Indietracks Festival 2013

The atmosphere at Indietracks is incredibly welcoming. With the festival situated in a heritage railway station and with an indiepop focus, everything is geared around people enjoying themselves.

The first band that I saw was Milky Wimpshake, who were perfectly at home playing their very enjoyable tunes on the main stage. Favourites such as ‘Cherry-pop’ and the boy-girl alternation of ‘Without You’ are known by the crowd and they even threw in a cover of ‘True Love Will Find You In The End’, which went down very well. The Wave Pictures’ jangly, slidey guitar sound and unusual lyrics, made seeing them a special treat here. As they played ‘Long Island’, from 2005’s Sophie, the predicted thunderstorm made its first appearance, however this didn’t dampen the enjoyment at all.

A definite highlight for me was seeing The Pastels, a band which no history of indiepop could ever omit. Steven McRobbie’s introspective vocals drive their songs and balance excellently with Katrina Mitchel’s singing. They’ve been away from recording albums since 1997, but this year’s comeback album Slow Summits is slow-burning and shows that they have not lost any of their desire to craft maudlin-tinged songs. Recent single ‘Check My Heart’, along with ‘Summer Rain’ blended seamlessly with classics ‘Flightpaths To Each Other’ and ‘Nothing To Do’.

The torrential and unrelenting rain, meant that in true Indietracks tradition, the headliners had to fall back to playing in the indoor stage. Despite this additional stress, Camera Obscura played confidently and the crowd were very much behind them. The anthem ‘let’s get out of this country’ set the pace for the set, providing a good dance opportunity with Tracyanne’s strong and unfaltering voice leading the way. ‘Teenager’ was the only offering from the band’s first two albums and stands out against the fuller sound of more recent songs. This was particularly evident as they followed immediately with ‘Fifth In Line To The Throne’ and ‘This Is Love (Feels Alright)’, both from this year’s Desire Lines and showcase the band’s ability to effortlessly sculpt melancholy love songs with a real feeling of a having played together for years. To end the set, the beat was well and truly brought back up with solid classics from their third and fourth albums ‘Hey Lloyd…’, ‘If Looks Could Kill’, ‘French Navy’ and ‘Razzle-dazzle Rose’. All sure-fire hits that left everyone wanting more.

Sunday began with Sheffield’s Pete Green, who played on a steam train. His first songs had the whole packed carriage singing along. At the end of the train ride, during the quiet while the decoupled engine switched to the other end, Pete had the audience captivated with heartfelt slow numbers ‘One Day We’ll Find An Island’ and ‘Pilot Light’ before we steamed back to the festival site to see Seabirds on the main stage, who played seemingly upbeat jolly songs, with occasionally morbid lyrics. ‘Winter Is Like A Long Day’ was a particular highlight. On the train shed stage Anaesthetics, another new band to me, fired up the first of the glockenspiels that I’d encountered so far at the festival. Laura Smith provided strong vocals, which worked well with the synths. Throwing in some cute boy-girl harmonies made for songs that did not disappoint.

I’m very glad that I managed to squeeze into the church, which is the smallest stationary stage at the festival, just in time to catch the last few songs by The Beautiful Word. They were playing with amazingly infectious enthusiasm and the dual girl-singers were putting so much into the performance that you couldn’t avoid having a tremendous amount of fun watching them.

Coming all the way from Sweden, Alpaca Sports played (with help on stage from members of The Understudies) to a large crowd. They make perfect tambourine shaking jingle-pop, with plenty of dreamy melodies, everyone on stage had a microphone and the harmonies just kept on coming.

I’m happy to see any of the Fence collective, whenever they leave the confines of Scotland and Kid Canaveral are no exception. From the start, with ‘Smash Hits’, they were fresh, and upbeat. Despite injuring his eyelid the night before, David MacGregor jumped about the stage and sang passionately. Recent singles ‘Good Morning’ and ‘You Only Went Out To Get Drunk Last Night’ sounded very confident. They were followed by Fear of Men, who provided some slow, dreamy melodies that were a great soundtrack to basking in the early evening sun on the grass.

The Lovely Eggs, stormed on to the indoor stage. The philosophy of making songs for the sheer enjoyment of it drives the married duo from deepest darkest Lancashire to make catchy, observational punk-pop songs that are often hilarious and always fun. To the great delight of everyone, especially an unprepared family with four children on the front row, they quickly brought out ‘People Are Twats’ and ‘Fuck It’. The set included songs about eating food and questioning the significance of single olive in the universe. By the time that they were playing the anthems ‘Don’t Look At Me…’ and ‘Digital Accordion’ then the whole shed was singing along.

Helen Love announced their arrival on stage by blasting gold confetti into the audience. They began by playing the high-energy ‘Happy Hardcore’, which immediately set the scene for the rest of their set and kept going with crowd-pleasing hits. People at the front were jumping up and down to every beat they played and the party atmosphere was enjoyed by a train shed full to the rafters with people, culminating with lots of the crowd invading the stage and crazily dancing around.

The final band, Still Corners, played very well, although their dream-electronica sound is notably different than the majority of the other Indietracks bands. Cleverly, they combined Tessa Murray’s sighing vocals with layers of synths without losing track of the structure of the songs and just ending up with too many nice noises all overpowering each other. This is a band who have thought hard about how to get the best sound and have opted for very high production levels and their sweeping songs were a good way to close the festival.

Overall, Indietracks remains one of the friendliest and most-enjoyed festivals, the compact setting means that you even start to recognise other festival-goers’ faces pretty quickly. The strong line up, crammed in dozens of great bands, ranging from new and upcoming projects to long-standing veterans all together over the weekend against a unique backdrop of railway paraphernalia.

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