Indietracks is a very small festival set in the idyllic surroundings of Midland Railway. The music is indie pop in the most truest sense of the meaning and due to the railway centre location it's pretty easy to work out where the name derives from. I knew I'd love Indietracks before I even arrived and after my first weekend at the festival Steve and I decided that we would return every single year without fail. Indietracks truly is an annual gathering of twee and I honestly don't think I've been to a happier place in my entire life.
It is my festival highlight every year. The friendly faces, great indie-pop music, and wonderful atmosphere make me return year after year without question. This summer I visited for the third time, celebrating the festival's tenth anniversary, and secretly wishing I'd known about it since the beginning.
My least favourite thing about Indietracks is the journey to Derbyshire from London on the Friday afternoon. Predictably, we got stuck in traffic on the M1. We arrived at Golden Valley Caravan and Camping Park around sunset and quickly put up our tent whilst cracking into a can of cider. From the campsite it's a 10 minute walk to Midland Railway - Swanick Junction, where the festival takes place, just in time to grab a spot near the front of the stage for The Spook School.
The Spook School's performance felt like an Indietracks homecoming in the best possible sense. Festival favourites, the band has risen through the ranks, first playing the festival back in 2012 and now culminating in the much coveted Friday night headline spot.
To me, The Spook School sums up everything I love about Indietracks and indie-pop music as a whole. Full of energy, their music spans various genres until it nestles in a DIY indie-pop punk, frenzy. Songs are short and bouncy with catchy melodies and singalong choruses. I love seeing the band live, especially as their set-up is something of a spectacle in itself. The three Scottish members of the band (Adam, Anna, and Nye) stand at the front of the stage, small and almost timid appearing whilst Niall, the drummer, causes havoc at the back. Niall reminds me of a crazy uncle whilst the front three look embarrassed and fed up by his shenanigans. But this is all part of the bands schtick, I'm sure they all love each other really.
Day 2 started with Falling and Laughing in the Church. We didn't know who they were but I liked the fact they were named after an Orange Juice song. Despite not sounding anything like Orange Juice, I enjoyed their noisy, energetic songs. Great stage banter too.
When it comes to most festivals I normally exhaust myself by running about from stage to stage. At Indietracks I like to take it easy, chilling out by the Outdoor stage for most of the day, soaking up the great indie-pop sounds. I spent a good few hours catching up with Claire whilst taking in Dirty Girl, Vacaciones, Boys Forever and Flowers. Steve and I shared a delicious vegetarian thali from Gopal's Curry Shack and before long it was time to head over the the marquee for Niall (from The Spook School) is your life coach 2.0. Niall's session the previous year was hilarious, he's gave out advice ranging from inspired, terrible and downright obscure. This follow up session was more of the same and even Kelly Jones made an appearance.
We dashed over to the Indoor stage to watch Expert Alterations, a jangle pop band from Baltimore, USA. Every year there's one Indietracks band that makes a lasting impression on me. The first year I went it was The Spook School, last year it was Martha and this year it was definitely Expert Alterations. Exceedingly cool, this band has a great stage presence and fun songs. Steve and I have gone to see them since the festival because we've enjoyed them so much.
It was back to the Outdoor stage to see Emma Pollock who was lovely and quite chilled out before heading back into the Indoor stage to catch The Lovely Eggs who are a fantastic indie punk band. The night finished with Saint Etienne who I did enjoy but yet felt like a somewhat understatement after a fantastic day of music.
After a little dance at the festival disco Steve and I headed back to the campsite for some midnight snacks. We overheard someone talking about a secret campsite gig and as we were making our way back to out tent we stumbled across a gathering of people amongst the children's playground. David Leach, who writes funny ukulele songs, had organised a little lineup up bands and musicians to play a secret show. It was absolutely lovely and we watched David, Wolf Girl, and Black Terror sing some songs before one of the campsite staff came along and told everyone to stop drinking in the kids play area. he gig was moved inside to the space above the bar but by this stage Steve and I were ready for bed. We can't party as hard as we used to it would seem.
Despite our last day at the festival being short lived due to us leaving early (we had work on Monday) we managed to squeeze quite a few things in. We enjoyed Witching Waves on the Outdoor stage followed by Lorna inside. After a little music we went for a little stroll and check out the train facilities. Being set at a heritage railway centre there's a ton of train related things to enjoy. We always try and do something new each year. On our first year we went on a tour of the museum which was extremely fascinating, last year we took on the narrow gauge railway and this year we finally discovered the miniature railway where we took a ride on the tiny replica trains. With the model railways scattered about the place and all the old carriages parked around the site, Indietracks really is a train spotters dream.
We watched a little Seazoo on the Outdoor stage and made our way over to the station for our one and only train gig of the weekend, White Town. The train gigs really are a special experience. The carriage fits around 50 people but being about to watch someone play an acoustic guitar whilst a steam train rambles though the countryside is a really wonderful experience. White Town was perfect! I first heard the song 'Your Woman' when I was living in Derby, it's where the music video is filmed and it's such a great 90s anthem. Being able to hear this performed live was brilliant and was most definitely worth queueing up to secure a spot.
After our train ride we caught a bit of David Leach in the merchandise tent and was gutted to realise we'd missed The Just Joans. The church of merch is one of my favourite things about the festival. Indie-pop labels sell a huge number of records over the weekend and it's where Steve and I buy the majority of our vinyl every year. There is usually a line up of performances during the day and if you're lucky you could spot one of your favourite bands putting on an impromptu show. We visited the owls one last time, a festival favourite, before making it over to the Outdoor stage to catch Haiku Salut. I love Haiku, their instrumental performances are simply magical and watching the three members running around the stage playing an assortment of different instruments in beyond impressive. I've seen them live numerous times now and they never cease to amaze me.
Before we knew it we had to head home. The Festival's 10th anniversary addition was perfect and I cannot wait to visit next year. It's the only festival I return to without fail, regardless of who's playing because it really is one of my favourite places in the entire world.