Thursday, 12 July 2012

Indietracks 2012: Isn't this where we came in?

"This song's dedicated to some of the best bands in the country
Some of the bands we never got to hear
Bands who never got any records out
Never got played on the radio
Never got written about in the press"
Spearmint, 'Sweeping the Nation'

I'm sat here at work, counting down the seconds until I can run off and see Standard Fare and The Smittens and August Actually play about five minutes away. I'm still tired from the weekend, but right now that doesn't matter, because I was one of the 1,500 or so people who went to the best festival there's ever been last weekend.

Thursday night's pre-Indietracks show in Nottingham flashed by in a hail or excitement and general loveliness, and I woke up on Friday morning with the familiar hangover that means it's the first day of Indietracks

We arrived in Ripley just after lunchtime last Friday and booked into Moss Cottage, or 'Mottage' as it became known (crazy, I know). With about five hours to kill we walked in the pouring rain down to a nice little pub in Codnor where Rachel's American accent stood out a mile, and the beer was less than three quid a pint.

After a wet walk down country lanes we made it on site to be confronted by Andy, Murray, Trev and his good lady, and possibly someone else I've forgotten. The first stop is always the bar. Faces appeared, heads were nodded, hands shaken... then The Smittens started. On record I've never really got The Smittens but live they're a whole different bundle of fun altogether. Now a six-piece they kick-off the festival with perfect pep and even the constant drizzle can't dampen things. Apart from my feet.

The School are next, and the sun comes out. This seems almost perfect now, and although we watch most of The School from the bar carriage, they sound possibly more assured than ever. I remember those early, nervous appearances in Nottingham and see a different band now. Almost literally, as it turns out, because there's hundreds of them.

When Saturday arrives I leave Lisa nursing a hangover in the B&B and wander down to meet Murray and Andy, and we walk to Butterley only to find that there isn't a train for another hour, and our two budding DJs have to be on site in 20 minutes. Johnny and Astrid are also looking hopelessly lost, and so we join them in the muddiest walk down the side of the train tracks. Astrid's white pumps are knackered.

London has been in thrall to Young Romance over the last couple of months, and so, after meeting Rob from the train we decide to hang around outside the church until we can go in and nab a seat.

The place is rammed by the time the duo set up, and there's a reason for that: Young Romance are outstanding. There's a genuine reason to get emotional about this band, and the simple guitar and drums thing makes the spaces in the songs sound like a whole new, extra instrument. Later on I go up to the on the train, a bit pissed, and tell them that I love them and that they should move to Nottingham and play in my front room every night. I think they agreed.

I'll be honest: the rest of the day is pretty much a blur. Tigercats in the shed were perhaps even better than I hoped for. As the rain started, then stopped, then started, then stopped they brought a piece of sunshine inside and the crowd danced like their feet were on fire.

Outside and Evans the Death slope on stage to deliver some fierce pop songs before the heavens open and we run inside. Or were Evans the Death on before Tigercats? At this point fatigue was setting in...

It doesn't matter though, because Standard Fare come on and it seems the whole of the Indietracks is watching them. They're on fire and, there's even a good, old-fashioned moshpit down the front that I might or might not have got involved in - at my age! Afterwards Emma says, from their point of view, it was one of the worst gigs they've ever played. She's talking nonsense, frankly.

Waking up on Sunday is a very difficult thing to do, and, still a bit pissed I think, we decided to go and pick up our little boy from deepest Lincolnshire and drive back to the site - all before midday. We make it to Butterley just in time for the 12.30pm train and trundle slowly down to Swanwick Junction.

One of the best things about Indietracks is that you can take kids along and not get sneered at by "festival purists". Indeed, there's even a kids' workshop, which we attend, and Supercat is born. I don't mean I got dressed up as Supercat, more... well, see the photo from the previous post.

I'm gutted to miss The Hobbes Fanclub, but manage to catch half their set through the church window. The place is packed for them, which is particularly pleasing. I was speaking to Leon from the band the morning before, and he just seemed generally pleased to even be there, so to have such a big crowd to see them must've meant a lot to him and the rest of the band.

Meanwhile, outside Spook School are charming an ever-growing audience with some rowdy bubblegum pop and a drummer who looks like he stepped out of the Dutch Eurovision Song Contest entry in 1976. Spook School would almost steal the day, if it wasn't for what happened next...

Velodrome are playing the shed, and it's the first time I've seen them since probably the late '90s. Markie is in full drag, and is hilarious. Velodrome play punk pop like you've never heard it before... like you've never seen it before. They haul around 200 30- and 40-somethings out of their Sunday slumber and banish hangovers back behind the bar, ready to be topped up. They're bloody amazing, to be honest.

Our time at Indietracks comes to an end with Orca Team, a band so perfect that there's doesn't seem a better way to finish. If Leif is all cool and poise, and Dwayne is the sharpest drummer in the world, then Jessica is the real star of Indietracks. She puts her lippy on before the band starts, bops around, smiling now and again, whilst also the time picking the most perfect guitar shapes. Orca Team rule.

What rules even more, is that as I turn to leave, standing right next to us watching Orca Team are some of my oldest and best friends, a couple of whom I've known over 20 years, since I first started going out and dancing to music in clubs and going to gigs. That right there summed up this year's festival for me. We're still here, and we'll hopefully all still be here in another twenty years time (although someone might have to help me up the steps to the portaloos).

Having said that, each year's Indietracks seems to matter more than the last because we all know it can't last forever. But these times are good times, for sure, and that's more than enough for now.

See you next year.

1 comment:

Jonny said...

On the plus side, I felt like Indiana Jones after that walk.