FestivalsLive Reviews

FESTIVAL REVIEW: 2000trees Festival 2023 – Saturday

Photo Credit: Martin Smith

With our time at 2000trees 2023 drawing to a close, we woke up to the grey skies over Upcote Farm and a heavy rain shower to kick off our morning. Was that going to get anyone down? Not a chance. A bit of mud and rain never hurt anyone!

Opening up the main stage was Manchester quartet Loose Articles who were here to provide the good vibes to shake the rain away. Performing tracks including Sinead Loves Bitcoin and Buses, we had an insight into the brains of the band via their politically twinged lyrics and soon learnt exactly what they love or hate for example… buses! It was shouty, angsty and full of important reminders including that sometimes shags are better than beers! Leaving the crowd with smiles on their faces we were now ready to face our final day at Upcote Farm. 7/10 NC

Drawing in a significant crowd for their early set was gloomy, mesmerising sounds of Witch Fever led by Amy Walpole who made sure everyone paid attention to their set. Opening with I Saw You Dancing before performing tracks including dreary Beauty and Grace and Congregation with thrashy drums and twirling guitars. It was grungy, atmospheric set but vocally felt off today, whether it was the wind ruining the sound as it carried across the field or the sound mixing this wasn’t the best showcase of the band. This being said, the band used their set to share important messages about their experience in the industry naming awards shows they’d attended which had hosts making jokes about grooming and sexual assault before slamming into Bully Boy. Hopefully we’ll catch them again at a venue which works in their favour and does them justice. 6/10 NC

The synths and post-hardcore sounds of Modern Error were next on our agenda. Whether it was the weather or something else, the mixing across stages today wasn’t working in the band’s favour as the backing instruments more often than not overpowered Zak Pinchin. With this personally being our first time checking out the band live, we really enjoyed the genre blending, melody set which went from making us want to headbang one second then sing at the top of our lungs the next as seen during the chorus of Only One. With their most recent material released last January, the dedicated fans in the tent were singing along and giving everything to the band giving their all to the crowd. 6.5/10 NC

Over in the forest, it was time for Deaf Havana’s first set of the day and we had a feeling this was going to be something special. Bands like Deaf Havana with their versatile style which can soar on the big, full-band stages or serenade on the intimate settings of the forest are incredibly special. With a packed-out forest, James and Matthew Veck-Gilodi and Luke Campbell performed stripped back takes on tracks including Kids, Seattle and Nevermind. The dual vocals of James and Matthew were simply breathtaking at points, captivating the crowd which ranged from young children on their parents’ shoulders to the seasoned festival-goers. Yes, there might have been some slight slip ups of messed up lyrics in Evil or a missed cue in Anemophobia but none of this matter as Deaf Havana performed one of the best sets of the weekend with the crowd singing back every word. 9/10 NC

Back over in The Cave, One Step Closer were whipping fans into a frenzy making sure the pits were in full-flow for their thrashy set. With this being the band’s first time at 2000trees, it became a personal challenge for the audience to show them the true magic of trees. Tracks including Dark Blue, Chrysanthemum and Pringle Street all followed the same pattern; hard hitting guitar lines, soaring power vocals from Ryan Savitski and stomping drumlines. As the set progressed, more fans stumbled into the tent to see the action from the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania band and everyone who spent their time with the band will agree they made the right decision getting involved. 7/10 NC

Making the short walk over to The Axiom, Black Honey were taking to the stage and throwing into their gritty pop-rock track Charlie Bronson. With their latest album A Fistful Of Peaches released earlier this year, catapulting the band to new musical heights it featured heavily during the set with tracks including Heavy, OK and Up Against It which saw fans taking to shoulders. Frontwoman Izzy Bee Phillips has a captivating presence about her, playing up to the crowd whether she was getting down in the crowd or fluttering from guitar to vocal duties or even both. The vibe in the set wherever you were stood was incredibly special explaining that everyone in the tent is an ally, supporting each other and being there united for the cause of Black Honey’s great music. This was one of those sets when we felt like we were seeing a band who could definitely be playing a much bigger stage at Trees, indicated by the sheer passion exhibited by their loyal fanbase both in the crowd and scattered around the edge of the tent. Closing with Corrine, Bee Phillips vocals took centre stage before the track kicked into a full-band musical effort to round it off with a much-welcomed singalong. 8/10 NC

Wandering back over to The Cave, we found our way into the tent to see Dream State play a rowdy set. Having spoken to vocalist Jessie Powell prior to Dream State’s set, this was set to be her biggest show to date as she thanked the crowd for being there and their support consistently throughout the set, “thanks for yourself and everyone outside the tent too!”.  From the blistering breakdowns in Chin Up Princess to new takes on tracks including Open Windows and Primrose when the crowd crouched down and jumped as Powell became the ringleader of the tent. There were crowd surfing tents, inflatable sharks, tent-wide pits and incredible security who deserve a shout out for the great work they did over the weekend. For a band who have gone through such significant changes since their last appearance at the festival, you wouldn’t have known as there was oozing confidence and it felt like the start of a new chapter in their story. 8/10 NC

Making their return to 2000trees was Casey, there was a real sense of anticipation and excitement in the crowd to see their favourites from Where I Go When I Am Sleeping and Love Is Not Enough, merged with new material Great Grief and Atone. Casey are well and truly back continuing to offer up moody, emotive tracks including Needlework and Fluorescents. It wasn’t a fussy set, there was no dramatics, it was simply a band who have perfected their art and clearly put their all into their live shows. With further new music on the horizon, it was truly great to be back and screaming along to “We spoke until our throats were sore. Our hearts lay on the bedroom floor, and one was mine, but both were yours” as the torrential rain fell outside. 7/10 NC

After sheltering in The Axiom for the rain to pass, we headed back to the Forest to see the fun, empowering live performance from Delilah Bon. If you’ve never heard of the singer-songwriter before, then we’d recommend you change that quickly. Her sassy live performance saw her explaining how track Chop Dicks, wasn’t actually about dicks but now it is because she’s angry and reminding everyone there that showing skin never means someone is asking for it prior to I Don’t Listen To You. Hearing the forest chanting back “Dead men don’t rape” as the rain fell down was one of the most powerful moments of the weekend, whether you knew of Delilah before this set or not, you definitely wouldn’t be forgetting this short but sweet show. Scattered throughout each of the electronic-pop, spoken word tracks is an important takeaway message inspiring everyone in the Forest to listen, be more understanding and be the best version of themselves. 8/10 NC

Staying at The Forest, 2000trees favourite Jamie Lenman was playing a special set showcasing latest album The Atheist in full. Taking the time to shout out the festival team and their work, it was a reminder of all the small cogs in the big wheel which is 2000trees who help make this such a magical weekend. Giving future insights into the tracks including Bad Friend when he unpacked his feelings, album favourite This Town Will Never Let Us Go with its swirling guitar lines and easy-listening rock themes and The Wedding Ring with a punk edge and stunning harmony; a great time was had by all. Closing with the 2000trees song, the love letter to the best festival in the world we all took a detour out of the forest trying to avoid the mud slides formed around us. He might have joked about being an “egotistic manic” by only playing new material but for the Lenman fans there this was a very special chance to hear the album in full so who could complain? 7/10 NC

Over on the The Axiom stage, American Football close out the festival and we take a moment to reflect on what has been an incredible few days. Emotions are heightened as the band play their melancholic, emotionally driven rock, giving us goosebumps as they make their way through a 14-song set. There’s not a huge amount of dialogue between band and crowd, but it doesn’t feel needed – the music speaks for itself. There’s a really special atmosphere in the tent and chants of “I love you” echo through the crowd, who are fully immersed in what American Football deliver. A beautiful ending to a beautiful festival. 8.5/10 HG 

Closing 2000trees on the mainstage was Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes who have become known for their ferocious live shows and they didn’t let us down tonight. We might have been tired, muddy and cold but the Upcote Farm attendees were going to give every last bit of energy the chaotic guitar lines of Kitty Sucker took hold and The Snakes had truly arrived. There were surprises including fire and confetti during Crowbar, an appearance from Lynks for Bang Bang and Go Get A Tattoo which saw the vocalists bouncing off each other leading to a huge field sing-along and heartfelt moments from Carter and co. releasing the crowd were there for them.

A much-loved highlight of their sets has become the Wild Flowers mosh pit where the atmosphere changed as Carter announced “This mosh pit belongs to some very important people. Ladies this is for you. Fellas stay the fuck out the way” refusing to kick off the song until the area was clear except for ladies and non-binary people. “It’s literally my favourite part of the gig every time. You never see a mosh pit so happy. I’ll never stop until all the other bands get the idea as it’s pure fucking joy” more bands take note! Taking the time to interact with the crowd about spirit animals; “I thought mine was a t-rex, it’s closer to a Fluffy, small kitten. Mine’s a ginger one” and shouting out some of the incredible bands across the weekend, it felt like this set was as special for the band as for the audience watching on.

From the slower moments of emotive where Carter’s vocals stole the show in Angel Wings, Lullaby and Love Games where the crowd turned into a ballroom with everyone finding their dance partner to the sharp guitars of Acid Veins getting under your skin as the crowd chanted back every word. With Dean Richardson getting down in the crowd during Devil Inside Me, the incredible guitar work exhibited was appreciated in its full glory. As their set drew to a close a Juggernaut circle pit around the sound desk and in-crowd Satan was unleashed, it was headache inducing chaos but the crowd followed the commands of Carter to a tee before I Hate You closed their set with the crowd chanting loud enough that the sheep in the fields nearby could hear.

“It’s been a privilege to play to you tonight.” and it was a pleasure to watch them headline 2000trees. With the band confirming they’ve just finished their new album; it won’t be long until more Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes shows are in our diary. 9/10 NC

2000trees year after year reminds us that this is how festivals are done properly. With people bonding over doing rain dances during the torrential downpour, sheltering in the forest or those happy smiles shared when singing along to the same channel at the silent disco, it’s one of the happiest places you could wish to be and we can’t wait to be back at Upcote Farm in 2024.

Written By: Hannah Gillicker and Nicola Craig

Photo gallery featuring Witch Fever, High Vis, Sounds Mint, Enola Gay, Electric Six, The Oozes, Holding Absence, Casey, Hundred Reasons, Jamie Lenman, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes.

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