Indietracks Festival 2012
Derbyshire, Midland Railway Centre
6 - 8 July 2012
We were on the ground all weekend taking train rides, petting owls and generally giving in to the pervasive niceness of cutecore at Indietracks 2012. Sarah Lay provides our first report with an overview of the festival vibe and a few of the bands on the bill.
The first rhythm you hear at Indietracks is the clackety-clack-clackety-clack of the railway and the woo-woo of the whistle as the steam train takes you a few minutes down the line from the entrance at the station to the festival site itself. This journey allows you to let your real life slip away and readies you to embrace, and in return be embraced, in the escape and escapades of the weekend.
Like a land at the top of the Faraway Tree, Indietracks is a bit of giggle-inducing wonder. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Derbyshire countryside rolling away into the distance on all sides of the site as the trains and steam engines gently chug along the edges.
With three stages, workshops, ad hoc acoustic performances, bands playing on steam trains and representatives from many well-loved indiepop labels the three day festival had plenty going on despite being fairly small in size.
But, small is beautiful, and Indietracks certainly has a nice vibe going on - very chilled out, inclusive and happy.And the music is great - what more could you ask for?
There was a packed line-up over three days with The Smittens, The School and Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern kicking off the festival on Friday night.
Saturday saw festival-goers dodging in and out of showers to catch Tender Trap, Evans the Death, Joanna Gruesome, Tigercats, Standard Fare and Veronica Falls amongst others.
The line-up was a good mix of reformed (or still going) indie bands from the initial '80s surge and new bands just getting out to play their own take on the genre.The staggered stage times helped to avoid missing too much even where interest or loyalties were split.
The addition of acoustic performances in the merch tent or on the train also helped punters to catch additional sets or check out a band whose main performance they'd missed. On Saturday Evans the Death put in a delicate but still punky acoustic set late afternoon following an earlier performance on the main stage.
While most of the bands come from the gentle, jangly end of the indiepop spectrum there was a loud, fast and punchy set by Joanna Gruesome on the Church Stage. The small space and packed congregation amplified their energy to deliciously monsterous proportions.
Jasmine Minks and Go Sailor took to the main stage early evening and got the crowd going whether they remembered them from way back when or were newly getting into their sound.
Then Veronica Falls gave a pounding, reverb heavy set that thrilled those that braved out the downpour. This is 'arms-in-the-air indie, danceable but with a darker undercurrent.
The weather matched the music perfectly as darkness fell, the clouds rolled in and the brooding melancholy, that fuzzed-out sound closed the day.
Sunday offered another smorgasbord of indiepop with Stevie Jackson, The Proper Ornaments, 14 Iced Bears and September Girls all on the bill.
The queue was out the door and those left outside peered through the windows to catch a glimpse of The Hobbes Fanclub rocked the Church Stage on Sunday afternoon.
Mixing indie, garage and shoegaze this perfomance was anything but lo-fi but full of their distorted sound and soft vocals.
Meanwhile, With an audience boosted by the proximity of the bar and the apocalyptic rain This Many Boyfriends used the opportunity to convert a few more to their fast-paced, punk pop cause.
They seemed taken aback by the reaction of the crowd but fed off it as their set went on, giving a confident jubilent edge to their songs.
As the sun peeked out again there was a chance to laze around on the grass in front of the main stage and take in the psychedelic sound of Girls Names. Despite there being only three of them they created a rounded, rolling blast that took in prog and industrialist influences but was slightly less punchy than their recorded sound.
There was then a chance to catch The June Brides, reformed in their original line-up, they went through songs old and new and provided an bouncing beat backed with their trademark brass and strings.
Then as the festival neared its close, with the sun setting behind the stage making the storm clouds glow with white light, a train trundled by and the crowd fell silent. Elizabeth Morris of Allo Darlin' returned to the stage and sang solo, just her voice and a uke to a captivated audience, spellbound by the magic of the moment and the emotion in the words.
This was the end of a fantastic set which saw the crowd gathered in front of the outdoor stage dancing and singing along as Allo Darlin' bounced through their set, band and audience enjoying the music as much as each other.
And all too soon it was time to make the short train journey back from indiepop central to real life; with a pscht-kuh of the train brakes and the call of 'All Change' the feet are back on solid ground but the heart is already dreaming of Indietracks 2013.
We'll be featuring more reviews and interviews from Indietracks in the next few days so keep an eye on the site, like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. And remember, friends don't let friends live with Louder Than War in their lives - recommend us to all you know!ÃÂ