When I was a kid, I read about a Truck Festival in the local paper. It was to be held in nearby Peterborough. It billed itself as the ultimate haulage experience, providing enthusiasts with the opportunity to get together and ride the truck of their dreams. Sadly, my mum didn’t see fit to take me to this intriguing place. Unable to drive myself, age 9, I had to sit that one out.
This year, I read of another Truck Festival. In it’s fourteenth year, the previously compact event had apparently undergone a complete re-design with extra fields and an a new stage, extending it into what now promised to be a three day musical extravaganza. Now in charge of my own destiny, I wasn’t going to miss out twice. I packed up my blow-up matress, cherry bakewells and sausages, and headed on out to Steventon, Oxfordshire to see what the fuss was about.
As well as the usual Oxfordshire representatives on the line-up there were plenty of up and coming acts from further afield for the crowds to aquaint themselves with. First up for us was Marques Toliver, the violinist/drummer/boyband vocalist, then Communion’s rising star Marcus Foster, closely followed by Mechanical Bride. Then there was the all important tent break for rum and a mandatory cheeky cherry bakewell.
Back to the main stage for The Duke and The King, also known by some excitable audience members as The Duke and the Guitar Penis, thanks to lead singer Simon’s enthusiastic guitar thrusting. Springsteen would be proud. Over in the Clash Tent, we caught up with Johnny Flynn for a crowd pleasing set accompanied by his sister and his longer locks. He got his trumpet out too. Wayhay! Noticing a flood of people back to the main stage, like curious ants we followed and found the mulitple award winning folk super group Bellowhead. Turns out the Truck crowd love Bellowhead, and for good reason too.
Saturday. Bleeding Heart Narrative. Must listen to them more. Nathanial Rateliff. Good. Good. Good. The Rockingbirds. Brilliant. These guys had a bust up years ago and have recently reunited. Like Take That. But with rollicking country songs in place of rollicking pop.
They say that Truck is the place to find your new favourite band. Turns out they’re right. Out of nowhere came Sea of Bees. With more swagger than Mick Jagger on viagra, Julie Baenziger mesmerized the crowd with her Joanna Newsom-style tracks and deep disarming eye contact. She left us all wanting to be her, or with her. We’ll never be sure which. Either way we were quickly jumping on google to find out when we could see her again.
Critically acclaimed Cherry Ghost was up next, followed by some top edgy indie rock and roll from Young Knives. Edwyn Collins’ set towards the close of the night was a cracker, including classics such as ‘Rip it Up’ and ‘A Girl Like You’. The man’s voice remains immense, and the fact that he is still recovering from a brain hemorrhage made the set all the more emotional. Skipping out of slightly staid Saint Etienne set, we finally headed to the land of Boxford to dance the night away.
Sunday. BBQ’d sausages for breakfast. This day was always going to be a good one. Caitlin Rose, Justin Townes Earle, Tribes and the charming Tunng combined to make departure from the festival pretty painful. Tribes deserve a particular shout out as not only are these blokes from our home turf of North London, but they have found themselves climbing to the top of our bands to catch live list following their stonking performance in the (rather hot) Last FM tent. Despite this stage being a little out of the way, their fans made sure they knew exactly where to find them and were rewarded with some very happy festival vibes from the boys.
So that was Truck 14 for The Camden Store - one of the least pretentious festivals I’ve had the pleasure of attending, where bands and revellers alike were refreshingly attitude-free. If only all festivals could be this easy going. Bring on Truck 15.
The Camden Store Team X
Words and Pictures: Pip Latimer