After months of anticipation, one of the summer’s best festivals (or arguably the best?) arrived with Upcote Farm already being busy with punters pitching up on Thursday, some even showed up yesterday. Nevertheless, it’s clear there is a laid back feeling amongst the excitement as 2000trees once again began a terrific weekend celebrating some of the best and brightest names in rock, hardcore, punk and more.
Cheltenham quartet Floorboards (3/5) fittingly open the Neu stage tent in front of a growing crowd. Their brand of grunge-laden emo punk clearly has a small, local following with recently released single ‘Low’ going over well with the appreciative crowd. Complimented by a number of stirring, emotive cuts, the hometown band provided a strong opening for the weekend.
Having been on the road to Lenmania II, False Advertising (3/5) are warmed up the Jamie Lenman-curated stage takes over the Axiom stage. While the Manchester trio don’t pull the strongest of crowds, they’re not fazed by it. Jen Hingley stands out with his sultry vocals and the occasional guitar solo.
Back over in the Neu stage tent, Phoxjaw (3.5/5) prove to a big draw. The Bristol outfit’s dense sound is backed by a thunderous, playful energy as they showcase material from their first two EP’s. Whereas Haggard Cat (3.5/5) took the chaos to another level. Their fuzz-ridden take on rock n’ roll is more effective, especially in the intimacy of the Cave stage. ‘Boneshaker’ and ‘Goldberg’ sees Matt Reynolds deliver gigantic scuzzy riffs.
Wallflower (3.5/5) are regulars at Trees and it’s clear they’re more than welcomed as a growing crowd embarks on the Neu stage tent. Vini Moreira-Yeoell proves to be an engaging vocalist. One moment he and the rest of the band are exploding with passion, the next reining things almost to a standstill. A preview of their long-awaited debut album proves to be a stirring teaser before ‘Magnifer’ closes their set.
A year on from leaving a stellar impression on the Neu stage, Nervus (4/5) clearly won over a lot of admirers as the Cave tent is rammed. By the time ‘It Follows’ is belted out, the party is in full swing as Foster encourages the Trees massive to get on stage.
If there was a band who personifies having fun in the sun it is Brighton four-piece Orchards (3.5/5). The group packed out the Axiom stage and had the crowd singing along to songs like ‘Double Vision’ and even giving the festival its first taste of inflatables in the crowd. With Vocalist Lucy Evers bouncing around the stage, her bandmates deliver a range of quirky grooves. While a taste of new material seems on the surface to be more emotionally driven.
From sunshine sing-a-longs to politically driven punk in the form of Petrol Girls (3/5). It seemed to take the quartet a minute to get their momentum going, but once they did it was vocalist Ren Aldridge’s rasping screams that pierced through loudest. Aldridge also made the most of her platform to deliver impassioned speeches about how as a society need to break down barriers and not be silenced.
Each year there seem to be a band who have their arrival party at 2000 Trees and this year it seemed to be Loathe (4/5) as they let rip on the Axiom stage. Their blend of down-tuned guitars abrasive vocals layered with an almost nu-metal vibe is one which brings intrigue. But it is their live performance when everything seems to come together, with the band’s members running all around the stage, and displaying a bass tone which rattled your insides.
With this being their fifth year in a row playing 2000trees, Palm Reader (4/5) were clearly in a celebratory mood. Packing out the Neu stage tent, they steamrolled through their set with highlights from last year’s ‘Braille’ record making up the bulk of their set. While Josh Mckeown notes how vital the album was to the band’s future before starting work on a follow-up is on its way.
After last year’s standout performance on the Cave stage, there was questions how Turnstile (4.5/5) would translate on the main stage. The answer with no problem. With the main stage crowd going absolutely nuts, with vocalist Brendan Yates looking like he belonged on that stage. With songs like ‘Drop’, ‘Real Thing’ and ‘Moon’ getting huge reactions, it is no surprise that Turnstile have been embraced by the wider alternative music community.
Tucked away in the Forest Sessions stage, we find Press to Meco (3/5) treating fans to a stripped-down set. Similar to last years outing on the same stage, it allows the trio to put the focus on those three-part harmonies that have served them so well. Songs such as ‘Familiar Ground’ and ‘If All Your Parts Don’t Make a Whole’ translate well. While covers of Sigird’s ‘Strangers’ and Manchester Orchestra’s ‘The Maze’ fit into the laid back set nicely.
Hardcore music had a good showing at this year’s festival, with veterans Comeback Kid (4/5) bringing the mosh to the Cave. From opening with ‘False Idols’, the crowd were chanting along with vocalist Andrew Neufeld. The more the bands set progressed the rowdier the crowd got and by the time ‘Wake the Dead’ rang out there were bodies flying all around the Cave tent, with Neufeld getting right amongst it with the front row.
If Loathe had a coming out party, then Holding Absence (5/5) cemented themselves as a band who are destined for stardom. Headlining the Neu stage on day one, the tent was absolutely rammed for the Welsh band. Even though a large amount of the music you could hear was coming from the drums, this did not detract from what a mesmerising performance the band were putting on. Vocalist Lucas Woodland’s voice was pitch perfect and had the whole tent singing along with him. When playing tracks like ‘Saint Cecelia’ and ‘Monochrome’, it was as if the band were conducting the crowd to join in with them. If this is what the band are like off the back of their debut record then surely there are only bigger things to come.
In recent weeks Frank Turner (4/5) has been on the receiving end of criticism regarding his forthcoming ‘No Man’s Land’. Nevertheless, his headline set alongside The Sleeping Souls was an opportunity to remind us of his songwriting prowess. Although recent single ‘Sister Rosetta’ certainly doesn’t tick that box, it’s only a mid-set lull. With fan favourites smattered throughout, Turner and the Sleeping Souls understandably feel at home at 2000trees, proving to be jovial and sentimental. A four-song finale run of ‘Try This at Home’, ‘Recovery’, ‘I Still Believe’ and ‘Four Simple Words’ ends the first night of 2000trees on a high.
If people were looking for a wake-up call, then a nice way to ease into the Friday was the delicate sounds of Slow Crush (2.5/5). The big atmospheric sounds really punched through the PA system in the Neu stage. However, the vocals of bassist Isa Holliday didn’t seem to really be coming through as prominently as other elements of the bands sound.
Following two back-to-back noteworthy outings in recent years, Brutus (5/5) celebrated a hat-trick of appearances by setting the bar high for the rest of the weekend. With songs from ‘Nest’ now in their arsenal, their main stage exceeded expectations. Opening with the stunning slow burn of ‘War’, the Belgian trio blitzed through an outstanding 30-minute set packed with empowering moments, most notably from vocalist/drummer Stefanie Mannaerts. On the finale, ‘Sugar Dragon’, her snare drum booms across Upcote Farm’s landscape before erupting into a flurry of joy.
Like Turnstile the day before, Dream State (3/5) graduated to the main stage. After the release of their EP, ‘Recovery’ there was a real buzz around the band. And it was the songs from this EP which got this biggest reception rather the new material which got a more lacklustre reaction. However, by the end of the four-pieces set, vocalist CJ Gilpin was among the crowd while she was passionately screaming the words of ‘White Lies’ was when the band were at their best.
If the Neu stage is all about introducing people to new acts, then that is what it did for itoldyouiwouldeatyou (4/5). The indie-punk outfit’s music may be delicate and beautiful, but it is presented with a punk ethos. With vocalist Joey Ashworth jumping around the stage and shouting the lyrics, just looking at the band there is something so relatable and likeable about them. It was single ‘Get Terrified’ which had the whole tent singing along, and by the end of their set they had certainly made some new fans.
Over on the Cave, Gouge Away (3/5) blasted through an abrasive set and if you blinked you would have missed it. Kicking off with ‘Only Friend,’ the band were playing at full throttle. With that is arguably their largest UK crowd the band did not look out of place, throwing themselves about the stage with Christina Michelle screaming out as loud as she can.
Similarly, Angel Du$t (3/5) started off their set at breakneck speed opening with ‘Headstone’. By the time the quintet played a run of tracks from their new record, ‘Pretty Buff,’ the Cave crowd was bouncing and the audience were embracing the fun side of the punk band. With Justice Tripp’s catchy lyrics on top of shredding riffs Angel Du$t were a perfect fit for 2000Trees.
If you were looking for breakout sets from this year’s festival, then look no further than Drug Church (5/5). With the charisma of vocalist Patrick Kindlon and the great musicianship of the rest of the band, the five-piece has the formula of a great punk band down to a tee. The band looked like they are having as much fun as the crowd, with Kindlon insisting that the Cave tent keep up its energy levels. Closing with ‘Weed Pin’ saw a wave of crowd surfers going over the barrier much to the delight of the band on stage.
If there was an award for the king of the riffs then it would go to Cancer Bats’ (5/5) Scott Middleton. For all of vocalist Liam Cormier’s energy, it is Middleton’s incredible back catalogue of shredding riffs which make the quartet one of the greatest rock bands around. Rolling from ‘Hail Destroyer’ into ‘Sabotage’, there was non-stop crowd surfing, bringing the biggest smile to Cormier’s face.
Closing out day two, and making their first-ever 2000Trees appearance. was You Me At Six (3.5/5). The pop-rock band drew a huge crowd for a mix of nostalgia and new tracks. However, it quickly became clear that the majority of the audience were there for the trip down memory lane as when the band burst into ‘Underdog’, the crowd woke up.
Vocalist Josh Franceschi was in his element soaking up the crowd as the band ran through ‘Back Again’, ‘Night People’ and ‘Fresh Start Fever’ before launching into ‘Save It For The Bedroom’ which got the largest reaction of the set. As things came to close, Franceschi proceeds to say how cheesy encores were but the band still did one closing out with ‘Room to Breathe’.
Even though there was not the biggest crowd for Slingshot Dakota (3/5) opening the main stage, the two-piece didn’t let it phase them. Playing a lot of material from new record, ‘Heavy Banding’, the husband and wife duo looked to be enjoying themselves, even taking the piss out of tour mates in Fresh. Closing with ‘Louder’, vocalist Carly Comando said the song was about not fitting in, but they were very much part of the 2000Trees community.
Later on at the main stage, Vukovi (3/5) brought the party vibe. The noisy pop-rockers were the perfect cure for any hangovers, bringing lots of energy and sing-a-longs on the main stage. With this being the bands third year at the festival, they have certainly earnt their place on the main stage and this year showed exactly that.
When it comes to modern DIY punk, there aren’t many better than Muncie Girls (4/5). With catchy riffs and clever lyrics, the four-piece made the most of their platform on the main stage. With the band singing about battling the patriarchy, it seems like Muncie Girls are a perfect fit for the ethos of 2000Trees and the crowd responded appropriately.
After a lengthy trip from their native Aberdeen, it looks like it was worth it as Cold Years‘ (3/5) debut outing at 2000Trees saw them soaking up the strong crowd that turned up at the Neu stage tent. Their brand of heart-on-sleeves punk rock is earnestly delivered despite vocalist Ross Gordon and company grinning throughout. With recent single, ‘Breathe’, getting a live airing alongside favourable cuts such as ‘Miss You to Death’, the Scottish quartet pull in an admirable set that will have created some new fans.
London duo Delaire, the Liar (4.5/5) provide a powerful and impressionable set. With Joey Brayshaw’s drum work serving as a dense foundation, guitarist Ffin Colley is a frantic ball of energy, taking over the stage (and occasionally joining the satisfied Trees crowd) while providing stunning vocals that confidently soar. As Colley embraces Brayshaw at the conclusion of their set, it’s clear how important today’s set was for the duo. Undoubtedly, the pair certainly solidify their place as one of the UK’s most exciting new bands.
On the Axiom stage, Martha (5/5) displayed a fun-filled set. Kicking off with ‘Wrestlemania VIII,’ it was non-stop head bopping and huge choruses. When it got to ‘Love Keeps Kicking,’ the whole tent was singing along. It is easy to see why the four-piece are considered one of the UK’s best at what they do and 2000Trees was the best platform for them.
It’s somewhat coincidental that grey clouds descended over Upcote Farm as Møl (4.5/5) started on the Neu stage. The Danish quintet delivers a punishing half-hour with vocalist Kim Song Sternkopf at the forefront. His growls and screams are backed by a pummeling wall of post black-metal that is simply thrilling to witness. If there was ever an example if heavy music was suitable at 2000trees, then look no further than Møl for proof.
The Cave tent was packed out for Can’t Swim (4/5) as the New Jersey punk outfit serenade the crowd. With vocalist Chris LoPorto acting as the conductor, the rest of the band acting as the perfect foil to his heartfelt lyrics. But is was when the band hit their closer, ‘Stanger,’ that the tent erupted singing back all the lyrics to the band.
Although they’re considered an unknown entity to many outside world, The St Pierre Snake Invasion (3.5/5) are favourites amongst the 2000trees massive. Their sub-headline slot on the Cave stage sees the Bristol collective continue the momentum from the recently released ‘Caprice Enchanté’. Blasting through a blend of old and new songs, frontman Damien Sayell is charismatic and sincere in equal measure. Thoroughly energetic, Sayell and company lap up the opportunity to play some high up on the bill, even welcoming a young boy named William to play kazoo with them during ‘I Am the Lonely Tourist’.
There was an air of anticipation over on the main stage before Every Time I Die (5/5) played their iconic album, ‘Hot Damn!’‘ in full. From the opening ring of ‘Romeo A Go-Go’, the crowd and band alike was absolute chaos, bodies flying everywhere with the crowd screaming the lyrics back to Keith Buckley and company. With a constant sea of crowd surfers, in a range of different customs and on inflatables, it was ‘Floater’ and ‘Ebolarama’ where things really came alive.
Fittingly there was technical issues right at the end of the performance of ‘Hot Damn!’ which acted as an unintentional signal for the ETID hits, with ‘Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space’ and ‘We’rewolf’ getting the second half of the set going. But it was ‘The New Black,’ that seemed to get everyone in the 200 Trees crowd going absolutely wild.
For most festivals, a band of Every Time I Die‘s status would be the cherry on top of the cake, yet for those wanting to indulge in even more chaos, there was The Armed (5/5). As we pay a final visit to the Neu stage, we’re welcomed by a man in a ghillie suit, sitting at a table with beers and croissant. This is just the first of many eccentric moments The Armed pull out during a devastating set. Determined to leave a lasting impression, the enigmatic group bring a feverish sense of danger to 2000trees, as their singer (possibly called Dan) throws himself about the crowd while his bandmates produce a frantic mix of hardcore with distorted 8-bit synth.
Admittedly it’s hard to know where to look; do you keep your eye on where their vocalist is going to end up? Do you watch our ghillie suit-wearing friend who spends the set throwing croissants, taking selfies and hoisting up female vocalist (Cara Drolshagen?) on his shoulders. Nevertheless, the anonymous hardcore collective produce a memorable and compelling set of pure mayhem that deservedly becomes one of the weekend’s most talked-about sets.
It seems with every passing year, 2000trees becomes more and more unique and beloved. Besides the host of brilliant sets witnessed across three days, it is the festival’s sense of community that pulsates throughout Upcote Farm. While after camping in a field for a few days at some festivals leads to lusting for home comforts, departing 2000trees is tinged with a hint of sadness. Knowing that your time in the company of friends, both old and new, is over for another year yet together you’ve witnessed and created memories that will merely add to the almost unrivalled reputation 2000trees continues to have.
View more of Already Heard‘s coverage of 2000trees Festival 2019 here.
Words by Sêan Reid and Tim Birkbeck.