After the excellent aperitif of Friday’s three band warm-up, Indietracks truly kicks into gear on Saturday morning. After a night with the strains of every catchy Spook School chorus running circles round our heads, it’s actually quite a relief to have something else to get our teeth into so quickly; attention spans may not be what they used to be, but the brains ability to absorb a pop-banger seems to remain as permanent as ever.
Pre-requisite coffee in hand, it’s first to the main stage for London via-York quartet Dirty Girl, joined today by an honorary Dirty Boy in the shape of the bass-player from Crumbs. Increasingly well known on the London-DIY scene through some impressive live shows, they deal in impressively crude tales of (limited) romance and (plentiful) misadventure. Whether they’re singing songs comparing people to, “dog shit on my shoe” or debating whether or not, “I want you to put it in” they’re a expertly inappropriate choice for an early morning wake up call. There’s a very Americanised tone to their music, and a cover of Bikini Kill is a suitable choice, and does perfect justice to the original. Very raw, but with heaps of potential and fans of Tacocat or Swearin’ will find much to love here.
From there we headed to the first merchandise tent set of the weekend, it’s exactly as it sounds; entirely unplugged, band in the corner, lots of people trying to buy records and t-shirts talking in the background, all curated by the ever reliable wiaiwya label. Much more successful than its premise might suggest, it’s often a place to catch a different side of a band, plus as Indietracks seems to be attended by such a huge amount of musicians, many of whom aren’t actually playing, it’d be a shame to miss the opportunity. Opening proceedings is the debut show by The Numberz, the duo with a combined age of 20 who have lyrics consisting only of different combinations of numbers and musically play only drums. It’s no-fi avant-garde jazz meets Sesame Street, and just as charming as you’d imagine, a bit like Cate Le Bon if she was 10 years old.
From there it’s over to the main stage for the slightly older, but still very recently formed Boys Forever. The new project from Veronica Falls drummer Patrick Doyle. Although as far as we know Veronica Falls still exist, the members are currently making waves in various solo projects, Roxanne Clifford releasing under the name Patience, and James Hoare forming Proper Ornaments, as well as making a name from himself as an excellent producer. Boys Forever might just be the best of the lot, Patrick’s music taking some of the melancholy jangle of Veronica Falls, but adding an off-kilter pop feel reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub or The Go-Betweens. That they’re heading off on tour with The Goon Sax makes an awful lot of sense, and with an excellent Kirsty MacColl cover thrown into the mix, it’s an enjoyable set and one that suggests Boys Forever’s debut album should be well worth checking out.
From there we cram back into a packed merch tent for a (not particularly by the size of the crowd) secret show from The Just Joans. Long term festival favourites, The Just Joans’ line in kitchen sink romanticism and hooky choruses are as prominent as ever, and it wouldn’t be Indietracks without at least one sing along to the band’s smash hit, If You Don’t Pull. The unplugged setting seems to suit them, and allows the quality of Katie’s vocals to shine; forgive the self promotion but we’ll be DJing at their upcoming London show for Scared To Dance, all details HERE.
If we’re totally honest we’ve not quite given Flowers’ most recent album, Everybody’s Dying To Meet You, the attention it more than likely deserves. Live though, they remain one of the most consistently jaw-dropping bands on the circuit, no matter how many times we see singer Rachel Kennedy perform we’re still utterly mesmerised at the sheer quality of her vocal. That would of course have somewhat limited power were the songs not present, but courtesy of some increasingly fuzzy guitar work and driving drum beats, they thankfully are. Inevitable comparisons can be heard between Rachel and The Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser, but musically closer touchstones are arguably Jesus & Mary Chain or The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. An exquisite performance from a truly excellent live band, now we really must dig that album out again.
From there it’s back indoors, for Flowers’ current touring partners and American label mates, Expert Alterations. The Baltimore quartet released their excellent latest album, You Can’t Always Be Liked, at the back end of last year and following extensive American touring have finally made it over to our shores, making them one of the rare US acts playing this weekend, and a band it would be slightly rude not to check out. Thankfully they’re entirely worth the attention for the music not just the effort; they race through a set of driving rhythms and jangling guitars in a classically indie-pop sort of way and are a perfect fit for the weekend as a whole, they even have the good sense to rope Rachel from Flowers on stage to provide some backing vocals. They sound like a band who are a catchy single and a slice of luck away from being household names, and also win the award for best song introduction of the weekend, “this track is called You Can’t Always Be Liked, off our album You Can’t Always Be Liked, you might not like this.” Although now we’ve written it down, it was arguably more funny in person.
Former front-woman of The Delgados, Emma Pollock is commercially speaking one of the biggest acts playing this weekend, receiving massed critical acclaim and plenty of radio play for her recent album, In Search Of Harperfield; so a slightly muted reaction is a little surprising. We watch from the top of the hill, and everything is in place, a wonderful voice, expert playing, and delivered with the confidence of seasoned professional; yet somehow it just fails to entirely grab us. Still it’s hard to argue with the beauty of it all.
We head back inside for Lancaster duo The Lovely Eggs, and by the look of it so do most people, as they draw probably the biggest crowd of the weekend. They’re somewhat legendary around these parts, their winning blend of humour, lo-fi noisiness and DIY ethics. The band present their two universal philosophies on life, philosophy #1 – embrace your inner twat, philosophy #2 – fuck it. They might sound daft, but by not worrying about making a fool of yourself and not worrying what anyone else thinks about what you’re doing, The Lovely Eggs have found a winning formula for somehow making a life out doing what you’re passionate about. Their musical formula is equally simple, incorporating little more than a vintage guitar amp, a Big Muff guitar pedal and a drum kit, they’ve released four albums of perfect punk songs, with plenty of made for crowd sing along choruses. They finish with a downpour of balloons and a crowd full of delighted punters, what more could you ask for?
Closing proceedings over on the main stage are genuine pop royalty in the shape of Saint Etienne, they sound as slick and polished as you’d imagine, but to be honest still not entirely our cup of tea. They draw a huge crowd though and you can never argue with giving the crowd what they want, plus how many other bands who’ve played Indietracks can boast a top 20 single and a top 20 album. We settle for the confines of the Train Bar, which does exactly what it says on the tin. From there it’s over to catch Scared To Dance’s rapturously received DJ set and to watch various cider fuelled romances blossom; even if they’re just for one magical night, in a massive grey train shed in Derbyshire.
All photos courtesy of Violet Beehive (twitter.com/violetbeehive)