The Indietracks weekend started for us on Thursday. We surged past Nottingham, briefly stopping at a few charity shops on Mansfield Road as a filip for our dismay at Anarchy Records being closed, before chugging on to Sheffield. There we partook of refreshment at our friend Jeanette's house. She has just completed a book on acid/psych folk and looked rather exhausted. Itching to finger dusty old records I excused myself and rushed off to Record Collector before it shut. Friday saw us depart Sheffield, a few records heavier as Jeanette had kindly given me some of her unwanted singles, Bunnygrunt, Rondelles, Comet Gain etc. We turned up at the Premier Inn to be terrorized by a giant cutout of Lenny Henry and an armada of Spanish indiepop types.
We arrived on site as the sun kindly threw a few chipped rays of light over the festival. Veronica Falls kicked off the weekend quite quietly due to a few sound problems but soon delivered several punchy tunes. Allo Darlin' bestrode the stage like a gentle behometh, Silver Dollars sounding like the song of the festival already. Headliners Everybody Was In The French Resistance....Now had front man Eddie Argos laughing at his own wonderfulness but had me wondering why he wasn't propping up the bill. Funny men in pop are as rare as coppers with a sense of humour, that lot from the Wirral can do it and so can M J Hibbet, Mr.Argos has as heavy a touch as one of his catalogues.
Post bands we hauled our weary bodies to Offbeat in the shed. Scuppered by poor sound we still shuffled our inept feet to a few indie classics. For a change of scene we wandered over to Come Out 2Nite in the marquee. Ever danced on nuggets of coal before? Maybe we were tenderizing them for the hungry steam trains. Dancing on stony ground to Johnny Boy's You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes seemed entirely appropriate especially the line "And you get what you deserve." Entirely inappropriate was Madonna's Into The Groove. It's an indie disco, no need to pander to the ignorant majority who don't know their Field Mice from their Field Trip.
Saturday started off awash with sunshine and then July mimicked October. Somehow we missed The Hillfields and most of Red Shoe Diaries but could they have bettered The Felt Tips? These Scottish lads were surely going to be the champions of the festival with their achingly arch songs about sex and Morrissey. But then along came The Cavalcade with their songs of rain-rinsed days in forsaken towns, of souls tortured by a captivity they've created for themselves to seek some twisted comfort. Outside clouds came to listen. But that was sunday, saturday still had several delights in the shape of the untamed energy of Betty & The Werewolves and The Give It Ups, boldly ramshackle and unformed. The Just Joans had yet another swipe at Morrissey, what is this fascination Scottish bands have with the old queen? Missed the Smittens, no doubt all glee and twee, but did mostly enjoy the leisurely pop of The Orchids; sometimes their sound is a little too sedate, like a supper club band for nonagenarians. Ballboy we heard from the car as we tried to remind ourselves what it was like to be warm. Even from afar they sounded good. Hurried back for Tender Trap but apart from Oh Katrina and the new single they failed to make me sway or swoon. Forgive me Amelia, it can't be you, it must be me. Rounded the day off with a dose of The Primitives, Tracy Tracy looking like an unsoiled Brix Smith. Not entirely engaged until I heard a succession of hits and Nothing Left. A quick shimmy to some shiny tunes spun by the very capable Astrogirl and then back to the menacing cardboard Lenny Henry.
The Indietracks train was inexorably approaching the terminus and parts of my brain were already anticipating the anti-climax of monday morning. No shabby sunshine, all blue skies, but the day would darken, mirroring the growing gloom in me as I knew this fabulous weekend was soon to end. We wandered among the buses and the trains, locating bits of my lost childhood, shreds of it coagulating into a confused whole, before heading back for the quiz. This meant missing the splendid M J Hibbett, perhaps a mistake as our quiz performance would have brought the wrath of Ann Robinson down upon us, "White Town had the highest chart position of any Indietracks band, not The Primitives, who can't tell the difference between his no.1's and his no.2's?" Cloaked in the rags of defeat we cheered ourselves up with the spectacular beauty of The Cavalcade who spun webs of shimmering melody in the church. Most of our remaining hours were spent getting ever chillier under the wasp tree watching The Loves and their buxom dancers, the criminally under-attended Cannanes, the splendid Standard Fare, the shrill Shrag who seemed incapable of introducing songs without foul imprecations, the two children sitting near us loved them. Missed Slow Club, by all accounts a mistake, but did turn up with the Swansea collective to see The Pooh Sticks, a band I've sort of overlooked for years, but with their homemade placards displaying song titles and their recruitment of Amelia they passed the time. It was when they played On Tape that they suddenly won me over. Shame it was their last song. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart closed the festival and they sounded better live than on record. The new material was as uplifting and vital as the older stuff. They kicked off with This Love Is Fucking Right and I knew my love for them was right too. I felt an errant tear stroll down my cheek as I knew these ecstatic days in Derbyshire were coming to an end. We delayed the inevitable comedown dancing to Joy Division and Talking Heads but we knew when the dull spectre of Bruce Springsteen haunted the decks that the real world, that icy world of a celebrity-saturated media, the Simon Cowell corporate leviathan and R & B sludge silting up the charts, was soon to impinge on our little village-like idyll.
Goodbye Indietracks-till next year.