WORDS BY EMILY MAXTED / IMAGES BY ALEX RATCLIFFE
Reasserting its place on the UK festival scene after a three-year miss, owing to COVID-19 restrictions, the anticipation can certainly be felt as 25,000 festivalgoers, returning and new, embark on their pilgrimage towards Hill Farm.
With the likes of some of indie’s finest, namely Blossoms, Bombay Bicycle Club and Sam Fender, dominating this years’ line-up, and true rock legends, Kasabian, in their final UK festival performance of the year, tasked with bringing the weekend to its ultimate finale; in the aftermath of Britain’s heatwave earlier in the week, it is certainly shaping up to be one hell of a comeback for the festival’s 25th anniversary.
Although arguably off to a bit of a shaky start on Thursday, involving an hour delay in opening the gates for those with early-entry tickets with little information given, ultimately owing to issues with finalising the campsites, it was more than made up for by the day’s talent ahead. It was up to Salisbury’s indie-rock four-piece, CARSICK, to kick off this year’s proceedings up on the Main Stage. Having only formed just last year, the band’s medley of indie, electronic post-punk characterising their discography, quickly manage to draw in the first Truck Festival 2022 mosh pit. With other names, such as Edinburgh’s own Brooke Combe – backed by Charlie Salt from Blossoms on bass – and Vistas, alongside recent addition, Tom A. Smith, to the Thursday line-up, fresh off supporting Elton John in Hyde Park and imminently due to support Courteeners at their exclusive London, Electric Ballroom show on July 29th, it soon becomes evident that the rising talent establishing themselves this year, cannot be underestimated.
It’s almost impossible to not feel at home at the festival. Listening to members of the crowd sharing their past Truck Festival memories, you can really gather a sense that there is truly something for everyone here, regardless of age. Split across seven stages, with three main camping areas, as well as having a designated kids’ area, there is certainly a level of cosiness that is harder to be felt with the bigger festivals, like Reading and Leeds. A particularly nice touch is the merch area, displayed as a microcosm of the original Truck record store in the heart of Oxford, with preowned CD’s and artist signings across the weekend available for all music fans.
Despite normally holding a capacity of up to 10,000, the Festival certainly does well to manage the newfound capacity of 25,000; however, with that said, it’s impossible to not acknowledge the aspects of the weekend that could perhaps do with some polishing to maximise the fan experience for next year. With the TV screens shutting down mid-way through Bombay’s Saturday set, to a broken barricade delaying Sigrid’s performance, and the Nest Stage, in particular, suffering continuous delays over the weekend, sadly means some artists have to be missed entirely owing to clashes with other stages.
However, it’s with everyone’s favourite Stockport five-piece that the festival atmosphere is now undoubtedly here. As Blossoms kick off their set with fan-favourite hit from their 2020 third album, Foolish Loving Spaces, ‘I Can’t Stand It’, it’s an absolute pleasure to be reminded of just how euphoric and immersive their live shows can be. Mixing up their set with a combination of hits from across all four albums, as well as paying homage to 80s legends The Human League with a cover of synth-heavy ‘Don’t You Want Me’. Creating an absolutely headline-worthy atmosphere, before coming out to an encore finishing with their breakthrough 2016 hit, ‘Charlemagne’, it is a treat to witness just how much they have progressed as a band since their first album. Truck Festival 2022 is certainly in full swing now.
BLOSSOMS SET LIST
1/ I Can’t Stand It
2/ If You Think This Is Real Life
3/ The Sulking Poet
4/ Your Girlfriend
6/ My Swimming Brain
7/ The Keeper
8/ Care For
9/ Honey Sweet
10/ Blown Rose
12/ Ribbon Around The Bomb
13/ Oh No (I Think I’m in Love)
14/ At Most A Kiss
15/ Don’t You Want Me (The Human League cover)
16/ My Favourite Room
17/ There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)
As another incredibly strong line-up awaits us on Friday across all stages, there comes the familiar pang of sadness of wanting a set to be longer. Certainly felt by fans and artists alike, Sea Girls front-man, Henry Camamile, laments the 45-minute set time as the band takes to main stage, preceding Sigrid. Having released their much-awaited sophomore album, Homesick, back in March, and with a tour lined up for the end of the year, involving a headline show at Ally Pally, the band are fast-cementing their name on the UK indie scene. With a combination of their emotionally compelling hooks and lyrically raw hits such as ‘Lonely’ and ‘Sick’, it would not be controversial to say that the band are well on their way to acquiring enough ammunition to take on a festival headline slot.
Bombay Bicycle Club are left in charge of headline duties on the Friday night, marking their UK festival return this summer for the first time since their reunion in 2019. Although festival legends, with hits such as ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’ and ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’, seemingly very much ingrained in the hearts of their fans, their set cannot help but feel like a little bit of a come down, particularly following the energy sustained by the efforts of Sigrid and Sea Girls earlier in the evening.
BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB SET LIST
1/ Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)
2/ Is It Real
6/ Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
7/ Dust On The Ground
8/ Lights Out, Words Gone
10/ What If
11/ Good Day
12/ How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep
13/ Lose You To Love Me (Selena Gomez cover)
15/ Carry Me
16/ Always Like This
It turns out to be Saturday, which sees the true dark horse of Truck Festival 2022 emerge. With Sam Fender on the day’s line-up and the festival grounds permeated by Newcastle F.C. shirts, it is, in fact, Truck Festival regulars, the Oxford Symphony Orchestra, that steal the entire show. Conducted by Robert Camp, who soon becomes a fan-favourite, the group sees potentially the most successful mosh pit of the entire weekend, to the likes of ABBA’s ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!’, Queen’s ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, and David Bowie’s ‘Starman’. Complete with chants of ‘SCHUBERT’, and the formation of mosh pits that culminates in pirouettes; this is a set that will remain with Truck Festival attendees for a very long time to come. The first act on the main stage for the day, it is absolutely fair to say that it is set for subsequent performers: Baby Queen, Sports Team, and indie heroes, The Kooks.
The award for the most potentially anticipated-for act of the weekend, has to go to Sam Fender. With a career that has gone from nothing but strength-to-strength, since the release of his debut album, Hypersonic Missiles (2019), and most recently, Seventeen Going Under (2021), the North Shields singer comes straight from headlining a 45,000 cap. Finsbury Park. Despite the set requiring alterations to avoid any more ‘annihilations’, after stopping the show to tend to a number of crowd casualties; it is the appearance of Shaun Williamson, Barry in Eastenders, during the night’s rendition of ‘Getting Started’ that proves to not only be one of the ‘highlights’ of Sam’s career, but the festival as a whole.
SAM FENDER SET LIST
1/ Will We Talk?
2/ Getting Started (ft. Shaun Williamson)
3/ Dead Boys
5/ The Borders
7/ Get You Down
8/ Spit Of You
11/ The Dying Light
12/ Seventeen Going Under
13/ Hypersonic Missiles
Exuding a cool confidence throughout their set, with their incredible harmonies, and not to mention, the high-energy guitar solos that permeate hits such as ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ (now with a considerably different meaning post-pandemic), Sunday sees Dublin band, Inhaler, make their mark as they take to the main stage.
However, it is the absolute party thrown by Leicester-based indie/R’n’B’ band, Easy Life, that sees the majority of Sunday’s crowd flock in. The endeavours of frontman, Murray Matravers, to establish connection between artist and audience are second-to-none, as fan-favourite song ‘Nightmares’ is absolutely not complete without crowdsurfing, and a mosh pit to match. The thing about an Easy Life live show is that it’s not merely a show, their art makes it an entire performance.
With the main stage locked down, other notable acts dominate the various stages across the weekend. The Market Stage is home to Eurovision hero, Sam Ryder, with performances by Sundara Karma, Orla Gartland, and The Big Moon going down an absolute treat with fans. Over on The Nest, it’s the knack for a catchy chorus on behalf of Isle of Wight band Coach Party, alongside indie-pop prospect, Bloxx, that leaves them as definitive ones-to-watch, whilst The Native and Birmingham-based four-piece Overpass command attention on the This Feeling Stage with their hits, ‘Changes’, and ‘On Your Own’, respectively.
The finale of Truck Festival 2022 is now upon us, with a performance truly fit for a finale thrown by fellow Leicester band, Kasabian. Following the departure of former lead-vocalist, Tom Meighan, back in 2020, it is now guitarist/vocalist, Sergio Pizzorno, on vocal duties for the future rock band. Certainly no mean feat, Pizzorno seamlessly displays his prowess as a frontman, as he powers through Kasabian classic, ‘Club Foot’, before launching into an effortless mash-up of ‘eez-eh’ and the always infectious, ‘You’re in Love with a Psycho’. Expressing his praise for the Festival, Pizzorno is absolutely bang on, as he remarks that the show is the kind that you join a band for. Despite launching into the crowd during ‘Treat’, complete with an excerpt of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’, it is absolutely their 2009 anthem ‘Fire’, that takes the cake for being the stand-out song of the night. Naturally complete with pyrotechnics, the finale – literally – goes out with a bang, as a monumental fireworks display serves as a fond farewell to not merely an incredible set, but an incredible four days of music.
KASABIAN SET LIST
1/ Club Foot
2/ Ill Ray (The King)
5/ You’re in Love with a Psycho
7/ Shoot the Runner
10/ Pinch Roller
13/ Vlad the Impaler
14/ Bless This Acid House
15/ Praise You/L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)
A three-year wait for a return certainly ends up working in Truck Festival’s favour. One clearly treasured by many, it hits a true sweet spot between the calm of smaller festivals, and the intensity of those considerably bigger. Despite heralding a considerably indie-dominated line-up, it is absolutely not hard to picture the festival reaching its next milestone. Welcome back, Truck Festival.
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