Truck Festival

Hill Farm, Steventon, Oxfordshire, 22-24 July 2022

Words & Photos: Amy Butcher

Close your eyes and picture this: the sun is beating down warmth onto your face, you’ve got a cold beverage in hand and the sweet melodies of The Magic Gang in your years. You guessed it, you’re at Truck Festival 2022. Having been on hiatus for 3 years due to the pandemic and with it being the 25th anniversary, this year’s festivities felt like something special. When entering the festival arena there’s an air of community, happiness and a sense of euphoria exerting from everyone. Live music was truly back at Truck Festival and I felt lucky to be there for the first time!

Friday 22nd July

Yard Act were first on my list to see, and what a welcome to Truck they gave us newcomers! Entering the Market Stage to a roar from the crowd, this four-piece were clearly ready to make their mark on the festivities. Donned in black sunglasses, a long trench coat and oozing confidence, lead singer James Smith egged the crowd on as he launched into Dead Horse.  Crooning vocals, loud brash drums & killer guitar melodies, solos and more from guitarist Sam Shjipstone, Yard Act were out in full force. Ending on The Overload it was clear from the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm the Leeds based band should have had a longer set. What a way to start the festival! 

I next stumbled upon Only The Poets at the Main Stage who were up before Spector. I’ve never seen this band live before or even listened to some of their stuff, and I’m glad I now have! The melodies alone were addictive, and got everyone up on their feet grooving to the glittering sounds. Though I do feel lead singer Tommy Longhurst carried the band’s stage presence, bouncing around, dancing and having a good time. It was now time for Spector, and I was hoping for them to bring the (Chevy) thunder to the stage – they did not disappoint! Whether you had heard of them or not, Spector had everyone shouting ‘Chevy Thunder!’ and having a blast, your eyes and ears glued to the stage. Fred Macpherson even got their photographer to do a freestyle finger boarding stunt during an instrumental part of the set – wicked!

I only managed to get to see the first part of Seagirls set, as sadly (which I soon realised was common during Truck) their set clashed with one of my favourites, Cassia. Though I was able to catch a glimpse of Do You Really Wanna Know? and the sheer spirit of their stage presence, feeding off of the liveliness of the crowd was enough for me to tell their set was killer!

Running over to the Market Stage, I was able to see and hear all of Cassia’s beautiful set. Firstly, the lights & backdrop alone transported you to an orangey yellow sunrise and their sound melted perfectly into this. So what can you expect from a Cassia live set? Lead singer Rob Ellis’ fantastically colourful outfits, summery twinkling guitar melodies and their music enveloping you into a big warm hug. Playing fan favourites Right There and 100 Times Over, the crowd sang every word back, grooving and cheering for the three-piece. They were 100 times over the highlight of my Friday & I left the Market Stage tent with a big grin on my face. I still keep thinking about the funky bass lines in Drifting even now! 

After filling my stomach with some food, I was able to catch the last couple of songs from Sigrid. It was during Strangers where the crowd really came alive; the heavens had opened giving everyone a cooling down but that didn’t stop them screaming ‘Like strangers, perfect pretenders!’. It gave you that boost of serotonin you certainly needed to get you through the rain ready for the final set from headliners Bombay Bicycle Club. I’ve never seen the London band live nor have I been familiar with their music outside of Always Like This and Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You), so this was going to be something new for me. Let’s just say, I can’t get enough of their music now, and it’s been on repeat all the time since. Filled with confetti, sparklers, strobe lighting & streamers; the dulcet tones, soulful melodies and joyous performance rounded off the first day of the festival perfectly. 

Saturday 23rd July 

The second day started with Courting, the Liverpool based four-piece, and if I was tired before, I certainly wasn’t anymore. Regardless of the tech issues they seemed to be having, they gave a loud, gutsy performance fuelled by a ferociously passionate crowd. With Courting, it wasn’t the fantastic bass lines or addictive guitar melodies I remember, it was the way they interacted and owned their fans’ attention. I bloody loved it! After coming down from the high energy, I ambled to The Nest stage to catch Coach Party. I’ve heard great things about the Isle of Wight band and I couldn’t wait to see what they had in store. The Nest stage is typically seen as the starting stage for bands at Truck, and Coach Party definitely proved they were made for the main stage with their indie grunge melodies and self-assured performance. 

Near the top of my list at Truck Festival to see on Saturday were Sports Team. I’ve had the pleasure to see them sell out London’s Scala & Electric Ballroom, and both times I’ve come away thinking ‘what else can this band do?’. Well, play a phenomenal main stage slot? Check! Sauntering out in a black and gold matador outfit, Alex Rice followed his band mates into the loudest roaring crowd I’d witnessed yet. From the first note played by guitarist Rob Knaggs, every single person was cheering, dancing, singing along and just having the best time; what a sight to see! Alex interacted with the audience, climbed the scaffolding of the stage, and owned it like no one I had seen previously at Truck. The atmosphere was made even sweeter with the brilliant sounds the band were producing; whether it was Al Greenwood’s tight drum beats, Henry Young’s intricate guitar melodies or Oli Dewdney’s hard hitting bass lines, we loved what they were giving us. A highlight for me would have to be everyone, and I mean everyone, screaming at the top of their lungs during M5: ‘Sunlight splashes off the bonnet on the M5!’. 

Gen and The Degenerates had just got going when I rocked up to This Feeling’s stage to catch their set. If you want to see a cracking live show with talented musicians and a kick ass stage presence, then go see Gen and The Degenerates play. I’ve never seen a band have more energy than them, the stage was quaking below them at the sheer movement and power they gave to their performance; everyone watching was in absolute awe. If there was one band who put their stamp on Truck Festival, it was this one. Lead vocalist Gen Glynn-Reeves carried the show into the audience, much to the chagrin of stage tech, singing up close and personally to everyone in the crowd. 

It was now time for me to sprint over to the Market Stage to catch The Big Moon in action. Entering the tent with big grins on their faces and launching into Sucker, the iconic guitar riffs soared into the the crowd met with cheering and instant dancing. Whether it was the grungey bass lines in Don’t Think or the soulful harmonies in Why, The Big Moon were back in full force and I loved it!

There were high levels of anticipation in the air as the whole festival arena clamoured together for Truck’s second day headliner Sam Fender. As expected he delivered; blitzing through fan favourites Will We Talk? and The Borders with Johnny ‘Blue Hat’ Davis’ wonderous sax melodies. Though something we didn’t expect was Fender bringing out the infamous Shaun Williamson aka Barry from EastEnders to sing with him during Getting Started; a surprising but memorable moment.

Sunday 24th July 

Feeling exhausted from an exhilarating two days, I trudged into the festival arena to take on our final day at Truck Festival with The Clockworks up first on the agenda. Electrifying rock melodies from the post-punk Galway born band kicked us off onto a fantastic start to the festivities; it certainly woke us up!

Talk Show later dominated The Nest stage with their brash, loud alt-rock punk sound. I’ve seen the London based five-piece live before, and one of the things I love most is the insane energy and confidence they bring to every show. You’ve got drummer Chloe MacGregor giving those drums everything she’s got & bassist George Sullivan driving those bass lines so hard you can feel them in your chest, as vocalist Harrison Swann is belting straight into your eardrums. Talk Show are ones to watch!

The one problem with Truck Festival having a talent filled line up is the set clashes between your must-see bands. Literally running towards the Main Stage, I managed to get there just as The Magic Gang’s twinkly fun instrumental intro to Think kicked in; launching the audience into a frenzy of head bopping, cheering & swaying along with the sweet brass melodies and soothing harmonies. Grinning from ear to ear, the Brighton lads were loving every minute, soaking in the sunshine and love from the crowd. Blitzing through old and new classics like Jasmine and What Have You Got To Lose, The Magic Gang ended with one of my all time favourites How Can I Compete. This was when the switch flipped, every single person was jumping in time as the four-piece sung ‘How can I compete, I don’t want a contest, I just wanna know that you will be in my arms’

It was a day full of Irish representation with The Clockworks, then Orla Gartland and Inhaler up next to see, though much like the sets before, I was only able to catch the first few songs before zooming off to the next slot. Orla Gartland opened with Pretending to the screams of the crowd, a common occurrence at Truck Festival it seems; Orla and her band grooved into the instruments, feeling the music and giving their all to the sound. I’m so happy I was able to catch Why Am I Like This? before racing to Inhaler, as it was at this moment, the whole tent sang every single word back.

Inhaler, as usual, had a suave and cool persona when they walked onto the Main Stage with the sun starting to slowly set. Rousing bass lines and exuberant melodies entranced the crowd as they kicked off their slot with My Honest Face. Again though, I was only able to catch their first few songs before making my way over to The Nest for the final band of the weekend: Swim School.

You may be familiar with Swim School, but for those of you who aren’t, they’re a four-piece indie rock band from Edinburgh. I’ve seen them live before at their recent London headline show, though this was different; from the first song they were fully engrossed in the performance, bouncing around the stage to the vigorous, exciting music they were producing. Playing tracks like Outside and Let Me Inside Your Head showed the breadth of their song writing talent, contrasting from softer tones to the grittier heart thumping sounds. It was the best way to round off my Truck Festival experience.

There is something special about Hill Farm, it’s festival goers, and the happy spirit of Truck Festival; you could really get a sense that everyone was there to have a good time and enjoy live music after so long of being starved of it. If you get the chance to go, do it!

Truck Festival 2023 tickets are on sale now, you can buy them here.

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