review archive

Truck Nine – Hillside Farm, Steventon, Sunday 23rd July 2006

Ooh, there’s nothing like having a nice hot shower, a good night’s sleep in a comfy bed and a fry-up for breakfast (veggie option = egg, tomatoes, mushrooms and two cherries!?). And yes, camping at Truck is nothing like this. Luckily we’re staying in an Oxford B’n’B with the lovely and proper Mrs Williams who surprises us by referring to the rain as ‘a bummer’. Crossing our fingers against such bummage, we board the mysterious 35a which today decides to take us almost to the festival gate. The finest academic minds in Oxford have been unable to decipher the apparently random movements of the 35a, and if the Steventon local person we chat to at the bus-stop remains deeply bemused by the time so-called table, then what hope do we have of ever getting to grips with it? All I know is we arrive at the now rather muddy Truck site and immediately join a queue for coffee in an attempt to kick-start our synapses in the grey gloom of an overcast Sunday morn.

Keyboard Choir We drift into the Trailer Park tent and things instantly look up. There are a number of robots onstage! They are dancing awkwardly to swathes of progtronica that emanate from a squadron of keyboards being played by what looks like the school geek contingent of Dungeons and Dragons metal-lovin’ gonk boys. The geeks are being ‘conducted’ by a speccy man. The ‘robots’ are people clad in the very worst home-made costumes ever. Tin-foil hangs from battered cardboard boxes that have been strapped randomly to the body. My favourite is the one with a pair of glasses taped wonkily to his big cardboard face. This is Keyboard Choir.

At 11am on an overcast Sunday this is the very best in entertainment. It’s exactly what you would have wished for had your fevered brane been capable of conjuring it. Occasionally, the robots will make a foray into the audience, stalking ponderously through the crowd. They are our shoddy inhuman saviours, especially when as the final blast of the apocalypse sounds they shower us with sweeties.

Next, we handily stumble across The Early Years in the Lounge which has suddenly turned into the shoe-gazy tent where all the drone-kidz are hanging out. Look! there at the back, it’s Henrz Tamborine, and there’s Nat Sonic Cathedral peering in round a tent pole. And lo! ‘tis Kate Shimura Curve shaking her plaits to the lovely motoring drone. The sun comes out to warm our backs as The Early Years warm our souls with their spaced pummelling grooves.

The Early Years
After drifting into the Barn to be confronted by the ‘rock-god’ posturing horror of The Dodgems playing dodgy power-pop from beneath ratty Coopley Templey style barnets, we hurry out musing on how Poptones (for they have signed this bollox) have managed to get it so wrong yet again. Sipping soothing cocktails in the sun, we position ourselves at the triangulation point where the combined sounds of three stages meet: The Priscillas’ girls in the garage beehive rocking, Harlette’s scuzzy racket and Chris McMath’s inconsequential warbling. Thus we locate the very essence of Truck.
The Race appear on the Truck stage and are splendidly feisty with some nice xylophone action and a little man going pleasingly mental. They’re very much the ‘indie sound of now’ i.e. blown out ratchety, scratchety guitar stuff.
Shimura Curves Really, we are killing time before Shimura Curves teeter onto the Lounge stage and make us glow with the way they take irresistibly twinkling harmonies and rub them silkily against disco-in-a-suitcase laptop pop that’s been lushed up with layers of guitar. The three harmonising Shimuras are frocked to the nines and flipping fans against the humidity, pouting and pointing more or less in unison, snickering at slip-ups. Meanwhile evil genius Cowgirl Kate Shimura orchestrates the sound, cranking out vicious fuzz wah on ‘Sticky and Brown’ and wibbling a ticklish spacey hum for majestic Kraut-drone anthem ‘Noyfriend’.
Post-Shimuras, I wander over to inspect The Rock of Travolta whipping up a hysteria-laced sound-of-doom storm, complete with Flying V (and let’s face it nothing is really complete without a Flying V) and many heroic foot on monitor stances. I find the entire festival sitting down, the bloody hippies. Defiantly I make a stand for the postrock nation by erm, not sitting down. For one song the cello takes the lead to devastating effect, “the end is niighhh!” it calls across the mighty crash and rumble of sound. The wind whips my dress around my legs and I stare at the apocalyptic dead tree behind the stage, lost in the roar of The Rock. The Rock Of Travolta

After such an aural and spiritual assault, it’s only right to watch a charming man scampering around a cheerfully striped tent collecting vocal samples from the crowd and whipping them up into a sonic blancmange for all to sample. Yes, ‘tis Thomas Truax and his celebrated Hornicator concluding what could be seen as a greatest hits set with ‘The Fish’. We’ve enjoyed the loopy lope of ‘Fullmoon Over Wowtown’, the spooky gurgle of ‘Inside The Internet’, heard about tick-tocking contraption Sister Spinster gettin’ frisky at yesterday’s Lovebox Festival and marvelled at Thomas playing his guitar with a handheld fan on the creepingly captivating ‘Butterfly’. It’s always a pleasure to witness Mr Truax and his motley gang of ‘mechanical sound sculptures’ wresting unsettling tales from the swampy ether, and it’s all over far too soon.

Outside, I stare confusedly as BJM’s Frankie Teardrop shambles past. Happily Nat Sonic Cathedral is on hand to explain that having completed his latest round of tour dates without combusting, Frankie has decided to ‘hang’ in the UK for a bit. A holiday that includes getting soaked to the skin in yesterday’s downpour and then lying flat out in the sun to dry off. Welcome to the British summer, Frankie.

65daysofstatic Next it’s time for a big bundle at the entrance of the Barn as we wait for the Youthmovies crowd to disperse and make room for us 65daysofstatic kids. Unfortunately they’re not doing much dispersing and only a few of us get let in at a time. After some time spent lurking and shuffling I’m finally allowed to squeeze through the gate and insinuate myself in the centre of the crowd where I can feel every heavy heavy buzz and rumble of Staticky goodness. There is a school of thought that suggests that you often see lady bass players not because mean and greedy boys have taken the exciting guitar jobs for themselves, but because the bass vibes are, er, more stimulating for ladies.

Could be true. I’m reminded of this as 65days crunch out postrock wonderousness at body rocking volume, littering their electro-magnetic whirl with machine-gunning beats and a hot, growling tornado of bass noise. Aside from the obvious physical effects of their songs, the band are generating brilliant head-wrecking music that whistles round your cerebellum, sparking demon thoughts, the d’n’b devastation of last year’s set tempered by more emotionally un-nerving sounds. It’s masterful stuff.

Destroyed by sound and nervy vod-swigging, I collapse in the sunlight for a while; wander in and out of Chicks on Speed’s brightly dressed set; noodle about watching The Young Knives for a bit – gosh they’re energetic; salute the giant toilet-emptying tractor as it trundles towards its grisly task; gape at the four people ravin’ in the Lounge tent to Mr Green (possibly), and applaud Delia Dansette’s latest Ebay purchase.

This purchase involves a set of majorettes costumes – epaulettes and peaked caps a-go-go - and Manic Cough look mighty fine as they march onto the Lounge tent stage (once the disco rave up has ended) for a jim-dandy hurtle through a set of grin-inducing day-glo punkglam rickety pop tunes. Manic Cough are the best fun ever live and will make you fall in la la love and bounce like a fruit loop. Today they’re rampaging through all their speediest, cheeriest moments, the likes of ‘There U R’, top pop single ‘Lips and Hips’, the disco-wobbling ‘Ocean’ and stopstart, crashbang slithery ‘Spooky’. Manic Cough
What’s more, singer Annie’s wriggly worm foxy nutjob dancing is augmented by Manic Cough’s ‘dancers’ Accident and Emergency, who have been hastily practising their routines round the back of the tent milliseconds before taking to the stage and wowing us all. By the final song ‘Huff ‘n’ Puff’ I’m dance-pants doo-lally and we decide to end our Truckin’ on a big fat high. As a frenzied mob of Seafood seekers descends, we wriggle out of the tent and skip off into the sunset singing ‘Eggs ‘n’ Chips’.
[top of page]