Published on September 16th, 2013 | by Ben Adsett0
2000Trees Festival 2013
I know this is massively late but a succession of things made the whole process a bit of a nightmare. Right now apologies and excuses are done lets get down to the usual business of endlessly rambling about music.
So this year was a series of firsts, which is strange for a festival I have attended five times in a row and will be looking forward to next year. It was the first time I have ever been to a festival on my own and thank goodness it was Trees I am lucky enough to have enough friends who are either from Cheltenham, in a band that played at 2000Trees, work the festival in various roles or run a label to have been able to wander aimlessly bumping into people and watching bands for three days. The other first was taking pictures on a film camera because like my old man love for vinyl I also like the surprise of seeing photos after they are developed.
This year’s 200Trees was one of the best three days music and fun I have ever been lucky enough to experience either in a row or as three days separately. A bit of this is down to the beautiful weather, which provided three days of ale soaked sunshine all round.
Music started with a bang on Thursday afternoon with some great performances from Empire! Who delivered an incredibly melodic technically challenging set which set the bar very high for the other acts throughout the weekend and Freeze The Atlantic who combine ex Rueben and Hundred Reasons members into a straight up British Rock revival sounding like the mid noughties with an infectious stage presence.
These were followed by a rare 2000Trees disappointment in the JCQ who were one of my favourite discoveries at the 2011 festival when they belted out half an hour of brash hardcore at noon to kill a hangover. I guess over the last two years they have developed as a band and lost the hardcore edge which took a lot away from the performance for me but the tent was packed and almost everyone else was really into the new sound from the JCQ which was full of energy and built up well.
The next act was the ‘surprise’ headliner who accidentally revealed his set on the internet; Frank Turner who completely filled the small cave tent to play every song from Love, Ire and Song his break through album alone. These are the kind of sets that made me love Frank Turner soon after the collapse of Million Dead maybe its because that’s when I discovered his music or maybe it’s a love of grumpy man with a guitar style acoustic music but this was a near perfect set and a rare chance to see Frank without the support of a backing band. He absolutely killed it and within the first note of the first song had the entire tent singing along with him and locked in for the full set.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who would have liked to see an earlier album or a b sides set or even a Million Dead covers set and I would have loved to see all of those things but the atmosphere wouldn’t have been the same. Let’s be honest who didn’t want to see a solo rendition of ‘Long Live The Queen’. This was the highlight of the set for me and really summed up my Thursday night.
After Frank Turner the Xcerts and Future of the Left both played great sets packed with intensity and a great atmosphere but for me nothing was going to top half cut Frank Turner Sing-alongs.
So on to Friday which again started in the afternoon sunshine with incredible music at the Cave. The Arteries were one of many bands that proved that the punx are taking over underground music. This welsh pop punk act have been playing and touring forever and are finally gaining some of the recognition they have deserved since the start. This was the perfect way to slap yourself awake on a summer afternoon a furious half hour of clever punk which even a guitarist nosebleed couldn’t slow down.
The Cave was again packed for another of the UK’s best kept secrets Hold Your Horse Is who play fast, loud and hard with just enough subtlety to allow you take a breath. There are probably hundreds of comparisons you can make but the main thing to remember is HYHI are an incredible talent. The end of this set might be my festival highlight from 2013 Chris Rouse the powerhouse behind the drums finished the set by climbing into the crowd with his drum kit and belted out an enormous drum solo.
The Cadbury Sisters calmed down my adrenalin high from the first two acts with a beautiful set of harmonic folk pop to a packed and thus boiling hot tent. As far as the Cheltenham folk scene goes the Cadbury Sisters are one of the acts that must be on the cusp of taking the UK by storm.
After the Cadbury Sisters had calmed my ears I headed to the Greenhouse to sing along to the wonderful Ben Marwood who is my most watched act of 2013 clocking up three shows in the first half(ish) of the year. Ben is one of the my favourite singer songwriters of all time combining a loveable personality in both lyrics and live performance with a genius-like understanding of song writing and the perfect balance of a set to drip a sing-along at just the right time.
After Marwood Murray Macleod combined his own material with stripped back acoustic versions of The Xcerts back catalogue to create some fragile sounding acoustic bliss. This prettiness was continued and combined with straight up rock by Oxford’s finest Gunning For Tamar who are another one of my favourite live acts in the country right now. GFT blew me away as they do every time with the combination of subtlety and clever build ups throughout both songs and a set list. They filled the tent with a deadly combo of fragile vocals and post rock noise in perfect proportions.
There was only one place to be as evening crept in on Friday night and that was the main stage watching home town heroes Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun proving themselves as Cheltenham’s finest. On so many occasions I have seen bands take to the main stage look terrified and not quite fill the space. This year JLandTSS walked onto the stage like they owned the place and smashed through a well balanced set to a home crowd naturally.
The final slot of the day provided a challenge how do you watch Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls and Adebisi Shank at the same time. The short answer is you don’t but the clever answer is you watch a bit of both so I watched a double headline set in a way.
Frank Turner took Thursdays set and turned it up to eleven with a well balanced and intense first half combining some great material from his now extensive back catalogue to a packed field.
When Adebisi Shank took over my ears they played one of the most technically over the top sets I have ever seen. These three men must be some of the most talented musicians in the world at times the sounds they combined to make were out of this world and seemingly impossible. I was amazed at the speed and precision they were playing with and the stamina shown to keep up the intensity for a full set. Obviously a special note has to go to the bassist who kept the intensity going despite wearing a crazy face covering mask.
As I left the site to be a festival wuss and sleep in a real bed I was unsure Saturday could top the incredible live sets of Friday especially Adebisi Shank who were truly breath taking.
In a way no one crept over the Shank shaped bar of Friday but there was definitely no one at the festival that made anything close to Adebsi Shank in musical style.
Saturday started with a main stage debut for one of the best kept secrets in the UK folk scene Andy Oliveri who didn’t take the main stage lightly and took his subtle folk songs and combined them with a backing band to treat the audience to something completely different.
This was followed by a mad rush to catch some of Woahnows who once more proved that pop punk can be much smarter and generally better than Blink 182 with an energetic and clever set. There was far more Descendents and other bay area punk to the musical and live performance, which created a perfect ale and sun mood to get the day going.
Bear Cavalry took the stage soon after and combined a tropical sound with clever indie rock to create a perfectly fitting set for such a beautiful day. This is an act that have that indescribable something about them as a live or recorded spectacle which makes your ears happy.
The rest of the day was spent watching the Alcopop! Takeover stage that was filled with some of my favourite acts in the UK playing beautiful acoustic sets in the sun. I pretty much sat and enjoyed a few beers whilst looking down on the tent feeling very smug. In fact I was feeling so smug and relaxed I missed one of the acts I was most looking forward to seeing but there is no way you can complain about a summer’s afternoon that combines music, ales and sunshine.
Overall like I mentioned at the top of the review this was possibly the best 2000Trees festival to date and I enjoyed every second of my time there as I do pretty much every year.
Roll on 2000Trees festival 2014 and don’t forget you can buy an advance ticket HERE already.