Truck Festival 2007

By eFestivals Newsroom | Published: Fri 28th Sep 2007

Saturday 22nd to Sunday 23rd September 2007
Hill Farm, Steventon, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX13 6SW, England MAP
£55 (U14s are free when accompanied by a paying adult)
Last updated: Tue 21st Aug 2007

Two months ago the village of Steventon, Oxfordshire, was beset by biblical floods which left most of the site of Truckfest 10 under two feet of water on the eve of the festival and left all routes in to the site by road or rail next to impossible to negotiate.

The organisers were left with little choice but to call off the party, but displaying the good old British stiff upper lip and no doubt in fear of the financial ruin that might befall them, an incredible feat of triumph in the face of adversity was launched.

That same weekend several of the acts due to play at the festival headed indoors at venues in Oxford, determined to ensure that the show went on, and, two months later with an incredible 90 per cent of the original bill secured, we reconvened at a distinctly drier Truck to raise our collective middle fingers in the general direction of the weather gods.

The dynamism, grit and determination shown by the festival's organisers must serve as a shining example to other events, in a year when Bristol's Ashton Court was dealt a final, cruel, watery knockout blow from the skies.

This year's festival will go down as one of the best in the history of the event. Autumnal sunshine, clear skies and the usual diverse mix of acts repaid the Truck team's determination not to beaten and secured the future of the event.

Underlining that resolve were the artists, some returning from across the Atlantic. Buck 65, all the way from Nova Scotia, Canada, was back, not deterred by the postponement and 3,000 mile journey.

The hip-hop, country rap troubadour is one of the most disarmingly modest and genuinely fascinating artists around and as last year he performed twice, firstly a hilariously gripping spoken word piece detailing a terrible night on his first tour as a musician. His equipment had been stolen after a gig in Nowheresville, Orgeon and he was left to sleep in in a barn full of 7ft strippers, flea-bitten animals and metallic sex machines (all true). Secondly he took to the main stage to unleash an excellently assembled set of songs from new album Situation and his extensive back catalogue, with the upbeat, free-wheeling Wicked and Weird taking pride of place.

Brakes, fast becoming stitched into the fabric of Truck history as true legends took the stage next. Incendiary, hilarious, bile-spitting genius and power pop in equal measure, they blasted through their set with true relish, cheekily dedicating Cheney to Dick Cheney as the sun set, singer Eamon wishing that the "sun would soon set on Cheney's life". They finished with the eight-second slap round the face with a wet flannel that is Comma, Comma Full Stop.

In fact, once the howling feedback had died away so did some of the evening's momentum and hopefully next year the Brighton/Stroud supergroup will be promoted to a headline slot.

Sunday saw the final appearance of the charming Sha La La Las before Fonda 500, surely the band least likely to have come from their home town - Hull - and another group of Truck veterans - stepped on to the main stage. Fonda were once again wonderfully odd, brilliantly eccentric and superbly entertaining, defying all pigeon-holing or comparison, breaking through boundaries, sambaing through conventions and tearing through a set of beauty, bizarreness and no little invention.

Chris T-T struggled to connect with the mid-afternoon crowd in quite the same way and his songs of social and political commentary came across as a little ham-fisted and contrived, perhaps only a couple of IQ points away from being another Just Jack or Kate Nash.

Electric Soft Parade entered into the spirit of the event, dedicating half of the tiny main stage to a charity head-shaving of a gentleman with one of the biggest afros your correspondent has ever seen. This strange sideshow distracted a little of the attention from their performance, and coming 24 hours after Brakes had proved so thrilling, you were left to wonder whether the White brothers would rather be somewhere else, or more accurately in their other band.

Idlewild were given the honour of closing the show. Roddy Woomble and co arrived on stage, very late, blinking in what looked suspiciously like disbelief at their surroundings and somewhat surprised to realise that the main stage is, actually, a truck. At that point doubts raised as to whether they really wanted to be there and what sort of set was about to follow, but the Scottish indie veterans blasted through a wonderful set.

Songs from older, more gritty albums like 100 Broken Windows (Roseability, Little Discourage) and Hope Is Important (I am a Message, Shapes) sat comfortably alongside the more reflective, folk-infused new material and what was perhaps most surprising was the cutting, clear vocal performance delivered by Mr Womble, not always known for the quality of his live displays. He was immaculate throughout, as were the band, and their set proved a fitting end to the festival, ensuring the final night didn't drift away, like many of the crowd, bound for work on Monday morning. In fact, for many of the campers left on site, including a full camera crew dressed bizarrely as wizards, the night drifted in the direction of the brilliantly, insanely conceived Disco Shed - exactly as it sounds - a garden shed, pumping out tunes to sleep-dodgers well into Monday morning.

Truck seems to do so many things right. Sure, it's a small festival (only 4,000 capacity), but the quality of the line-up and the price put many bigger, commercial entities to shame. The facilities are good, the bands seem pleased to be playing - often, one imagines, for little more than goodwill. The food, produced by the local rotary club, steers clear of the usual death dog and dog burger fare on offer at bigger events and the site itself is easy to negotiate, beautiful and compact. It's a festival bristling with pride, bustling with individuality and character and - biblical weather events permitting - it's easy to see a long, bright future ahead in Steventon. See you next year Truckers.

review by Gary Walker

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