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Truck was one of my favourite festivals of the summer last year. And while this years festival had slighty more twee line-up, I didn’t let that put me off.

Psychedelic all female super choir Gaggle kicked things off with a very trancy set. All 16 donned mystical themed make-up and costumes that started with long drones and overlapping voices singing about being drunk and having lying boyfriends. I must admit a was still slightly in the need of something to wake me up, so I wandered over to the Last FM stage for some much needed noise, which Oxford Parma Violets duo supplied, sounding like stripped down version of the Psychedlic Furs. It was Marques Toliver who gave the first of a quite few real OMFG moments. Sounding like a mixture of Grizzly Bear, Final Fantasy and Al Green all rolled into one, he was just absolutely stunning. He played an assortment of of violin, bass drum and harpsichord, even breaking out into a cover of TLCs No Scrubs and making it work. Next up on my list was Mechanical Bride in the Clash tent, who produced a dark almost gothic folk that felt somehow reminiscent of early Bat For Lashes, you know before she went all flash/cool/electro. Next, I hung around to watch Peggy Sue, which was kind of bit stalkerish seeing as I had seen them just a few days earlier!

Graham Coxon was outstanding. He riffed his way through a cracking set, with his new songs sounding quite monsterous. It’s like he has turned his back on the folk sound of his last album and decided to dive Kyuss-esque into stoner rock. He still looks like a library room attendant, there is no getting away from his nerdyness and his ability to play guitar and write songs. He finger picked and strummed his way through some utter brilliance ending on Freaking out which broke the crowed into a full on mosh. Colourama provided some nice simple subtleties as the opener for the Clash stage, his lyrics in-complex but still completely captivating, maybe it was his Welsh swoon or something? And I caught a bit of home made inventive instrument singer songwriter nut job and evil Thunderbirds looky like Thomas Truax. Thomas is truly a special person as pretty much everything he plays is made out of old house hold implements, from fishing wheels to gramaphones and washing machines, he lies in the perfect balance between genius and madness.

Sea of Bees was someone who really caught my heart when venturing into the Clash tent. She was beautifully eccentric displaying the beauty of Cat Power’s styled vocals overlaying Sparklehorse bleak styled guitar melodies. each song is punctuated with her kooky eccentricity as she nervously twitches. Bursting into odd fits of laughter and nervous actions between songs, she kind of looks like someone that could easily fit in to a film like Napoleon dynamite with her off cut jumper, 80s styled trousers and bowl haircut and sparkling wide eyes. This just generated a magical feeling as I could feel my heart pound as she thanked me, because she thought I was really inspiring, but in truth it was her that was inspiring, so much so that the audience and her backing band requested that she did an encore!

Edwyn Collins is one of the most remarkable come back stories ever, it is remarkable to think that 6 years ago he suffered double stroke and Brain hemohrrage which meant that he was in a coma for 3 months, as his wife put it he badly injured part of his brain that controls his speech and language. He had to re learn everything, so it was just amazing that in such a short space of time he has managed to get back on the stage. Not only that, but his come back album was one of the most positive albums of last year, where most song writers would have wallowed in the depression, he chose to do the opposite. And so the tent was full to the brim with love and empathy for him as he acted as a timely reminder as to why he is such a talent. Still obviously affected by what happened to him, he walked on stage and sat on a couple of boxes down the front, backed by a stellar backing band. He rattled through a set that included songs off his recent album like Loosing sleep and See It In Your Eyes, through to his hits with Orange Juice like Rip It Up and Falling and Laughing. He ended the ste with Never Met A Girl Like You Before. which left the tent in a jubilant mood.

Mr Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys opened up his psychedelic box of delights from his last album Hotel Shampoo. He has a very playful and boisterous mood with Y Niwl as his backing band. He sang songs about imaginary characters falling in and out of love mixing up songs in both English and Welsh and holding up placcards with Applause, Aahh and Boo Hiss written on them, made his show feel a bit like a pantomime. As his songs sounded so playful and imaginative, leaving us with the quite brilliant Skylon as an encore, a song which pretty much depicts the tale of most action movies, with a terrorist, an average actor and a bomb disposal expert all in a plane, all done while he was sat in a couple of plane seats wearing a safety jacket. He’s on the phone and she wants to go home…well he obviously can’t hear her, just like we couldn’t really hear Sarah Cracknell’s vocals during Saint Etienne’s set in the Clash tent, it was all just too quiet and so their brand of electro indie lost a lot of its edge, the whole mix was nowhere near the volume it needed to be, so what could have been cracking was a bit of a damp squib, although Sarah Cracknell did look pretty damn good.

Islet were on my list of do not miss unless I am dead, as they are always a highlight where ever they play. This performance was a bit toned down but they still proved the most hyperactive of all the bands at Truck. Their set consists of screaming, yelping in rhythm, clattering things, changing instruments, jumping into peoples faces oh and the odd song thrown into the mix, which makes them one of the more exciting bands to watch. I have seen these guys countless times over the past year or so. they sound like Los Campesinos having a panic attack, on steroids. After watching Islet I was just happy to stick around and watched Electric Soft Parade who brought back memories from 10 years ago as they rolled out the hit(s), They were never a band that really hit the big lights it was kind of sad how they feel like a forgotten treasure, playing Nothing Left To Give brought back memories of many nights out at the Cooler on Saturday night. Their new stuff has more then a slight whiff of 60’s psych pop. Ending with an 11 minute version of Never Forget, it’s clear they don’t want to leave the stage.

But they had to to make way for the fantastic return of Pete and The Pirates. Pete and the Pirates were another band that nearly got sloshed away in the time forgot bucket, as it was 3 years between the release of their debut album little Death and their new album One Thousand Pictures. Ripping through the old and the new, each song was a personal tale of love loss, humiliation and trying to break away from the media hype machine. I left Pete and the Pirates a little early so I could go and see singer/songwriter flavour of the year, John Grant. He is so gracious that it makes my heart pound. He kept on switching between keys and synth with another guy backing him up as he switched from one side of the stage to the other, demonstrating a beauty in narrative. Each song rolled out characters from his past like his Cocaine dealer, using adjectives like cartoon characters to describe the feelings of being on drugs. There were certainly no blushes spared here as every song brought tears to my face, you could also see that he was getting overwhelmed too, almost breaking during tear-jerking sob stories like Marz, which left us all feeling really rather humbled.

Right so in what way did the royal we finish Truck 2011? well by watching the Truck allstars rip into the Fleetwood Macs classic album Rumours, and as much as I enjoyed it, I did kind of hanker for Mic Fleetwood and co to come and hammer them. The rest was dancing off into the night!

Words: Jeffrey Johns
Photos: Laura Palmer