FestivalsLive Reviews

FESTIVAL REVIEW: 2000trees Festival 2023 – Friday

Photo Credit: Martin Smith 

After spending the early hours of our Friday morning wandering around the campsites heading to Camp Turner and the Under The Bridge stage where artists including Nervendings and George Gadd we’re playing short, intimate sets, we were surprisingly fresh for the third day of our 2000tress adventure. Friday look set to include plenty of running around but also some of our favourite sets of the weekend.

Opening up The Axiom was Beauty School, who drew a surprisingly big crowd for the time of day. Having seen the band earlier this year supporting State Champs, we were hoping this would be a chance for them to redeem themselves after their previously underwhelming live performance and they definitely managed to do this whilst showcasing their debut album Happiness. Slowing down their full-pelt set came with Ekimae, complete with head banging moments and the simple but powerful chorus of “As I close my eyes” which was quickly picked up by the crowd. Despite their 4am wake-up time and Joe Cabrera’s job interview which was saved thanks to fans staying at an Airbnb, it was a solid set from the band to kick off our day. 7/10 NC

Whilst opening the main stage of a festival isn’t always an easy task, but rising trio Love Is Noise certainly make a good go of it. It takes a few songs for the energy to build, but once frontman Cameron Humphrey is only bound to his microphone, we really start to see what the trio are made of. The heavier moments are where this band truly shine, as Humphrey thrashes around and throws himself across the stage floor, before making his way to the barrier to interact with the early risers. While their infancy may be apparent at times it’s clear there’s a lot of potential. Love Is Noise could be on the brink of something exciting. 7/10 HG 

Making our way to the Neu stage, we were there to see Carpark; one of our most anticipated sets of the weekend. The trio formed of Scottie, Lottie and Loda are offering up a dose of nostalgic grunge taking us right back to the 90s with moody vocals, vibrant energy, ferocious drums and singalongs a plenty including with new single Suburbs Of Hell. Stripping things back as asthmatic Scottie admitted she’d given a little too much during the first part of the set came with Don’t Know Why We Met. Closing their set with Don’t Want You, it was a display of pure grunge-rock magic as the trio’s tight musicianship was highlighted between gritty guitar lines and soaring vocals. We left the tent wondering how we can become part of the Carpark girl gang as the scene has been missing a band like this and we’re so glad that they’ve come to fill that gap! 9/10 NC

Heading over to the forest, Auri aka Beetlebug was performing their delicate tracks in the perfect surroundings. There was a beautiful sense of warmth as the packed-out forest sat, listened and smiled to the serenading tones of tracks such as the lepidopterist and my dear friends. Even playing overgrown garden after listening to their best friend when putting the setlist together, which we have to admit was a great idea. In all the chaos of the heavier stages at 2000 Trees, sometimes you just need to take a moment to take it all in and Beetlebug’s set was the perfect chance to do this. 7/10 NC

Over on the main stage, LostAlone were reminding everyone why they gained a reputation as the masters of riffs and how they excel live. Their gritty rock was showcased during tracks including Vesuvius and Blood Is Sharp, with Steven Battelle’s unfaltering vocals packing a punch which when weaved in with Alan Williamson on bass and Mark Gibson on drums results in one of the most musically slick sets of the whole festival. Unfortunately, the crowd for today’s set was not what they deserved but due to this there were plenty of chances for Battelle to have banter with the crowd and photographers who were told how to get the perfect rockstar shot of him as “it’s so bullshit when it’s just your chin”. Set highlight came with anthemic Hostages, as the crowd were clapping, swaying, chanting and in the palm of Battelle’s hands as he shouted out instructions making for a lovely sunshine moment. Closing with the duo of The Final Call For Forever and prequal The Last Drop Of Forever, LostAlone made clear that now they’re back, they’re back for good and we couldn’t be more thankful for that. 8/10 NC

Kelsy Karter & The Heroines in the forest felt like a strange set-up, however it definitely worked as the power vocalist showcased her old school rock’n’roll with a pop-twist sound. Karter’s gritty vocals sound a little strained at times as she gives her absolute all during each track, at times maybe a little bit too much however given this was the last day of a three-and-a-half-month-long tour we can definitely let this slide. Performing tracks including latest single Love Goes On; talking about the challenges of love with one of the catchiest melodies we heard across the whole weekend. Writing about issues close to her or experiences she has been through, twangy guitars led in God Knows I Tried singing of wanting to fall in love with the person you’re becoming creating a truly beautiful moment in the forest. Offering up a brilliant mix of acoustic ballads and fiery dance numbers including their take on Blondie’s Call Me, The Heroines and Kelsy made a brilliant pairing. 7.5/10 NC

Time for something totally different at The Axiom as punk-rock favourite Microwave took to the stage as a packed-out tent was ready to erupt. Whether it was the slow, plucky guitars of Love’s Will Tear Us Apart or the rowdiness being unleashed during Lighterless, it was Nathan Hardy’s vocals leading proceeding. As the finger pointing was out in full force, the crowd movement matched the onstage energy to a tee, especially during Trash Stains as Hardy’s raw vocal screams made an appreciated appearance. Whether you love the old or new or the fast tempo or ballads; Microwave made sure this setlist gave something for absolutely everyone to enjoy. Closing their set with acoustic Something Right, this was the chance for the guitar work of Hardy, Travis Hill and Tyler Hill to be showcased in all their glory. Simply delightful. 8/10 NC

Kublai Khan TX are a force to be reckoned with. They bring absolute chaos to The Cave and the first half of the tent barely takes a moment to rest. It’s for good reason, as the four-piece deliver their crushing hardcore with a ferocity that has us gripped from start to finish. Vocalist Matthew Honeycutt has the crowd in the palm of his hand and not only uses this to incite some of the biggest mosh pits we’ve seen all day, but to spread messages of hope and positivity, much to the approval of those in attendance, who respond with huge cheers. A real highlight and up there as one of our favourite sets of the day. 9.5/10 HG

The Xcerts and 2000 Trees go together like neeps and tatties aka the perfect combination, so we had a feeling as The Axiom stage filled up we were in for a treat. Opening up with GIMME, frontman Murray Macleod was in fine form playing up to the crowd, posing for the cameras and running across the length of the stage. The trio used their set to flaunt old favourites including Crisis In The Slow Lane weaved in with newer material taken from their upcoming album Learning How To Live And Let Go. Joking about the fear of committing career suicide with their newer material, previous album track Hold On To Your Heart saw a sea of people on shoulders as Macleod explained this was the sight he envisioned when penning the track. If you’ve ever been to an Xcerts show before, you’ll know Aberdeen 1987 sees a full crowd singalong and here at Trees that was no different, it was a really magical moment and exactly what Trees is about. As their set drew to a close and we were treated to a double helping of their short, sweet and sing-along friendly track Ache, it was clear this set had meant a lot to them with Macleod jumping down off the stage to hug those along the barrier as Tom Heron and Jordan Smith stood looking out with pride at the packed tent who were there just for them. Same time next year? We can only hope. 9.5/10 NC

Following the release of their second album Ultraviolet earlier this year As Everything Unfolds are a name gracing many of the one’s to watch in 2023 lists and for good reason. We weaved our way through the crowd to get a good spot but thankfully vocalist Charlie Rolfe instructed everyone to move closer so we could all be in on the action. Opening up with the album’s title track, then working through numbers including Blossom, rowdy Hiding From Myself and Wallow, their alt-rock numbers got the crowd eating out the palm of their hands. As the set progressed, Rolfe’s vocal confidence seemingly increased steering from delicate cleans to guttural screams all whilst merged with the synthy guitars and driving drumlines. Closing with On The Inside, it was one last chance for the pits to open up making sure to give back their all to the band who had put their hearts into today’s set. 8/10 NC

With only a handful of live shows under their belt as Empire State Bastard, Simon Neil and Mike Vennart have more than enough experience with their other musical projects. Having only officially released two singles; Stutter and Harvest, all we knew is that this was going to be an explosive set and a noisy one too. Fuzzy guitar lines, low nearly impossible to hear vocals from Neil and a sense of bewilderment filled the tent. Their debut album Rivers of Heresy is set for release later this year, with these shows the opportunity to gain crowd feedback and let fans in on what they can expect. The set was loud, thrashy, metal twinged and really hard to put into words. This was by no means a musically bad set but we found ourselves watching waiting to see what would come flying our way next trying to distinguish between the songs which merged into noise. Will things become clearer with the release of the album? Stay tuned to find out. 6/10 NC

De Staat are a band who know how to have a good time. The sun is beating down through The Forest as Dutch quintet take to the stage for a fifty-minute set of non-stop fun. Performing an array of fan-favourites including Who’s Gonna Be The GOAT, Pikachu, Witch Doctor and KITTY KITTY, we can’t stop ourselves from dancing as they deliver their funk-infused alternative rock, sprinkled with their dose of signature humour. A notable mention must go to their choregraphed dance moves, adding to their already captivating stage presence. If you’re yet to see this band live, add them to your must-see list immediately. 9/10 HG 

Having described themselves as the heaviest band performing on the Friday of 2000trees; a statement which was very much incorrect, Bullet For My Valentine had some work to do to try and prove their heaviness. Drawing in a significant crowd for what looks set to be their last show for two years until they return with a new album, they opened up their hit packed set with Knives before going down memory lane with 4 Words (To Choke Upon) and the song which everybody asked for Hearts Burst Into Fire soon following with that opening riff. From the get go, everyone was there to have a great time with pockets of pits opening up across the crowd as the laser beam lightshow filled the sky above us. Walking into the crowd earlier in the night we’d heard speculation about an AxeWound reunion given that Cancer Bats Liam Cormier was onsite and much to the delight it happened as Cormier took to the stage for Cold. As our Friday at Trees drew to a close, we all knew what was coming as Matt Tuck led the crowd in an acoustic take on Tears Don’t Fall before at whiplashing inducing speed throwing everyone into the full band version making for a really magical moment. Closing our night with Waking The Demon, it was a crash course in how to do a nostalgia filled set properly maintaining the energy throughout and reminding us they’re still one of the best bands in the UK.

Written By: Hannah Gillicker and Nicola Craig

Photo gallery featuring The St Pierre Snake Invasion, Heriot, LostAlone, Paledusk, Chastity, Zulu, Brutus, As Everything Unfolds, Empire State Bastard and Bullet For My Valetine.

Nicola Craig
Head of Live with an unwavering love for the seaside, live music and writing about others instead of myself. Twitter: @nicolalalalar