Truck festival is the self labelled “Godfather of the small festival scene” and is one of the longest running small festivals in the UK. The festival based in Steventon in Oxfordshire was founded by brothers Robin and Joe Bennett and originally began as a birthday celebration for Robin. The brothers then handed control of the event over to Matt Harrap and his team after facing financial difficulties in 2012. Now in 2017 in it’s twentieth year, the festival is still going strong with a line up that gets bigger each year.
In past years the festival has been known to find talents from up and coming bands that are trying to find their way onto the music scene to become arena sell out artists with many of these artists making their festival debut’s at Truck. Past performances include Biffy Clyro, Mystery Jets, Foals, Catfish and the Bottlemen and many, many more.
This year, Truck has seen a big change to the layout of the festival site compared to previous years’ usual look. The large area provided festival goers with eight stages, each with their own style of performances. Over the weekend, the ever popular Truck Stage, which is the event’s main stage in the centre of the site provided a huge variety of bands and artists for us to see. Secondary to the Truck stage was the Market Stage which brough us performances from popular artists including Honeyblood, Tom Grennan and Twin Atlantic. The other six stages included were The Nest-the third of the bigger stages, then the slightly smaller venues that included The Barn, The Saloon Bar-which is well known for its country style, Veterans and Virgins stage, and lastly, not forgetting The Temple, and The Ruins venues that could be found within the Palm City area of the site which mostly showcases DJ sets including an amazing set from none other than Hollywood actor Idris Elba!
Also on offer on site was an array of activities and stalls for all ages to enjoy. Even fairground rides and games. As this is a family friendly festival, Truck saw the return of Angel Gardens which is a dedicated team of enthusiastic people in a designated children and family area. This area was situated just off of the main arena and provided activities from 10am until 6pm. Their tipi was full of lots of things to keep little ones happy and content. They had planned activities that included arts and crafts, singing and music, dance and movement, sensory play, story telling, cooking classes, races and games and even circus skills performances. Angel Gardens also planned to provide a bath and bedtime hour each evening from 5pm until 6pm where children can wash and relax to get ready for bed. I thought this was a brilliant idea, especially as I took my two year old son with me.
Next to the children’s area was a cinema with a diverse range of films for both children and adults. The listings included big Disney movies- Moana, Up!, Toy story 1, 2 and 3 and also films aimed at a more mature audience like Jurassic Park, The Mask, Jaws, The Wedding Singer and the multiple award winning La La Land.
Each year the team at Truck festival has been known to provide ticket holders with a wide variety of food choices. Well this year there was even more! They had almost every corner of the food map covered. What was better is that because there was a much wider choice of foods this meant that people were spending a lot less time queueing for their grub. The food hall tent gave us pizzas, smoothies, indian cuisine, a hog roast, burgers, mac and cheese, tea and coffee and so much more. There was also many street cart food vendors on site around the arena which introduced us to greek street food, vegan and vegetarian cuisine, thai food, the list goes on and on. Feel good food stands were also donating all of their profits to many different charities which is a really nice idea. The one downside that I and many others noticed was the extortionate prices at the bar. I remember going to buy a bottle of water and being charged £2.50 to which I refused to pay, especially as I was able to buy the same amount of bottled water for just £1 at another food stall. Not only this, many people I had spoken to at the event were feeling a little cheated as they were being charged £5 per pint at the bar. And as there was a new no alcohol on return policy in place, this certainly rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way.
Speaking of grievances, If anyone reading this review has also read any other 2017 Truck festival related news, you will have undoubtedly seen a lot of negative articles about this weekend’s event. Here on behalf of myself and everyone at Summer Festival Guide, I do not intend to focus on the negatives that have appeared to over shadow many peoples opinions of this festival. Lets get the negativity out of the way. Firstly the weather was absolutely awful. It rained, and rained and then rained some more. This of course turned the festival grounds into a giant muddy slip and slide and caused many campers tents to become flooded, including my own. No one is at fault for the very unpredicable weather conditions, but the security teams and production teams on site tried to help as much as they could by covering the worst effected parts of the ground with straw in an attempt to soak up the mud. Which worked to a certain extent.
While at the festival and since the event, I have spoken to many people as they were wanting to express their concerns to pretty much anyone who would listen as unfortunately the organisers of Truck festival haven’t appeared to be overly co operative. It appeared that the layout of the camping areas were not as well thought out as they maybe should have been. There were five campsite areas which surrounded the arena, one of which was for the production team. The rest included general camping, the glamping and Zodiac camping areas which were priced higher than general camping as it provided extra facilities such as showers and larger tents and lastly the family camping area. Family camping was the furthest away from the arena to which I can only assume was an attempt to keep it quieter for families with younger children which in therory is a good idea. Although in order to get the the festival arena, families were expected to walk through the general camping area which in my opinion and in the opinion of many others wasn’t such a good idea. Especially as it required walking down a hill that was turned into a giant mud slide after the heavy rainfall. Not only that, it also was not ideal for young children to be walking through a campsite full of other festival goers that had a lot of alcohol and even recreational drugs on them which also left the general admission campsite in a bit of a state. There is a very strict no drugs on site policy in place so clearly there would have been further security issues there too. Further issues with campsites included broken showers in the glamping and Zodiac camping areas. Ticket holders in these areas had paid over £30 extra to be able to use these shower facilities only to discover that they weren’t always able to. Lastly regarding complaints and unfortunate situations, over thirty reports were made to the organisers about items being stolen from tents, not only while the tents were empty but also when occupied while people were sleeping. Even though many people are left confused as to what is being done about these reports, it does appear that reports of stolen goods are still being dealt with. In all honesty it looks like the organisers at Truck festival will have a lot to think about while preparing for next year’s event.
Who’s ready for the fun stuff? The music highlights! The weekend provided us with an amazing line-up with so many great acts to see. It was so hard to pick which acts to go and see as many of “the ones to watch” had timing clashes so it mean’t a lot of running around for myself and our photographer. But totally worth it, no matter how much mud we may have been covered in. There are so many artitsts that I would love to include in this review but I have narrowed it down to just a few. One of the performaces that really stood out for me was the set from South London band Arcane Roots. If you enjoy music from Biffy Clyro then these guys will be right up your alley. The band who have recently been raved about by DJ Annie Mac, attracted a lot of fans into the tent, which was eventually full to capacity. Just after perforfming their latest release, titled “Off The Floor” which in itself is a great head bopper, they then went on to sing a small segment of the massive Linkin Park hit “Crawling”, which I have no doubt was a touching tribute to the band’s front man Chester Bennington who has recently passed away. This was definitely a stand out moment for me and clearly many others in the room as it was met with applause.
An act that is defintly worth a mention is the unforgettable and high energy four piece, Yonaka. The band’s first appearance at Truck was in 2016 and they were named as one of the best sets of the weekend’s event. This year they had returned to find themselves performing on the main stage. With striking vocals from Theresa Jarvis and her very theatrical movements they had an amazing stage presence and captivated the audience. The band performed some of their singles including “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya”, “Ignorance” “Bubblegum” and the intense “All In My Head” to which they encouraged the crowds of people to sing along with them. If you get the chance to see them perform live, don’t miss out!
Saturday lunchtime brought us the very energetic Truck festival veteran that was the one and only Mr Motivator. This was certainly a segment to help festival goers get up onto their feet to shake off their friday night hangovers. With great music, funky moves and inspiring words during his half an hour time slot Mr Motivator really did bring out the inner sunshine in all of us during a very damp weekend.
Sunday evening saw probably one of the best acts of the weekend at the Market stage. Scottish alternative rock band Twin Atlantic. The quartet who formed in 2007 completly packed out their venue at Truck. Not only was the Market stage bursting at the seems being at full capacity but they area surrounding was jam packed too. The band performed well known singles “Brothers & Sisters”, “Heart and Soul” and had blown the roof off of the venue during big hit “No Sleep!”. Clearly these four lads would have been better suited to the festival’s main stage. I really hope they will return to make this happen.
Lastly I cannot forget to mention the awesome headline acts! Truck organisers did not disappoint with these big names. Friday night concluded with the chart topping Franz Ferdinand. The glasgow based indie rockers opened their impressive set with the very familiar “Matinee”. They also performed hits “Walk Away” and the massive “Take Me Out”.
Saturday night’s headline act was The Libertines. The band ushered on to the music scene in the early noughties with their debut single “What A Waster” competing with the likes of The Strokes and Doves. Following a hiatus in the mid noughties the band then reunited for gigs at the ever popular Leeds and Reading festivals in 2010. At truck crowds of fans saw them perform hits such as “Time For Heroes” and “What Katie Did”.
The biggest and probably most anticipated performance of the weekend was also the one that brought the weekend to a close. This came from huge British band The Vaccines! These guys had drawn in thousands of people to the main stage (even England footballer Stuart Pierce!) while they performed many of their greatest hits which included “If You Wanna”, “Post Break-up Sex”, “Melody Calling”, “Norgaard” and even sampled some new music from their forthcoming album. Their set ended with a spectacular firework display which left the entire site reeling in feel good vibes
To me, Truck festival 2017 was a success. I really enjoyed my time there and I would absolutely love to go again. Yes there were a few hiccups this year that can be improved upon, which the organisers need to take into consideration when planning the 2018 event, but I won’t let it dampen (pardon the pun) my view of a well rounded family friendly festival.
Bring on Truck 2018!
Photos by Kane Howie
For more photos click HERE!
To purchase your 2018 Truck Festival tickets click HERE!