Not to be mistaken for an event dedicated to all things with a cab and four wheels, Truck Festival is a small unassuming music event in Oxfordshire with the energy and heart to rival many of its larger alternatives. The annual festival, now in its 19th year, holds host to just 10,000 attendees. This year, hidden away in the rural farmland of Oxfordshire, the showcase was bigger and better than ever. The line up featured headliners Manic Street Preachers and Catfish and the Bottlemen, whilst also providing a smashing selection of the UK’s best up and coming bands such as Sundara Karma, Spring King and Blossoms.
Through a quaint countryside village, across a train line and entering into and out of actual cow-filled cow sheds, a large Ferris wheel rose above a barn signifying the entrance to Truck Festival 2016. This modest festival was a refreshing take on the usual; the mere freedom of the site (and being allowed your own alcohol into the stage areas) created a safe and welcoming environment where revellers were there to have fun – rather than being penned into an enclosed area and forced to pay ludicrous prices on drinks and food.
The joy of having to walk a mere five minutes from the campsite into the main area is a camper's dream. It opens up to what appears to be a country fair not a festival, with hay bales a-plenty, and vintage stalls littering the site if the music gets a bit too much. The selection of food available is unparalleled. A whole tent is dedicated to local healthy food great for vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters all round. A salad bar, freshly cooked pizza (which sold out by 7pm on the Sunday it was that good) and even a pie and mash stall (which I was fortunate enough to catch the band Blossoms tucking into).
But let’s not forget the reason everyone turned up in the first place – the music of course! Friday’s highlights included the amazingly talented Clean Cut Kid- the shocked faces from the crowd when heavily bearded frontman Mike Halls began to sing their upbeat indie tracks was brilliant – by the end of the set they had the whole audience dancing about wildly to Vitamin C. Later in the evening the legendary Jurassic 5 turned the energy up to 100%. Proving that despite half the viewers not even being born when they formed, they can still put on one hell of a gig. Rounding up the main stage was the brilliant Catfish and The Bottlemen, playing hit after hit with high intensity that had fans in the palm of their hands.
On the Saturday came an awesome collection of acts, including Mr Motivator who relieved every one of the hangovers – sort of – with an energetic work out session on the main stage at midday. Highlights of the day included Manchester rockers Spring King, who managed to pack out the tent before even playing a note. Understandably hit single Rectifier caused a frenzy as revellers formed mosh pits and pushed eagerly forward.
A more chilled out set came from Swim Deep, their effortlessly cool Stone Roses vibe material was a perfect addition to the hot summer's day. They kicked off their stage time with the awesome King City, which had everyone dancing and singing along throughout. A quick rush back over to the main arena and we were able to catch undeniably one of the most eagerly anticipated performances of the evening – Circa Waves, who put on an epic show; Stuck In My Teeth and T-shirt Weather being some of the liveliest tunes performed the whole weekend!
Despite the heat everyone was back at the mainstage first thing on the Sunday, making the most of the last day of music. Best bits included a final ever performance from Pixel Fix, which posed the question why they’d not be staying together with such talent. The brilliant Blossoms brought their psychedelic indie rock and long hair next, energising people with hits Charlemagne and Blown Rose. After the advice of a fellow festival goer we checked out VANT in an at capacity Nest tent, a great heavy rock guitar infused indie-rock band, a particularly great song of theirs being Fly-by Alien.
Surprisingly enough one of the highest energy moments of the weekend was at 12am on the final night from Norman Jay (MBE). After a quick trip back to the tent post-Kodaline smashing it on the main stage, we headed to the Market Stage. Its night time reincarnation was aided by Switch – a drum and bass event in Oxford – and Norman Jay had the crowd losing their minds to reggae, drum and bass and even Abba! The wonderful mishmash was the perfect way of rounding up the madness that was Truck Festival 2016.
Overall the festival was a complete success, the line up was unreal and the experience itself was brilliantly fun. The only downside was that with such great acts it was easy to get to the end of the day having missed many brilliant performances due to clashes or acts overrunning. Maybe an extra day wouldn’t go amiss?
Words by Lauren E. Hewitt