Monday, 1 August 2011

Indietracks 2011: punks, Pocketbooks, and parents

Half way through Pocketbooks' 'Cross the Line' and the sun is just low enough in the sky that it makes everything seem a million times more pretty than it actually is. I look around and, bopping along to this amazing song, are some of my best friends. What's more, up there on stage singing one half of this song, is someone I've known for over 20 years. How did we all end up here? And why? I don't even want to try and fathom it.

This year's Indietracks was the best yet, and I'm not going to try and fathom that either. Perhaps it had something to do with there not really being the slew of reformed bands there (although there was a few), or perhaps the lack of Wedding Present fans made it seem altogether more genteel, more mannered, and more... well, more like the first couple of Indietracks really. A sense of nostalgia just five years on! Whatever next?

Friday evening was spent wondering how Pocketbooks could get any more thrilling after opening the festival. If they were great in Nottingham the night before, then they were on another planet on the big outdoor stage. Their sound has gone from being decidedly lo-fi, to something that filled the field with joy at Indietracks this year.

Oh, yeah - look over there; it's a couple of American punks - mohicans, safety pins, the lot - frugging wildly to Pocketbooks. Were there tears? There might have been, but I wasn't the only one.

I spent most of Friday night laying in my tent listening to the fucking moronic blether coming from the tent next door, interspersed with bursts of 'The Best of REM', or whatever it was. People who stay awake all night yelping at each other on campsites deserve nothing but contempt, really. The height of rudeness.

Anyway, safe in the knowledge that they'd feel like shit the next day (not much makes me glow more than that), we made our way to festival site on Saturday afternoon to experience something akin to pop heaven.

It's pretty much impossible to see everything you want to see at Indietracks, but when you've got a few hours that involve Help Stamp Out Loneliness (whose impeccable set was accompanied - beautifully - by a hot air balloon floating low across the field), Math and Physics Club, Graeme Elston on a sweaty train, The Fireworks, and then, so gorgeously, and so urgently, Milky Wimpshake then it rarely matters who you miss. You can't win them all, but you feel pretty special when you can watch Milky Wimpshake completely tear up the cavernous shed stand. Like they were born to play huge venues.

You look around again, and there are you friends smiling, dancing, and then smiling and dancing back at you.

After that, Saturday was pretty much a haze of being at the bar, sitting down after getting way too hot, and try hard to like Edwyn Collins's set. I did try, honest.

Sunday brought with it our little boy, and a completely different side of Indietracks emerges. Mingled between the third-day festival veterans are families with small kids running around like maniacs. But, it seems, everyone is happy to have the kids there. There's no tutting or rolled eyes or anything that seems too much trouble for people.

I spot Friday night's villains out of the corner of my eye and feel like emptying a shitty nappy on them, mind. The mood soon passes.

We watch Model Village and my little boy starts dancing to them with Pete Green from The Sweet Nothings' little boy. It's a pretty magical moment. He doesn't get his moves from me.

It's time to go, really. This is a weekend that will live with me forever, just like all the other Indietracks ones. I can't put my finger on what makes Indietrack so special, and I don't really want to, else I might spoil it all. It's just there, once a year, like some kind of second Christmas - only you don't have to take your in-laws if you really don't want to. It's special, anyway.

Thanks to all those who helped organise it. And if you don't do it again next year, I'll offer out your spare rooms to those people I camped next to on Friday night. Think on.

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