It’s odd to think this is the first camping-in-a-field festival I’ve done since 2001, also the first time on a steam railway since a family outing the same year. With Indietracks, I not only put both those things right, but was transported back to the late ’90s and early 2000s a bit by the appearances of several bands I should have seen at the time but never did (The Loves, Ballboy) and one or two others I did manage to catch (Tender Trap, or more accurately Marine Research in 1999 money, plus your man Hibbett of course).
But I’ll do the blow-by-blow music reviews in separate posts. If you weren’t there, you might want to know more broadly – what’s it like? The answer is, above all, friendly! Even terminally shy indie kids can easily find themselves chatting with smashing people, most of whom you’ll later discover are in bands whose records you own, or in some cases don’t own but should (so hello Grant Milky Wimpshake, Emily Chemistry Experiment, Jamie Micktravis-and-ex-Tompaulin!). Indie illuminati were in evidence pretty much wherever you turned, from John Jervis to Pete Green to Vom Vorton, who I never quite managed to say hello to and probably embarrass slightly by pointing out the Lardpony badge on by bag.
At this point I was hoping to show you videos of some of the lovely Indietracks patrons courtesy Winkball, whose reporters were knocking round the site all weekend. Unfortunately their embedding code doesn’t seem to work in WordPress, so I can’t bring you videos of Richard, the chap in a dress; Roo, who on Sunday evening went round taking lots of photos of lots of people including me, at inexplicable but endearing length; Rosa, friend of Jam on Bread and Hibbett; and many more. Nor would I have brought you the one they did with me. Have a look over here (and let me know how to make the embedding work if you know!) – there are three pages in all.
As well as being friendly, Indietracks is incredibly indie. Among the t-shirt count Belle and Sebastian seemed to win out, although Pavement made a late rally on the Sunday. There were also a few Hibbett shirts knocking around, though Nick and I both wore ours on the Saturday – we weren’t uncool enough to wear them on the day he played.
Being indie, it has lots of indie discos – three DJ sets each night, mostly straight-down-the-line indie. They did tend to play the same songs a bit: Camera Obscura did well, with two outings each for If Looks Could Kill and French Navy that I heard , while Kenickie’s Punka and Heavenly’s Atta Girl cropped up at least twice each. The undisputed floor-filler du festival was however Babies by Pulp – I counted four airings for it, but there may have been more. I’m not sure I agree with Sarah that this wasn’t a Good Thing, and although her preference for Misshapes was satisied by Feeling Gloomy on the Sunday, Babies is easier to dance to for rubbish indie dancers like me (as well as those two tracks, I also heard Razzamatazz and the William Shatner version of Common People – dancefloor dominance for Jarv and pals!). Steve kept insisting, “there’ll be Suede – it’s proper indie,” ahead of almost every DJ set. I don’t think I heard any Suede all weekend.
Indietracks is also child-friendly: various bands as well as punters could be seen with kiddiewinks in tow, including Amelia and Rob from Tender Trap, Validators Tim and Emma, Allo Darlin’s moustachioed bassist and others. It didn’t stop there being quite a lot of swearing from the stage, mind.
It’s a tasty festival: only a few food outlets, but only one of them was a burger van really (and that sold candy-floss). Gopal’s curry shack and the falafel stand did me well over the weekend.
Indietracks also spoils for choice. Before I do the proper reviews, a few bands I missed: Yokoko (on the train at the same time as Hibbett was on the main stage); Betty and the Werewolves (did want to see them, but there was a massive queue to get into the church… which overall was too small although it’s hard to see what could be done about it. Perhaps a few of those acts should really have been swapped with some on the indoor stage? White Town would be another); Be Like Pablo – I didn’t intend to go and see them really, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about them from those who did.
Blog posts to come: day by day reviews, and the Top 3 Indietracks Moments! At some point I’ll also put some captions on the photos on Flickr, but have a look now and guess at their significance if you like.