Wednesday, 11 July 2012
(Originally posted on Hubb.it, hence the marginally less chatty style and less effusive language than usual - I don't think I'm cut out for tripadvisor style reviews!)
From the second it was announced that Slumberland Records would be selecting the acts for the outdoor stage at Indietracks, I was certain to attend. When it was subsequently announced that Rose Melberg would be playing both solo and with her group Go Sailor, I started counting the days in earnest. Across one evening and two full days in weather that thankfully didn’t come near to the apocalyptic forecasts, Indietracks 2012 was a procession of great POP moments from groups of all vintages. Of the newcomers, September Girls and The Hobbes Fanclub shone brightest. The former kicked out a cheekier, more Girls In The Garage aware take on The Bang(le)s’ early sound while the latter lifted spirits with pure hearted songs and an evident love for the dynamics of those perfect, immediately pre-Creation My Bloody Valentine records. Of the clutch of reconvened groups from the late 80s, 14 Iced Bears were the biggest revelation, tossing out a string of their most loved songs as if unaware that more than two decades had passed since their release. “Balloon Song” and “Come Get Me” fizzed with vitality, "Cut" and “Dust Remains” were luminous while “Hold On” and set closer “World I Love” went off like rockets; just wonderful. Their contemporaries, The Vaselines, closed the festival in a gleeful hail of trashy pop interspersed with even trashier talk. Belle and Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson on guitar blazed - equally adept when laying down the key disco pop riff on their distillation of Divine’s “You Think You’re A Man” or when re-working the violin part of “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam” as a Flying Burrito Brothers-style country rock guitar line. Several groups from the current Slumberland Records roster showed just why the label has survived into its third decade: San Francisco’s Sea Lions’ mix of K Records style punk rock – drummer Roman sure hits hard - with southern hemisphere jangling (think Flying Nun’s best acts and The Go-Betweens) was a real crowd pleaser, Girls Names’ seductive pop-doom was lapped-up and Evans The Death’s rosy cheeked boys and dangerous looking girls slammed down a series of reminders of just how potent the pairing of a strong, unique voice with abrasive guitars can be. Veronica Falls were next level; their new songs sounding every bit as good as those already committed to vinyl. What of the aforementioned Rose Melberg? Her unspeakably tender, incomparably beautiful Sunday evening set in the Railwaymen’s Chapel (see photo, above) was something to treasure. For many, it was the musical highlight of the weekend and led to a fair few cheeks being moistened by tears. Go Sailor, too, were every bit as charming and lovable as their records suggested and the image of two thirds of The Hobbes Fanclub joyously dancing in the mud during their performance is one that’ll make me smile over the coming months. All in all, it was a brilliant festival. One that was made all the more enjoyable by the crisp, accurate sound, thoughtful scheduling (amazingly, the groups kept to their allotted time slots), excellent catering and indispensable festival guide booklet. As ever, The Midland Railway Centre was the ideal setting and its staff and associated volunteers went cheerfully about their business. After that, 2013 has a lot to live up to.