The Indietracks Festival is in its fifth year at the Midland Railway, with its mix of indie music, beer and trains. Historically it has been a twee festival, but this year sees something of a departure with more of a mix of styles. This may be because the organisation has been devolved to a team who will bring in music to their taste. Personally I am quite glad because I am not sure I could manage a whole weekend of twee.

On the first night there are only three bands, and because we are travelling after work we miss the first two. The final band, Suburban Kids with Biblical Names, are Indie DIY Pop and sound pretty good from where I am standing.

Whilst the festival is reasonably priced and includes free train rides, we discover it’s a different matter with the beer. £4.00 a pint was a bit more than generally expected. It’s not Leeds/Reading. Apparently in previous years it was cheaper and a return to more normal prices would be welcomed, and would reduce the numbers trying to figure out ways to sneak in their own alcohol.

After the band we stand outside the onsite Indie Disco which is in the shed and chat with friends, before returning to the camp site and go into the marquee for Twisted By Design, a Cardiff based DJ group, and cheaper alcohol. It’s a bit like a school disco. The lights are a bit bright and there are plastic chairs around the edge. The music is great, and we dance a lot but better lighting and less enthusiastic policing by the security would be appreciated. There is no trouble, and these are twee indie kids, not lads on a stag do.

Saturday arrives far too early, and we take a tirp into Butterley, where we bump into the History of Apple Pie from London. They are lost and offer us a lift back in return for giving directions. We promise to go and see them later, which turns out to be a good thing as they are one of the highlights of the weekend for me. Vocalist, Stephanie Min, has a strong voice, not too “girlie” and with Jesus and Mary Chain style guitars they are definitely not very twee.

We also see the Garlands, a Swedish Indie Pop band who have a new singer, Maria Petersson. She has a good voice but looks a bit bored on stage – although that might just be nerves as she appears to be looking up at the ceiling rather than at the crowd. Being daylight she can definitely see them all watching her! We stay for a few songs before heading off to try and get the steam train to see Peru who are performing on board. There is, however, some uncertainty about the times, so we give up and go to see the Wendy Darlings on the main stage instead.

Spotty dresses are clearly in. Apparently they are one of the Twitter bingo items. Two singers in a row now with them on, my phone battery is too low for tweeting though. The Wendy Darlings play jangly indie pop with a bit too much emphasis on the tambourine for me. The vocalist is new to the band, and doesn’t know all the songs, which means it’s a bit disjointed. She’s also a bit too girlie voiced for my liking.

The weekend also involved workshops, with two of them being knitting related. Saturday’s Owl Knits and Sunday’s Knit Cave and the Bad Tweed. Both were very popular, especially with children, and the organisers definitely underestimated the interest! Owl Knits are knitting an installation, whilst Knit Cave and the Bad Tweed, from Leeds, are creating a “knit your own band” for Leeds’ Light Night on the 7th of October. People will be able to see their work in the Holy Trinity Church.

The Chapel was an interesting venue, being an old tin tabernacle that was rescued and restored. It’s very hot inside though. We go to see Chris T-T doing an acoustic set. Unfortunately the bass and drums from the main stage can be heard during some of the quieter numbers. Chris’s modern twist on folk music is poignant but sometimes funny, and not folk in the finger-in the-ear sense of folk, it’s more the subject matter – stories from our times such as the one about someone whose partner was killed in the 7/7 bombings and the effect that has had on them.

We go to the main stage to see Hidden Cameras who are recommended but unfortunately the power has gone and everything is being moved inside. This means that I miss Milky Wimpshake going back for my coat! Edwyn Collins is on next, and I have to say that I’ve never really been a fan and this has done little to convert me. Hidden Cameras meanwhile were worth waiting for. Whilst the promised male go-go dancers never materialised, their disco brand of indie is fun and danceable.

Highlights from Sunday include indie punk act Angry Sandwich. The Whatevers do an acoustic set on the train – a very hot experience as it’s packed. Jeffrey Lewis is of course a highlight for me. He’s playing with his full band in the shed and is joined on stage by Herman Dune. After Jeffrey Lewis I go to see Frances McKee of the Vaselines in the Chapel. It’s packed but I borrow the camera and go in the press area to watch and take photos. She plays beautifully crafted acoustic indie pop and an Abba cover!

Herman Dune are the final act of the day. Last time I saw them I was somewhat distracted by my surroundings but this time the surroundings frame the experience, turning the festival into something unique and very British. It’s a beautiful summer’s evening, and the opening song soars out across the fields and the summer skies. I’m really glad I stayed to the end for this. Jack and Jeffrey Lewis join Herman Dune onstage for 'Dirty Boots', a Sonic Youth cover - they claim to have been expecting rain and mud, but have been foiled by the weather.

So this year Indietracks has been a fantastic experience, unexpectdly so – lots of bands I had not seen before and lots to try and see again. It’s well recommended.


The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Neil Bailey, except for the one of France Mckee

















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