FESTIVAL REVIEW: 2000trees Festival 2018
It’s festival season and we are pumped! But with so many to choose from, what makes 2000trees so great? In one word – everything – and we are packed and ready to go!
Set in the Cotswolds, 2000trees Festival is a picturesque playground for those with a roundabout taste in music; and there really is something for everyone with five stages to choose from. The Cave stage is home to the darker side of rock and monsters of riffs. The Axiom stage is a roll of the dice mix of well-known and small sounds. The NEU stage does what is says on the tin and spills the beans on all the underdogs to watch this summer. The Main Stage is naturally the main event. Set outside, you’ll find the eclectic mix of mainstream headliners, this year boasting sounds of pop punk gems, metal mayhem and indie singalongs. The festival’s secret (garden) and truly unique area is The Forest, a solitude of sound, under the hug of many trees (let’s say 2000?). Some of our favourite rock acts offer up acoustic delights which dance around you as you sit, sipping on cocktails, immersed in comfort, fairy lights and well-earned shade. This chilled out festival really turned up the heat and upped its game this year, and we were ready to soak up all the rays and music we could get our sweaty palms on.
It’s the first day, Thursday. We start the festival with deja vu as much to our delight, the Scottish pop punkers Vukovi return to The Axiom stage. This year the space is packed out, as blue haired beauty Janine pelts favourite And He Lost His Mind at the crowd, who were losing theirs. They turn up the volume with new release Claudia, whilst fans are encouraged to singalong to La Di Da’s catchy chorus as Janine’s “voice is fucked,” and soon everyone is singing “love me, love me” – the crowd certainly do!
Bringing some glam to the main stage are Turbowolf, kitted out in flared jumpsuits. Capital X, taken from debut album The Free Life, starts the mayhem. The band hit Solid Gold note perfectly, as Andrew Gosh on guitar and Lianna Lee Davies on bass shred back-to-back, combined with Chris Georgiadis’ unmissable vocals. Set favourite Rabbit Foot has everyone’s feet in the air and leaves us wanting more.
Boston Manor take us out of the funk and into pop punk territory, with heavenly vocals by Henry Cox flying over Jordan Pugh’s grounding drum beats. Nostalgic track Forget Me Not ensures that the set will be in everyone’s mind all day. The boys fly about the stage like they’ve been powered by Monster, as Mike Cuniff shreds with his guitar above his head. By the end, we’re on a sugar rush and pop punk high.
Arcane Roots clearly feel at home at this festival, as they grace the packed out main stage with heavenly melodies. The sound is so apt next to the beautiful surroundings, we almost wish this was our hangover treat tomorrow morning – but it’s still day one! Proving they are a band that Matter with record to record, the set offers a mixture of Heaven and Earth and Melancholia Hymns. Come Landslide the band are in full pelt: Jack Wrench vibrates the soul with ear pelting drums; Andrew Groves grooves to guitar licks that rival Eric Clapton; and this is tightly tied together with Adam Burton’s girthy basslines. The crowd love it and we feel warm and fuzzy as Groves humbly announces “trees is their best festival.” If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves is their best of set and brings it all to a close, but we don’t want to move from the stage after that belter of a performance. Alas, At The Drive In awaits!
They say never meet your heroes but we say you should definitely hear them at least, and we’re about to! Staring up at the main stage, doe-eyed and squished into what feels like everyone at the festival, we’re well and truly revved up for the OG’s of the festival: At The Drive In. It’s a long way from 1994 and the on-and-off band have been back in full swing since 2015, but are they better than ever? Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and the Texan rockers are ready to unleash with Arcarsenal. The energy is infectious as mid-set hits and the adrenaline kicks in for Enfilade, as the frontman jumps up to join Tony Hajjar up on the drum kit; not phasing the smooth backbeat. The diversity in the odd gentle guitar to the harsh tones of Lopez’s almost spoken word style vocals prove why this band are still around. We’re all nostalgic and amazed for Napoleon Solo, as Lopez takes a political stand whilst introducing Invalid Litter Dept. The crowd cheer as he calls “President” Trump a “fascist piece of shit” and a “dickhead who takes kids from parents,” before sweetly dedicating the next song to “Fathers that love their kids.” The crowd goes wild and as the backdrop changes, the frontman changes tone and lulls the crowd with a story about self-acceptance. We love this band’s attitude, morals and sound. At The Drive In just go from strength to strength in Pattern Against User, whilst One Armed Scissor cuts the light show and ends the set. We are sad to see the stage empty; what a band and what a first day!
One night down, it’s Friday and everyone looks like they’ve done 10 rounds with Anthony Joshua. What’s the best hangover cure did you say? Pounding rock music for a pounding head of course! Ready to perk up the crowd are London melodic rockers, Chapter and Verse. Not a bad choice, but not the best. Nailing Coheed-like sounding harmonies, the vocals are a little screechy first thing. Cheeky frontman Josh Carter tries his best to engage the zombies flocking to them and the tight set has everyone’s attention by New Breed. We get a “last chance to dance” with the very emo A Devil in Blue. Come the 8th song we’re entertained, but not totally excited.
Opting for a softer sound, we check out the NEU Stage and see what budding talent Trees has to offer. There we stumble upon what we think are was one of the most exciting discoveries of the festival: No Violet. Tiny frontwoman Ellie Godwin packs a vocal punch that flaws the tent and her presence comes with some Alanis Morisette rivalling attitude. We feel like we’ve taken a jagged pill as whammy’s take us into a psychedelic wonderland. Their set is truly a quiet melodic break from the emo hum drum. Their guitarist picks a stairway to heaven and delivers melodic bliss in Your Head/My Head, which certainly messed with ours. As soon as we’re relaxed, the hard hitting vocals and drums take us into a progressive turn. New track, off the soon-to-be-released EP Faces is the true gem, impressively written solely in 5/4 pentameter. The talent of these new kids on the block is astounding. Seeing a lot of male vocalists so far, Ellie and bassist Kerry prove talent is sexless, as they swap guitars and spill talent all over the stage. Be My Friend almost costs the audience’s attention, who are now pumped up for the day, as a slow jam is not the ideal choice here. But these golden newbies prove that pace isn’t a thing when you’re oozing 70s sound and 2018 charisma. Everyone is surprised at how much punch this small band packs – we fully expect to see them on a much bigger stage next year and we can’t wait!
Up next are our Canadian favourite crazies, The Dirty Nil. The set opens in full on fashion with Jesus, yes Jesus (well their tour manager) gracing the main stage with his presence, breaking the news that “the Devil is in our country” (Trump), but that saviours “The Dirty Nil are here to blast him out with good ol’ rock n roll.” With our pretty boy heroes armed with new material, everything is at Master Volume and the set does not disappoint. Their small but loyal fanbase fill out the front of the main stage, and aren’t phased by the only rain of the festival. It also doesn’t stop po-going to punk style Cinannamon. New song Pain of Infinity goes down well and by Zombie Eyed, in true TDN fashion, they’ve turned everyone crazy as the front rows get on the floor and make a human row boat. This band really deliver live: drums with a side of chaos from Kyle Fisher, beautiful melodies from Luke Bentham and basslines that are as unpredictable as Ross Miller’s facial expressions; these boys will never steer you wrong.
Ho9909 are like a good tinder date. You arrive and the person isn’t like any other person you’ve met. Soon, you’re in for a crazy night that’s well out your expectation and comfort zone and suddenly, you’re in love! Boasting new material from debut album United States of Horror, the US outfit mix hardcore with hip hop and with a look as eclectic as their sound, they are clearly here to make an impression – and we love them for it!
Creeper are up there as one of the most anticipated band of Trees. The Southampton horror punk, goth-rock group are like a cult and their worshippers flock in their hundreds to fill out the Cave. We’re there ready too for some Creeper dark magic. Hannah Greenwood packs some beautiful pipes and power just flows around the tent, spellbinding us all to Valentine. Gloom is the tune that gets us going, and just as we are immersed in the set Greenwood and Ian Miles hit us with a country curve ball, with an acoustic version Crickets which we’re digging. Keeping up with the surprises, the two cover Meatloaf’s You Took the Word Right Out of My Mouth and we are entertained, exhausted and think we’ve just joined the Creeper cult after that set!
Well-earned main stage headliners are Scottish alt-rockers Twin Atlantic. The 16-song set has everyone hovered and ready to rock out to the likes of Valhalla and Free, and soon everyone is ready to Fall Into the Party. Yes I was Drunk acts as soundtrack to the drunken pits forming and with no feet on the ground, everyone is ready for No Sleep. The set is good without question, but it’s a little bland and doesn’t make it in our top five of the festival. Encore Heart and Soul saves things and admittedly gets stuck in our head for the rest of the night.
That is, until it’s time to put on our dancing shoes and hit the silent disco, where we are feeling satisfied and wondering if this weekend can get any better?…
Saturday’s here before we know it and the last day is upon us! It’s the night after the first silent disco and everyone is feeling all danced out. With news spreading like wildfire that SikTh have had to pull out, due to drummer Dan Foord‘s partner giving birth and although a perfectly adorable excuse, morale is low from Sikth fans and we need a miracle. A big congrats to the new family though!
A band that can conjure energy from a stone are Haggart Cat, a project made up of ex-members of Heck. The main stage would usually be an odd choice for such an up-and-comer, but living in the shadow of such an iconic live band we think: what the Heck. As guitarist/vocalist Matt Reynolds and drummer Tom Marsh enter the stage, we are sure they’re going to smash it and as we look around, it turns out we’re not the only ones. Aligator Tightrope is their set hero, and when American Graffiti lands so does Marsh’s symbol on the stage. As closer The Patriot falls it’s a powerful set; we just wish for the boys’ sake that they had a later set, so the energy exerted by Reynolds could have been boomeranged back.
The mid-day hangover kicks in and everyone is ready for a nap. Here to put an end to that and start the party are crazy ska saviours Imperial Leisure. Forget a Redbull, 10 seconds with this talented bunch and you’re sucked into madness at an all-time high. Soon the whole festival has caught on and is running (yes running) to jump and exert energy to some of the best tunes we’ve heard all festival. The entire band (what looks like 20 members!) are giving it 100% and it’s infectious. All dressed in yellow, except for Birthday Boy frontman Dennis Laurence the band are omitting a summer vibe and quality ska tunes which, fan of the genre or not, you will love. Trust us! Landlords Daughter has us witnessing class trumpets, bass moves to rival AC/DC and rap style vocals to a ska beat. As Laurence jumps into the crowd, he pops champ with his now-fans to celebrate both his birthday and 10 year anniversary performance – the best set of the festival and one we are so glad we didn’t miss.
Our ears now truly warmed up, we are ready to up our hardcore game. Lurking in the caves, Cove are ready to pelt us with just that. A standard set is broken up by standout track Resolve, Reflect. The guitar melts away any mercy of a hangover and the torturous pound of drums cut with the roar of vocals, and all of a sudden we’re greeted with beat down bliss. Feeling fulfilled, we think we’ve found one of the heaviest acts of the festival, but we’re about to be proved wrong.
Raging Speedhorn soon steal the title and quite literally unleash the beast with Bring Out Your Dead. The band are so tight and technically well-oiled that come Dead Man Walking they are “like a machine.” The level of talent is reflected by the number of people cramming into the tent hear the chaos unfolding. Not phased, the four metal lads power on with a new song from an album they’re “going to write.” As Ten of Swords hits, the now swelling tent erupts in to a pit fit for the devil. If you like aggressive musicians playing aggressive rock, this is one for you.
The Xcerts are no strangers to 2000trees, and due to the overcrowding of The Axiom tent last year the Scottish indie-rock trio have leveled up to Main Stage status. The set is inoffensive but a little samey and we are reluctant to Xcert (excuse the pun) any energy. Murray Macleod’s vocal execution is hauntingly perfect though, so it’s not a total bust. The band bring a new lease of life to the stage with Hold On To Your Heart and by closer Feels Like We’re Falling in Love we’re feeling ‘in like’, but not ‘in love’.
Ready to get back down to level earth, we pile to the biggest mid-afternoon crowd for Basement. The boys have been like a rom com romance, on and off again, but since 2014 they have been back better than ever. Basement are basic boys with a solid yet simple sound. Some may argue that this may be capable of floating in the background of some of the festival hard hitters, but execution really is key with the Ipswich boys and their clean sound makes this band hard to ignore! Whole opens and is as crisp and refreshing as a first sip of beer on a hot day (well we’re doing both, so we’re in heaven!) The band turn heat to fire with Aquasun and after a sporadic jumping session, everyone is soaked. Classic tune Bad Apple gets our juices flowing and is a sweet, nostalgic addition alongside Pine and Covet. When their 12-song set ends we’re not even warmed up, and as closer and out favourite of the whole festival Promise Everything rings out we’re gutted, even if Enter Shikari is next!
A band that need no introduction but love to make a dramatic one are Enter Shikari. Easily the most anticipated of the festival, punters and bands alike are there ready for a trip to the musical future. Here to lead us on the galactic journey of his stage throne, which looks like an 80’s sci-fi film – fit with robot props and mirror boxes – is Rou Reynolds. He looks like he’s an extra in Back To The Future, but we’re in awe as he greets his fellow “human life forms” and kicks off a show to remember. Juggernauts erupts the whole field and we have lift off.
Whatever year you have sunk your teeth into Shikari we all know the classics, and one thing we love about this band is that they know how to dip in and out of material to really set the party vibe. The Last Garrison and Shinrin-Yoku sandwich our fave golden oldie Anything Can Happen in the Next Half Hour and it seems like everyone is on board. The set is full of light tricks and crazy spectacles with props, with fidget spinners coming out of the huge speaker into the crowd.
Rou and the boys know how to put on a show and immerse the crowd, however come Mothership we start to notice a lag. The band have brought along their iconic quadrophonic sound system, but sometimes it seems to get lost and randomly mixed up in the open air. Enter Shikari are music innovators and always have numerous tricks up their sleeves. Here to wow they hit us with a quick-fire round which features Sorry You’re Not a Winner, Sssnakepit, …Meltdown and The Jester. Chris Batten harmoniously ties his vocals into Rou’s spoken word sections as Rob Rolfe knocks the melody senseless and Rory Clewlow melts riffs together, when it all ends with a humble thank you. No boys, thank YOU! We cannot wait to see the quartet back where they thrive, in a venue on their “long tour next year.”
Rared up, it’s into the chaos of the silent disco again as we join Jon Mahon on the main stage, who promised us no Fratellis and delivers tune after tune, and by the end of the night (erm, well, morning) we are ready to crawl into our sleeping bags and face the reality of tomorrow (kind of).
Question: Do you like rock music? Do you like picturesque settings and the nicest people around and having a fucking good time? Then 2000trees is for you! This year has blown us away and we are on the edge of our well-earned seat (home) to get back here and see this festival up its game even more. Take us back now please! Thanks!
Written by: Charly Phillips
Photos by: Alex-Jay Moore