With our ongoing disappointment at the lack of diversity on the majority of mainstream festival line-ups this year, I was particularly excited to have found out about Indietracks Festival (thanks to a number of bands I know who all highly recommended it) – one that refreshingly, consistently, champions DIY bands and artists of all genders and genres. And, I wasn’t to be disappointed; the weekend – set in the idyllic Midland Railway Centre near Ripley in Derbyshire – exceeded all expectations.
After one of the hottest, and longest, drives of our lives, we finally arrived. Hurriedly setting up our tent at the best campsite we’ve ever been to (Golden Valley Camping and Caravan Park), I was relieved to make it to the site just in time to catch first band of the weekend, the ever lovely Worst Place. Having previously charmed us at one of our events at The Finsbury (a little bit of theme throughout the weekend…), they soon spread their contagious, effervescent joy with their truly dreamy, sparkling brand of infectious indie pop, with shades of the sunny energy of Best Coast or Alvvays. And, with their youthful charisma and witty rapport with the crowd (“Don’t swear in front of the kids… Actually, it’s ok, they’re cool festival kids!”), they’re simply impossible not to love.
Following a tasty – and reasonably priced – pint of local beer, next up are another band who never fail to make me smile: Sacred Paws. Treating us to one delectable, danceable delight after another, front woman Rachel Aggs bounces across the stage with a whirring energy as their vibrant melodies flow seamlessly alongside lush harmonies and thrilling, racing beats. As the whole front field fills with smiling faces and buoyant bodies, I’m left grinning cheek to cheek at the utterly uplifting experience of seeing one of my favourite bands live on a sun-filled evening, surrounded by like-minded people and good vibes a plenty.
One of the few bands of the weekend that I haven’t seen live before, Friday’s headliners The Lovely Eggs blow me away with their immense, raucous offerings. Slightly more cynical, yet no less great, than the evening’s previous acts, vocalist/guitarist Holly Ross fast becomes my new hero. With a refreshing honesty and spot-on wit, her between-song banter (and necking of bottles of water) is matched only by the wonderfully eccentric energy and vibrant riotous delivery of each and every track. Leaving me desperate to make seeing them live a regular occurance, the duo’s insightful and charismatic lo-fi psych sounds are the perfect end to the perfect start of this perfect festival.
After a little boogie to some bangers, thanks to Des Was A David Bowie Fan DJs in the indoor stage (I literally ran inside to the sound of Le Tigre being played), we head back to the tent to prepare ourselves for another day of blissful sounds.
Being one of the first to arrive on site on Saturday, we have some time to spend with the owls and parrots (yes, there are owls and parrots at this festival!), before heading to the indoor stage to check out Belfast-based Strange New Places. With their luscious, folk-tinged punk pop offerings, reflecting on mental health and queerness (and Conor Oberst lyrics), they’re a truly gorgeous way to start a Saturday, and a band I’ll definitely be hoping to hear a lot more of in the future.
Another band who’ve graced our Finsbury stage and wowed me with their immersive live performances numerous times, GIHE faves Ghum kick things off on the outdoor stage with a bit of their unique gothic energy. Simply captivating as always, they treat us to a set of songs old and new, drawing in an attentive and intrigued crowd as their sweeping splendour oozes from the stage. As a wave of pride comes over me, it really is wonderful to see these women take on a festival for the first time and absolutely nail it! As front woman Laura’s magnetising charisma draws you in, and the band’s sweeping atmospheric dark-pop floats into the ears with a majestic grace, Ghum prove they’re a band who deserve to be heard – and have most certainly made some new fans with this stunning performance.
Although I was actually meant to be heading to the church next, we end up back in the indoor stage (it’s where the beer is), and happen upon Happy Accidents – a happy accident, if you will! And I couldn’t be more glad we did. With their instantly uplifting pop-punk offerings and delicious harmonies, they’re a true delight to have accidentally come across. Having waited four years to play the festival, they encourage us to “keep the head-nodding going” throughout, and how could we not? They’re just so buoyantly head-nod inducing with their shimmering creations. And, when asked to boo for the camera for a video they’re making, I find it quite impossible – sorry guys, if there’s someone in the crowd with a big stupid grin on their face, it’s probably me, it’s just the effect you have!
After a short break to enjoy some of the fantastic vegetarian food on offer at the festival, Colour Me Wednesday treat our ears to their luscious honey-sweet harmonies, sunny, twinkling energy and instantly catchy jangly melodies. Priding themselves on their DIY feminist ethos, they succeed in brightening up a drizzly afternoon with their truly enlivening offerings and empowering spirit.
I pull myself away from Colour Me Wednesday to catch some of the dreamy sounds of Nightflowers. Over the last few weeks I’ve been totally addicted to their infectious latest album Wild Notion, and so it’s a delight to be able to sing along to it live. Fronted by the dazzling sparkle of Sophia Pettit, the band deliver a set filled with a vibrant energy and perfect, shimmering indie-pop.
Although there’s only a certain number of adjectives to describe just how wonderful all the bands at Indietracks were, I’m going to continuing using them more in part two of my review of the weekend (featuring Dream Wife, Dream Nails, Sink Ya Teeth, Girl Ray and more…) Coming very soon!