Truck Fest 2019

Words and images Sarah Harrington

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I hate to tell you, lovely hapless security guard, but there wasn’t really water in that water bottle. Praise be for the rise in metal water bottles. 

I was not alone in downloading the Spotify playlist of the weekend in order to prepare. Prepare I suppose for at least knowing what the artists sounded like and definitely knowing two of their songs. I could nod around at others at those two songs at least, provided they play them…

That seemed to be the fear, to turn up and realise just how out of touch with music I really am. Someone had recently said to me that everyone gets trapped in a chasm of music they listened to between the ages of sixteen to twenty, after that music stops meaning so much. 

Bleak thought isn’t it? I thought so too. 

But I would humbly like to contradict this. Music, even the same song, takes on new meanings as life shoehorns new experiences; new meanings don’t equate to less meaning. The songs I played in my first car become the battle cries I replay when life has just shat on my third car. But that’s not to say there’s not room for new arrivals. It keeps rolling, they’ll all be nostalgic at some point I suppose. 

TruckFest is referred to as the biggest small festival in Europe, I won’t be doing the research to check the validity of that for you, so let’s all just cautiously accept it. Anyway, it emerged in 1998 and has blossomed into a right beauty. 

It’s what many refer to as a ‘first festival’, a miniature of the real deals. I for one loved that everything was within a fifteen walk and that the loos had toilet roll, for a golden hour in the mornings at least. But a ‘first festival’ does mean ‘first festival-goers’, aka people that have just finished their exams. This became clear as soon as I arrived in the camping area but I quickly remembered that teenagers still aren’t scary; in fact, have you noticed that barely of them smoke cigarettes anymore? The family camping area congregated in the arena and varied up the age range nicely, but something about the youth in the festival made it what it was. 

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A clear example was when the Oxford Symphony Orchestra were playing and, in order to show their appreciation, a huge mosh pit formed and attempted to mosh to a medley of Pirates of the Caribbean. No room for snobbery here, celebrate whatever the heck you’re listening to; someone spent years learning how to play that for you. 

It was at the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets gig that I saw a young guy hoisted and thrown into his first crowd surfing experience. Public Service Broadcasting was a favourite of the rock pool discoveries this weekend. They utilize old documentary images and speech to accompany their music; aiming to ‘teach lessons of the past through music of the future’ as they state on their website – and it really, really works.

I step back along the timeline of music into the mid noughties where nostalgia really wanted to make a stomping visit with the Mystery Jets who played as a last minute announcement. Blaine Harrison, now Aslan-esque with the new locks, singing Two Doors Down. Sixteen year old me would have needed smelling salts. 

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What with this enormous blast from the past, Barry-oke (it’s exactly what you hoped – Barry from Eastenders singing karaoke songs with you.), and Johnny Marr smashing out a few Smiths songs allowed a warm moment of ‘this is familiar, this is nice, wait, am I old?’ I suppose that was the question of the weekend, wondering if 2am is an acceptable bedtime, longing for a proper pillow and a hot tap, we asked one another over and over – ‘are we too old for this?’ Well, we’re not dead yet. 

If you’re having a nice time, I say crack on. Even if you ‘haven’t got a stitch to wear’ as exemplified beautifully by at least two stag dos. 

Tickets for 2020 are on sale now. Do yourself a favour.

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