Indietracks is an indiepop festival which takes place annually on a heritage railway in rural Derbyshire. This was our sixth successive jaunt down to the event.

I first attended in 2012, looking for a different kind of festival fix after years of attending Scotland’s annual behemoth T in the Park, and I came away from the weekend totally hooked, much in the way I’d felt going to those first couple of T’s. The whole setup appealed so much, not least being shuttled on a vintage train the mile journey from the entrance to the main festival site.

Although the music is always first and foremost the main appeal, there is no doubt that it’s the folk that attend who add just as much to the event as anything else. Firm friendships have been forged over the years, and there’s always plenty time spent greeting many a familiar face. In fact this year I ended up sharing accommodation with one such mate from Belfast when his wife, and my usual sparring partner and roommate, were both unable to attend this year.

Proceedings get underway on the Friday evening, easing everyone into the weekend, and as usual there were three bands set to grace the main stage.  We were, however, somewhat relieved when, supping pints in our usual pre-festival boozer, one of the gang arrived with news that, as a result of the forecast for inclement weather, the bands were now to perform on the indoor second stage.

First up were Scots, Kid Canaveral, making their second appearance at the festival, they had drafted in a couple of stand-in members for this show due to the logistics of having to then travel to the Isle of Eigg off the west coast of Scotland for Lost Map’s Howlin’ Fling that same weekend. They got things off to a great start, playing a set largely drawing on their most recent release Faulty Inner Dialogue, and being a particularly big fan of the band I thoroughly enjoyed them. They were followed by Chorusgirl, who I’ve seen a few times before, most recently at the Fortuna Pop! farewell weekender in London in March. Again they delivered a hugely enjoyable set.

So on to Martha, they are a perfect example of the type of band which the festival seems to foster, moving up the billing with each festival, and akin to the Spook School the previous year, burgeoning into a group which were more than justified Friday headliners. Much like watching a child or a sibling flourish, the love for them among the crowd was palpable when they emerged to take the stage. Running through pretty much all the favourites from their first two albums, they also included a cover of Semisonic’s Closing Time thrown in for good measure, and left us all in good spirits.

mp3 : Martha – Precarious (Supermarket Song)

Although some sore heads were being nursed after the previous evening’s visit to the disco tent, we all made it down in time for Saturday’s 1pm start, and the first band up in the indoor stage were Pillow Queens, a four piece all female outfit from Dublin playing a mix of alt-pop punk. Next on the agenda were Crumbs from Leeds who were gaining quite a few mentions pre-festival and certainly lived up to my expectations with a hugely energetic and engaging set. There was a brief venture outdoors into the sunshine for 10 minutes of Spain’s Cola Jet Set, before ensuring I was back in the train shed for TeenCanteen. Like Kid Canaveral, this was their second appearance at the festival, and there were a number of remarks with regard to just how much they had improved as a live force. This is definitely true, and they gave us a great set of pure pop.

mp3 : Crumbs – Weasels Can Wait

We then hotfooted it over to the main stage for the much touted Peaness, and it’s fair to say that there’s much to admire beyond their slightly smirk inducing name, proving that they’ve got all the credentials to be the next darlings of the Indietracks crowd. They were followed on the main stage by Glasgow/London band Shopping, who feature one half of recent Scottish Album of the Year Award winners Sacred Paws. Although I’m a fan of their album Why Choose? and have witnessed them live on more than one occasion, for some reason they never really got me going here.

However, I very much got back into my groove with the next act, Indietracks heroine, Emma Kupa formerly of Standard Fare, and appearing in no less than four bands over the course of the weekend! On this occasion she was teaming up with ex-Hefner main man Darren Hayman in the imaginatively titled Hayman Kupa Band. I’ve not always been taken by Hayman’s solo output but the set they delivered here was immensely enjoyable.

mp3 : The Hayman Kupa Band – Someone To Care For Me

The fact half the festival appeared to require food at the same time meant that unfortunately I only heard Frankie Cosmos’ set from the burrito stall queue. However, once sated it was back indoors for a beer and a short blast of the ever excellent Joanna Gruesome, before heading to join the queue for the tiny church stage to see The Hearing, a female solo singer from Finland who produces ethereal sounds to a dreamy electronic accompaniment. It was a pretty decent performance, although I wasn’t raving about it quite as highly as some were. After this it was a refresh of our pints before making our way over to the main stage for a superb headline performance from The Wedding Present, it was a near flawless festival set, finishing with My Favourite Dress and Kennedy to leave the crowd in raptures. The only decision then was to be that evening’s choice of entertainment – karaoke or indie disco. The karaoke won, and was an unexpectedly brilliant end to the day.

mp3 : The Wedding Present – Kennedy (live – John Peel’s 50th birthday bash)

Following a late after party at the hotel, I was the only one of our group who emerged in time to catch Maybe Don’t who were first up on the Sunday. They were pretty decent, though my enjoyment was tempered by the fact that their loud energetic sounds were at odds with my slightly hungover state. Luby Sparks, the Japanese five piece who followed, were a little kinder to these ears with their jangling, C86 tinged, melodies. Next we shuttled between short glimpses of Suggested Friends (one of those other Emma Kupa bands) and Cowtown, a noisy mob from Leeds, before an absolutely lovely set in the sunshine by The Orchids, another of the great bands to come out of Glasgow over the years.

mp3 : Luby Sparks – Water

Staying in Scotland, the next band on the main stage were Indietracks ‘legends’ the Just Joans – somehow in the parallel universe that is Indietracks the Joans (whose appearance supplies the image which illustrates this post) are one of the best known bands in the world. We of course were down the front for a great mix of new songs and old classics, unfortunately one of the sing a long numbers expected at the end was cut from the set as a result of them running slightly over time, and perhaps just as well as a huge downpour began as they played their final notes.

This rearranged the schedule slightly as Monkey Swallows the Universe were moved indoors, which sadly didn’t do them justice as they were somewhat of an afterthought as the near whole capacity gathered in the train shed.

Once the sun came out again and the bulk of the crowd headed for the Wave Pictures on the main stage, those of us who elected to stay indoors were treated to a great set by Skinny Girl Diet, two sisters from London who describe themselves as gothic grunge, and make glorious racket.

mp3 : Skinny Girl Diet – Yeti

They were followed on the indoor stage by another band who Indietrackers have fully taken to their hearts, The Tuts. First coming to our attention when they opened the festival four years ago, those of us watching then might have felt they were a novelty, just there to get the party started, however, they’ve blossomed into the kind of group which the festival is all about. Politically charged but with no shortage of fun to go with it. The three of them gracing the stage in wedding dresses, and a wonderful set ended with them getting ‘married’ to the crowd and each other. In amongst the fun there were some emotional moments, when discussing experiences of mental health issues, and in that vein they were joined on stage by various other groups for a mass singalong of Linkin Park’s ‘In The End’ in tribute to Chester Bennington.

mp3 : The Tuts – Let Go Of The Past

The final act of the weekend on the main stage was Cate Le Bon, who I’d really enjoyed when I caught her in Glasgow last year, but to be honest after the Tuts set I just wanted a beer and a blether with some mates who were about to depart. I did catch the last few numbers by Cate, and by all accounts she was on top form.

All that was left was one last disco boogie, and despite being encouraged to carry on until the wee hours at the legendary campsite disco, which I’ve never yet been to, I decided to be sensible for once and head for bed. One year I’ll make the campsite shindig, one year…


JC adds…..I’m really pleased that Aldo took the time to put together such a comprehensive and honest rundown of what sounds like an amazing weekend.  I took it upon myself to choose the songs today, all based on the words he supplied.  Other than The Wedding Present, they are all new to my ears and I’ve a feeling most of you will enjoy them too.