“I don’t want to see none of this timid indiepop shit”.
So roared Nadia Javed, lead singer of The Tuts as she instructed a packed ‘shed’ at this year’s Indietracks to separate down the middle thus constructing a ‘wall of death’. With a sizable gap now running down the full length of the large building the crowd were encouraged to charge at one another, an – admittedly polite – onslaught that swiftly resulted in gleeful moshing as the London trio blasted out another slice of invigorating brilliance. To my journalistic shame I cannot recall which song it was: I was too busy holding onto my tote bag for dear life and laughing like a loon.
This was The Tuts’ third Indietracks appearance – they’re family – and Javed’s ‘timid’ jibe was clearly warmed by a great deal of affection but still the irony was apparent in every soaked-through cagoule and collective body-steam that rose to the rafters. Barely half an hour earlier The Wave Pictures had played on the outdoor stage beneath a bruised sky that can only be described as biblical: the forecast had promised rain all day and now, early evening, here it was walloping down by the bucketload. Between each song singer David Tattersall looked out at the hundreds of stoic pop devotees with utter amazement as they danced on regardless, caring not a jot for the imminent appearance of Noah’s ark. This was Indietracks. Two days and a night when like-minded souls congregate away from the hustle and bustle and general meanness of modern life and celebrate the twin pillars of decency and fantastic music. The rain never stood a chance.
Set in the picturesque Amber Valley in Derbyshire this perfectly strange and wonderful festival is now in its eleventh year. Why strange? Well, perhaps unusual is more accurate staged as it is around a heritage steam railway site with any profits from the event used for the upkeep of the Midland Railway Centre in Ripley. Run entirely by hard-working volunteers it regularly punches above its weight and attracts acts from around the globe all drawn to its quaint charm and friendly atmosphere. James Hackett, the lead singer with The Orchids, summed up why bands are always happy to return whenever invited: “This is the only festival where you can leave your guitars unattended.”
Right from the off it’s clear that this is as far removed from a corporate gathering of Sebastians and Jemimas as it gets. You arrive at Butterley Station where you’re taken visa steam train to a site consisting of an outdoor stage, the train shed stage, and a tin-roofed church that never fails to play host to some of the most memorable performances of the weekend. All around is a civilised jamboree of jangly pop, smiling faces, and t-shirts bearing the names of record labels that appreciate the non-monetary worth of vinyl. It is a slice of twee heaven that reminds you in a time of Tory cuts and Ed Sheeran that life is people and people are generally rather lovely.
But first and foremost we are here for the music and this year’s highlights included Martha storming Friday night; Peaness; the ever-mighty Wedding Present; and a performance by The Hearing in the church that stilled every organ. Elsewhere The Just Joans were reliably brilliant while I’m guessing headliner Cate Le Bon was superb but by then I’d sought out the dry comforts of a hotel room.
I’m not made of the same toughened stock as these indiepoppers you see. I’m timid.
If you’re looking for something that little bit different, a weekend of craft booze and thorough niceness all topped off by ace music, then look out for tickets when they become available next year. You’ll be very glad you did.In the meantime please enjoy photos of this year’s event from Hannah Lovelock (@NotSoSuperhans) below.
Check out the Indietracks website here
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