Indietracks Festival - Midlands Railway Centre, Ripley 6th-8th July 2012 Live Review 2012
Whatever changes in Britain; the weather, the economy, relative failure in sport, some things are always certain, and despite the recent failure of Bloc and the impending failure of All Tomorrows Parties amongst others it's hard to imagine a time when Indietracks won't be there waiting with cardigan-clad arms and a warm smile, despite its relatively short existence on the UK festival circuit. Indeed, such has been its' perfection in carving out a niche; a marriage of twee indie and twee culture (trains, real ale, mixtape swaps) that it simply feels like something that's been around since the dawn of time, never changing but always welcome.
It's a credit to the organisers, and in this years' instance the curators, that Indietracks doesn't become a groundhog festival. After all, so much on top of the easily pigeon-holed sound of the majority of the line-up repeats itself every year; the choice of local ales, the workshops hosting the same crafts and discos playing the same songs. Even the audience itself is around 90%-95% annual returnees too, with familiar faces always present (blind girl, bearded bloke in dress, thingy).
For whilst the weekend may be low on surprises, it is never low on quality. For 2012's edition Slumberland Records, one of the primordial homes of the sound Indietrack bases itself upon, were given the opportunity to curate the festival, and many of the festivals' highlights came in the form of sets from its roster (both past and present). Whilst the absense of Black Tambourine, of which Slumberland Records owner Mike Schulman was a member, was a disappointment after a seemingly inevitable inclusion, Evans The Death proclaimed the labels continued vitality with a half hour of buzz-saw pop halfway between the sneers and sighs of The Long Blondes and the blossoming chords of Slumberland veterans Velocity Girl, and 14 Iced Bears' sugary C86 offered a glance at the label's first heyday.
Principle amongst their offerings however were Allo Darlin, second headliners on the Sunday. Along with (past headliners) The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart they are perhaps Slumberland's most relevant act at the moment, and their ukelele-driven dream pop attracts the largest crowd of the weekend, which is no real surprise; irresistible slow-burning hooks such as the ones found on 'My Heart Is A Drummer' and 'The Polaroid Song' are picture perfect for Indietracks, wrapped in they are in the same misty-eyed ambience as Camera Obscura and Trembling Blue Stars.
Not to say that the Midland Railway Centre's finest musical getaway became merely a festival showcase. Tigercats were an unexpected highlight halfway through Saturdays' proceedings on the Shed Stage, their spluttering half-punk bouncing around like a less grating Los Campesinos with fringes cut above the eyeline, and Stevie Jackson offering up dulcet pop from his underrated and fantastically titled debút solo album "(I Can't Get No) Stevie Jackson". It is Stevie himself who later offers a fitting summation of the festival; it is the natural progression from the original Bowlie weekend from which ATP grew (and over-grew) it terms of atmosphere, something which remains the true highlight of it.
After all, where else are you going to see White Town perform 'Your Woman' acoustically on a steam train (during which Contactmusic.com were definitely not responsible for starting a 'whistle-along' in order to recreate the chorus's sample) and following it up of with a cover of The Wanted's 'Glad You Came', before stepping off into a downpour and finding refuge in a church offering similar musical treats? Or stumbling across feedback-drenched pop in the same venue (the sublime three-piece The Hobbes Fanclub) before watching a one-man stage invasion threaten to tear a band apart (This Many Boyfriends) whilst enjoying a Blueberry cider and a nice pack of crisps?
An enemy of invention it may be, but Indietracks remains the friendliest festival in the UK if not the entire world. More importantly, from start to finish it also remains the most fun.
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