Part four: in which Carey tastes celestial Italian melodies, ultra-camp Euro-pop and realises that if you don’t like Teenage Fanclub, you’re probably a twat.
The blue skies and picturesque clouds of Saturday mutated horribly into some of the most vile weather imaginable on Sunday, the whole world becoming sodden with constant rain and greyness. People took shelter under the nearest train they could find, or in the church, where Italy’s Les Man Avec Les Lunettes were wowing the swollen crowd. Their influences were as old as pop music itself but were folded into a smartly contemporary mix, with the attention to both melody and crafy you hear in later Super Furries or Beulah records. One of the festival’s happiest discoveries.
So far, so tasteful; Stereo Total were keen to upset the balance, and they did so magnificently. What better way to combat the gloom than with a flurry of pink ultra-kitsch Euro-pop? Francoise Cactus, one half of this long-established, fiercely camp duo, was like a female Antoine de Caunes, winking and ooh-la-laing to their lo-fi disco beats, while Brezel Göring (the spit of David Duchovny) played cheerleader to the umbrella-holding and raincoat-clad crowd. After 25 minutes Ms Cactus beckoned to the soggy spectators and a stage invasion followed. For the final song, a jubilant crowd danced in the dry of the stage. No fashionable self-pity for these ravers; it all ended in hugs, grins and laughter.
We were nearing the end of a weekend of butterfly buns, tea in china cups and pretty people singing pretty songs. Cue Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos.”This is a great festival,” he said, in the first song. “I’ve just got one complaint – it’s a bit twee.” People in the crowd dropped their crochet needles in shock. “Why are you being so nice to each other?” he demanded. “Stop sharing your sweets!” To the sound of masses of people snatching their Haribo back, even the most most buttoned-up hipsters became putty in his hands.
If you can rely on one band to produce a brilliant, hillarious, iconoclastic performance, whatever the circumstances, Art Brut are the people to do it, and this was no exception. If you haven’t heard of Art Brut by now, or only heard them on record and not “got” it, their live show is where it all makes sense. Essentially the ranting vehicle of Mr Argos, their genius rests on his ability to pinpoint the furtive, geeky things in life and make them an almighty cause for celebration. Everyone is at the same level at an Art Brut show. Their performance of ‘Modern Art’ – re-dubbed ‘DC Comics’ (chorus: “DC comics makes me want to rock out”), with Eddie recounting a long and hillarious monologue in the middle of the crowd, was a case in point. ‘Slap Dash for No Cash’ spelled out the polemical point to it all; let’s make music that revels in flaws and imperfections rather than tries to cover them up. This was Art Brut at their most furious, inhibition-destroyingly brilliant, and by encore ‘Formed a Band’ the catharsis was well and truly complete. Awesome.
When the rage is over, what else is left to do but embrace the love? The drizzly cold was no match for the warm glow everyone felt listening to Teenage Fanclub. They were the perfect compliment/riposte to Art Brut’s righteous fury, playing a set of beautiful, enduring songs you’d have to be a twat not to like. Like the best indie rock, they find hope in the melancholy, the extraordinary things in the mundane facts of life, the meaning in the prosaic.
Perhaps that’s why an indie festival surrounded by steam trains makes a lot of sense; these things look awfully quaint to us now, puffing along on a July afternoon, but lest we forget, these beasts powered the industrial revolution. Proof that twee can change the world. Here’s hoping Indietracks continues to carry the flame so successfully.
Words and photos: Carey Davies