The thirteen-year running UK Truck Festival had its US debut this weekend in New York's Catskill Mountains billed as Truck America! The festival is run by brothers Robin and Joe Bennett.
• Unlimited free lemon water. What, did you say free? Yes, I did. Unlimited free lemon water was served.
• You can see all of the artists playing! At most festivals, stuff overlaps, and you end up making decisions as to what to catch and what to miss. At Truck America, the music was showcased at three venues The Main Stage, The Barn, and The Roadhouse with no overlap.
• You can go in and out of the campground and the festival as long as you go through the security check before reentering. I know many festivals you can't even go in and out of the campgrounds.
• Extremely nice staff. I'm always a sucker for an English accent, but man, everyone who worked at this festival were so pleasant and helpful. Not a militant vibe at all like many festivals.
• Light blue cloth wristbands versus those uncomfortable plastic ones.
• Only a two-and-a-half-hour beautiful drive. It was so nice it went by very quickly.
• Very healthy and good fresh food. No funnel cakes or overpriced teriyaki bowls were served at Truck, but instead some great breakfasts (pancakes, bacon, egg frittata), lunches (sandwiches, hummus, tuna fish), and dinners (grilled chicken, wild rice, mac ’n’ cheese) all served at reasonable prices—nothing more than $10.
• Few bigger bands! It was nice discovering a lot of new music, but some bigger name acts couldn't hurt.
• No showers. After camping for a few, you get pretty stinky!
Here are a few pictures of some bands we caught live at the fest. We also heard the most powerful and amazing set by Hopewell from our campground at one or two in the morning.
In addition to the music, they had swimming, yoga, rugby football, hiking, and films to check out. Seven minutes up the road was a great hiking trail we checked out called Giant Ledge.
We caught a very nice documentary on Vashti Bunyan titled Vashti Bunyan: From Here To Before.
Once a member of such amazing bands as Slowdive and Mojave 3, Neil Halstead now plays an acoustic guitar, on which he performs some Nick Drake-style folk music. He was joined by a violinist during a few tunes at the end of his set.
Mercury Rev played in the main tent with a live orchestra for most of their set. Jonathan Donahue was an entertaining frontman to say the least with his infectiously happy personality and sparkly eyes along with his dramatic stage antics. I really enjoyed their set, especially the song "Holes" and their Flaming Lips-esque "Carwash Hair." I also really enjoyed their Daniel Johnston and Nico covers too.
Blue Clouds (Daniel Johnston cover)
The Little Prince
Tonight it Shows
There You Are
These Days (Nico cover)
Isn't It a Pity
Goddess On A Hiway
The Sadies often collaborate with other country rock artists, such as Blue Rodeo, Jon Langford, The Tragically Hip, The Deep Dark Woods, and Andre Williams and are the preferred live backing band of singer Neko Case. No collaborations this night, but their live set was high energy filled with surf guitar leads and some country twang.
Cat Martino packed The Barn at 11 p.m. and entertained the crowd with a set using a plethora of instruments including an omnichord, electric and acoustic guitar, piano, Casio keyboard, her voice, and a loop pedal. She was joined onstage by both of the festival founders, Robin Bennett, who sang along with Cat, and his brother, Joe Bennett, on guitar. Her music ranged from very experimental to more folk/singer-songwriter music. Her beautiful and engaging set was talked about the following morning by many.
Brooklyn trio Natureboy put on a great set in The Roadhouse for an intimate early afternoon crowd. Singer/guitarist Sara Kermanshahi's voice sounded just as mesmerizing at one in the afternoon than at one in the evening. The stark and building tunes were brought to life with Sara's amazing voice and live band, which includes Cedar Apffel on bass and guitar and Rory O'Connor on drums and keyboards, both from the band Masterface. Natureboy performed two brand new tunes for the first time at this show and closed the set with the always pleasing "Heart To Fool" off their debut LP.
Well, the pros outweigh the cons, and all in all we had a wonderful time. So a big thumbs-up. A very relaxing music festival. Our only regret is not getting there earlier and enjoying it a bit longer. Oh, and of course, missing one of our favorite bands, Monogold's set on Friday, and also missing Ida, Here We Go Magic, Hopewell, Common Prayer, and The Joy Formidable sets too. Hope to see Truck America 2011 next year.