Indietracks review: Friday

OK, boring stuff first, meet at St Pancras, train up to Alfreton, taxi to site, tents up, cracking. By about 3, Steve and I were ready to wander up from the camp site to the festival and let the good times roll. Trouble was, when we’d wandered down the country lane to the Swanwick Junction site… it wasn’t open! We’d thought there would be people milling around, getting their writsbands and supping ale already, but no – there was just Everybody Was In The French Resistance… Now soundchecking. Fun though that was, we soon did the only sensible thing and wandered back to the camp site…

… where we ambled past Elizabeth Allo Darlin’ who said hi to Steve. I’m not cool enough for Elizabeth Allo Darlin’ to recognise me. Sadface. Still, there was beer, and as we sat outside the camp site café, the world of indie slowly trickled up and checked into the site. Many of them veterans of turn-of-the-millennium email lists that I was never on – Indietracks attracts a slightly older generation of indie, who remember Britpop as adults rather than teenagers, as well as those of us still in our 20s.

So, after that false start (but welcome beer interlude – I realise the word “beer” is likely to be well-used in this review) we wombled over to the site proper, where we did manage to get wristbands this time. Also, you got a free badge with the programme: seeing a pot of grey badges and a pot of yellow ones, I move to take a yellow one – but no! You have to pay for the yellow ones! Presumably the lady behind the table had to explain this to 90% of the people who went through, as the yellow ones were nicer – still, her problem not mine. On Sunday morning I found a yellow one on the grass, utterly devoid of an owner – bad luck for whoever used to own it, but karma for me, I couldn’t help but feel.

So, at length, it was time for the first band, Veronica Falls, who seemed to think the first half of their set was still the soundcheck and sloped off-stage only to return a minute later. They were very C86, even by the standards of the weekend (I seem to confuse them in my mind with Betty and the Werewolves, whose set I ultimately missed), and while I liked their track on the compilation, for whatever reason it didn’t really translate this evening. Perhaps it’s the size of the stage or lack of audience interaction. They do have a very cool-looking singer though.

For my money the point when the festival really kicked off was with Allo Darlin‘s set as the sun started to go down and, for some reason, a couple of hot air balloons went over the site. Their album is the indie record that everyone’s talking about this year (slightly unfairly on, say, The School’s album, which is at least as wonderful if you ask me), so not surprisingly everyone swarmed down the front and danced away. Much as I like the record, I feel the songs come across a bit better live, as frankly the band completely nailed it. Is Elizabeth Allo Darlin’ this generation’s Amelia Fletcher? She’s rapidly approaching that status – all the boys swooned over her, and the girls seemed to admire her rather than hate her. If it’s a fair point, her current presence in the Tender Trap line-up is even cooler. But this evening Allo Darlin’ ruled – if it’s possible to be a major force in the not-so-massive world of indie (most of which, it turns out, can be accommodated within the Midland Railway Centre), this band now is one.

Who, then could possibly follow that? The answer was, and could only ever possibly have been, Eddie Argos – this evening, not with Art Brut but in the form of his side-project Everybody Was In The French Resistance… Now (sic) Now I’ve got to admit I simply hadn’t got Eddie’s wry semi-spoken schtick before – Hibbett and others had long insisted in the face of my Art Brut doubts that, “you’ve got to see them live!” and they were right! Frankly, it makes perfect sense now – this was brilliant! Not everyone’s cup perhaps, but for those watching Eddie held the crowd, it was real showmanship. Here’s a bit of video to give you an idea…
Bless him, he seemed genuinely aggrieved and sad that he had to go to another gig that weekend and coulnd’t stay to watch MJ Hibbett.

The two indie discos after the bands – Come Out 2Nite in the marquee, and Offbeat in the rather larger shed / bar – had a bit of a grudge match going on, but with all the chatting to nice people I never actually got into the marquee. Though I did hear them play Joy Division Oven Gloves by Half Man Half Biscuit – Steve bet me that would be the only HMHB song played all weekend, but he was wrong, as Offbeat gave us some half an hour later. Handily they were projecting their set onto the wall live as they went – have a look. Admit it, you’d fancy a dance to that, wouldn’t you?

I had a relatively early night on Friday – on the whole the evening was just enough to get in the mood but not quite enough to make it feel like it had properly got going. Saturday, however, was the real deal…

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