27 Jul 2014

Truck Festival 2014; a (probably too) big round up of the weekend...

For me, last year Latitude had the best festival line up. Nothing really got its foot in the door when compared to the 2013 bill that saw DIIV and Japandroids in one night consecutively and the booking of the likes of a pre-album Drenge, Temples, Hookworms, Glenn Tilbrook and the almighty Kraftwerk. In 2013 it would be difficult to believe that Latitude could be topped in 2014 by another festival, but quelle surprise! Truck Festival in Oxfordshire not only has what is potentially better than Norfolk's 2014 billing, but it took place on the same weekend. So the festival-goer was to be faced with a dilemma; Truck or Latitude. And despite the fact I just loved Latitude last year, Truck looked too good to miss. And, well, it was too good and as you've probably gathered if you're reading this, I opted for Truck. Well, maybe the lack of Slowdive wasn't the best, but what can you expect?
The site itself is fantastic; a great atmosphere is mixed with good facilities with everything being in close proximity to everything else. It was really close to a Co-Op, but the food wasn't actually that expensive on top of that, and there was a stall selling coffee for a quid as well as a Merchandise tent that sold a huge amount of vinyl. As well as that, the weather was genuinely great and it poised Truck to be a fantastic festival.


Friday - The Bands (in a probably slightly chronological but otherwise no particular order)

Friday was, for me, the most full on day of the festival. I saw an unusual amount of metal bands, and the crowd was really very up for it. Of course the show was stolen by the well selected headliners, but lots of great bands played throughout the day.


The St. Pierre Snake Invasion

TSPSI were the first band I saw, taking to the Barn in the early parts of Friday afternoon. A four piece from Bristol, they mixed hard, stoner rock with full-on metalcore on a conquest to spite the landfill indie of the 00's - Razorlight and co. being particular targets. TSPSI's highlight had to be the venomous but pure Say No To Stop Motion - a heavy ode some of the greatest bands ever, demonstrating that TSPSI had a much greater cannon of influences than almost anyone I saw over the weekend. Lines that stuck and resonated were 'you should be listening to Billie Holiday', 'You should be listening to Shellac' and 'You should be listening to The Fall/You should be listening to The Fall'. I mean, how many metal bands can show a taste in music that great? The singer too, full of passion and hatred used the slots in between songs to give anyone that left the Barn the finger and to address those into 'indie shit' that didn't appreciate TSPSI. Although I'm very into my indie shit, I thought they were just fucking brilliant.
Rating - 16/20

Canterbury

Again, Canterbury are more to the metal-side of the radar than I'd normally favour, but they were pretty special. I only went to see them because my illegally-downloaded-Clashfinder times got theirs and Black Moth's sets muddled up. With the small-ish crowd in the converted cowshed knowing a lot of their lyrics, Canterbury's energy fuelled set was very well recieved, and they delivered much more than you could have expected.
Rating - 14/20

Fickle Friends

Fickle Friends were a very tight five-piece, championing the South Coast for the likes of me. But whilst their sound was calculated, they sounded a bit like 50% of the other bands, in that they were sort of the missing link between The Kooks and Foals. Still, they were energetic, talented, and frontwoman Natassja Shiner had a good voice on her. They're certainly future darlings of the music press, and ones to watch for the future, probably.
Rating - 11/20




Black Moth

Hailing, like my two favourite contemporary bands Eagulls and Hookworms, from the fantastic Leeds music scene, the stoner rock five piece known to us as Black Moth were quite possibly the best band on the entire Truck bill. Turning up later than billed, Black Moth took to The Barn at almost 5 o'clock, clad in their compulsory all-black, even if only one of the five members wasn't topless. "You're the Oxfordshire heavy contingent, right?' the frontwoman rallied, before they rattled through two polished heavy numbers. The beautifully-blood-curdling-voiced frontwoman Hazel Bevan then called for, in her simply gorgeous speaking voice, a mental mid-afternoon moshpit. But of course they were Black Moth, so unlike the previous bands in the Barn, the crowd happily obliged for the rest of the set turning the part-time cowshed into a battleground for some part-time bloodshed.
The band then careered into what is probably their finest song; the Brain Donor-come-Sabbath anthem Blackbirds Fall, showed off riffs to rival High Rise and vox that vanquish almost any other vocalist in the metal-genre. Bevan's prowess as the perfect frontwoman was on show, for not only did her otherworldly stage presence direct all the eyes in the house to herself, but her voice was a thing of sheer metallic majesty. But not only was the obvious Blackbirds Fall great, but the new numbers for their forthcoming sophomore album - Condemned to Hope - were really mesmerising, and Black Moth LP2 is a really quite exciting prospect. But of course, you can't forget the rest of the set, which was made up of their quite possibly perfect debut album; The Killing Jar; the LP that announced the presence of The Moth to the world way back when in 2012. So, quite naturally the Truck set was elegantly crafted to perfection, and from the murky beginnings to the energetic endings, Black Moth stunned.
Rating - 20/20

Catfish and the Bottlemen

Stumbling amply out of the greatest set of the weekend, I took a walk to the main stage to see NME's buzziest buzz band; Catfish and the Bottlemen. Not really knowing what to expect, I wandered towards the Main Stage to see Catfish and his Bottlemen entertain the crowd. I've been told time and time again that their music is supposed to be the next big thing, and although Sidewinder was quite catchy when it came out, I've really not understood the hype around the band. Catfish are by no means terrible; their music isn't dire; it's just faceless, dull and inoffensive. Which might be worse. They are, to put it bluntly, the missing link between 2013's AM and Coldplay. The frontman, Van McCann (is that his real name? If I was choosing my name it wouldn't be that bland. He sounds like a member of Spinal Tap V2.0) took centre stage, and the backing group kind of stood in the shadows, unnoticed. However, unlike when Echo & the Bunnymen and such bands adopt similar stage presence policies, Catfish and the Bottlemen's 'Catfish' lacked the charisma needed to be such a figure. Whilst the crowd really dug them, I couldn't quite hack their middle-of-the-road indie pop, and the prospect of everyone raving about them and their album later this year is genuinely terrible.
Rating - 8/20


Peace

After Catfish, well, no after Black Moth wiped me out completely, I had a bit of a break before watching perennial favourites Peace. I first saw Peace at the Joiners, in 2012 and since then they've evolved wonderfully, from a promising Eevee into a . awe-inducing Flareon of psych majesty. They subheadlined Truck, and as the evening drew in they took to the stage. When they opened with the stunning Follow Baby, the first bit of music they ever put out back in mid-2012, the crowd were just as animated as they'd been all day. Wait. No, more animated. Fuck it, twice as animated. The atmosphere was electric (honey) and even through Cali Daze and Float Forever there was persistent moshpits, that couldn't bow down even for the slow melodic numbers. Even the new songs, that aren't really THAT great sounded fantastic; Money reached bubonic levels of catchiness, and World Pleasure was just. It was just. Well, it was brilliant, but on top of that it was just a prelude for the almighty Bloodshake, which even though I've seen it live a host of times already, was the highlight of my week. Even the fact that they didn't play 1998 couldn't ruin Peace's set
Rating - 19/20


The Cribs

Whilst making a band The Cribs' size headline was an absolute no-brainer, The Cribs' rattled through a whole host of their biggest and best songs. Just as they go about their career, they started their set in a suitably low-key manner. They just walked out, and played the songs without making that big a deal of it. With a set heavily built up on Men's Needs... The Cribs' hour long set sounded pretty fantastic. They were extremely tight, and with the help of a shadowy second guitarist they sounded strong - Another Number and Come on Be A No One were two of the weekend's highlights. HOWEVER, Be Safe played live wasn't to be the expected out-of-body interstellar experience, because the sound guys seemed to have cocked up the monologue so that it couldn't be heard over the crowd. But to make up for that, Men's Needs was every bit as great as expected as the band gave it a lengthy instrumental prologue. Whilst they lacked the headliner-status stage presence, hardly speaking between songs, their sound and their songs made the Cribs arguably the best headliners of the two.
Rating - 16/20



Saturday - The Bands (in the same "I think it was that order but I don't know" kind of chronology)

I didn't start on bands that I knew who they were til mid-afternoon on Saturday, and it was a day awash more with indie than anything else. As well as the mentioned bands, I saw a  bloke do a really stunning Neil Young cover, Woahnows sounding pretty great and experienced a rave. Saturday was mabye as great as Friday.

Superfood

Becuase the likes of Swim Deep and Wolf Alice so clearly cash in on the success of fellow Brummies Peace, I expected Superfood to be a similar affair. I'd seen them in an embryonic form in the earlier stages of last year three times, so I thought I knew what to expect from Superfood and sat down on the grassy knoll. Maybe ready to assassinate more purveyors of future landfill indie rock, like a demin-clad Lee H. But emerging from their (quite weak) zygotesque beginnings, Superfood were a fully formed, totally talented band in their own right, and they sounded absolutely stunning. As if The Mam EP has changed them significantly as a band. The teetering uncertainty of Melting translated superbly for the festival set up, and Superfood; the song that had been there from the very start sounded incredible. Through the indie-revivalists' set, I was almost in awe at the transformation they'd undergone to reach these levels of brilliance.
Rating - 16/20


Darlia

Darlia are another NME hype band that I thought weren't really up to much. With their look-how-Nirvana-we-are hairstyles and their tacky EP covers, I thought they weren't really up to much at all. But live, oh boy! They were on another plain to their studio stuff; charged with energy, hormones, and lager they hammered through a solid set to a Market Stage tent that was overflowing. Their energetic set, powered by their Nirvana-isms and their 80's college rock tinged indie sound, Darlia's amateurish lyrics were outweighed by the gusto with which they were belted out to a surprisingly huge crowd!
Rating - 15/20


Swim Deep

Like Superfood, I've seen Swim Deep a handful of times, and each time they've been the same; they've sung good songs badly, or good songs wasted, or something like that. At Truck, they did exactly the same but to an even more polarized extent; whilst Honey is one of the best pop songs of the last few years, it sounded weaker than Tesco's own brand cider here. It all just blended into one shallow wishy washy sound, like a cup of tea with too much milk in. Their summery sound did translate well, but poorly executed vocals and all that lark made them seem unprofessional and tacky. Unlike Superfood, they seemed very much a band in Peace's shadow, riding on the success of the four piece, and even dressing like a cheap rip-off. Still, King City sounded pretty good, and the crowd made it an alright thirty minutes.
Rating - 4/20

Gang of Four

One of the few true veterans on the bill, Gang of Four, or rather now Gang of One and some other guys as they're down to Andy Gill as their sole original member. But still they sound fantastic, with that Teardrop Explodes style bass tone and a new frontman that sounds and acts like Jon King they were scintillating. They played a few stunning new songs before ploughing through some great hits. Anthrax's twin-vox noise fest sounded stunning, with Andy Gill's guitar flying all around the stage. Third to last they played their stunning debut single Damaged Goods which was just on another planet, before being the only band to close their set with 2 songs banned officially by the BBC. I Love A Man In Uniform sounded brilliant, the song was of course one of a huge amount banned during the Gulf War, but what really stole the show was the anthemic closer; At Home He's A Tourist. Gang of Four were just brilliant, and you've got to question the sanity of anyone that missed them for Circa Waves really. course one of a huge amount banned during the Gulf War, but what really stole the show was the anthemic closer;
In an earlier post, I interviewed Gang of Four's only original member, Andy Gill HERE.
Rating - 18/20


White Lies

I was really quite cynical about the choice of White Lies as headliners, I mean I'd not listened to them much, but they seemed very much on the Bombay Cinema Club side of indie rock. But boy oh boy, with more passion than a Shakespeare soliloquy and choruses that you could sing on the second time round, White Lies were pretty brilliant on the Sunday night. Whilst they're not my thing at all, like quite a few of the bands on this list, White Lies were so completely mesmerising, and moving. I'm not nauseating enough to say they 'killed it', but BOY they were fantastic. They embraced the headliner slot unlike the Cribs, and whilst their songs probably weren't as strong they were really a great choice to headline.
Rating - 17/20


The Top Five
1. Black Moth (20/20)
2. Peace (19/20)
3. Gang of Four (18/20)
4. White Lies (17/20)
5. The Cribs (16/20)
= The St. Pierre Snake Invasion (16/20)
= Superfood (16/20)

(WRITTEN BY CALUM CASHIN)
Photography credit goes to James Polley Photography