Truck Festival was back in 2019 with another strong line-up to make the other small festivals weep. Located in the rolling Oxfordshire countryside upon Hill Farm in Steventon, the festival, now in its third decade, has transitioned over the past few years into a bigger event with ease, increasing the length from two to four days, and accommodating 18,000 festival goers this year. Also ensuring the names on the bill keep the festival line-up competitive with much bigger events.

Those lucky enough to purchase an early access ticket for Thursday entry had to contend with the hottest ever day on record in Oxford whilst setting up their tents. This didn’t seem to slow anybody down though when Slaves headlined day one on The Market Stage, the festivals second largest arena. The punk rock duo of Laurie and Isaac had the young crowd forgetting the temperature and going full steam ahead. The sauna like temperatures must have been over 40 degrees inside the tent, but did nothing to slow proceedings and there were multiple circle pits - a sign of things to come for the weekend. The young crowd were so up for it the band checked in with them during a few songs just to make sure everyone was OK (and probably grab a breather themselves!).

Cooling off outside the tent, it’s clear to see why Truck has been described as “The godfather of small music festivals”. The main arena is of a good size, nothing is too far away, and there are elements to keep everyone happy. From the fairground, the kids area, multiple food outlets (with a special mention to the rotary club) and the numerous stages, there is something for everyone. Family, accessibility, glamping and upgraded camping are options alongside the general camping to ensure everyone is comfortable.

Day two began, delightedly a few degrees cooler, with an early show from punk rock band Idles on the main stage - thankfully the festival moved them from the Market Stage as a large crowd had gathered to watch the lads perform the well-received ‘Danny Nedelko’ and ‘Well Done’ amongst others. The first of two Mercury Music Prize nominees booked for this weekend and they did not disappoint.

Later, on The Nest stage, Peterborough based band Airways were up. Drawing a large crowd the four piece had attracted a large crowd and proceeded to entertain them with the tunes ‘Reckless Tongue’ and ‘Alien’.

The evening began with the man of the moment, Scottish singer songwriter Lewis Capaldi taking to the Truck Stage with his usual humour and wit, combined with his obvious talent for banging out heartfelt song one after the other. The ‘Someone you loved’ singer had the large crowd bellowing back from start to finish.

A very quick run across to The Nest stage to catch Yonaka was well rewarded by catching the closing few tracks of ‘Teach me to fight’ and ‘Fired up’.

The great pace that Truck have bands playing and the tightness of the site means you’re able to get about between the main stage to a smaller stage to catch more music, which is great as I then made it back to watch Nothing But Thieves. Led by Conor Mason singing sincere lyrics with the backdrop of hard hitting guitar chords make them an enjoyable early evening watch.

A quick shout out to Fontaines D.C. who unfortunately had to pull out due to health issues. They would’ve been great to see in The Market Stage. The guys are having a brilliant year, themselves picking up a Mercury Nomination.

We were then in for a treat with last years Mercury Music Prize winners Wolf Alice headlining the Main Stage. The North London four piece delivered the perfect set in every sense, with Ellie Rowsell’s gifted voice wowing the crowd from start to finish with big hitters such as ‘Don’t delete the kisses’, ‘Bros’ and ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’. Confetti cannons were a nice touch to create a visual spectacle.

The night did not end there, with Truck putting on after hours entertainment in multiple venues including indie discos, silent discos, bands and DJs; enough to keep everyone who had any energy remaining busy.

Day three arrived after a spot of rain the night before. The festival team were quick to act and get hay down to cover the little damage that had been done. This enabled trainers to still be the preferred footwear of choice for the rest of the weekend.

First band on the main stage today were the Oxford Symphony Orchestra who provided an amazing array of songs, culminating in a circle pit. You had to see it to believe it. Is there anything you cannot mosh to?

Saturday afternoon saw a number of smaller bands hit the main stage and deliver decent sets pleasing the growing audience before the headliners that evening. Early on were Vistas and Ten Tonnes with their catchy songs.

Next up rockers Don Broco took to the main stage with Rob Damiani’s infectious energy lifting the crowd finishing with ‘Come out to LA’ and ‘T-Shirt song’.

After them on the main stage was Rock Royalty himself, Johnny Marr of The Smiths fame, now out on his own. In a set littered with classics, Marr opened with newer tracks ‘The Tracers’ and ‘Armatopia’, which was sandwiched with ‘Bigmouth strikes again’, the first Smiths track - to be followed up by other tracks from Marr’s other side project Electronic. A great end to the set saw the iconic intro to ‘This charming man’ which sent the crowd rapturous, followed by new track ‘Easy money’ and ending on ‘There is a light that never goes out’. An amazing setup for what was about to happen.

A quick nod to Mystery Jets who stepped in last minute to headline the Market Stage when due to flight delays Shame couldn’t make it to Hill Farm in time. A quick response from the Truck team to get a decent band in at short notice.

A quick turnover and then we had it. Local heroes Foals were back on their stomping ground, five years after last playing in Oxford, and twelve years after last playing the festival, they were back to show off. And boy they did. Yannis Philippakis is a man who doesn’t mess about. Firing straight into ‘On the luna’, the crowd immediately knew they were in for something special. A band who would be just as at home on the Pyramid stage, the intimate setting of Truck was a great place to witness the recently nominated ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost: Part 1’ album.

Dipping back into classics from yesteryear including ‘Spanish Sahara’ and rarely played ‘Hummer’, led into Yannis taking his trademark position inside the crowd to perform ‘What went down’, before obviously finishing on ‘Two steps, twice’, what else?! Coming to a close the band looked truly humbled to be home with Jack Bevan taking the mic at the end to show his personal appreciation to the festival and the crowd for being there. An amazing way to end day three of the festival. Many calling this the best Truck performance of all time. Who am I to argue? They provided a right spicy evening! Foals Forever.

Sunday was here, and how else to get the crowd up and moving on the final day than Mr Motivator taking to the main stage to provide an energetic workout for all to get involved with.

Early on Sunday we were glad to see local boys Cassels take to The Nest stage to a good crowd, followed by a marvellous performance from Gaffa Tape Sandy.

After some food, the main stage was set to New Orleans based Hot 8 Brass Band, who provided their own unique take on some classic tunes, particularly ‘Love will tear us apart’ and ‘Sexual Healing’. #webrasshard.

Then it was time for something special back in The Barn, past the huge queue - Barryoke. Shaun Williamson aka Barry of Eastenders fame, performing karaoke with members of the crowd. A lively audience absolutely loving it, singing along to every word!

The final three acts of our weekend was firstly You Me At Six on the main stage, with Josh Franceschi providing plenty of energy to get the crowd back up on the final night. With a decent back catalogue of songs to get through, the crowd were treated to classics like ‘Underdog’.
A quick dash over to The Market Stage to catch Kate Nash was certainly not a wasted journey. Coming onto the stage in a pink frilly dress and green hair to people rapidly filling the tent up, belting the lyrics back at her. Before finishing the set in a leotard and diving into the crowd for one of the best received songs of the weekend when she sang her hit record ‘Foundations’.
Finally to end the weekend on the main Truck Stage were Two Door Cinema Club. The Irish indie pop band know what they’re doing and have a large back catalogue to easily fill the headline slot. Coming on to a colourful visual show behind them to ‘Talk’ from the new album before firing into ‘Undercover Martyn’ and ‘I can Talk from their debut album Tourist History’. A hit filled set ensued before finishing with ‘Something good can work’ and ‘Sun’ bringing the evening to a close with an amazing fireworks display over the main stage.
Truck Festival have the blend just right of smaller size festival, the right level of facilities and big enough bands to play far more sizable places that make it a weekend not to miss next year. A festival for music fans.

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