Published on August 13th, 2015 | by Ben Adsett0
2000TREES FESTIVAL 2015 #2KT15
The journey to 2000Trees festival is full of lovely countryside and with this year’s Thursday afternoon sunshine it was impossible not hit fever pitch with the idea of sunshine and three days of incredible music. I can’t remember being more excited for a festival than I was for 2000Trees this year, the line-up was on point, the weather was due to be amazing and the setting of Upcote Farm is always picturesque. After setting up camp in record time, it was time to start the festival properly.
White Russian in hand and a quiet nod to the Dude, I went in search music in the Cave and was greeted by chaotic Bristolians The Saint Pierre Snake Invasion. For a first band playing a stage absolutely owned it. The combination of chaos and melody was battered about with feedback and aggression into a less than gentle introduction to Thursday night. This musical slap in face was the perfect opening to what promised to be three solid days of mind blowing music.
With a brief pause to refresh glasses and take a breath &U&I stormed the cave with their math hardcore hybrid sound. From start to finish this was a fast furious set with the Birmingham trio debuting new songs and combining them with just the right amount of classics to balance the set wonderfully. Thursday’s onslaught continued with vintage rock punks The Computers who as always put on a mesmerising show, as their sound has developed they have created a solid fan-base. They took the stage to packed tent and gave it everything, the stage was a blur of flailing limbs and within moments the crowd were frenzied in enjoyment.
It was clear that the Cave was going to keep throwing killer sets at me back to back and with Turbowolf’s set came Thursday’s highlight. Absolutely everything about the set blew every other live performance I have seen from Turbowolf (roughly 12) out of the water. They offered intensity, grace, energy, power and jaw dropping stage presence alongside music which sounds like hardcore in space. The often dread filled moments of building feedback explode into vocal howls and walls of guitar in a heartbeat. Throw in an unhealthy stage presence which emanates throughout the audience and like me you would have been watching something breath-taking.
After jaws were picked up from the floor as Turbowolf left the Cave, I found myself enjoying some comedy as the sun started to set. In these little moments I remember why 2000Trees is the best festival around, where else can you enjoy a cold beer and sit in the fading sun chuckling along to some comedy before heading back to watch some headliners?
Said headliners the Subways may not be everyone’s cup of tea but you can’t argue with the passion in the delivery of this cup of tea. They took the stage confidence and mayhem pouring out and absolutely ripped through a set filled with singalong moments and pure fun. It was a set list with hit after hit throughout it, to the point I wondered after a few bangers if they had peaked too soon only to be reminded of another slice of indie chaos. The Subways finished and the evening became a bit of a blur, I woke up in the right tent on Friday morning fully clothed (including shoes) on top of my sleeping bag, so Thursday was a success, right?
Friday morning involved a cruel wake up and a few questions on my bar based decisions, as wonderful as the Cotswold Brewing Co are you clearly can have too much of a good thing. A breakfast burrito and coconut water at Famin’ Tamales (which became a morning ritual) sorted me out and first up to make Friday incredible were Woahnows.
Excuse the pun but Woah, now that is a wonderful way to start a day. The punk trio combined some sun bleached math rock into catchy grown up pop punk and the recovery was on. The deadly combo of whit and honesty within lyrics creates a lovely balance which is perfectly complimented with fractured guitars. Woahnows really are a special band, they have the perfect contrast between live and recorded sounds to empty your pockets. Seriously, this might have been the, best, thing I have ever seen opening a festival stage.
High on life and sunshine after Woahnows the Cave was my next stop, for the second time in twenty four hours most of &U&I blew me away, this time in the shape of To The Wall. They are hardcore from the ashes of Birmingham’s ever loved Blakfish and they embrace the techcore side perfectly. At times guitars built into walls, drums crashed and at times vocals snarled and to counterbalance this there were moments of delicate almost serenity. In this contrast the set balanced beautifully between being in your face, almost to the point you could see the sound coming at you and delicate enough to really take in the musicianship.
Much hyped south coast punks Creeper were next to take the stage with a set up that was all bells and whistles, including a band uniform. They created a buzz before even stepping out to the packed Cave, within the opening notes they destroyed a set list with passion, presence and some humble between song chatter. A goth/dark punk band always needs a talisman and Creeper definitely have one with shades of Matt Skiba, Davey Havoc, Danzig, Robert Smith etc. combined with youthful exuberance. If this set and their meteoric rise is anything to go by Creeper are the real deal and you are going to be hearing a lot about the southcoast misery of #creepercult.
On a similar rising trajectory are Nai Harvest, who’s take on gutter pop comes across wonderfully on a sunny day in a packed tent. These two create angular guitar pop full of hooks and just the right amount of grit to elevate them from simplicity. There is a theory that two-piece bands are one-dimensional and dull if you subscribe to this theory Nai Harvest are going to change your mind with some three-minute gutter pop.
After all the early afternoon excitement it was time for a moment of calm, this came in the shape of the wonderful The Lion and the Wolf (or Tom George to his mother). Tom played through emotive songs from his incredible debut LP Symptoms with delicate attention to detail, pausing only to charm the crowd with honest stories about each track. After all the excitement of the afternoon, sitting in the sun and watching a beautiful selection of songs was near perfect. TLATW’s honesty and charm shone throughout his accomplished set.
The main stage was the next port of call and Cleft absolutely killed it, even as a late upgrade they sounded like they belonged on a main stage. I have never seen two people create such a loud and intelligent noise, this really is instrumental music at it’s very best. Complex melodies clash with time signatures that change on a knife edge created something it’s almost impossible to believe was being played live.
Rob Lynch was waiting after a trek across the festival site and within seconds he had the tent on their feet and singing straight back at him. Rob plays honest folk punk and really understands the value of a good hook. With the additional vocals and guitars of Johnny Ward (of Maycomb fame) the afternoon was awash with singalongs and mutual feels. During Rob’s set there was a wonderful trees moment to make the hairs on your neck stand to attention; the entire tent in unison singing the chorus to ‘My Friends and I’ in the sun on a Friday afternoon felt like something truly life affirming.
Young Guns took the main stage to a mass audience buzz, there were a lot of people there to see these kids and they went wild as they emerged. For me Young Guns were not the one, but as a live entity I can’t fault the musical tightness or the energy that radiated from them throughout.
If radiated energy could have been converted Pulled Apart by Horses could have powered the entire county with the ferocious set they put together. The Cave was sweltering as they whipped the crowd into a circle pits and call and response vocals. They were loud, brash and unapologetic throughout and completely tore the Cave to pieces.
Hometown heroes the Solemn Sun followed the exhausting PABH set, with an equally accomplished and energetic set of their own. From start to finish the development in sound was in full force, these four understand exactly what modern post rock should sound like and they are so creative about it. The record is fantastic but live and especially during this set they took everything up to an incredible level. Everything was on point and really felt like they belonged exactly there on the 2000Trees stage, each guitar line balanced angular feedback creating the wall of noise which personifies the Solemn Sun’s sound. As a front man Jim has come into his own and this set felt almost like a coming of age moment, combining this with razor-sharp drumming and Chris’ expansive guitars and emotive vocals complimenting their way throughout. There was a debut on bass but it was impossible to tell, the band worked like clockwork throughout. This set was one of many spectacular moments in what was the best Friday 2015 is going to offer.
Saturday started with that fresh final day of a festival feeling and post breakfast burrito at Falmin’ Tamales I was good to go. I walked straight into the Croft and spent half an hour being blown away by Samoans. These Welsh natives had an infectious energy and blasted through an accomplished set with nods towards noughties British rock and similar era US rock/metal. Samoans also have the advantage of not taking themselves too seriously, I challenge you to look through the song titles on their album without having a little chuckle. Much like every day 2000Trees started Saturday on a very strong note!
Tim Vantol was the first main stage choice of Saturday and as always he absolutely killed it. Tim has the deadly combo of charm, honesty and stage presence which come across wonderfully in a live setting. With a combination of folk punk singalongs and acoustic honesty, this was a set that filled the main stage and created a massive buzz. As a live act there is something amazing about Vantol and the ease in which he wins over an audience of any size.
After the acoustic greatness of Tim Vantol the aptly named Great Cynics took the stage and within seconds the lo-fi punk they played had the tent hooked. The chill punk of GC’s sounded even more perfect when backed with sunshine. They hammered though a solid back catalogue and balanced the set list perfectly and even played songs from before they were prefixed with a Great. Throughout the set these three had the audience eating out of their hands, on pure performance the energy emanating from the stage was infectious and it was almost impossible to not have fun watching this London trio.
With a tough act to follow Vennart walked into a packed tent, from start to finish they owned the space around them with fuzz and feedback. As each track flowed into another it was clear that Mike Vennart the man behind the band has learned from his time with Oceansize and Biffy Clyro and developed this into something completely unlike either. This kind of progression is always good to watch and feedback screeches and percussion slams were perfectly contracted by occasional floating guitars and wonderful intros/outros.
The occasional moments of calm within Vennart were soon stripped away by southern poppunks and one of the most hyped bands in the UK right now: Roam. Who from start to finish played every song like a race, guitars and bass were lead into everything by drums played at breakneck speed whilst vocals effortlessly fit into each track. At times I felt a little sorry for Roam as the Saturday afternoon crowd often refused requests to get really involved in the show. Even with this slap in the face Roam continued to play like their lives depended on it and out of nowhere with a couple of songs to go, the audience finally woke up and everything just fell into place.
After the youthful exuberance of Roam it was time for one of the most exciting things at 2000Trees the return of the wonderful Mcklusky*. If Roam’s exuberance was youthful Mcklusky’s was born from pure joy, they took the stage with the same excitement and passion as they would have a decade ago. The audience responded with almost every single lyric returned to the band with intensity. As you can imagine this was a greatest hits set like no other, you could almost feel the nostalgia coming from the cave and it was drenched in sweat, wonderful noughties sweat.
The final bittersweet moment of 2000Trees was Alkaline Trio, who provided some of my all-time favourite 2000Trees moments (and there have been a lot of those). Mcklusky’s trip down memory lane beautifully set the scene for another slice of nostalgic bliss and within seconds I was hooked into Alkaline Trio’s set. I have talked about a set-list balancing on a knife edge with previous acts and Alkaline Trio took this to another level, possibly balancing everything on a razorblade. They played a near perfect selection of old, new and obscure whilst whipping the crowd into frenzy in the process. But just as hairs on necks started standing to attention and singalong voices were hitting peak levels, CLICK
And we were descended into darkness, this was that moment that an entire audience looked around in disappointment thinking the evening was over and the few songs that Alk3 played were going to be the end of the set. This was 2000Trees though and as always the amazing behind the scenes team saved the day and the show went on. In truth the power cut just added to the wonder and excitement, creating yet more memories. For the entire set I had a smile on my face, this may not have been what everyone wanted but there are other stages, at the main stage Alkaline Trio where incredible and ended the festival perfectly.
The power cut may have stopped an encore, but encores are for bell ends in the words of Jamie Lenman.
All considered 2000Trees has set the bar even higher for the tenth anniversary next year and I can’t wait to see what they do. If someone could speed up time and make it July 2016 I will kiss you on the face!