Truck Festival returns to Hill Farm, Steventon, in Oxfordshire in 2023, with its 26th edition, and on paper, this year looks like another banger of a year. What was once a small local festival, now invites upwards of 25,000 festival goers to the farm to enjoy the very best in guitar music, as well as a host of other genres.

Those lucky enough to bag an early bird Thursday ticket are welcomed onto a warm and dry site (with a moved entrance to the arena) and the main stage with Joely opening proceedings, followed by Dead Pony, The Bug Club, and Swim Deep, before Thursday headliners.

The Wombats were the headliners of the opening night, and they did not disappoint. The Liverpool trio played a mix of old and new songs, from their debut album A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation to their latest single Method to the Madness. They had the crowd dancing and jumping to their catchy indie-pop tunes, such as Let’s Dance to Joy Division, Greek Tragedy and Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves). The Wombats proved that they are still one of the most fun and energetic bands around – and would you believe (I didn’t) that it’s been 20 years since that debut (yeah, I felt old as well).

Friday rolled round and the gates were opened to the masses. It was great to see the site fill up with faces young and old come and get their music fix – as well as the detachment a festival brings from the outside world. A time to switch off, and spend time with old friends as well as making new ones. Truck is very welcoming and has a wide range of visitors.

Music for us today started on the Truck Stage catching some new bands – something Truck is great at showcasing – as well as providing a pathway from the smaller stages upwards.
We caught The Covasettes on the main stage, before seeing Luke La Volpe, who pleasantly surprised us with his vocals (and then the Scottish accent – that threw me). One to definitely watch out for.

One of the more fun sets of the weekend was to be found in The Nest stage where Lambrini Girls took to the stage – well, for one song, and then found their way into the audience to play from there and dictate the crowd to mosh. Audience members took turns to hold the microphone whilst they continued playing – this was one set I was glad to have not missed.

Back on the main stage Kate Nash came out to a large crowd and also immediately heading to the barrier to sing the first song before also heading into the crowd – seems to be a theme this weekend. Finishing the set with Foundations the whole crowd were singing back.

Some other good sets picked up today in The Market Stage were Red Rum Club who we’d seen a few times before (as well as this being their third time at Truck), before newcomers Wunderhorse and South Yorkshire’s Reytons who came out all guns blazing out to Red Smoke which immediately garnered flares in the audience.

The Vaccines were another standout act on Friday, playing a blistering set of rock’n’roll anthems on the Truck Stage. They also played some of their classic hits, such as Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra), Teenage Icon and If You Wanna. They had the crowd singing along to every word, creating a euphoric atmosphere. They closed their set with All My Friends Are Falling in Love, which was a fitting finale for their triumphant return.

Two Door Cinema Club were the headliners of Friday night, and they delivered a spectacular show on the Truck Stage. The Northern Irish band played songs from their four albums, spanning over a decade of indie-dance music. They played some of their most popular songs, such as Something Good Can Work, What You Know and Sun. They had the crowd dancing and clapping along to their infectious beats and melodies.

A great way to end the first full day – but judging by the weather warnings that were being displayed on screen – we’d peaked in terms of sunshine. Hopefully everyone listened and pegged their tents down…

Saturday came, and so did the rain. The site was wet, but it didn’t seem to dampen spirits – although some could’ve done with better footwear!
This was to be a main stage heavy day for us – first up with Circa Waves who got the crowd moving with their sing along hits. Up next was Masie Peters. She played some of her most popular songs, such as John Hughes Movie, Psycho and You Signed Up For This. She also played some of her older songs, such as Worst of You, Feels Like This and In My Head. She interacted with the crowd throughout her set, telling stories and jokes and seemed to enjoy the day.

Next up on the main stage were DMA’S. After catching them in Oxford back in May in a more acoustic way, it was great to see a full band show. They played some of their most anthemic and energetic songs, such as Delete, Lay Down and Silver. They had the crowd singing along to every word, creating a huge sound – with plenty of movement down the front. A cover of Believe by Cher has become a core part of their set, which seems to take a few people by surprise. They closed their set with Everybody’s Saying Thursday’s The Weekend, which was a fitting end to their brilliant performance. Probably the set of the weekend for me.

alt-J were the headliners on Saturday night, and they put on a stunning show on the Truck Stage. The Leeds band played songs from their four albums, An Awesome Wave, This Is All Yours, Relaxer and The Dream. Coming out to Every Other Freckle and The Actor before In Cold Blood was an amazing way to start the show – with a great backdrop lighting up the stage. They had the crowd mesmerised by their unique sound and style. They ended their set with Left Hand Free and Breezeblocks, which was a sensual and captivating finale. Time to dry off.

Other notes to mention were of course Truck regulars Oxford Symphony Orchestra, Mr Motivator and Barrioke all featured over the weekend. Truck would not be complete without them. Truck also has a vast array of food – especially in The Feel Good Food Hall – where all profits go to charity.

Thankfully Sunday the rain had eased up – although the ground was well and truly churned up which made wellies an easy choice. The first band we caught on the main stage were Chappaqua Wrestling before Prima Queen and Cian Ducrot, who was behind the TikTok banger All For You.

A quick dash over to The Market enabled us to catch Liverpool’s Stone who had attracted a large crowd and delivered a top show – another one to watch out for.

Back over on the Truck Stage Pale Waves were up bringing some goth-pop glamour to the festival. Heather Baron-Gracie and band put on a top show and was a set I’d been looking forward to – thankfully they did not disappoint.

Next up were Wigan based The Lathums who have been gathering pace for a while now – with frontman Alex Moore being so at ease on stage that working through the set seemed so easy you’d think they had been playing to crowds this size for years. A great performance.

Self Esteem was another standout act on Sunday, playing an empowering set on the Truck Stage. The solo project of Rebecca Taylor, formerly of Slow Club, played songs from her two albums, Compliments Please and Prioritise Pleasure. A great show with the backing dancers/singers playing a key part and the backdrop of words making you think throughout.

A quick dash enabled us to catch part of the Everything Everything show on The Market Stage which we were glad to have seen – the Manchester band had gathered a large crowd who seemed to know every word and that this was going to be a good show!

Royal Blood were the headliners of Sunday night, and they put on a colossal show on the Truck Stage. The Brighton duo played songs from their three albums, Royal Blood, How Did We Get So Dark? and Typhoons – as well as a few newer tracks. Firing out with Out of the Black and Come on Over – I had to keep checking my ear plugs were still in – these two were noisy! I’d caught Royal Blood back in 2014 in a tiny venue when the hype was around and it was good to see how they’d progressed onto a main stage. They had the crowd rocking and moshing along to their powerful and dynamic sound and style. They ended their set with Pull me Through, which was a monstrous and epic finale before the well-choreographed fireworks lit up behind the main stage and the weekend had come to an end.

I’m lucky that Truck Festival is local to me, but if it wasn’t, I’d still make the effort to go. The line up every year is spot on. They allow bands to progress up the stages, and the headliners every year seem to hit the right notes. They have the right mix of everything. Truck, don’t change!

Truck Festival returns 26th – 28th July 2024, with tickets being released Friday 28th July 2023 at a Super Earlybird rate of £99.50.

Photo credit: Russell Fujak


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