Re-Born in a ’50s Steam Train Fantasy: Indietracks 2016

indietracks 2016All aboard for the 10th annual Indietracks festival, railway and indiepop culture in an idyllic clinch in the Ripley countryside. The Golden Valley campsite pulls us in like a second home, the kings of hi-vis like our long lost brothers. Our tents go up in the dark with the only criteria being they don’t fall down till the next day, we stroll the long country track like Willie Nelson without his horse as the strains of Simon Love and the Old Romantics tantalise from the distance. We’re in and out of the starting blocks for The Spook School, who play a blindingly soulful set, their LGBT+ lyrical themes and DIY punk greeting us like a Great Big Kiss.

indietracks 2016 spook schoolSaturday dawns and we wake into the familiar quiet bustle. No shin-pads needed for the traditional morning football match here, but we’re too late to put some tackles in. The pure country air and sweet smell of horse shit dizzies us on our way back up the hallowed road, and Chrissy Barnacle’s sweet, labrynthine indie folk eases us in in the beautiful setting of the railwaymens’ church. A quick survey of this year’s available ales in the locomotive shed brings many promises, and then Boys Forever on the outdoor stage beguile with their cuttingly melodic and poised, knife-edge Pop.

indietracks 2016 flowersFlowers come on next and there’s no going anywhere. A flourish of guitar and the beat of a drum, and Rachel takes us into her world. This is a band who put Godard’s moment in motion, brave and beautiful, who inject your ragged soul with butterflies. No more needs to be said. It won’t be beaten here. Expert Alterations later on in the locomotive shed bounce and twirl with a classic, layered janglepop sound that hovers us off the floor, The Lovely Eggs hold us upside down and dip our heads in the Wye, and St Ettiene, the Saturday night headliners on the outdoor stage, play a set of typically starry shimmer.

indietracks 2016 charla fantasmaOne senses that the Sunday football match is not so hyper enthused as Saturday’s. After all we’re already two discotheques in to the festival. Yet it provides renewal for those who need it, and does its bit to help an early start. Witching Waves on the outdoor stage fire a blaze of shit-kicking, heart-booming, epically concise and melodious punk, before Charlie Tipper Conspiracy play their quietly moving set of indiepop soul. Charla Fantasma kick like a mule in the shed, The Ramones re-born in a ’50s steam train fantasy, and Helen McCookerybook on the train plays a set of acoustic Pop from her ace back-catologue that has a direct line to the sun.

indietracks 2016 comet gainThis is some day, and Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern shoot it to the moon as night begins to fall, rolling through the classics and a bunch of new songs that teach us how to dance anew. Comet Gain in the shed take us by the sruff and fly us through the clouds, beautifully absrasive, before The Aislers Set shake and shimmer as the last trains pack themselves away to bed. Indietracks is a counter culture that defies categorization, a collection of disparates into the unlikeliest of gangs, an abandoning of cares to the idyll; the sweetest of weekends with a hard-edged indie soul.

Dai Diseases (of England)