Me, in a Cowshed in Derbyshire (Summer of 2008)



Me, in a Cowshed in Derbyshire (Summer of 2008)

It’s dusty in here. The summer evening sun is peeking through the gaps in the corrugated roof, inside which dust dances in pocket sunshine. Scottish band Ballboy have just finished their outdoor set on the back of a commandeered truck doubling as a stage. A crowd of indie t-shirt wearing, denim-shorts bearing, straw-hat sporting, ruddy-cheeked folks boasting an inner and outer glow of satisfaction with life – which can only be earned from having reached the final day of a music festival as the Sunday evening draws in – amble expectantly into the cowshed.

I stand at the front, leaning against the barrier with an old school SLR camera slung around my neck. I am alone. My daughter – let’s call her Anya, since that is her name – is probably listening to On My Way from the film Brother Bear for the seventh consecutive time at home. That’s fine. She’s three years old. And I’ll be honest with you, it’s a song that slaps.

Nobody seems to have noticed, but a bloke’s face is peering over the top of a concrete wall which serves as a partition between backstage and the audience. It’s like a Mr.Chad cartoon. His expression is difficult to read – he seems excited to see a crowd gathering, taking a sneaky peek like a giddy schoolchild before a nativity in which he has the plum part of Joseph and he’s learned all his lines to the letter. But there is also a hint of anxiety, as if he can’t quite believe all these people are shuffling towards the stage to see his band. He’s wearing a Wedding Present t-shirt – the one that says ‘ALL THE SONGS SOUND THE SAME’ in large caps. His band is on stage next. It’s called Los Campesinos!.

Having devoted a large part of my teenage years listening to and watching The Wedding Present, I’m fully prepared to go all in on this band. I’ve heard a ridiculously catchy song of theirs on Radio 6 Music which has a shouty chorus, male/female vocals, a glockenspiel and hand claps. I’m more than intrigued.

Aleks Campesinos!. Indietracks, 2008

The bloke comes on stage, the sleeves of his Weddoes t-shirt are folded up really high. His band plays a bunch of songs consisting of shouty choruses, male/female vocals, a glockenspiel being banged to within an inch of its life and lots of hand claps. I’m all the way in. This band is definitely for me.

I get home and tell my wife and daughter all about this amazing Indietracks Festival and this amazing band and for the next twelve years, we go to the festival. Anya doesn’t really have a say in it at this stage in her life.

Time passes…as it does.

Unsurprisingly, we got different things out of our annual trip to Indietracks. She, the play park. Me and my wife, loud shouty indie bands and the disgustingly beautiful orange beer. But we all enjoyed the can crush where a steamroller squashes all the discarded cans.

I was always very conscious of trying to avoid being ‘that’ dad. You know the type – insisting that the bands from his own childhood produced the best music that ever existed and the stuff kids listen to these days is just noise, not proper music.


Yet at the same time, you want to point your kids in the right direction. If you don’t introduce them to the good stuff, then who will? There is a sweet spot where they listen unquestioningly to you, until they realise that the world beyond the family home is bigger and has lots of new and shiny stuff in it. All you can do – should do – is nudge.

So, while I was catching my new favourite band at the Kasbah, Handmade Festival, The Hop, Oxford O2, Queens Social Club, Village Underground, Islington Assembly Hall, Anya was embarking on her own musical journey. It’s a familiar story – one which we have all done: pop (The Vamps, Ariana Grande) Something a bit more rebellious (Panic! At The Disco, Twenty-One Pilots.) Then you find your own tribe and groove (Dodie, Phoebe Bridgers, Self Esteem, Hozier, Sufjan Stevens.)

All the while, the occasional nudge. I recall one time when she was around six years old, driving somewhere with her in the back of the car while playing We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. But this wasn’t a nudge; playing this was solely for my own pleasure. “…said he got his teeth fixed / I’m gonna break them / I’ve got a heart on fire…”

“That’s not very nice,” came a small voice from the back seat. No. No, it’s not. But one day, you’ll understand the heartache and anguish in this song. It happens to everyone. Strap in.

More time passes…as it continues to do, such is its nature.

We go to see bands together. First The Vamps and Ariana Grande. Then Ben Folds. Then Indietracks 2020 rolls around. Anya is 15 now. That time passing thing? It’s real. And it speeds up. The line-up is announced. Los Campesinos! are headlining. The stars are aligning.

But then stuff happened, and the world went into hibernation, concerts are cancelled. Maybe next time. (Hopefully, there is a next time…)

The lads and Harriet at Indietracks Festival, 2008

There was. We’ll get there. Hang in there.

Covid. It’s 2020. We go to see more bands together: Dodie. Orla Gartland. Phoebe Bridgers. Self Esteem. Wet Leg. Allo Darlin’. She’s exploring her own tastes, entirely un-nudged.

Another LC! gig is announced. December 2021 at the Village Underground, London. I tentatively ask Anya is she fancies it. I’m not sure what the response will be. She’s heard the odd song, but they’re not a band she has discovered herself. They’re that band her dad really likes. And he’s old.

But it’s a gig and it’s a trip to London, so why not? She’s 16 now.

As we queue up in the freezing cold outside, I recall how I was here in December 2014 – this very same venue – with a friend to see this very same band. But this is different, in so many ways. This is post-Covid. We have been asked to wear masks and, of course, we acquiesce. And I’m not with my LC! loving mate this time. When I was last here, Anya was nine. Now she’s at an LC! gig. So weird.

Naturally, I’d put together a ‘Songs by LC! you Really Should be Familiar With Before This Gig’ playlist. It went down well, but who can really tell until you are faced with the real thing, live and loud – the shouty choruses, glockenspiel and hand claps in their full, live and undiluted glory? It’s the difference between a pre-season friendly and a relegation six-pointer in the business end of the season.

We stand at the side. The crowd is an eclectic mix. Anya scans the audience. Well, this is cool. Other people the same age as me here, not just people my dad’s age. Well, I’m in. Bring on the shouty choruses, the male/female vocals, the glockenspiel and the hand claps. And bring them all the way on.

We exit into the bitingly cold London night and back up to the East Midlands. Very, very tentatively, I ask her what she thought. I’m nervous. After all, this is my band and rejection of my band is rejection of something I hold dear and true. Whatever she says, I’ll put a brave face on though, be a brave soldier.

“So much better than I imagined.”  She felt kinship. She knew their audience. She loved their values. She knew this band was for her, and not just her stupid old dad’s band.


It’s February 2024. Anya is now 18. She’s at Bristol University. Would someone just please do something about the time passing thing….

We meet in a pub near Troxy before the gig. That mate who was with me for the Village Undergound show in 2014 is here too. This is a good night for a … well, just a really good night. No fistfight required.

Pre-gig pints at the Troxy gig. February 2024.

We are in the queue for merch. A young girl, about Anya’s age, maybe a bit younger, compliments me on my LC! football shirt. I feel old – really old (late forties is, I guess, quite old) – but I also feel vindicated. What a broad appeal this band have. I’ve been right all along. This band speaks to so many. And this band belongs to everybody.

We take our places, near the front, left of centre. There is a young woman wearing an Allo Darlin’ t-shirt to our right. We both clock it. We smile. The people here, in this crowd, are us. Not odd or unusual or superior, just us. They get it, like we do. We shout out shouty choruses together, especially the bit about being beautiful and being doomed and the bit about a particular breakdown being more constructive than the one in Canada. Getting drunk and eating loads of crisps and throwing up by a football pitch. Because Anya is planning to study abroad for a semester in Canada. If while she’s there she doesn’t get really drunk, eat loads of crisps and throw up by a football pitch, then what is the actual point in anything?

Anya and me. Troxy. February 2024

It is a truly life-affirming experience.


I go to football. A lot. I go to watch a football team which has been at best mediocre, but generally awful for the last 23 years, but I happen to like this football team an awful lot.

When Anya was young, I was often asked whether she was going to come with me to the football, on the assumption that this is what children of dads obsessed with football do. The answer was – and remains – rarely. She has precious little interest in football. My friends have started to bring their sons along with them. Their kids are part of our football-going group now. They come on the long away days. They help out with big displays. They’ll be getting the rounds in in the not-too-distant future. Following a football team home and away is a mostly tedious experience of last-minute concessions, turgid midweek goalless games, navigating road diversions at 1.54am after a comprehensive 3-0 defeat at fucking Reading. Again.

But when it’s good, Christ…it’s good. It’s everything. And they – these dads who are bringing their sons to the football – will have these moments together.

The Troxy gig was our moment. It was a couple of hours of last-minute winners, and without the assembly line of deeply unsatisfying and tedious defeats.

I was initially drawn to this band because they made me feel 18 again. Being a sixth former, becoming obsessed with bands, carving war poetry with a Stanley knife in someone’s door to impress them, feeling rejected after discovering a hurtful secret in the lining of a winter’s coat, putting your head right up next to the speaker at a gig so the beats wind up in your sneakers. That. All of that.

We all grow old. It’s inevitable. We are not teenagers anymore (well, some of you reading this are, but know this: the rest of us envy you. So enjoy it. Suck the life out of it).

The bands we love get older. They change. They become more introspective. They and their audience grow older together. But this doesn’t mean such bands are solely for the preserve of that demographic. And we older ones owe it to ourselves to continue to seek out the new music that makes us feel young again.

I can’t go back to the cowshed in Derbyshire in the summer of 2008. I can’t even go back to Troxy in February 2024. But every gig is someone’s first gig, and the start of something that will probably evolve into something more meaningful.

May the youngsters hold on, eternally.

David Marples is the author of two books (The History Boys: Iconic Nottingham Forest Goals and Reds and Rams: The Story of the East Midlands Derby). He has written pieces for various publications, most notably Mundial magazine, and both football fanzines he produces have been nominated for awards.