Review - Truck Festival 2023

By Jamie Hill - 26 July 2023

Arts and CultureAttractions

Jamie Hill ventured to Oxfordshire’s Truck Festival last weekend, where he encountered more bucket hats than have been seen since a Shaman rave during the nineties, mud, some ruddy good music and even more mud.

There was mud everywhere by Saturday afternoon.

I suppose there was bound to be. Rain had been forecast for the Saturday all week.

But by the afternoon of that Saturday at Truck Festival, just down the road in Steventon on the other side of Wantage, it was a veritable mudbath.

And I had worn the wrong shoes. Trainers no longer cut it and the mud was so slippy I might as well have been trying to walk on ice. Every step was treacherous. People were falling arse over tit everywhere you looked.

There were 25,000 people at Truck Festival. Small by national standards if you compare it to the small cities of 200,000 people at Glastonbury or Reading but still a hell of a lot of people.

So with that many people walking around it was bound to turn everything into a mudbath even with a small amount of rain.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Truck Festival. I’ve been a few times before and it is always absolutely fantastic. But I’m allowed to shake my fist at the heavens and implore it to blimmin’ stop raining.

It’s a well-run festival though (and you can’t exactly blame them for the English weather). Easy enough to walk around with enough different music tents with enough variety of acts of every genre to please every taste.

And for me it was a bit of a voyage of discovery as everywhere I turned I encountered another band that I instantly fell in love with.

The headline bands on the main stage were pretty damn good. I had missed the Thursday night when ‘The Wombats’ played unfortunately (ruddy work getting in the way of slumming it at a festival) but on Friday you had ‘The Vaccines’ (a bit ‘meh’ compared to when I had seen them last as if they were phoning it in) with ‘Two Door Cinema Club’ as the closing act (wondrous stuff from them). Personally, though the band of the night for me was ‘Spector’ who played on one of the side-stages and knocked it out the park.

On Saturday morning, I woke up with a slight hangover having maybe had a couple too many at the dance tent the night before (it’s a miracle that I managed to find my way back to the tent in the state I was in). So the day started off with a bit of gentle comedy where I caught the always amazingly ranty Jonathan Pie. And then, having fed ourselves from the charity Feelgood tent, we went on a voyage of discovery in search of music. And it definitely was a pretty damn fine journey to new worlds. Stand-outs for me were Oxford’s very own ‘The August List’, ‘The Beths’, ‘Danny and the Champions of the World’, ‘The DMA’s’ and ‘The Crawlers’. But really I was there for ‘Alt-J’ who were just superb creating a sonic wave that enveloped the entirety of Hill Farm as they closed the evening.

Sunday, with the entire site still a mudbath but with the promise of some sunshine later in the day, was even better for our musical odyssey. Bands that particularly caught me were ‘Sprints’, ‘Feet’ (who were my favourite discovery of the festival), ‘Low Island’, ‘The Lathums’, ‘Everything Everything’ (who were still as good as when I had seen them a decade before) and closing off the night were the amazing ‘Royal Blood’. I love ‘Royal Blood’ and they had been the band that I had most been looking forward to. Just a big melodic rock sound that shakes you to your very core. I loved every second.

Truck, as always, was an experience and it still feels such a community even with the tens of thousands of revellers. People look out for each other and there was definitely a bit of Blitz Spirit as we all tackled the mud. As friendly festivals go, Truck is the type to come round your house with supplies when you’re poorly. Everyone was just so nice.

The organisers are obviously passionate about music and know exactly what they are doing. Which definitely helps when you’re putting on something of this scale.

I just wish I had known what I was doing a bit more and had brought along some better footwear for the mud. But you live and learn! Next time I’ll just go in one big pair of wellies and maybe a bucket hat.

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