Celebrating its 25th birthday this year, Indie mecca Truck Festival has proven itself to be nothing is not enduring: witnessing the highs and the lows of guitar music first hand over the past 2.5 decades.
With headliners which included Bombay Bicycle Club, The Kooks and Kasabian, there was a heavy air of retrospective at the top of the poster. Further down the bill, however, there was an array of indie’s new vanguard, and the lineup as a whole was one that any small festival could take pride in.
The weekend commenced with Bombay Bicycle Club’s headline set on the Main Stage; a name which slide somewhat under the radar when placed next to 2022 juggernaut Sam Fender and the resurging Kasabian. Luckily, BBC have always thrived in the role of underdog, and we were starkly reminded of just how strong their cannon of tracks are. Frequent forays into their seminal debut album were adorned with instantaneous bangers from throughout their career, with ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’, ‘Shuffle’ and ‘Luna’ all landing with aplomb – the latter of which being met with a pyrotechnic display fitting for any headliner.
Saturday was all about The Market Stage – curated by So Young Magazine. New York buzz band Been Stellar opened the day, immediately justifying the amount of early support they have seen in the UK. Then Lime Garden brought their brand of hi hat-heavy, danceable indie to the Oxford tent, as well as airing one or two brand new tunes. One of lockdown’s major revelations, Nottingham’s Do Nothing also made an appearance, armed with tracks from their Zero Dollar Bill and Glueland EPs (check out RIOT’s 5-star review of the former here).
Following a pre-headline spot from The Kooks which drew the weekend’s largest singalongs, the unstoppable Sam Fender took to the stage to round off the Saturday. With the crowd of black & white shirts that wouldn’t look out of place in St. James’ Park, there was a sense that this weekend was very much about one artist in the eyes of the young revellers. Flares, mass singalongs and – um – a guest appearance by Barry from Eastenders kept the tempo high throughout the Geordie’s set, inciting an overzealous mosh pit which left a few in need of medical attention and holding up the show for a substantial period of time.
Turning our attention to Sunday, and the breakthrough name of the weekend was undeniably Enola Gay. With many UK fans catching them for the first time, the Belfastians combined elements of punk, hardcore and hip-hop to produce a wall of sound which left even uninitiated members of the audience enamoured.
Once night time fell, however, Sunday belonged solely to Kasabian. It’s been a tricky couple of years for the former Glastonbury headliners, and lineup changes and PR battles have left the band somewhat scrambling to regain their identity. Once Serge Pizzorno & co stepped out to launch into early hit ‘Club Foot’, however, there wasn’t a single sceptic to be seen. Backed on stage by neon pink boxes, Kasabian reeled off one undeniable festival anthem after another, with the enthusiasm and freshness of a band reborn.
Truck Festival is an interesting beast. Its rise in popularity has aligned in almost perfection invert to indie music’s fall from grace as the country’s most prolific genre. At times, it could be suggested that Truck fell victim to its own narrow perimeters, with a lingering taste of the ‘if you like that, you’ll love this’ formula throughout the bookings. But armed with a set of headliners who are more than qualified to whip up a frenzy, alongside some braver bookings further down the bill, it has to be said that the festival is punching far above its weight and doing itself proud. When culture’s pendulum inevitably decides to swing in guitar music’s favour once more, keep your eye on Truck, because it is well on its way to becoming the dark horse on the UK’s festival circuit.
feature image: Caitlin Mogridge
tickets for Truck’s 2023 event are available now