arguably one of Oxford’s best bands at the moment, followed Flowers onto the main stage. I’d seen these anthemic pop-rockers twice before three years ago, so I was eager to see how they’d developed. Suffice it to say I was more than impressed, especially by their enduringly huge choruses. They’ve had an album out for a while, The City That Sleeps, although I confess I’ve yet to hear it.
We next saw Summer Camp, of whom I was almost suspicious. I’d been turned off by the huge hype and the anonymity, and had only given them a serious listen just before arriving at Truck, not quite seeing the majesty of their warm, nostalgic but unspectacular popositions. Elisabeth Sankey’s sheer niceness made me warm to them right away though – “sorry about the wait” she said, “it’s all about tension”. Indeed, after half an hour, niceness was the main impression I had of the band. Through that and their tidy professionalism, they’d gone up a notch in my book, even if I’m yet to be convinced that the songs are worth shouting about from the rooftops, or even the ground floor windows, if I’m honest.
By about 5:30, we were really excited. We were entering probably the most exciting phase of the whole festival, which we would have to begin by choosing between Egyptian Hip Hop, Los Campesinos! and Pulled Apart By Horses. As formatting gives away, we went for the latter, who were playing in the Barn and we soon found to be being watched by a surprising number of really small children, probably more than in any other non-Truck stage set we’d seen. It was a good job the kids had earmuffs, mind, as not surprisingly the men from Leeds launched into a hellishly heavy set, with some jumping which would have even Nicky Wire envious. The earmuffs came in handy again for the swearing, too…
In a curious echo of past tour support slots, Horses were followed by the single band I was most excited to see, the mighty Welshmen Future of the Left. “You should be ashamed of yourselves” Andy Falkous quipped, “on the Lord’s day!” As I hoped, they played a stormer. Whilst the good folks at NME saw fit to more or less completely make the set list up, I can assure you that Falco and co played, amongst other things, “adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood”, “Arming Eritrea” and an awesome, hilarious rendition of Mcclusky’s beloved “Lightsaber Cocksucking Blues”, which was introduced as having been “made famous by Suede”. There was the wearing of army helmets thrown in by the crowd, there were great Welsh accents – you had to be there.
Pulled Apart By Horses
Conventionally, you’d never expect anyone to be able to top Future of the Left’s set, but we knew better in the sense that we knew Fucked Up were on next. Undoubtedly, Future were better musically but as an experience, the arrival of the Canadian post-hardcore band shook up the festival like nothing else. The Chemistry of Common Life remains a stunning record, but the songs from it were near-unrecognisable in live performance. The massive multitracked guitars of the record just can’t be replicated live, so this was an incredibly loud bastardisation of the band’s “real” sound. But don’t get me wrong – the set was excruciatingly good. Pink Eyes, the band’s amply big-boned frontman, is simply an absolutely extraordinary presence. He lurked around the stage at first, in a cap and t-shirt, only appearing on stage seconds before he needed to start roaring his intelligent, philosophical, but sadly inaudible lyrics. Before long he’d smashed a coke can into his head until he bled, stripped to his waist, and was wandering around amongst the blown-away crowd while the kids ran around their circle pit. He had to be careful, he explained, as “I notice that the crowd is pretty young and I’m a fairly large person. If I fell I’d kill three kids.” He had the packed room in his hands, completely and utterly. Everything he said was memorable – he thanked the security team for being “cool” and not shutting the band down, and told the frantic kids that above all, they should look after each other, make sure no-one was hurt. And they actually did – they high-fived and hugged. A staggering, unforgettable set.
No offence meant to Teenage Fanclub. They’re a professional, experienced band, totally deserving to headline festivals, but to a large extent by the time we caught the second half of their set the festival was over for us. Having seen Fucked Up, we felt like we’d been caught in a nuclear strike, putting us in a kind of happily catatonic daze, the Fannies were just a bit too sobering to wake us from.
And so ended Truck 13. I’m thrilled to have been there – this is an easy festival, a welcoming, family friendly, almost impeccably well-organised event, and yet for all that the music is never compromised, is always seen as the first priority. The mix of bands was fantastic and you could hardly wish for a more complete, enjoyable weekend. Far from an aimless layabout, Truck is a teenager that knows exactly where it’s going, and long may it continue.