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Truck Festival 2023: The Lowdown on Who Needs to Make Your Live Music Bucket List

by Geena Ling

Truck Festival has held a long-standing place on my festival bucket list, and this year I was finally lucky enough to attend on behalf of Darling. 

Although the rain flowed unceasingly for the majority of the weekend (resulting in us having to pack up our tent and sleep in our car from day two onwards), so did the incredible performances. 

Over the three days I saw so many talented musicians, bands, and performers, so I hereby present: The Truck Festival Awards 2023.

Best Vocals - SANTÙ

This rising glam rock four-piece brought an unforgettable heaviness to Truck’s This Feeling stage, complemented by feather boas, Hendrix-esque guitar riffs, and lead singer Zé’s larger-than-life, wailing vocals covering an incredible range that has to be heard to be believed. 

Their vibe is vintage yet modern, and their balladic tracks fuse in elements of metal and blues for an overall layered, texturally rich sound. Definitely one for any classic rock fan to add to their playlist!

Best Vibes - Barrioke

If there’s anything that’s going to bring a group of pissed-up Brits together, it’s an ex-soap star belting out 80s anthems. 

UK TV icon Shaun Williamson, better known as Barry off Eastenders, now spends his days entertaining festival crowds with the ingenious invention that is Barrioke. 

I managed to grab a slice of the action sandwiched between The Vaccines and Two Door Cinema club, and I was not disappointed. The Rockin’ Chair stage was full to bursting with Barry fanatics yelling the lyrics to Spandau Ballet’s Gold and dancing the YMCA while trying not to spill pints on themselves. 

Best Dressed - King No-One

This award is in recognition particularly of frontman Zach, whose outfit turned me greener than the waterlogged grass with envy. 

His Betty Boop-emblazoned white leather jacket and red mesh vest were almost - but not quite - enough to pull my attention away from their incredible live rendition of ‘Alcatraz’. 

Bonus points for audience interaction, with Zach leaping into the crowd to get up close and personal with his fans while the rest of the band rocked out on stage.

Best Audience - Mr Motivator

Where else would you find thousands of people simultaneously dancercising to Bob Marley in bucket hats and multicoloured wellies? 

Thirty years on from his GMTV debut, Mr Motivator proved he still has a special gift of being able to bring people together and share the joys of movement. His playful routines had even the most hungover of festival-goers out of their camping chairs to soak up some Sunday morning serotonin, all thanks to his encouraging words of wisdom: “Never surround yourself with people who do nothing but suck the oxygen out of the room.” Preach it!

Best Fanbase - Courting

Courting have garnered a loyal cult following thanks to their quirky lyrics and playful electronic style, especially since the release of their debut album Guitar Music last year. 

Plenty of their fans rocked up to show their support at Truck, making for an explosive thirty-minute set. The band managed to cram in many of their best-loved singles, as well as new track Flex, which was released just two weeks earlier. Frontman Sean’s ‘fit was one for the books too - donning a tennis skirt as a subversive nod to their sports-themed song titles.

Best Stage Presence - Two Door Cinema Club

Friday’s headliner was none other than Northern Irish indie legends Two Door Cinema Club. 

As always, their 90-minute show was complete with vibrant visuals, confetti, and a setlist brimming with singalong bangers. 

Whether or not it was because the festival fatigue was yet to catch up with the audience on day one, Two Door truly sent excitement and good vibes rippling through the crowd, with everyone jumping up and down in sync to the tracks they knew and loved. The set perfectly encapsulated the spirit of UK festivals: a mass bonding experience of uniting over good music.

Best Mosh Pit - Stone

The Scouse foursome have been making tidal waves in the post-punk scene over the past couple of years, capturing the attention of some of the biggest names in the business - and it’s easy to see why. 

Theirs was the kind of set that puts you at a serious risk of bruises, bleeding, and/or broken bones, but you’re so engulfed in the riotous noise rock that you don’t even care. I managed to escape the Market Stage relatively unscathed, albeit being deaf in one ear for the next couple of hours - but my God was it worth it.

Best Choreography - Panic Shack

I’d seen Panic Shack a few months back at their headline show in Newcastle, and felt disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm from the audience. Their supercharged riot grrrl energy deserved so much more appreciation. Needless to say I was elated to find the crowd going justifiably wild for them at Truck Festival!

What sets Panic Shack apart from the new generation of punk outfits is their perfectly timed choreography, with artistic dance routines bringing a third dimension to the witty lyrics of ‘Mannequin Man’ and ‘Jiu Jits You’.

Edited by Emily Duff

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