Where do you start to describe a weekend like 2000trees festival? Blistering heat, and a line-up that puts most of this year’s ‘bigger’ festivals to shame. It was fantastic. The atmosphere around the site is so chilled and laid back. With the site being relatively small, no one is in a rush. The clashes between acts were minimal so the crowds are just relaxing in the sun and taking their time to enjoy the music surrounding them.
Making a change from other festivals, 2000trees runs from Thursday to Saturday. It’s a nice change to be home and relaxing by midday on Sunday and not needing an extra day off work! Set in Upcote Farm, Cheltenham, the beautiful Cotswolds are the ideal setting for this really (family) friendly festival.
With four tents and the acoustic stage in the forest there was roughly 100m to walk between each stage. The main stage is set at the top of the site, just a short distance from the Neu Stage and some market and food stalls. There’s also a little chill out area with activities for the kids. Across the maintenance road we have The Axiom and The Cave tents, and a little walk through some woodlands is the secluded Forest Stage.
Throw in the Acoustic Village and the music being performed on top of the Signature Brew bar; the site is as full as they can get.
Having arrived and set up my tent I had a little time to chill and check out the site before I started one the best days of music I’ve experienced. It all begins with rock duo Haggard Cat playing on top of the Signature Brew bar. It’s a small space on the top of the metal container that the bar has been built into, so guitarist Matt Reynolds has to restrict his usual lively movements a little during the short set.
Arcane Roots started with the first of their two sets on the first day with a synth set in the forest. Their ability to change their style from a full-on rock show to a sat down emotional set is incredible. A few people sitting in The Forest watching mentioned how it was like an out of body experience! Front man Andrew Groves must have one of the most impressive voices in the music industry at the moment.
Each time I see Press To Meco they impress me more and more, and there are clear improvements each time. With the rock-pop trio’s punchy album Here’s To The Fatigue released this year, a few top support slots could make them a household name before too long!
After a synth set the rest of the day was lined up for some real heavy sounds. Whilst checking the acts out pre-festival, Brutus were the one that stood out for me. Drummer and vocalist Stefanie Mannaerts smashed it with her heavy hitting rhythms and amazing raspy voice, with Drive being a standout song.
I was convinced by the other photographers that American hardcore punk act Turnstile was the act to go see, and they were right as Brandon Yates launches himself over the barriers into the crowd. The crowd go absolutely wild as they carry him up in the air across the front of the stage. You can already see how much some of these bands are adored by the crowd, and why there are so many regulars to this festival.
I’ve been waiting to see Marmozets for a while, so I was delighted with the late announcement that they would be playing on the main stage. Knowing What You Know Now should be a contender for album of the year, and they’ve got a stage presence to match the quality of their recorded music. I was completely overwhelmed by their fantastic performance and definitely won’t be forgetting it for a long time!
Black Peaks up next. I’ll make it clear now, I bloody love these guys. Every live performance I’ve seen is top draw, with a full on in your face experience. Will Gardener‘s versatile vocals compliments the heavy music from the rest of the band. I think a lot of the other acts were in the tent for this set as there were a lot of shoutouts from the other stages for Black Peaks. I quickly put my camera away after shooting the first three songs and headed back into The Cave to get involved in the mosh pit. Complete carnage!
At The Drive In headlined the Friday night, but I wasn’t hugely impressed with them and skipped off early in their set to get involved in the manic silent disco! This festival is more about the smaller acts though and looking back, so many of these bands are going to be future headliners at 2000trees.
First up on Friday is Lady Bird. There aren’t enough bands like Slaves around, so it was an absolute delight to see the frantic three-piece punk band in action. Not a quiet start to the day for the hungover people in the crowd!
It was good to catch Phoxjaw after our recent interview. They have a dark stage presence as bassist/vocalist Danny Garland comes out with a bottle of alcohol up in the air to swig from, and keys players Hugh Allen walks around psyching himself up to a near demonic state for their set. Triceratops is an absolute banging tune! I like these guys style. It’s different, without being corny.
Normally a band dropping out (Ground Culture) would be a bad thing, but I was delighted to find out that Drones would be playing. The punk group from London always give a good show and are obviously well respected by the other bands as they’ve been picking up some great support slots. They’re not afraid to hide from any political messages as vocalist Lois McDougall enters the stage with a handwritten “Brits like me a lot…” T-Shirt.
There was the perfect introduction to Bad Sign on main stage. “Two words. Bad fucking Sign”. Pure riffs! That’s all that you need to know about the brilliant rock trio.
No Violet gave a knockout performance on the Neu Stage. Having caught the grunge band at Truck Festival last year, I was extremely impressed by their set. With a new EP launching in September, hopefully they can push on and break through soon.
Ho99o9…I’m not quite sure how to describe them! Half Prodigy, half Public Enemy, perhaps? Either way, they’re my new favourite act! It was extremely hard to get photos through the smoke filled stage. I could just about make out members theOGM and Eaddy, with one in long dreadlocks and alien like claws, and the other wearing a hi-viz police jacket, badge and hat. These guys definitely stand out from the crowd!
The Axiom was the place to be for punk rock trios Dream Wife, and Slotface as they brought their fun sets and feminist messages to the full up tent, and PINS impressed with their cool throwback rock chick style.
Soeur were only supposed to have a forest set, but a late cancellation meant they got a slot on the Neu Stage. It was a strong set from the Bristol based indie trio. They reminded me a lot of Rews and I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.
I’m unsure about Mallory Knox these days. Catching them for the first time since their line-up change, they are still a really good live band, but without Mikey Chapman’s vocals they don’t stand out from the crowd any more.
Heading back to camp I take some time to check out what appears to be a wish tree. Wishes have been jotted down and tied up onto the branches. Some wishes such as ‘I wish for dinosaurs’ are a little more jovial than others…
It was a cold wake up for the front of the main stage on Saturday as Avalanche Party as front man Jordan Bell empties a cup of water over his head before shaking it off like a wet dog. 2000trees definitely wanted some in your face bands for their early main stage sets this weekend!
Ever seen a bass guitar string snap? A packed-out Axiom tent witnessed this rare feat as bassist Jiwoon Whang managed to continue through the early part of Swedish Death Candy’s set with his string hanging from the guitar. It was an impressive set from the psych-rock band who will have picked up a few new followers with their cool display.
Imperial Leisure raised the bar on the main stage bringing a party atmosphere with their flamboyant show. Unfortunately, it didn’t all go to plan as their front man Denis Smith misjudged his jump between the amp and the crowd railings. Falling face first he incredibly got up and continued the set with blood dripping from a slice just below his eye. With inflatables bouncing and champagne flowing this set left those watching with a huge smile.
Solo folk act Beans on Toast had the funniest moment of the weekend. He breaks from his hilarious songs to spend a moment talking about things such as how David Attenborough should be used to wipe out Donald Trump, and why Porta-Loos have roofs.
I was thoroughly impressed with The Xcerts. The trio’s catchy rock songs and energetic drew a well deserved big crowd to the main stage. They were another of the acts that had been lined up for an acoustic set in The Forest. This is one of the beauty’s of this festival as you see stripped back sets it really helps you connect with bands you’ve not seen before.
Former Paper Aeroplanes member Bryde had a cute set in the forest shortly after an impromptu stag do wrestling match on the woodland floor. The Welsh singer songwriter had the crowd in silence with her beautifully fragile songs.
Unfortunately, Sikth had to drop out from their set in The Axiom. It was for good reason though, as Daniel Foord’s partner had gone into labour that morning. This gave me a little time to wander around and grab food and a beer before the weekends big headliner.
Closing the main stage this weekend was Enter Shikari. These guys take things to another level with their stage show. Although it seems that they are a bit of a marmite band, there really is no one else like them around at the moment.
Standout performances for me came from Marmozets, Ho99o9, and Black Peaks. I love the energy they have on stage, and it’s a great feeling to be walking away from a set with the music and display stuck in your mind.
I am already looking forward to next year’s 2000trees! I have no doubt that it’ll be another amazing line up of the best up and coming rock and metal acts around.
Photography and review of 2000trees 2018 from 12th-16th July on a farm in The Cotswolds by Paul Lyme.
Check out Will Chalk’s Giant Bar Chart at 2000trees too: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-44860257