Attracting dedicated fans year after year, Naomi Penn praises a showcase of authenticity and eclectic performances at 2000 Trees
Reminiscing on my third year attending 2000 Trees in July, I can’t help but wish I was back. With a combination of great music, unusually nice weather, and a silent disco to end all others, this is by far my favourite music festival. Its genre of rock-cum-indie-cum folk (always a fun time explaining that) allows punters to mingle with different groups, and artists too, with many of the acts on this year’s bill return year after year to experience the wonder of the festival.
Stepping back into the familiar field once more, Thursday kicked off with a blistering set from SHVPES on the Cave Stage, showcasing several songs from their debut album Pain. Joy. Ecstasy. Despair, for potentially one of the last times for the near future as they gear up for their new release Greater Than in November, which was showcased here by the single ‘Undertone.’ This was followed by Palm Reader, who despite their early set time had the energy of a headline band, and quickly got the crowd moving, certainly placing them on a list of British bands who will see great success in the future.
After an afternoon filled with further incredible sets from the likes of Vukovi, Boston Manor, and Turnstile, the highlight of the day was Marmozets. Their set was punchy, vocally flawless, and caused an eruption of energy amongst the eager crowd. Opening with ‘Play’, and including hits such as ‘Move, Shake, Hide’ and ‘Captivate You’, it was everything a sub-headline spot should be. Of course, their appearance was still tinged with sadness, having been a last-minute addition to the lineup in order to replace Frightened Rabbit on the bill following the tragic death of Scott Hutchison earlier this year. In fact, throughout the weekend Scott was honoured in so many beautiful ways, with acts dedicating cover songs, and the festival itself setting up the Camp Frabbit busking stage, and tributes in the Forest. It was a touching mark of respect that really increased the family feel of the festival.
With a change to the usual 2000 Trees timetable making space for a Thursday Main Stage headliner, the day was completed with an ever-so-slightly underwhelming set from American punk royalty At The Drive In, though not enough to ruin the atmosphere. After some late-night fun in the Forest with Trees regulars Thrill Collins, it was a great way to start the weekend.
Waking up to a cloudier field, Friday afternoon began with hugely entertaining sets from Nervus on the NEU Stage and Bad Sign on Main, both of which were rocky enough to get the adrenaline pumping for the day, but equally chilled enough to be able to conserve energy for jumping around to Holding Absence and HO99O9 later in the day. Next, Touche Amore take over the Cave for an insanely heavy and sweaty 50 minutes, that included personal favourites such as ‘Pathfinder’ and ‘Rapture’, before closing with ‘Honest Sleep’, at which point I myself was ready for one.
Mallory Knox pleasantly surprised in their ability to dominate as a Main Stage sub-headliner – progressing from headlining The Cave last year – especially since their own lineup change with the departure of ex-lead vocalist Mikey Chapman in February. Bassist-turned-lead-singer Sam Douglas has taken to the role incredibly well, and the band show no sign of slowing down as they perform songs old and new with equal vigour as the crowd scream back every word lovingly.
To finish off Friday, Twin Atlantic headlined the Main Stage for the second time in only three years, but that in no way is a hindrance. If anything, it means they are comfortable on this stage, they know it well, and their performance shows it. Their set was hit after hit, moving from ‘Crash Land’ into ‘Yes I Was Drunk’ into ‘Brothers and Sisters’ in what was one of the most energetic shows of the whole weekend. After a slightly confusing closer following a power failure between ‘No Sleep’ and ‘Heart and Soul’, it was time for the silent disco. With three channels to choose from across two stages, it always is and always will be one of the highlights of my summer. Being able to choose between a pop-punk channel playing the best of my emo teenage years and a metal channel, and knowing that everyone around you is in an equal state of bliss and/or drunkenness is what the festival is all about.
Musically, Saturday was the best all-round. Beginning with Haggard Cat, the show was reminiscent of that of its band members’ previous band Heck a few years earlier, during which lead vocalist Matt Reynolds broke his leg after jumping from the stage. It was a great start to the day, the passion of which was matched by Cove and Woes immediately afterwards.
Following an ever-brilliant set from Dream State, it was time to get a spot in the Forest for headliners Enter Shikari’s second acoustic set. The Forest Stage is unique to the festival, hidden among towering trees, bunting and hammocks, but has the most indescribable atmosphere that you really must experience for yourself. Lead singer Rou Reynolds took to the stage for a beautiful few songs that showcased his never-ending talent. There’s something really quite emotional about sitting on a blanket in the woods surrounded by people all softly singing along to a stunning cover of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’.
But in truth, despite my love for the festival as a whole, the selling point for me this year was Shikari’s headline set. Having been one of my favourite bands for a good few years, I was so excited to see them perform at my favourite festival. With Moose Blood having gathered a good crowd for their sub-headline slot, slowly the main field began filling with Shikari fans, identifiable by their triangle tattoos (guilty), or recent The Spark tour t-shirts in support of the album, released last year. Having seen them multiple times previously, I knew I was in for a great show, and it truly was one of their best yet. The Main Stage’s size worked perfectly for their set, and their use of quadrophonic sound made songs such as ‘Juggernauts’ and ‘Destabilise’ even better. With their legendary ‘quickfire round’ including fan favourites ‘Sssnakepit’ and ‘…Meltdown’, and even a marriage proposal in the crowd, it was hands down the best headline set in the three years I’ve attended.
Even after 12 years of success, 2000 Trees has managed to stay true to its roots, which is why it is yet to become the household name it deserves to be. But this seems to actually be a good thing. The crowds are there for the music, are there because they truly care about their favourite bands playing in a tent, are there because they want to discover their new favourite artist, and that’s what makes 2000 Trees stand out from the rest. It’s a festival that will continue to attract thousands of true fans for years to come.