Live review of the Indietracks Festival

Summarising highlights and lowpoints of a festival like Indietracks can sometimes seem pointless, such is the harmony of the weekend. Few people bother with itineraries and simply saunter between bands and other attractions. A cynic could say that this is due to the fact you can hear the same sound on any stage, but the festival is less of a close-minded niche and more of an open-arms gathering of like minded souls.

Indietracks Festival

Anyway, despite the weather there are very few lowpoints to speak of. One-hit wonder White Town and no-hit cult hero MJ Hibbert offer entertaining sets, the former showcasing a surprisingly strong set and the latter firing bullet-rounds of indie-pop storytelling and wit. Ballboy impress on both the main stage and in the tiny church, the latter a solo performance filled with new material that may just be their best yet.

The shockingly young and pretty Mexican Kids At Home play the steam train between the festival site and Butterley train museum, undeterred by a short hold up due to a mechanical failure. They fill the time by playing every song they know, jamming the sickly sweet acoustic melodies of Twi The Humble Feather into free-flowing structures. With a mean age of 9 they are already a band to look out for.

Secret Shine are the only band to use the intricacies of The Shed's sonics to their advantage, letting each track drone out and take a more menacing, stoic path than usual. At times they begin to approach the sonic maelstroms of The Twilight Sad or the oil-drenched guitar bursts of Swervedriver, with their newer, seemingly eternally unreleased, material focused more on nerve-tingling schematics, and even the sweeter moments are coated in a greying dust. They play to one of the smallest audiences to greet The Shed, but still fill it far better than any others.

Playing at the same time in The Church, Stars Of Aviation hit the opposite point of the festival, with hazy acoustic folk melodies sound-tracking one of very few breaks of cloud coverage across the weekend. Their songs are barely there, surprisingly so for a nine-piece, but still contain ghostly traces of folk, gospel and country in their thought out and spread out heavenly melodies.

Headliners and festival closers The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are the illegitimate children of Indietracks, owing much to many of the bands that have graced its grounds over the past few years, not least former Peel favourites The Pooh Sticks who make a successful reformation in The Shed prior to TPOFBPAH's set.

The New York quartet are firmly rooted in the British C86 sound of the late eighties, with high-end distorted guitars fizzing behind wafer-thin vocal harmonies, but breathe new life into the formula, making it sound more vital than ever before. Despite forming three years ago they have managed to amass an incredible number of perfectly crafted pop gems spread across various releases, from the headrush of most recent single 'Say No To Love' to the glittering Ronettes-esque 'Teenager In Love'.

Their set is the perfect send-off, and as the last steam trains leave the site and the last cries of "We will never die" echo out into nothingness they confirm unequivocally both their status as one of the planets most exciting bands and the weekends status as one of the friendliest, most enjoyable, nay best independent festivals.

Jordan Dowling

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