Truck Festival – Hill Farm, Oxfordshire – 15/16/17.07.16
For all those who inevitably fail to get their hands on illusive Glastonbury tickets, there are more and more growing alternatives; Oxfordshire-based Truck Festival is one of these. Granted, the festival has never had the likes of Adele or Coldplay grace its stages – but for fans of indie, rock and alternative music, the line-up is strong. Catfish and the Bottlemen, Manic Street Preachers and Kodaline were this year’s headliners, but many other notable bands played across the weekend. For £86, the fest is certainly more affordable than the likes of Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds or T in the Park.
This year there were many highlights: most expected, others not, which is always exciting to see. Rock quartet The Amazons set a high standard. They played on the main stage early on Friday evening, drawing as ever a large and lively crowd. The set included favourites like ‘Ultraviolet’, as well as their latest single, ‘Nightdriving’.
As the evening drew on, there was only one name on everyone’s lips: Catfish and the Bottlemen. The crowd thronged with hot impatient bodies, clad head-to-toe in the band’s distinctive black and white merchandise. Many had even brought inflatable alligators to mimic the design of their latest album, The Ride. Frontman Van McCann captivated the crowd consistently during the headline set. Ending with oft-overlooked track ‘Tyrants’, Catfish and the Bottlemen displayed both musicality and artistic flair.
By midday of the Saturday, the sun was beaming, and so were thousands of red faces as the music continued to impress. The appropriately named track T-shirt weather from alt-pop group Circa Waves topped off a fun and energetic set. They’re a band who’ve gone from strength to strength since the release of their debut album last year, and were another definite high-point of the weekend.
Come Sunday, the sky remained cloudless and queues for the water-points lengthened, yet fans remained undeterred. Although vastly different from the majority of the lively rock music that was performed at Truck, locally-born Frances was a standout act. Opening with just piano and solo vocals, the softly-spoken girl stunned with her powerful, yet fragile voice. The addition of cello and keys to the other songs in her set was chilling. Based in the more intimate Market Stage, Frances will definitely be one to watch.
Last but certainly not least, Kodaline were another highlight. They closed the festival, and as the sun set over the helter-skelter and Ferris wheel situated to the left of the main stage, many were moved to tears by their performance. Whilst the vocals were slightly patchy at times, their stage presence and the atmosphere created were outstanding.
Music aside, what else did the festival have to offer? A more intimate festival means a smaller campsite, and so there was no long trek from the campsite to the arena. Drinks could be brought into the arena, reducing costs significantly, and many (if not all) of the various food stalls donated all profits to charity.
Truck Festival tends to draw a wide spectrum of people. From families with small children to teenagers, the crowds were incredibly varied. While the good weather certainly made a fair contribution, the general atmosphere of the festival was carefree and fun.
Next year the festival celebrates its 20th birthday, and it comes highly recommended. However, one piece of advice – while it is possible to travel to and from the festival via public transport, Hill Farm is remote, and trying to find your way there without a car could see you attempting to make a 30 minute walk through waist-high wheat fields, all whilst carrying luggage. I speak from experience when I say it’s possible, but inadvisable!