2000 Trees Festival 2016 – A Weekend In Review
As the sun set behind a stage dropped in the middle of Upcode Farm this past Saturday, Refused laying waste and inciting the carnage you’d expect from thousands of young punks, I realised something many years of Download Festival and it’s bastard cousin Sonisphere had yet to make me realise: size really doesn’t matter. I had spent the best part of the past three days running between dark stages, sampling the best the local food traders had to offer and visiting some (impressively) portaloos along the way.
What 2000 Trees lacks in size, it makes up for in quality, scope, consistency and just good old fun. Choosing to spend it’s money, time and focus putting on a better event for the punters attending in droves, it’s not hard to see the quality on display. Sound across the weekend is as consistent as it gets, set times are generous and clashes are minimal, march prices are cheap and security is friendly. If you’ve experienced it poorly elsewhere, be confident that the folks at 2000 Trees have already realised, sorted and apologised for it before it’s even become an issue. At tickets priced scandalously low below £100, you’d expect such a festival to be a figment of your imagination, but it exists, deep in the heart of the green Cotswolds hills.
But that’s now, in hindsight, on reflection. Let’s take this from the top, from the very moment I arrived last Thursday afternoon. After all, it’s about the music, right?
Arriving on site to the wonderful, annoyingly far away tones of Milk Teeth, I hurried to set my tent up, quickly grabbing a beer and heading straight to The Cave for the next few hours. First up, of course, the almost-too-good-to-be-true Black Peaks. Starting the day in their usual fashion, the Brighton boys proved to 2000 Trees that not only are they worth the hype, but if anything they should, once again, be placed on the main stage here. Sounding as sonically tight as if humanly possible, the band breezed through both electric and acoustic sets with ease, putting 90% of other already stellar bands on the bill to shame, and if it weren’t for the absolutely outstanding Xcerts receiving one of the warmest welcomes I’ve ever seen, the best of the day. Looking and sounding every bit the homecoming it felt like, The Xcerts may as well have been local heroes today. A smattering of classics and brand new material, the band ended their set with a mention of a bet made between the boys and festival organisers that they would return in 2017, headlining the main stage, and judging by this performance, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
Moving the incredibly small distance over to The Axiom, it might be a little harsh at this point to say that Plymouth based folk-rockers Crazy Arm left me feeling a little cold. Putting their all into a decent performance, not much could shake me from the performances earlier in the day. However, whilst the set started pretty poorly, things were quick to pick up, and I can happily report that I exited a tent full of delighted, jolly people. Back in The Cave, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for And So I Watch You From Afar (note: I’m never typing that again). I’m no mathematician, but sounding about fifty times as massive and one hundred times heavier than they do on record, the band laid waste a crowd ready to lap up the sheer genius expelled from the stage. Creating a wall of sound so thick you’d need an axe to break it down, 2000 Trees was treated to a cacophony of intricate instrumentals that could only be matched later on that weekend, but we’ll get to that in a few days.
After a quick break to grab a burger, I made my way back into The Axiom. Surprise(ish)! Turning up to treat fans to a set playing the entirety of the seminal England Keep My Bones, anyone looking to catch a glimpse of Frank Turner would have had to have been there all day long (and believe me, they were). With his cheery, down to earth persona emanating from the small tent throughout the festival fields, it would have taken a real miserable bastard to have a time during this special set. Just a man, a guitar, and lots of smiles.
For a sixty-minute set, The Bronx sure do know how to take all the perfection you’ll see in a day and just throw it in the bin. From the very first chord struck, the entire Cave was turned on it’s head with crowd surfers, circle pits and just general chaos, really. Deviating little from your usual Bronx setlist, the band packed in everything you’d ever want.
With vocalist Matt Caughthran acting like a man possessed, a gorilla man, spending a vast amount of time in the crowd the band played one of the best sets I’ve ever seen in a day of perfection. The perfect festival band, The Bronx are one of the best riots you can ever be a part of. Leaving my body battered up until the train home Sunday afternoon, there was no other way to end your Thursday night at 2000 Trees. Come back tomorrow to for reviews of Palm Reader, Neck Deep, Twin Atlantic, Reigning Days and a hell of a lot more!