Set within an idyllic farm with it’s own valley deep in Gloucestershire is a renowned festival celebrating its 9th successful year. 2000 trees is a world away from your everyday humdrum life. As soon as both feet are standing on 2000 Trees soil at Upcote farm, your universe is simply better, the atmosphere inside this special festival community is incredible and you know you’re about to enjoy whatever is thrown your way.
For those that arrived on the Thursday, festival goers went all out embracing the wide array of acts and entertainment on offer, followed by the silent disco seeing the evening to a heightened finale.
Although our team was only present briefly for the first day and with a handful of talent kicking the weekend into the swing of things, a stand out performance we caught had to be the delectable trio The Cadbury Sisters. Nestled deep in the trees for a special Forest Sessions set. Last year the act came equipped with a full band, this year the ladies returned for a stripped back more wholesome performance with all members taking on the instrumentation themselves. The serene backdrop complimenting the melancholic harmonious efforts the three project. Thrill Collins also performed at The Forest Sessions stage, another trio that captivated the chilled listeners that admired their set. &U&I, Turbowolf and The Subways all won over the first night with their sets at The Cave stage, cementing the first night at Trees a great success.
Heading back on Friday with the weather on our side, we had the entire day to explore the grounds and all the stages, darting about the fields to ensure we caught as many acts as we could.
Kicking off the day’s live music on The Axiom stage and setting the standards high for the acts following, was one of our favourite bands to watch, the vivacious Plymouth indie punk act Woahnows. We’ve caught the three a few times but seeing the guys take to a stage at a bigger festival is a rewarding thing to see. Woahnows offered one hell of an infectious set. Think Against Me! meets Japandroids and Les Savy Fav, with Dananananaykroyd-esque guitar work and gang vocals packed full of hooks and earworms. Performing a collection of tracks taken from their new album and some older hits, with frantic compositions and heartfelt vocals, crashing drum fills, punk angst and a wall of fuzz.
Cleft are a two piece who are no strangers to the site, we’ve caught the dynamic duo live a handful of times during the past few years and each time their set is guaranteed to engage all. Although scheduled to play The Cave and kick off the day’s live music on that stage, their set got delayed due to health issues. With fans so eager to see the two back on a stage doing what they do best, fans were unsure if they could enjoy the immense sounds from the Manchester turbo-prog talent. That was until they returned later in the day to the Main stage to entertain the crowd. Their set was hands down one of the most immense performances many had the pleasure in witnessing, creating an intense explosion of filthy, thunderous instrumental rock. The pair deserved to play the Main Stage and fans can agree they were one of the best acts to play this years trees.
Our day was spent heading from stage to stage to catch as many acts as we could, highlights included a very sincere and intricate set from The Lion and The Wolf on the The Croft stage mid-afternoon. London indie rock outfit Tellison called The main stage their own with a very energetic performance pleasing the trees crowd with a range of tracks old and new. Leeds based quartet Pulled Apart By Horses are always a firm favourite at a festival, their boisterous energetic set engrossed the crowd that headed to The Cave to watch why this act is always a must see live.
Legendary Scottish band Idlewild looked right at home performing on The Main Stage in the evening. Fans from afar congregated representing their idlewild shirts ready and waiting to hear some of their favourites and Idlewild’s set did not disappoint. With delicate laid back tracks and disarming melody perfectly flowing to a fast paced aggressive rock, getting the crowd moving, Idlewild’s set had it all.
As we stayed until the very end of Idlewild’s performance we then set off determined to get to The Croft stage, but after hearing thunder from The Cave stage we peeked our head’s in the tent and pushed our way though an adorning crowd to see what act had just set up. From hearing the heaviest first note we were sucked in, and there before our eyes was the legendary cult Kilkenny quartet Kerbdog. An act that live up to their solid reputation, the heaviness this act posses’ seems to come so easily to the four. The post-hardcore icons enthralled the crowd and enticed their fans to enjoy their set as much as they were.
But we left a few tracks in as we were still on that mission to get to The Croft stage, when we got there every person within the tent had a smile on their face whilst they danced freely to the band in front of them. Alcopop Records’ Emperor Yes was our band find of the day. Formed by producer Ash Gardner alongside Hugo Sheppard and Three Trapped Tigers’ Adam Betts, Emperor Yes are without a doubt one of the most promising and engaging acts we’ve seen live this year. These three musicians provided a set of uplifting and crashing sounds from the talented Synth-pop trio. With Betts providing abrasive, brash, hard-hitting yet skilfully controlled drum beats, fused with a collection of playful and monumental synth riffs, vibrant guitar hooks and a lyrical genius fronting the three, this act are a cosmo-psychedelic dream, what a perfect band for trees.
Headlining Friday’s main stage, infamous British rock act Deaf Havana bolted across the stage and proved why they were a solid booking. Their immense set caused pits to form at the front of the audience and dancing at the back, the band over time have reinvented themselves and in doing so they’ve gained more fans and created more hits, all of which were sung back to them on Friday night.
We were fortunate to end up walking in on Benjamin Booker headlining the Friday night at The Axiom stage at this years trees. Fortunate may be a slight understatement. We can only imagine but would safely say that catching Benjamin live could have been comparable to discovering Otis Redding or Marvin Gaye, actually any other Soul/ R & B Icon. Benjamin Booker is a talent out of this world. This young, refreshing New Orleans based bluesman provided a truly gritty, raucous powerful performance. His sound resonates through time, striking all the right notes and giving listeners goosebumps. Performing alongside his drummer and bass player who mid set swapped for a mandolin, together these three provided the perfect collection of dynamic punk-fired blues rock orchestrations. The final performance of Friday and it blew us away.
The final day came round and walking around the festival site by now you can see that the festival goers are slowly fading, trees have to pull out all the stops to get the attendees energised and ready to enjoy the day ahead. And that’s where the organisers planned well for Saturday’s bill.
Blackpool’s Boston Manor kicked off the day’s proceedings on The Cave stage and over at The Axiom stage Cardiff based quartet Samoans graced the stage for a rewarding live presence, blending an ample mixture of influences and composing a set of genre jumping, intense, melodic songs. It’s no surprise this act are going from strength to strength, and their set respectfully gained them more listeners. The four woke trees up and propelled the festival fiercely into full force for their finale. Throughout the day we overheard many people praising this promising act.
Another few hours of walking from stage to stage and taking in the final day, we caught some great performances from the likes of London based punk trio Great Cynics, busker Joe Dolman provided a delicate set deep within the Forest for his Forest Sessions performance and Vennart played The Axiom and filled out the tent for their progressive, heavy set and then we found Skinny Lister on the Main Stage. Darting about the main stage and using their music to make the whole crowd move, Skinny Lister revelled their trees experience. Bringing together elements of folk with the attitude of punk and rock n roll bursting with sing-a-long choruses and infectious raucous energy, it was difficult to look away!
With a crowd waiting in anticipation for one of their favourite acts to take to The Croft stage, we nestled deep within the tent to get the full experience from Defeater and their dedicated fans. Defeater‘s set left us in awe. This tight hardcore band gave a fast paced intense experience for all who basked in their powerful presence. With meaningful lyrics and hard hitting instrumentation, this is a band who know how to connect with their audience.
Young and promising pop punk act ROAM, took to the Axiom stage late Saturday afternoon. Bouncing across the stage, the act quickly enticed a larger crowd to get closer to the band as they provided one high paced effervescent performance.
We stayed for the majority of Roam’s time but then ran towards the main stage as it was time to catch And So I Watch You From Afar. From their first opening track the band were boisterous in both noise and moves across the stage, churning out all their hits in their time allocated. The band immediately hit the audience with a big wall of feedback before slamming into their first track. Each track throughout the set was passionately played in a ferocious yet meaningful way, we’ve caught the band live several times over many years and it really was inspiring to be witnessing a hard-working 4-piece rightfully owning their set on a main stage. They know the key to hold an audience and get them all going. From more hectic arrangements ASIWYFA quickly reached their finale, using their crushing beats and harmonious overlaying loops created by both guitarists their final track escalated into a euphoric climax for both the musicians and the audience.
Reeling from such a vivacious set we took to exploring the grounds once again, we put away the programme whilst we stumbled across acts we hadn’t planned to see. One of which was Bury Tomorrow back on The Cave stage, as we approached the stage the aggressive and pelting sounds from the melodic metalcore band faded as frontman Dani wished to make the audience part ways for a wall of death. We stepped back on this one. With the audience going crazy for this act it wasn’t long before Bury Tomorrow wanted more audience participation, asking for a stage invasion towards the end of their omnipotent performance. And stage invasion they got!
After witnessing Bury Tomorrow we decided to head back to the main stage where we caught The Skints.
East London reggae four-piece The Skints were the perfect addition to any festival. Progressing through the bubbling sound of grime and garage to summertime reggae, roots, dancehall, traditional rocksteady, Motown soul and punk, this act got the crowd moving.
Over at The Axiom we patiently waited for Scottish melodic indie act We Were Promised Jetpacks. With a tent full of dedicated fans, We were Promised Jetpacks delivered an emotional performance. Their set was filled with pounding rhythm, surging guitars and heavy bass lines, their unique Jetpacks sound was present throughout.
The Cave quickly filled as fans who waited all weekend finally got to see Mclusky* live. The Welsh post-hardcore cult favourites implemented one of the heaviest performances of the entire event. With additional members of Mclusky member’s post-break up project Future Of The Left, and The St. Pierre Snake Invasion, Mclusky* annihilated their deliverance.
And finally came the final performances of the festival, with The Twilight Sad offering a post-rock headline on The Axiom stage over on the Main Stage, the audience waited for Alkaline Trio. The trio’s energetic performance was briefly cut short following a power-cut, returning to the stage to offer the crowd an intimate and rare acoustic performance it wasn’t long until the three united immersed in their compelling and unique sound. Performing tracks from their extensive back catalog, the crowd danced, sang and saw in the final few hours in the best company.
Overall, 2000 trees hosted one magnificent and frankly flawless festival yet again. We are on the trees comedown, one week on and we are already in desperate need to return. There is nothing better than basking in the trees community and everyone who contributed to another successful event, thanks for showing us the greatest time.
Tickets for 2016 are already available and as the festival will be celebrating 10 years we advise you grab yours now!
Full details are available at www.twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk
All Images by Oli Montez
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