wears the trousers magazine


rebels keep on truckin’: festival report

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wears the trousers goes to truck festival 2009

Some festivals cater for weekend rebels – people who do festivals like they would do their gap year in the Far East, ticking it off as an experience fulfilled before gorging on the next cultural snack on their list. They are the future: the future accountants, the future lawyers and the future bankers. The coming establishment. Now in it’s twelfth year, Truck Festival at Steventon’s Hill Farm is different. Truck attracts rebels of the heart. Deep in rural Oxfordshire, by the real ale tent, local Rotary Club smoothie bar and the smelly barn, you’ll find the ones who are truly impassioned. Music really matters here.

Wears The Trousers braved the dodgy weather forecast and spent some time with some of the ladies appearing on Truck’s rebel playlist.

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Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring

London-based band Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring have the pleasure of opening proceedings on the main stage, beautifully baptising the festival with splashes of twinkly pop instead of rain. Lead vocalist Markus greets the crowd with “Hello mother Truckers!” and Truck 12 is born! It’s the band’s first festival of the summer, and they haven’t always gone quite as smoothly in the past, as their violin and keyboard genius Vicky explains to Wears The Trousers after their set. “Last year we did Latitude…and we did Green Belt.” She and percussionist / co-vocalist Maeve give embarrassed laughs. “We didn’t know about [the religious emphasis of] Green Belt but we found out! I think it’s because we have a song called ‘St Cecilia’…so they thought, ‘Ooh, Christians!’” So was it daunting for the band to be the ones to open Truck this year? “A little, yes,” says Vicky, “but hopefully people will remember us! It’s a bit of an honour really because we were chosen out of so many unsigned bands…”

Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring veer toward the Morrissey school of songwriting, but other influences creep into their breezy pop. As Maeve explains, “We’ve had so many different influences and they’re quite disparate. Everyone in the band likes something different.” “I think most people compare us to Divine Comedy, The Smiths, Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire – we get the orchestral connection, I think because there are so many of us,” adds Vicky. The band’s debut album How I Wasted My Youth is out on August 10th and Maeve and Vicky are excited about the gigs they’re playing to promote the record. “We’re going to do a launch for friends of ours in London. We’re gonna try to make all the gigs extra big and special,” they grin.

www.myspace.com/theirheartswerefullofspring

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6 Day Riot

Over in the Market Stage tent, 6 Day Riot are warming up nicely, or should that be baking? “This tent is hot, huh. The hottest in the whole wide world,” sighs lead singer Tamara Schlesinger. “We’d like to thank Truck for letting us play in a sauna.” Chatting to Wears The Trousers after the show, however, it seems that other factors may have fuelled the feverish air. “It was John – our drummer’s birthday – so we’re quite hungover,” admits Tamara. “We’re happy to be here though and we sweated it out.”

Spiced with global influences from sunny Latin America and earthy Eastern Europe, the 6 Day Riot sound is a mélange of melodies and beats topped off with Tamara’s jaunty delivery. Yet nobody danced! Why? “No, I didn’t ask them to dance. My fault! Normally I do but it’s so early for us to play I wasn’t sure if they were up for it, but normally we do get them dancing. Maybe a schoolboy error?” She corrects herself at once: “Schoolgirl error!”

The band has been busy it seems, as Tamara reels off a long list of accomplishments and plans for the future. “The album just came out 2 weeks ago on our record label Tantrum – my own label that I run – and we’ve just done Glastonbury. We’re doing Green Man in the next few weeks, and we’re supporting Tunng in Regent’s Park. There’s quite a lot going on!” To top it all off, it seems that actually getting to Truck in the first place was something of an achievement in itself. “We’ve just come off our Scottish tour so had a 12-hour drive back yesterday,” explains Tamara. “It was absolutely hideous in the torrential rain!”

6 Day Riot’s next single ‘O Those Kids’, written about the ‘missing’ canoeist John Darwen, is released digitally on August 17th.

www.myspace.com/6dayriot

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Rachael Dadd

Bristolian troubadouress Rachael Dadd is a Truck veteran. This is the tenth time her quiet, pretty songs have graced the farm. She simply loves playing and her acoustic set is well received. “It’s a bit like, you know, I have Christmas and I have Truck Festival! It’s become part of my season or year,” she tells Wears The Trousers after her set. “I feel like I have to be here! I love it!”

Rachael is a fan of the whole Truck ethos, too. She’s keen to enjoy the rest of the festival weekend now her set is finished but there’s something she’s overlooked. “I’m going to see Co-Pilgrim this afternoon but to be honest I haven’t brought a tent or a sleeping bag! But I might crash out in my friend’s tepee and then go and see lots of things.”

Asked what she’s been up to lately, Rachael excitedly reveals that she’s reunited with Kate Stables (of This Is The Kit) under the banner of their duo project Whalebone Polly. “We’re releasing an EP on September 15th called Taproot & Sill. That last song I just played, ‘Winter Rose’ is on it! And we’re touring around the UK – it’s all on the Whalebone Polly Myspace!”

www.myspace.com/whalebonepolly

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The Long Insiders

Sunday arrives and the sun is just about still shining on the main Truck stage where Oxford band The Long Insiders, fronted by retro-rock vixen Sarah Dodd, are enticing ever more music lovers into their Tarantino-esque world. Slackers beware – the dress code here is formal and smart, and the music is tidy too. Image is obviously important to Sarah, and even the Truck programme makes reference to her killer heels and dress sense. “It’s just really an excuse to dress up!” she enthuses to Wears The Trousers backstage after the band’s performance.

It’s Sarah’s first time at Truck and she likes it. “I’ve really, really enjoyed it,” she beams. “I’m not local. The boys are, but I’m a newbie. They stole me from Wales – I was living in Cardiff when I met them.” Having been whisked away to Oxford, Sarah’s been with The Long Insiders for two and a half years now. So what’s coming up for the band that proclaims to make “music for spies”? Espionage and skulduggery aplenty? “We’re just recording,” laughs Sarah. “We’re hoping to start touring in late summer.”

www.myspace.com/longinsiders

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Eliza Gilkyson

The clouds have behaved and it’s only serenity that reigns over at the Market Stage where the discerningly good taste of DJ Bob Harris determines the line-up throughout Sunday. ‘Whispering’ Bob lives locally and is the ultimate Trucker, as he explains to the gathering throng. “This is our local festival – twelfth year this year – and I remember the very first one, coming down here with the flatbed truck. Which is why the festival is called Truck Festival, because that’s how it started. Having been here for every year we thought it might be appropriate for me to take up residence in this tent during the course of the day and introduce some people – all friends of mine – with whom I’ve worked on my radio programmes. It is a particular pleasure to introduce the first guest on stage – Eliza Gilkyson!”

Few would have predicted that a fiftysomething with greying hair and armed with only an acoustic guitar would turn out to be the most rebellious spirit playing at this year’s festival. Her Trojan horse tunes, so beautifully spiked with metaphors and political barbs, are truly mesmerising. “A lot of people think I wrote my song ‘The Party’s Over’ about the Bush administration,” she smiles. “Finally got rid of that clown! I was actually writing it more about all of us who have enjoyed the luxury of consumption all of our lives, and as we transition away from fossil fuels that’s gonna change. We’re never gonna be able to live like we did, and I’m thinking that’s gonna be for the best! So that’s what I meant by the party’s over – we’ve had our fun but now it’s gonna change.”

truck_elizagilkyson1Eliza considers her songs carefully, and shares stories with the audience throughout her set. ‘The Beauty Way’, for instance, is derived from a Native American expression. “The beauty way is a path of life, a way to walk through the world according to the Navajos,” she explains. “You see everything as being beautiful, pray for it to be beautiful, or make it beautiful whenever you can. So I admire anybody who tries to walk the beauty way.”

After her enrapturing set, Eliza is in a hurry to leave as the band play in Ireland later and a flight to Dublin awaits her, but she still makes time to chat to Wears The Trousers about the Truck experience. “I love it because it’s young people here – it’s great when you can see families. Everybody loves music together. It makes me happy.”

She’s both flattered and surprised at being described as Truck’s most revolutionary spirit. “Really? Oh that’s interesting…well I’m surprised more people aren’t getting more political because even though [in the States] we have a better President we still have a lot of issues.”

Warming to her topic now, her fervour is roused and she continues:  “The most important song on my most recent record Beautiful World is ‘Dream Lover’, which is one of the rock tracks on the record. It’s about pornography, a woman who is in the pornography business. It’s a huge growing industry in the States, and there’s a lot of violence against women occurring. Because of the Internet, it’s gone crazy. That’s been an important subject for me. I really want to get to the young girls and tell them. Let them know that they shouldn’t be pressured into this kind of imagery! I think that’s the most important thing on my mind right now…”

www.myspace.com/elizagilkyson

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Sky Larkin

Over at the Barn Stage, Leeds trio Sky Larkin have evicted the cows in order to kick off a brilliant afternoon double bill of indie-rock. Katie Harkin is still the everywoman, big sister sort leading from the front with passionate finesse – rocking out, sure, but in a very English, controlled way – while drummer Nestor Matthews drives the band on with his typically frenzied attacks as they bash through tracks from their excellent debut album The Golden Spike. They didn’t have time to chat, sadly [read our earlier interview with them here]. After Truck they headed west to catch some Cornish air, and return to London on August 9th for an unmissable gig at Proud Galleries in Camden Town.

www.myspace.com/skylarkinskylarkin

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The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable add a white-hot intensity to the Sunday afternoon. The stench of dung (and a stinking set by Supergrass side project The Hot Rats) may hang heavy in the air, but diminutive dynamite Ritzy Bryan blows it all away. The epitome of the blonde bombshell frontwoman, she’s a whirling bundle of energetic shrieks as she and the band pound the barn and work the stage with their classic rock poses and tracks from recent mini-album A Balloon Called Moaning [download here for free]

Still buzzing at the end, Ritzy is happy to have a quick chat with Wears The Trousers backstage. “We’re well, thanks. First time at Truck and we had a great show! We definitely enjoy the intimacy of smaller festivals.” Perhaps even a Truck regular like Rachael Dadd could use Ritzy’s sage words of advice. “My top festival tip? A tent with a zip!” she laughs. “Very important. Trust our empirical knowledge!”

“The summer’s been a happy balance of festivals and the studio,” she adds. “We’re recording our debut album at the moment and we have a few things in the pipeline release-wise for the rest of the year.”

www.myspace.com/thejoyformidable

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The drizzle moves in just as Truck finishes with a flourish. Festivals can be judged on many levels. The happiness index at Truck is measured by the music it offers. The festival has consistently showcased emerging talent – there’s no need for outrageous exhibitionism here. Truck is rooted in rebellion against the mainstream. The weekend rebels can have their party, but they’ll be back in their suits come Monday. Truckers always choose the road less travelled.

Don Blandford
photos by Sally Saveall

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hi WTT and thank you for the lovely words! I’m so glad you enjoyed our set – and I hope you and the Wears The Trousers readers will enjoy the new album! You can listen to the whole thing right now, streaming live at http://www.marketstallrecords.tk , and you can get your own copy on Monday 10th August!

Love Vicky – Their Hearts Were Full of Spring x x

Comment by Vicky Spring

[…] a couple of Truck-related items … 1. A little post-performance interview with the girls, here. 2. A review, here. Not the best review ever to be honest, and there’s that whole twee / […]

Pingback by Five … « Their Hearts Were Full of Spring

I filmed a concert in HD video+Dolby 5:1 sound of both Whalebone Polly (Kate Stables & Rachael Dadd) and also Rozi Plain in Bournemouth at the i-bar. My film is not on the net. I know this review was just of Rachael. But since then, these three artists seem to have gained musical superpowers-I witnessed and recorded something marvelous, quite miraculous, possibly the best gig I have EVER seen.I am not a promoter, just someone obsessed with these three ladies musical genius.

Comment by Trevor




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