So after three days, six trains and two buses, bad dancing and falling asleep on a steam train, I’m back from Indietracks 2011. It was probably one of these best festivals I’d been to. Probably? What am I saying? it was THE best. An array of amazing bands, both favourites and ones I’d never heard, steam trains, cheap merch, real ale (I didn’t drink any - not a drop of alcohol touched my lips all weekend) and brilliant discos made it the highlight of the year.
I should explain, really. I’d been wanting to go to Indietracks for a long time. I heard about it first in 2008/2009, when I was just starting to get into indiepop in a serious way. I’d always had a vague leaning towards anything twee without quite realising it, but upon hearing The Smittens/one happy island/many other bands and hanging out in the Twee Folks room on Soulseek, I’d aquired a real interest. I researched into it and it turned out it was in Derbyshire of all places, and the camping had to be separately booked. Add in the fact that I’d have no one to go with, it was enough to put me off. I never lost my urge to go however, and I finally bit the bullet and booked my camping and ticket this year, despite the fact I didn’t know anyone and was going alone, not knowing any indiepop fans in real life.
So. I set off on Friday morning at 9am and took four trains - Crawley - Three Bridges, Three Bridges - London St Pancras, London St Pancras - Notingham, Nottingham - Alfreton. It was the furthest north I’d ever been in my life, and I somehow noticed a distinct difference in the air as I got off the last train. (It looked like rain.)
I stood awkwardly at the train station waiting for my taxi, trying not to make eye contact with any popkids. These were the first ones I’d ever seen, and I was a little disappointed they didn’t have tentacles or something. A large taxi arrived and a few people got into it. One stopped and asked me if I was with a group of people standing nearby. I shook my head dumbly.
‘Do you want to get in ours, then?’
‘Okay’ I said, slightly surprised, but pleased. (Turns out these indiepop kids don’t feast on human flesh after all…or maybe they do, and this was just a ruse?! I was on my guard.) We introduced ourselves in the taxi. They were very lovely and invited me to camp with them as soon as they found out I was on my own. I sat with them for a while, put up my cheap musty tent, then explored the campsite. Really fancy stuff compared to what I’m used to: proper toilets, proper showers, and even a bath in one instance. A fishing lake, a really nice play area and a jacuzzi. (I kicked myself for not bringing a towel.)
I walked down to the festival site on my own around six to meet up with Carys. I’d asked her to pick me up some tights earlier and we’d arranged to meet at the signal box. She’s as nice in real life as she is on Twitter, and her other half Russ and her friend Roy (I think! I got even crappier with names over the weekend!) were both really friendly too. We watched Pocketbooks, who kicked off the festival and were amazing as they sound on record (I bought their album the very next day) and just chatted in the buffet car for the rest of the evening. It started getting cold and loud in there, so I said I’d retire to bed and started the long walk back to the campsite. About halfway, I got to a turning I didn’t remember and was a bit confused. There were no lights and it was pitch black. I saw a girl standing nearby and hurried up to her.
‘Excuse me, do you know which way back to the campsite? It’s dark and I’m not sure.’
She turned round. ‘Are you Nadia?’
‘Hello! Oh my god, that’s amazing, recognising someone you’ve never met in complete darkness! I’m impressed!’
We shook hands, hugged and went back to the campsite together where we chatted about serious subjects for a while. I was knackered by this point, so after a while, I traipsed off to find my tent feeling warm with new friendships. Except, I couldn’t find my tent. I actually had no idea where it was. Embarrasingly, I had to get a man from reception with a torch (and it was seriously dark, I couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face) to help me after I’d given him a vague description of where it was.
I got barely any sleep that night. Welsh people talking in Welsh to my left, a guy I’d met called Tom snoring to my right, and on top of that it was freezing. I congratulated myself on bringing my all-in-one sleepsuit and thermal camping socks, and supplemented these with a pair of tights, a t shirt and a hoodie. I was still cold despite my efforts and the fact I kept needing a wee didn’t help me get any sleep or get any warmer.
I woke up from a fitful dream that I was back in my wrecked but comfortable four-poster with Rob at home, sleeping. (A dream that I was sleeping. Pathetic.) I felt like actual shit but managed to uncurl myself and brush my teeth. I sat around in my tent reading ‘Of Human Bondage’ by W. Somerset Maugham until Kate, Charlie, Tom and the rest got up and them joined them for breakfast, borrowing Tom’s charger to charge up my after-eight mint phone - also known as shit phone. I ate a rather dubious fried egg and then set off to the campsite around 12-ish.
Accidentally attended the Anorak meetup even though I had intended to be there, then I went into the Church to see Moustache Of Insanity and they were amazing; I really regret not giving them a chance before I came. I saw the beginning of Just Handshakes (we’re British)’s set but missed Sock Puppets as I was at Verity’s cake workshop. I made two amazing cakes. Cramed them into my face and set off to see The Wendy Darlings who were really, really good. I actually started dancing, which I never do. Saw a bit of Help Stamp Out Loneliness - they were okay, I guess - and skipped off to see Math and Physics Club, who I love. They did not disappoint. I sang along with gusto and grinned throughout.
I chatted with Carys and Russ for a bit, then decided Edwyn Collins would have to be seen. I got there late, so I didn’t actually get to see him because of people in the way, but I heard him. He did ‘Falling and Laughing’ and ‘Rip It Up’ which made my night. (Of course, he did that song too. You know the one.) Missed Milky Wimpshake and went to the campsite disco with Sophy, Danny and their other friends. Danced until 3am, fell over during ‘The Safety Dance’ and stumbled back to my tent as happy as a pig on crack. Slept a bit better that night.
I got to the festival site a bit later on Sunday, fell asleep on a steam train with Sophy et al, and then fell asleep during A Fine Day For Sailing’s set. I woke up during Sloppy Joe - despite their terrible name they were really good. I had one of my inexplicable urges to kidnap people and keep them in my basement, this time about the vocalist of aforementioned band. If I’d actually started doing this I’d have like 60 people. They’d probably object, but I’ve never been one to put other people’s happiness above my own. I stayed for Zipper, then skipped off to see Horowitz - who were brilliant! Why didn’t I discover this before?
I missed everyone else playing and decided to go straight to bed after having a bit of a chat with Carys, Satori, Ben, Roy and the Sock Puppets so I’d be refreshed on my last day. I heard the on site disco playing Another Sunny Day and Mighty Mighty, which was nice, but my bed was calling.
Woke up on the Monday feeling like hell again, said goodbye to everyone, went to the play area for a bit, had a very near miss trying to get Sophy out of bed in time, had hellish journey back (which I won’t detail) but Rob got on my bus just as I came into Crawley, which pleased me.
He’d decorated the house for my return :)