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LIVE: Truck Festival 2023

A community of vibrant individuals takeover Hill Farm in Oxfordshire for another year of music, dance, food, and activities. Across the weekend, we saw over 10,000 punters hit the fields to catch some of the UK’s favourite artists


Cue the opening gates, Thursday afternoon saw early birds set up camp in preparation for a weekend of partying. Gracing the mainstage was folk-pop singer songwriter Joely, with her sunkissed harmonies, Dead Pony, The Bug Club, and Swim Deep followed, setting the stage and crowd up nicely for Truck favourites The Wombats. The Liverpudlian three are no strangers to the mainstage at Truck, having last saw them at 2017. For the Thursday revellers, The Wombats played hit after hit and treated us to an impressive set made up of heavenly indie belters; from Kill The Director to Let’s Dance To Joy Division, the crowd did not stop moving.


The Nest (stage) plays host to some of the freshest alternative talent in the UK right now, it’s seen Dinosaur Pile-Up, The Subways, and Boston Manor to name a few, tear it up over the last few years but on Friday afternoon, Gaffa Tape Sandy made it their own; a thirty minute set of utter chaos with moments of somewhat controlled calmness followed, showcasing their infectious melodies and absolute talent for a memorable disco-doused indie track that had the entire tent hooked

The one thing that really grinded my gears this year were the set clashes - don’t get the tiny violin out just yet though because we made it work. Heavy Lungs, Red Rum Club and Pentire, all on at the same time. Ten minutes of Heavy Lungs wasn’t enough, but they impressed with their wildly dynamic sounds and thrilling stage presence. It was a quick sprint over to The Market Stage then to catch one song from Red Rum Club; from the This Feeling tent to The Market Stage, the Liverpudlian crew have proven hard work does pay off. We spent the rest of that thirty minutes watching up and comers Pentire, who proved that they belonged up on that stage. Their debut at Truck Festival showcased their jangly indie-pop bangers that left a trail of sweat, smiles, and anticipation for what’s to come next; their set proving to be the epitome of festival season; hands in the air, people on shoulders, and crowd singalongs.

As mentioned previously, The Nest is host to some proper hidden gems and that was no different when we popped over to catch the weird and wonderful Opus Kink. A performance of carefully constructed chaos and post-punk noise merged with brass pursued, with a cult-like host of a frontman directing the crowd with confident yet utterly disturbing flair. He wrapped that crowd around his fingers, as he jumped down to be amongst them, them chanting along to his murmurs before jumping back on stage to conclude their set.

Of course, it would have been rude not to catch The Vaccines. The ‘If You Wanna’ hitmakers warmed up revellers perfectly as they awaited Friday’s headliner with their glittery riffs and relatable singalongs. Two Door Cinema Club always provides us with a good night and having been no strangers to Truck Festival, they knew how to wrap the crowd around their fingers. The Northern Irish band put on a colourful performance and turned that entire field into a sold-out dancefloor with their disco-infused indie pop anthems. For an hour and a half, thousands of people let loose and danced with pints raised to glittery, playful tracks such as Undercover Martyn, Sun, and What You Know, two of which were the biggest indie hits of the 2010s. After a set of carefree enjoyment and dizzying melodies, Friday night came to a climatic end with the sunkissed notes of Something Good Can Work, choruses from a crowd not quite ready to finish dancing just yet, and a spew of confetti.


Here comes the sun - no - here comes the rain. By the end of Saturday night I had half the field stuck to the bottom of my boots, but the weather didn’t stop anyone from enjoying another day of live music. Wellies and ponchos at the ready. As I queued, hopeful that the water in the shower would be warm enough to put my head under, I heard murmurs of frustration and anticipation; ‘I can’t wait’ and ‘this queue better go quick, I can’t miss them’. The rush of people getting ready were waiting, of course, for the Oxford Symphony Orchestra. In the past, the orchestra have orchestrated mosh pits and honed in on absolute classics to kickstart a day of live music, and have quickly become Truck favourites.

Calum Bowie, TikTok sensation with over 400K followers and a steadily growing catalogue of singles, stepped up to the mark in the afternoon with a set of acoustic driven tunes with a glint in his eye and a smile that did not leave his face. The Scottish singer-songwriter … with

And despite the shitty weather, people gladly stood and watched the newcomer take to one of the biggest stages he’s played since his videos started going viral.

Cue Aqua’s Barbie Girl and a band full of adolescents fuelled by post-punk attitude and indie-punk melodies. Courting hit the stage in fashion, and left people that afternoon with an impression that will not go away anytime soon. Singer Sean Murphy-O'Neill had instant control over the crowd; ‘1,2,3, bounce’, and that they did.

Next we caught Panic Shack, and I have never felt so patriotic as I did in that tent as Panic Shack hit The Nest. The last time I saw them perform was at The Deep (now Main Stage) in Cardiff. In the space of over a year, the Welsh quartet have gone from strength to strength, causing a quake of chaos and somewhat uproar (aka the TikTok/Wet Leg fiasco), but have proven punks not dead quite yet. Snarling with heaps of attitude and riotous fun, they played, wreaked havoc, and even slid in a short dance routine, before ending with their debut single ‘Who’s Got My Lighter?’.

A spectacle of noise and the merging of genres followed; Squid put on an impressive set of musical genius. With a drummer taking on the role of frontman, their tentacles loaded with a sea of styles, and a fusion of brass, synth, and guitar - Squid delve into new soundscapes that showcase their maturity and critically acclaimed status at Truck. Their set, messy in a very sharp way, is almost cinematic in nature, and was a definite highlight of our weekend.

Saturday saw a change in pace for headliners Alt-J. Armed with a moody ambience, the Leeds native’s debut Truck performance had people swaying back and forth to tracks such as Something Good and Bloodflood. Despite the shitty weather, the crowd stuck it out, armed with their raincoats and beers in hand. For a Saturday night I was expecting loud, kick-in-the-face riffs with beers flowing, bodies flying, and instant knowledge of a singalong. The crowd jumped as soon as they heard the beginning notes of Left Hand Free, one half of the crowd had been waiting the entire set for, and ended with their classic Breezeblocks. Alt-J didn’t provide that but they did provide a relaxed end to what was a very wet evening.

To finish off my evening, I took a trip, albeit quite a slippery trip, to The Market Stage which had now been dubbed Palm City; a tent where the best dance artists takeover for a night of absolute belters, because half ten is just too early for some of us. Shy FX was the first, and only, artist I saw at Palm City, and it was worth staying up for. Armed with fellow DJ/Producer Dread MC and a crowd up to their eyeballs in mud, sweat, and tears of joy, he kept the party rolling into the early hours of the morning.


Upon the wake up call of the smell of bacon sandwiches, the belches of last night's revellers, and the distant sound of mainstage soundchecks, I was hopeful that the wet spell of weather had gone - because not only was it the final day, it was Royal Blood day. Before we could even think about that, we scoffed down some dried up bread rolls with crisps, and headed to the arena.

Out of the many performances filled with jangly guitars, pop sensibilities, and colourful melodies, one performance stood out in particular. With a set that pulled at your heart strings, Irish singer-songwriter Cian Ducrot, who rose to fame through TikTok, captured the attention of the Truck crowd. The multi-talented musician hopped from piano to guitar throughout his set of emotionally hard-hitting pop ballads, showcasing his ability of hypnotising a crowd with his utterly personal and incredibly raw storytelling.

Stone were the next ones on our list and they were ones we told you to keep an eye on. As soon as their boots hit the stage, we all knew we’d be in for a good set. The energy was parallel to their shows they’ve been playing in intimate venues; sweat-fuelled, rivetingly good chaos, and relentless screaming along to their choruses. The Liverpool four have not stopped gigging, releasing, and promoting their music, and their hard work proved worth it at The Market Stage on Sunday. Vocalist Fin Power paraded the stage, making it his own. He climbed the amps, swung from the scaffolding, and joined the crowd for what would be a performance to remember.

The last time I saw Feet was in 2020, when they supported Inhaler on their UK tour, and I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan. So when I went over to The Nest, the band due on stage any minute now, I was a bit apprehensive, but boy, did they prove me wrong. They took us on a trippy adventure through the sounds of FEET, a band who still know how to have boyish fun yet have massively matured since the last time I saw them on stage.

Gengahr have always been a staple to my summer playlists; sun-soaked melodies drenched with floaty riffs and warm vocals, so to finally hear them live - it made my weekend. Gengahr had no trouble soothing a crowd after the chaos wreaked by FEET, with tracks such as Icarus and their latest album Red Sun Titans. Gengahr have amassed a very loyal fanbase with their honest journey through music, as heard through their album, and it was obvious Gengahr have been enjoying this year's adventure so far.

The time had finally come, the time myself and thousands of other festival revellers had been waiting for. Pints were flying, surfers were over the barrier and hoards were bouncing to the riveting sounds of Royal Blood. Never a disappointment, the Brighton duo performed an exhilarating set full of power, attitude, and pure talent that left no doubt about their prowess as modern rock and roll titans. Every song, from opener ‘Out of the Black’ to latest single ‘Pull Me Through’, executed with precision and potency, highlighted their undeniable musical chemistry and charisma. The crowd had no choice in joining in on choruses from ‘Little Monster’ and ‘Trouble’s Coming’, two unbelievably captivating hits that the duo had no trouble in renditioning. Towards the end, the deafening roars of the crowd demanding an encore left the band returning for one more song - ‘Figure It Out’, an intensely gritty and electrifying performance paired with the finale fireworks, of course, left the audience in awe and hungry for more.

You can purchase early bird Truck Festival 2024 tickets here.

Words and Images: Tate Powell


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