At Sunday lunch we see some Truckers walking back from McDonalds. That’s quite a stroll, they must really be into that stuff. Perhaps trace elements of bovine faeces are addictive. If that’s the case, they should have saved time and simply gone to the Barn. Blades Club might be nothing multiplied by zero, but young duo Mother Me are actually pretty great, floating gaunt harmony vocals over cro-magnon drum machine, twin chiming guitars and a Korg that barely gets touched. They sound a lot like Bauhaus and Oxford’s own D Gwalia, and it’s brilliant to see young people make such bleak music...especially when one of them has glitter on her face. Storme sweeps commandingly in later with some downtempo synth pop and an ultra-emotive vocal. At times the set clutches clumsily at big gestures like Glee doing Bjork, but we’re more often reminded of trip hop torch singer Dot Allison, and even at times of early Sinead O’Connor.
Ysgol Sul are The Senseless Things without the fun, but otherwise Gorwelion Horizons keeps the quality up for the third day. Junior Bill take cues from The Specials and The Police, and like all the good Jamaican music they nod towards, have an impeccable sense of musical space, giving songs space to unfurl. HMS Morris, Nightshift favourites from last year don’t disappoint, despite once again playing to a mere smattering. Theirs are budget seduction jamz, heavy on the slinky guitar and sleazily buzzing synth; they also have the best beard to falsetto ratio we’ve ever seen at Truck.
Abattoir Blues are named after a Nick Cave LP, but they could well connect with earlier Veterans stage booking Too Many Poets and their self-defined “graveyard grunge” genre. There’s certainly a similar grunge feel, although the Brighton band edge more towards the dirt encrusted whilst keeping some melodic noise hidden in the guitar avalanche: think The Jesus Lizard & Mary Chain. The vocalist, however, knuckles about the songs as if he’s in some Fugazi-shaped hardcore band, and we’re not sure it really fits together: still, we’ll never turn down some proper savagery.
Formations are an odd lot. They start their set with a muscular dubby rock stomp that has a slight Tackhead flavour, before building to an elastic rap rock verse that’s Vaguely Against The Machine, and then flipping sideways into a chorus that consists solely of the word “drugs” yelped over and over in a mad-eyed falsetto. Their next tune features some Jan Hammer synth disco, and we have them pegged as a weapons grade version of old Oxford funk merchants Rubber Duck, with a slight hint of Holly Johnson. Not unequivocably any good, then, but a lot more intriguing than most of the guff that has wafted from this stage for three days. Guff like Blossoms, who are to Climie Fisher what Wolfmother are to Led Zepellin. They have a song that sounds like Pet Shop Boys’ classic “Domino Dancing” has been squeezed through a character killing mangle, and the whole thing’s so like a benighted mid-80s Radio 1 roadshow we just want a crack at the snooker quiz to try to win the chance to cut our own ears off. So we go home instead.
Plodding wearily along Steventon’s long cobbled causeway, we reflect that Truck has effectively become Cornbury Junior. There are lots of incredibly anonymous bands, and a fair amount of safely retrograde sonic targets but, even as we lament that the only truly unpredictable acts were brought in by BBC Oxford or BBC Cymru or were slipped in on the Veterans stage, it’s hard to take a stance against large, friendly, appreciative crowds, who are clearly loving so much of what they see, and not shy of losing the odd braincell/shoe/fragile fragment of dignity expressing it. We have to admit we had fun, and saw a fair amount of strong music, and feel certain that we’ll be back for truck 2017. In two years. But also twelve months early.