the 'new' Truck Festival is a success - retaining the good bits and adding to them

Truck 2012 review

By Fiona Tayler | Published: Tue 24th Jul 2012

around the festival site

Friday 20th to Saturday 21st July 2012
Hill Farm, Steventon, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX13 6SW, England MAP
£69 weekend
Daily capacity: 3,000
Last updated: Wed 18th Jul 2012

We first went to Truck Festival a few years ago, and it's always stuck in our heads as one of those traditional "how it should be" sort of festivals where we have a lovely time, meet lots of nice people, and get to listen to some great music. So it was sad news indeed last year when we heard the festival had found itself in some difficulties. However, we were then really delighted when we heard that the people at Y-Not Festival had become the managers of Truck Festival, and thus ensured its continuance.

around the festival site
In the days leading up to the festival, I had wondered whether it would lose anything in its new existence. However, even the weather bodes well with the forecast of some much improved weather for the weekend, and we experience a nice smooth arrival with no queues, friendly and well-informed stewards, and a great camping spot. It's all very well organized, and promises good things to come.

So, these are our thoughts (in no particular order):

The main Truck Stage has a more open feel to it compared to what I remember, and the sound system is really good quality, it almost feels like you're on stage too. My favourite stage however, is the 2nd Stage; partly because that's where some of my musical highlights are performing, and partly because I love the vibe. I don't get to see the Guillemots in there, but I hear that its capacity is too small to do the band justice. The Jammalot stage is a new addition, and although small, it provides an excellent selection of music. Each time I stop by, it seems to be playing something which appeals to me – it somehow puts me in mind of a Chill Out room at 3.00am even when it is broad daylight.

Clock Opera
We manage to pack in quite a lot of acts over our two days with a good selection of quality artists. The first act we really sit down and listen to are Fixers at the Truck Stage. They seem to be having a great time but by the end of the set, I feel rather let down and they don' live up to my expectations. Another upset is to find that Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly is poorly as we really enjoyed seeing him at a previous Truck Festival. However the replacement act, Clock Opera, are actually very enjoyable, and I would like to hear more now that I'm home.

It's a shame that I miss a lot of Villagers while we do the 'back to the van to get set up for the evening' thing. I really enjoy the start of their set; in my mind it is positioned perfectly in the line-up for a time of the evening when everyone is full of anticipation and excitement. Another perfectly timed act is Co-Pilgrim whose sound is spot on for the middle of a sunny afternoon when we're all a bit chilled. In contrast is Kill It Kid who are absolutely banging, and rather too heavy for my personal taste but I do have to credit the maturity and quality of the songs and music they put on.

around the festival site (people)
I wasn't familiar with Dog Is Dead but they must have quite a following as people appear in droves to watch their set and most of them are belting out the lyrics. It's easy to see why they're popular though – their songs and music are really catchy, even for the previously uninitiated.

There are a few more acts that I miss that I would like to have seen such as Boat To Row, Emmy the Great, and ToLiesel as they are all well recommended by people I meet who saw their sets. However, the set that was most well-spoken of that I missed was 65daysofstatic who my husband and our friends rated as the best act they saw all weekend.

The Temper Trap
I had great hopes for British Sea Power, and The Temper Trap. British Sea Power is a personal favourite following a lovely evening we spent listening to them at Glastonbury a few years ago and they don’t disappoint this time either. I am surprised to find that Temper Trap don’t do it for me as a headline act as much as I had thought they would, but they still provide a pleasant backdrop to a warm summer's evening.

Truck 15 has a good mix of people and we have a really good time; it is nice to see lots of 'next generation' festival goers in attendance – and we hear of no trouble, even late in the evening. The camp fire area near the 2nd Stage is a lovely place to chill and chat and we are just a little bit disappointed it closes relatively early on, even though we recognize why such restrictions are put in place. The fancy dress idea hasn't taken off as well as it has at some other festivals but there are some really well thought out wild animal costumes there, with lots of use of animal onesies and face paint. Truck monster adds to the party atmosphere, ready with a cuddle for everyone, even though poor Truck monster must have been appallingly hot, even on the Friday.

around the festival site (people)
Depending on the festival, taking children along can be hard work, even when the weather is kind. At Truck Festival, they do seem to have put some extra thought into how to make things easy; for example, we aren't just given wristbands for the children on which we can write our phone number, we can also register our contact details against the wristband so we can be contacted if one of the children is separated from us.

Despite the relatively small size of the festival, there is lots on offer to entertain both our children (ages six and eleven), and we try out a variety of activities including face painting (at no cost) and circus skills at the Ladybird Tent (we did wait for the Air Guitar workshop but it got cancelled), and the Bath Time theatre production put on by the Oxford Playhouse. Bath Time strikes all of us as hilarious, adults as well as children, and I am determined to get tickets for their next production Tea Time.

around the festival site
One of the good things I remember about our previous visits to Truck Festival is the ability to get good, reasonably priced food. Profits from the food stalls are donated to charity thanks to an arrangement with local Rotary clubs who run the catering. Compared to other festivals, it's quite easy to feed a family at a reasonable cost, and provide treats such as doughnuts, smoothies and ice creams, and sweets, without breaking the bank. There isn't a massive choice, but for two days, it is adequate to see us through and to be honest, we are having too much of a nice time to be thinking a lot about food. If I have a quibble, it's that at peak times, some of the food queues are quite extensive. The bars are well stocked with some really nice beers, ales and ciders, and for the strong hearted, cocktails, and I even manage to find an iced coffee which is perfect for the middle of a warm afternoon.

There is an adequate selection of stalls available offering fair trade goods, musical instruments, organic foods, natural therapies and charities such as Oxfam and Amnesty International. There isn't the variety that is available at some festivals but shopping isn’t normally high on our festival agenda anyway so it suits us and there is enough variety to provide a nice amble away from the music for a bit if you fancy doing something different.

around the festival site
We have to briefly touch upon the subject of loos, it's important to all of us at some point over a weekend so I'm going to talk about them anyway. It's nice to find plenty of toilets in the campsite and there are also plenty around the stages. Even when the headliners are on, the queues aren't enormous. I'm not sure how well they'll get on with the bid for best festie loos but it is a good effort.

The rubbish is regularly collected by some dedicated litter pickers which is nice as we're aware the animals are returning soon after our departure. We don’t receive bin bags on our arrival, but the rubbish and recycling facilities around the campsite and stages are plentiful so it's easy to keep the rubbish under control. I'm in full agreement with the 'no glass' policy so it comes as something of a surprise to be served soft drinks in glass bottles from the bar at the 2nd Stage.

I wasn't too sure what to make of the two day format beforehand and this is reinforced half way through Saturday afternoon when I realize I am having a lovely time, and it is all coming to an end in the near future. However, when it comes down to it, a two day festival is actually alright and I don't feel like we missed out on anything – I was only sad because we were enjoying it. I had many, many highlights over the weekend. Truck 15 offered us all the things we like in a festival and more. I saw bands that I've not heard of, and came away loving, met some new lovely people, and spent a very easy weekend in a field being looked after by a team of people who are clearly all dedicated to making sure we have a good time.

Tim Minchin
If I had to name some performance highlights, I'd have to put down Tim Minchin's achingly funny set that has me laughing until I can laugh no more, and the stunning performance put on by Steve Wilson of Robots With Souls. I'd start off thinking Mr Wilson's music is a bit hefty for that time on a Saturday but something inspires me to stay and I'm really pleased I did. When I eventually wriggle my way to the front of the Big Top, I am dumbfounded to find that it really is only one guy with some drum kit – how he manages to create that sound on his own is amazing!

My absolute favourite highlight of the weekend is Man Like Me (live). Every so often we stumble across something that is just that little bit different at a festival. Right from the start with their rather jaw-dropping entrance, they engage the crowd. Their music, lyrics, dance routines and obvious complete enjoyment of what they’re doing is totally infectious and everyone in the place is grinning throughout the set. Even now when I think of that set, it makes me smile.

Summary: All told, I think that this new Truck Festival is a success. It retains its good bits, and puts in some new bits that I hope will help to ensure its continued success. I certainly hope that they get the success they deserve, as they have obviously put in a lot of effort, and we're already planning to attend next year!
review by: Fiona Tayler

photos by: James Tayler

Latest Updates

Truck Festival 2024
festival details
last updated: Wed 6th Sep 2023
Truck Festival 2023
festival details
last updated: Mon 24th Apr 2023
Truck Festival 2023
line-ups & rumours
last updated: Mon 24th Apr 2023
Truck festival
festival home page
last updated: Mon 23rd Jan 2023