This weekend saw Truck Festival joined by more music-lovers than ever before and over 200 performers and DJs who basked in glorious sun rays amid the Oxfordshire countryside.
Recent years have seen a boom in the number of big festivals as well as an increase in the commercialisation of smaller festivals. Truck has always been proud to be an independent festival with a niche list of performers and a very intimate vibe.
While Truck stayed true to it’s roots as a smaller and less commercial festival, it has still been growing ever since it was established in 1997. This year saw a major expansion of Truck with increased tickets, an additional arena, a new entrance, and an extra day.
Truck prides itself on providing a platform for local and underground artists to showcase their talents alongside big, well-known artists such as 2016 Brit Award winners, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Manic Street Preachers, and Kodaline. Truck’s local connections run deeper than just the line-up however, with the local Rotary Club handling a large proportion of the food catering (although their importance is shrinking as more food stalls are being sourced to feed the growing audiences).
The music at Truck Festival is so diverse that there really is something for everyone. Each of the stages has it’s own style – The Truck Stage is most diverse with the headliners playing alongside a mixture of bands including Band App winners; The Market Stage is second in command and hosts some of the most popular bands of the weekend including Mystery Jets, SOAK, and Switch DJs into the early hours; the new Nest stage hosts the bands previously seen in the Barn (which continues to be a favourite for many) – with a more hard rock and punk vibe, such as NeckDeep and Mooseblood; the Saloon is famous for its ‘great western’ style; the Veteran and Virgins has a mixture of styles playing hosts to bands who have stuck by Truck for its 19 years and others using it for their first Truck experience; and finally, the Palm City and Horizon stage was a favourite by many teens for the DJ’s Roughion and club vibes.
Each of the headliners was distinct from the others and all graced the stage for a different reason. Catfish and the Bottlemen are very popular following their Brit Award win for Best Newcomers, and have been played by the likes of Channel 4’s Hollyoaks recently. This made them a hit with the younger audience as they played all of the most popular songs from their May 2016 release, ‘The Ride’.
The Welsh 80’s rock band, Manic Street Preachers, pulled in a strong Welsh fanbase for their set on Saturday evening and their ‘glam rock’ vibe was enjoyed by all, even though some of those attending with their parents clearly were not familiar with the songs.
The final headliner for Kodaline had a slightly quieter response as a small number of festival goers began to leave thoughout Sunday ready for Monday morning. Despite this, the whole of Arena 1 was rocking to the band, who were known as ’21 Demands’ until 2012. The Irish born band are known for their unique mix of ‘folk rock’ and they gave Sunday evening a very relaxed and content vibe – ending the weekend with confetti cannons and streamers being blasted into the crowd.
While the three-day event was a bargain (working out less than £30 per day), returning festival-goers may have been shocked at the increased charges once they were there. Truck Festival has always boasted a large “children’s tent” for the under 12’s, full of creative arts and crafts and some poets etc to entertain them. This year the children area had expanded but with everything charged at a minimum of £3, it was difficult to last out the morning without going bankrupt. There was plenty on offer – climbing frames, dream catcher workshops, jewellery workshops, rubber archery, etc. but everything was charged which was not mentioned prior to arrival and was unexpected for anyone who had attended previously. Prices for food had also increased dramatically at the Rotary Club stalls, with a bacon sandwich costing £4, and only a choice of 3 stalls for breakfast.
But this didn’t effect the overall vibe of the weekend which was completely laid back and inclusive, once again. It was in no way about wearing the right clothes or being seen, but rather about kicking back and enjoying the unique atmosphere while soaking up the festival sun. There was no fancy VIP area like you'll find at other big festivals; backstage was purely functional. Instead, everyone mingles in the main arena – the artists roam the site, picking up beers at the bar just like everyone else. Truck is clearly about the music and people enjoying themselves, something that feels lacking at the bigger festivals which seem to be just money-spinning corporate beasts.
Organisation had also failed slightly this year when it came to the much-loved paint fight. I have been to the paint fight every year I’ve attended Truck – it is one of my personal highlights of the weekend. But this year I was one of many who missed out because it was advertised in the wrong arena. There were crowds of teens clad in all white waiting at 4 o'clock on Saturday in Arena 2, but when 4 o’clock came and went, cheers were heard coming from Arena 3, and paint covered bodies began walking passed. And that was that – we had missed what, for many of us, was something we’d been very much looking forward to.
With the fabulous line-up, a new site layout and even a new bridge across the stream, alongside the perfect festival weather, this was the festival you’ll be gutted to have missed.
Vote for Truck as Best Independent Festival here