Indietracks Festival, 23rd-25th July 2010 Butterley Hill (Ripley), Derbyshire. Preview
When Indietracks creator Stuart Mackay describes it as a 'niche festival' he isn't doing so to create an air of exclusivity so often exuded by those who actively label themselves as 'indie', there is merely no other way do describe a weekend that includes jangly pop, arts & crafts and steam trains. The festival is actually one of the most welcoming in the summer circuit, with a 'big family gathering feel'. It is also one of the best.
Started in 2007 as a one-day event it has grown into one of the most eagerly anticipated weekends of the year for its sold-out capacity, most of which are regular attendees from 'A dedicated audience (that) brings together all the little indiepop communities around the UK (and from other parts of the globe)'.
Past years have seen performances from Camera Obscura, Teenage Fanclub, Los Campesinos and Ballboy amongst others, and 2010 sees a mix of old and new, with reformation sets from The Primitives and The Pooh Sticks sitting comfortably the likes of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Love Is All and Slow Club. With reference to these bands Stuart is keen to note that Indietracks' line-up is far less limited than its reputation and name suggests; 'Our core music is all 'indiepop' (but) don't think it's all twee, there's a load of rock punk and electro in there too.'
He does, however, concede that there is a slight hint of repetition that could creep into the festival; 'I'm more concerned about this year as we're simply repeating everything from last year with different bands. In every other year we're grown and developed the site so it's always been different. As an organiser this year lacked challenges but that by choice, last year was too intense and I needed a break. Next year we may downsize, loose the bigger bands as dealing with booking agents is the biggest headache.'
It is an admission that might not come as a surprise to Indietracks more ardent followers. It's appeal comes from its quaint, scaled down nature which is a world away from the xxthousand capacity mammoths of Glastonbury and Reading/Leeds, not from the headliners it manages to attract. Whilst The Primitives' wide-screen chorus whispers and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's c86 reprints, often the highlight of any festival they appear at, will no doubt be met with fanboy/girl adulation Indietracks could lose half its lineup without losing steam (I had to work a train pun in here somewhere, sorry). This is not a knock but a positive; Stuart and his team have worked hard to create a weekend that is perfectly in-tune and irresistible through out.
At a contrast to its high quality and exemplary execution it is also very cheaply priced, with tickets at £60 each, under a 1/3rd of the cost of ATP, to which Indietracks is often compared. This is helped by the strengths of the festivals host location, a railway station and museum, and the use of volunteer staffing; ' we're on a site that is open to the public every day so many of the services are already there, and pretty much everyone manning the event is a volunteer'.
Indietracks is highly recommended for those with a penchant for 'indie', however you define it, and/or more whimsical interests, not to mention those tired of the typical corporate sprawls of the summer. Infact, lets just say its recommended for everyone.