Respect for a peaceful festival on the right side of the tracks

Headliners Camera Obscura  played on through a thunderstorm. Picture by Michael Prince
Headliners Camera Obscura played on through a thunderstorm. Picture by Michael Prince
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Indietracks is the sort of pop music festival where you’re never far from someone carrying a tote canvas bag or eating a vegetarian option curry.

You don’t get The Rolling Stones headlining here at Derbyshire’s Midland Railway Centre’s steam train site like you do at Glastonbury.

Nor do things climax, à la Leeds, with toilet blocks being set on fire and thrown into tents.

Indeed, if the toilets deserve any comment at all, it’s that come the third evening, they’re still pretty much clean enough to eat a serving of halloumi from. Should you wish to.

Indietracks, see, is about...respect. It’s about incredible independent, DIY and alternative pop music too – Camera Obscura rock the engine shed, man! – but the focus, it seems, is just as much about providing a genuinely lovely weekend away for all.

Here, 1,500 campers come with the attitude that there are no strangers, just friends you haven’t made a mix tape for yet.

‘After you’ is probably the most common phrase at the bar. That or ‘a pint of local ale please - organic if you have it’.

That’s the vibe.

Perhaps when you have 50 of the world’s finest indie pop bands playing in the rarified surroundings of an old steam railway line (the event is to raise money for the centre) it’s to be expected.

You can’t see a gig in an old railway man’s church (the third stage here) and not feel, somehow, humanity is alright.

“I’ve been coming since it started seven years ago,” says Pete Green, a Walkley singer-songwriter, who performed on the steam train.

“Everything about it is perfect, really. It’s a great alternative to corporate festivals, it reminds you there are great swathes of musicians and music fans out there who aren’t in bands to get famous or rich but are simply doing it for the love of music.”

Among this year’s musical highlights were The Tuts (decidedly raucous girl punks), The Pastels (decidedly un-raucous melodic plonk-pop) and The Lovely Eggs (semi-raucous husband-wife twinklers from Lancaster).

Sheffield’s own bands, including Without Feathers and The Mini Skips, also impressed.

Main headliners Camera Obscura, meanwhile, didn’t let Saturday evening’s torrential downpour and thunderstorm (an interruption to three days of largely blue skies) stop them doing their thing.

The gig was moved inside from the main stage, and the Scottish five-piece sounded as sunny and janglesome as ever.

“It was a shame the weather turned,” admits organiser Nat Hudson.

“But you just have to react the best you can. The whole festival went really well this year, though. We were so pleased. There was a great atmosphere.”

Disappointing aspects? Probably just the paella stand. Tasteless food, a-go-go.

But everything else, from the bowtie-making classes in the marquee to the stage invasion during Helen Love’s invigorating, sparkle cannon-tinged Sunday night set, was all utterly lovely.

“I’m already looking forward to next year,” says Nat. She won’t be alone. Indietracks 2014 is full steam ahead.