Question Time 5: What makes Indietracks so special?



In the run-up to Indietracks 2011 we asked our panel: what makes Indietracks the special and unique and brilliant thing that it is? Having then had the time of our lives at the festival, we reckon they got it just about bang on. What do you think? See what the panel had to say and add a comment of your own…


The thing I love about Indietracks is the atmosphere of the place, the people who go there and the guys who volunteer over the weekend are all so cheery and happy-looking. You go round the site all weekend with a smile!

Toby Marshall, Birmingham (but from Wolverhampton)


Indietracks sticks to what it loves and what it believes in; it has principles. It is a festival at which indiepop bands play and lovers of all things indiepop create, participate and socialise. Just about nothing in life and in the mainstream world caters to our niche passions but here is a weekend where we have just about everything we could dream of, all beautifully packaged in a rural countryside location.

Jennifer, London (Colour Me Pop DJs and gigs)


Almost everyone you encounter seems to be a reasonable person.  The festival appears to shun corporate sponsorship and a lot of the stuff on the site is run by railway volunteers, which makes for a lovely atmosphere. Perhaps that’s why people are so reasonable: it feels like we’re guests at their place. Lastly, the music. Always a killer line-up.

Daniel, Sheffield (pop fan)


It’s not a big corporate money-grabbing festival. It’s small and has a lovely friendly atmosphere. It has ace music and you can dance in a train carriage!

Paula McCann, Nottingham (artist and superlative baker of cakes for popshows)


As far as I can tell it’s the only ‘proper’ outdoor festival anywhere that is 100% dedicated to indiepop. There’s nowhere else I can go away for a long weekend, drink real ale, ride on steam trains, see some of my favourite bands and say hello to people I don’t get to see very often who love all of the things I’ve just mentioned.

Colin Meney, Glasgow (Half My Heart Beats DJs)


The most special unique and brilliant thing is by far and away the setting. Gigs on a train or in an old tin church are always a lot more special than anything you could see on a regular stage, and that colours the whole weekend. The bands usually being great helps, and then all that real ale business is great fun.

Josh Owen Morris, Cardiff (Grand Canonical Ensemble; Eruption Button DJs)


The location, the welcoming clientele, the fact it knows it doesn’t have to try too hard, the fact that it draws people from all over the place to a specialist museum near a Midlands mining town with a low-key bill and few of the fripperies every other festival demands through reputation and taking care of the specifics alone.
Simon Tyers, Leicester (Sweeping The Nation blog and gigs, occasional reviewer/writer)


The location, the volunteers, the people who go, the grumpy campsite man, the bands, Gopal’s Curry Shack, Real Ale, Dancing in a field, an engine shed, a church, trains. Oh yes and you welcome all ages….

Linda Chapman, Washington, Tyne & Wear (dressmaker and pop fan)


Every year I’ve been to Indietracks, I’ve made a new friend. Usually because I get drunk and start talking to strangers. Even if the music was pish, which it isn’t, it’d be worth the trip for the people alone.
Carys Kennedy, London (The Give It Ups; Fall Out Make Up DJs)


I think of Indietracks as others might think of that special boy/girl in their life. I can’t really put in to words why I love Indietracks. The obvious things like amazing pop bands, beautiful, friendly people, and beer don’t seem to be enough to make my heart go ‘fuck yea!’ when I think of Indietracks, but it really is greater than the sum of its parts.

Ray K, Birmingham (City Sacker zine)


That it’s all about the music and the friendliest weekend of the year. There’s plenty of young and beautiful people there but you don’t have to be either to have a great time!

Jane, London (pop fan)


The people, both involved in putting it on and attendees. It’s lovely to be able to walk around and know pretty much everyone in one way or another. It has such a wonderful temperament and an honest personality that you don’t get with a lot of festivals. Plus real ales and none of that Carling malarkey ­– that’s always a winner.

Robert Fairs, Derby (Seas of Mirth; Alice Ferguson; Dayglo Tokyo; Apples For Discos gigs)


I think it’s the combination of a relatively small sized festival, lovely, unpretentious people, amazing bands and a special atmosphere with the trains and countryside that makes it feel like you really are a million miles away from the ‘real world’. I think there’s a general mood of happiness everywhere and in all the years I’ve been going, I’ve yet to witness any aggression or weirdness that can happen at bigger festivals. I think steam trains are still a bit magical for a lot of people, and they’re not something we see or experience every day so it feels like a little escape. I guess there’s still a childish glee to it for a lot of people (including me!) and when you add in bands and happy people, it’s something you just don’t get anywhere else.

Sandy Gill, London (Stolen Wine Social DJs)


In no particular order it is: the odd location, the brilliant music, the lovely people who attend and run the festival/railway museum and the real ale.

Dan Hartley, Sheffield (The Sweet Nothings; Pop-o-matic DJs)


Beautiful location, beautiful music, beautiful people.

Tim, Belfast (Words and Smiles blog)


The trains! It wouldn’t be the same without the trains. And everyone is lovely without exception – it’s welcoming to even the less indiepop-inclined like me – and the atmosphere is so friendly and brilliant. Plus there’s always loads of lovely little babies to coo over.

Hayley, Nottingham (A Fog of Ideas gigs)


It has to be one of the (if not THE) most open, welcoming and non-judgemental festivals in the country. Aside from having the relaxed feel of an oversized village fete with great music and steam trains, it’s also one of the most sociable environments I’ve been to. If you haven’t made friends by the end of it, then the only logical conclusion is you’ve stayed in your tent for three days. Seriously.

Gareth Ware, Anglesey (pop fan)


I’d say it’s a combination of atmosphere, friendly folk and the way the festival’s run in general. Obviously, indiepop doesn’t have a monopoly on DIY culture, but Indietracks certainly feels like a triumphant display of the potential of DIY music, with no greater goal than people (be they friends or friends they haven’t met yet) sharing great music over the course of a weekend. If putting on a great show feels like you’ve managed to pull something off against the odds, imagine how the Indietracks organisers must feel. The best thing is that no-one is ever made to feel like just another punter – everyone’s involved and important, on some level. That’s kinda what the ideal of DIY means to me, and Indietracks encapsulates it.

Will Fitzpatrick, Liverpool (The 255s)


I’m sure everyone will say this, but it’s just so friendly! We’ve moved towards smaller and smaller festivals over the years, but our first Indietracks (in 2008) was a complete revelation. It feels tailor-made for us, and for everyone else who goes!

Dan and Hannah, Sheffield (Pull Yourself Together gigs/label/DJs)


It takes place in a beautiful field where old trains are restored, it is filled with friendly volunteers, wonderful indiepop people of all ages, amazing bands, real ale, free train rides and not a sign of any corporate sponsorship or heavy-handed security. It’s like another planet: the most heartfelt coming together of everything that’s good about the world and undeniable proof that we can have fun and still be true, like you once said.

Marianthi Makra, London (Atomic Beat Records; Spiral Scratch gigs and DJs; Team Indietracks member)


Too many things to mention. The opportunity to discover new and amazing bands that you’ve never heard before, gorgeous steam rains, the lovely railway staff, delicious cheesy chips, crazy blue-coloured real ales, meeting people that you’ve previously only ever talked to on the internet, the beautiful surrounding countryside – I could go on… Indietracks has and always will be much more than the sum of its parts.

Nat, London (A Little Orchestra; Team Indietracks member)


The fact that it brings so many of my favourite bands together in the one place and the fact that that place just happens to be beautiful countryside that is also filled with steam trains and the nicest people you’ll ever meet. 

Chris Gillies, Glasgow (The Hermit Crabs)


So, did they cover everything? Did you have a good time at Indietracks 2011? Post a comment, share the love, stay in touch. We’ll make a better world one day.

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