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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WHAT HAPPENED AT TRUCK FESTIVAL 2022

Truck Festival is back! After a three year break, due to obvious reasons, the Oxfordshire festival returned backed by some of the biggest headliners in the UK: Sam Fender, Bombay Bicycle Club and Kasabian.

The Hill Farm event has been running for over two decades and attracts around 30 000 fans each year. The name may confuse anyone who hasn’t attended the festival but Truck Festival has nothing to do with HGVs and its purely music and comedy based. Previous acts include: Foals, George Ezra and The Libertines.

Friday was a scorcher of an afternoon and boasted indie-rock favourites Spector on the main stage. Front man Fred McPherson braved a black suit for a few songs before seeing sense and shedding his jacket. The quartet are Truck fest regulars, but this was their first time on the main stage and they grabbed the opportunity with glee, playing a set that included classic crowd-pleasers , ‘Celestine’ and ‘All The Sad Young Men’ recent single ‘Catch You On The Way Back In’. A whirlwind 45 minute set that left McPherson with a split lip and a crowd moshing to the band’s videographer performing ollies on a finger-skateboard. Yes, that actually happened.

Sea Girls are becoming more popular by the day and attracted a big crowd. Henry Camamile was in a white cut off t-shirt and was in good form and climbed into the audience for ‘Damage Done’. A highlight was guitarist Rory Young beaming from ear to ear whilst performing knee lifts during ‘Lucky’ and ‘Hometown’. The crowd lapped them up, but its hard to pin point anything that they offer that a hundred other indie-pop acts don’t.

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Sigrid brought some pop chic to the mainstage. There was a delay due to the safety barrier needing to be adjusted post Sea-Girls. (The Truck Festival didn’t have an MC or DJ, so there was a stilted atmosphere between acts. Usually someone would come out to thank the previous band and get the crowd warmed up for the next act. On occasions the smaller bands would be on stage sound checking and some of the audience watched on as if this was their set). The Norwegian starlet delivered the hits ‘ Burning Bridges, ‘Don’t Feel Like Crying’ and ‘Sucker Punch’ to the main-stage and backed by superb live band, the hits sounded fuller and harder than the studio versions, Sigrid’s vocals were on point remarked that she knew she was in for a fun gig when she arrived at the site at 12pm and there was already a mosh pit. I had to leave mid set due to catch Sundara Karma on the Market Stage so sadly missed out on ‘Strangers’.

The Reading quintet were almost playing a home town gig and the tent was over flowing before they played opening track ‘Kill Me’. The subdued reaction to their 2020 single was a taster for things to come and it quickly came apparent that 90% of the audience only wanted to hear their debut album. As soon as the band played the introduction to ‘Loveblood’ the tent erupted and some fan scurried away for cover from the emerging mosh circles. This would continue for ‘Olympia’ and ‘Young Understanding’ but when singer Oscar Pollock introduced a new song or played anything from ‘Ulfilas’ Dream’ the reaction was noticeably mixed. The sudden downpour outside did create a captured audience to witness some new tracks , with a more emo feel. Though it was ‘She Said’ that would offer the sheltering fans sheer gratification.

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Luckily the rain subsided in time for Friday’s headline set from Bombay Bicycle Club. The guys have slowly become one of the finest live acts in the UK and to see them headline a festival was always going to be a special occasion. They delivered all of the hits from the set opener ‘ Eat, Sleep, Wake’, through to the jazz sampling ‘Shuffle’ to the Bollywood influenced ‘Luna’. The band were joined by a horn section and Saint Clair on backing vocals( whose vocals were beautiful for their cover of Selena Gomez‘s ‘Lose You to Love You’ in Liz Lawrence’s absence, and certainly enjoyed having a larger stage budget as we were treated to a ticker-tape cannon from the off and later wed be showered with paper streamers and witness the band physically frightened by a spectacular shower of sparks overhead. Jack Steadman remarked on how unreal it was to play to so many people and how music has kept him going through the dark times. Their music certainly kept us going and especially with the inclusion of some more rocker tracks from the bands debut album ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ like ‘Evening/Morning’ and ‘What If’. A festival highlight would have to be ‘Carry Me’ where the band invited as many people to be carried up on their shoulders. I was then lifted out of the crowd and I crowd surfed onto the stage and was applauded by the 30 000 watching. Ok, that didn’t actually happen, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who dreamt it. A wonderful performance and a great way to end the first days festivities.

Saturday

Returning to the second farm of Truck festivals second full day, I noticed that compared to other festivals I have attended they certainly are making improvements on how accessible the site was. They had installed a Mobiloo for people with physical disabilities to access a toilet, as well as having lowered bar areas for wheelchair users to purchase drinks. There was also a trained UN rep and UK Guardian Angel tent set up for anyone who felt unsafe on site and needed a safe space. The volunteers would walk around in pink tops to offer support if needed. Great to see the festival doing its best to making the weekend inclusive and safe for all its attendees.

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Coach Party were on The Nest stage for their afternoon slot and judging by this performance they are surely going to be playing a bigger stage next time they appear at Truck. The Isle of Wight four piece have mix grunge guitars with 80s pop melodies, like a modern day Elastica, and have some killer tunes like ‘Shit TV’ and ‘Can’t Talk, Won’t’. Bassist/singer Jess Eastwood asked if any of us had Sam Fender’s personal number, sadly no one could help her with her quest, though one audience member did call out that she could do better!

Back to the main stage and Baby Queen bounded on to stage in a multicolour dress and pink guitar. The front rows were filled with teenage fans who were maybe a bit too young to emphasise with her songs about sex, drugs and depression. She does have an ear for a hook and ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Want Me’ are brilliant pop songs that are perfect for the Tiktok era.

Sports Team are a band I’ve been waiting to see live for a number of years. They didn’t disappoint, front-man Alex Rice dressed as a matador made sure that over the bands short 30 minute set that they were going to leave an impression. Rice is the only singer I have witnessed throwing shoes into the mosh pit. When not throwing shoes he was climbing the stage pillars until he was stopped short by his mic lead. He eventually ran out of ideas on stage so took his show to the crowd and delivered the entirety of the band’s biggest hit ‘Here’s The Thing’ mid audience. The rest of the band played on without a care in the world. Rice did eventually return unscathed. It was hard to catch most of his on stage vocals, but as a visual display – they were a thrill.

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Gaelle beri / Caitlin Mogridge

Kelis stood out as being the only indie/rock act on the main stage and I was curious to see how the Truck mosh pit brigade in their bucket hats and over the shoulder bum bags would react to a 00’s pop star. Turns out they loved her as much as I had and maybe we had forgotten how many bangers she has appeared on from ‘Bounce’ with Calvin Harris, to ‘Millionaire’ with Andre 3000, through to her set highlight ‘Acapella’. Kelis had the dance moves, the voice and the beats to delight the doubters and became one of the weekends best performances.

Big Moon on the Market Stage were apparently having a crap day and thanks to us singing along to ‘Cupid’ and ‘The Light’ made their day. You are welcome Big Moon, and thank you for an unexpected cover of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’.

The Kooks were an obvious big draw, and having seen the act a few times and without being impressed I decided to see what else the festival had to offer. On the Rocking Chair stage Shaun Williamson aka Barry from Eastenders was well into his renowned ‘Barrioke’. Punters had signed up to sing karaoke anthems like : ‘Living on a Prayer’ , ‘Mr Brightside’ and ‘Common People’ alongside Shaun and the audience loved it. ‘Barrioke’ is playing at numerous festivals all summer – check it out.

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Gaelle beri / Caitlin Mogridge

Sam Fender was Saturdays headline act and most of the other stages ended at 9:45pm so all of the Truck Festival called witness the North East singer-songwriter. A swelling crowd a wash with Newcastle Utd shirts made their way to the main stage. Fender started off with ‘Will We Talk’ and instantly it was clear that there was just too many people all trying to get to the front and families were trying to move away from the younger, rowdy crowd members. Shaun Williamson came on next as a surprise guest, Fender fancied his own Barrioke and the duo performed ‘Getting Started’ whilst the entire field took out their phones to record a special moment. Fender called this the highlight of his life so far, imagine how happy he would have been if it was Ant n Dec? A moving rendition of ‘Dead Boys’ showcased Fenders emotive vocals and it gave the crowd an opportunity to get their breath back, but by the time ‘The Borders’ was played the show had to be stopped on numerous occasions due to people collapsing. Fender had to say that he will change the set list as it was too dangerous, he will have to return to play his punk songs another time. From here on he played a more chilled out set list including new song ‘Alright’ and asked us all to stream it so that he can make £4. The band decided to not encore due to the previous stoppages, but he still played his two big hitters ‘ Seventeen Going Under’ and the song that got everything going ‘Hypersonic Missiles’. Luckily there weren’t any casualties, this was a case of an artist being just too popular. 

Sunday

Truck Festival isn’t all about music and Sunday afternoon was all about comedy in The Rocking Chair. The venue is basically a converted cow shed with some glitter trimmings. Jarred Christmas was the MC and orchestrated the proceedings with expertise as a room of 500 people and only 100 seats can be rather tricky situation to navigate. The comedians on the bill were Kate WilliamsIvo GrahamDaisy Earl and Andy Askins, alas headliner Ed Byrne couldn’t make it due to traffic. A nice break from the harsh sun before another day of pure music.

Megan Wyn was playing on the This Feeling stage and created a chilled area to listen to her acoustic set including new single ‘Better of You’ and a great cover of Stevie Nicks‘ ‘Edge of Seventeen’.

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The Magic Gang were making their Main Stage debut after previous Truck Festival outings. Bassist/vocalist Angus Taylor thanked God for the wind, his hairline and the cameras so we could see the band having a great gig. They attracted quite the crowd who showed their love be singing back tracks ‘What Have You Got To Lose’ and ‘Caroline’. What the guys lack in glamour they certainly made up with musicality and their harmonies and playing were on point. Surely they should be headlining a stage soon.

Kawala were playing in The Market Stage. A name that I have seen on many a Spotify playlist, so I thought I should check them out and pleased I did. They were one of the most charismatic acts on the line-up and enjoyed their self depreciating humour about their most recent success at reaching 29 in the charts with their debut album. ‘Ticket To Ride’ and ‘ Do It Like You Do’ were the perfect tracks for loosening up the old limbs with a much needed boogie.

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Gaelle beri / Caitlin Mogridge

Inhaler were one of the biggest draws of the festival behind headliners Kasabian. The Dublin act certainly had the confidence and stage craft of a band who are set for the big time. Not many people can pull off a white vest look but hats off to Elijah Hewson, and drummer Ryan McMahon seemed to be channelling Eddie from ‘Stranger Things’ with a cut off denim waistcoat. Nice work guys. Fashion aside, the band have half a dozen great tracks like the post-punk ‘My Honest Face’ and ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ but maybe didn’t have any bangers to satisfy more than a 30 minute slot.

Sam Ryder is still basking in the glory of his Eurovision success. With the UK announced as next years hosts he is going to enjoy being in the limelight for at least another year and he should have really been given a slot on the main stage as the entire festival tried to get a glimpse of the star. He has only released a few tracks so for a lot of the set the audience couldn’t sing along, until Ryder played an acapella version of Abba’s ‘Waterloo’ that had everyone singing along. Of course he ended by playing ‘Space Man’ with a thrilling solo on his brand new guitar, but like Inhaler he is still missing the material to match his obvious talent.

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Caitlin Mogridge / Gaelle Beri

Sunday’s headliners were the legendary Kasabian and one of the only bands who have been going more than a decade. We have all heard about the bands line-up changes so it was going to be interesting to see the band with Serge Pizzorno as the new lead singer. The former Music frontman Rob Harvey is the latest addition to the Leicester group and took over from Serge’s previous role on backing vocals and guitars/keys. Pizzorno was decked out in some polka-dot North Face attire and seemed set on using all of his experiences on how to drive a headline show. Classic ploys included getting each section of the crowd to separately cheer louder than the others, making us all sit down before the chorus drop explosion and to go off stage, find a pair of massive foam hands to wave around during ‘Vlad The Impaler’. Showbiz gimmicks aside, the songs of Kasabian’s back catalogue did all the talking and from show opener ‘Club Foot’, through to ‘Empire’ and ‘LSF’ the band have hit after hit and they kept them coming. Even new tracks ‘Chemical’ and ‘Scriptvre’ didn’t stop the flow and Pizzorno declared that “this has been the best F**cking gig of the summer”. The band encored with the sing-a-long ‘Bless This Acid House, ‘LSF’ and a stomping ‘Fire’ into Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’. As the fireworks exploded over head to the last notes of ‘Fire’ I made a quick get-away back to reality. Thank you for a fun filled weekend Truck Festival 2022!