British festivals are a wonderful mixture of fashion oddities, clunky rides, awful weather, expensive food and brilliant bands. Truck Festival’s line-up and activities certainly was one of the choice cuts of the 2017 circuit, so Birmingham prince of indie Sam Lambeth and Thame impaler Caitlin Stanway-Williams spent three days welly-deep in what Truck, and the festival experience in general, had to offer.
With the weather seemingly a thing of the past - although Steventon's substantial swampland provided a constant reminder of what had been - we decided to finally make the most of Truck's fantastic facilities. A family-friendly festival with more than just music, we found a perfect wake-up call in Reggaerobics, a frenetic morning Zumba sessions that was taking place in a tent hours earlier had hosted a D & B rave. Seeing a gaggle of gaunt, waterlogged revellers bust out moves to pounding steel drums was quite a sight, even though we weren't quite fluid enough to master the moves.
Feeling slightly more energised, we sought further clarity at the oxygen bar. We were both horribly inexperienced with these contraptions, and with the nostril plugs, combined with my sallow skin and waif-like demeanour, made me look like I was battling an immune disorder. We left feeling more clear-headed, but I decided oxygen was too heavy a drug for me.
We felt engaged enough for the helter skelter, but what could have been a thrilling, twisting descent proved anything but - it was essentially a shag welcoming mat being operated by a surly Eastern European gangster. I predictably got stuck halfway round and had to push myself down to earth with my rump, like a dog with an impacted anal gland.
Another perk were the free on-site hammocks. The owner, of course, was the most peaceful entrepreneur on earth and we felt our sadness sway away as we asked a curly-haired concubine, Ted, to take our picture as his girlfriends hogged the hammock. We told Ted to take a stand and get himself a go. "It's ok, I've been on one before," he sighed, "I see no reason to repeat the experience." This caused a lot of dismay between us - what had happened to Ted on said hammock? Were hammocks a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or something that could be enjoyed regularly? Maybe Ted had enjoyed his first time a little too much.
As The Oxford Symphony Orchestra played a succession of string-drenched hits, accompanied by some obligatory mosh joshing, we began pondering questions for Maximo Park and their behatted head honcho, Paul Smith. We wanted to know about his penchant for headgear - did he own one hat, or did he see multiple fedoras on the side? Did his hat get the other bed on the tourbus while the rest of the band piled into a Punto? We even considered asking if he enjoyed hammocks, but we felt Paul wouldn't be the kind of man who enjoyed hammock-based frivolity.
We made a quick stop to The Saloon, a tiny western-themed bar with nothing but a player piano (working) and a whole load of dreams (broken). Along from that was The Rockin Chair, where we caught Dr Bluegrass and the Illbilly 8 playing a fiddle-flecked, frantic version of 'Money for Nothing'. It was then time for our Maximo interview, where we got good and bad news. The good was we'd bagged ourselves an extra one-on-one with Scotch rockers Twin Atlantic. The bad news was Paul wanted the interview pushed back an hour so he could eat. This prompted further questions - what dish was he tucking into? Did he wear his suit while chomping down a burrito?
Sadly, we'd never find out, as come 5pm we found out Paul needed to rest his dulcet tones and gallant guitarist Duncan Lloyd took his place. Duncan was affable and talkative, answering our questions with good humour and aplomb. Caitlin's questions were more probing, and Duncan, after much pondering, decided he'd rather saunter through Jeremy Corbyn's allotment than run through a May-trodden wheat field. We also found out, crucially, that Paul is never seen without some sort of head coverage, with his usual drug of choice being a succession of bespoke baseball caps.
I have never been on a tour bus before, so when we found out the Twin Atlantic interview was aboard their transportation I was thrilled. We walked down to a car park replete with rock stars' vehicles, and were politely asked to remove our disgusting wellies before boarding. By this point, I felt much more relaxed and confident with face-to-face interviewing, and bassist Ross was a warm, down-to-earth and candid interviewee, and his answers to our political questions gave our article a whole new angle. As our ten-minute slot came to an end, we left to see another guy, designer stubble and warm smile, moving out of our way. I disregarded him as another journo, but further inspection saw it was TA singer Sam McTrusty, prompting frantic stammerings of good luck from myself.
In terms of music, we had time in-between to catch the punky anachronisms of Slotface, a band full of '90s-infused irony and boundless energy. Honeyblood's aching grunge pop provided a further highlight, but our hearts were firmly won over by Maximo Park. Our eyes were now glued to Duncan and we issued a series of cheers as his guitar launched into the likes of 'Books from Boxes', 'Our Velocity' and the widescreen longing of 'Questing, Not Coasting'. We asked Paul, loudly, what he'd eaten for tea, but he couldn't hear us over the roars of the crowd not as concerned with his dietary requirements.
The Market Stage tent was packed as far back as the Ferris wheel as Twin Atlantic rampaged through a rollicking set, blending scuzzy rockers 'No Sleep' and 'Ex El' with the more polished 'Hold On' and 'Brothers and Sisters'.
What did we expect from The Vaccines? A good set, mainly, and while they delivered on that promise, we weren't quite prepared for the onstage antics of Justin Young. Dressed like he was in a Croydon equivalent of Brokeback Mountain - think stained cowboy shirt tucked into some Adidas trackies - he spoke in a quasi-American accent, repeatedly fell to his knees or simply wondered off the stage. Every time he lumbered forward, the audience took a step back, but the likes of 'Wreckin Bar', 'Melody Calling' and new song 'Love Is My Favourite Band' still had charm and guile, even if nodules have long put paid to Young's vocal prowess.
We left Truck behind, our tent now a crumpled, clammy deformity not fit for further use, a car reeking of mud and Babybel, and a whole load of memories. Here's to next year.