2000TREES FESTIVAL 6-9 July 2022
Regular readers will know that 2000 Trees is one of our favourite festivals and one we most look forward to attending every year. Apart from noticing that once again they had managed to book the sunshine as a headline act, the other thing that was clear is that the festival has grown bigger this year. In particular, there seemed to be an increase in the food vendors (which were great) and also in some of the non-music activities.
But, of course, music will always be what it’s all about and in particular we love the opportunity it gives you to discover new acts. So it was appropriate that the festival began for us in the Neu tent with The Luka State. They certainly came out blazing and, despite it being a relatively early set, they still attracted a good crowd and generated quite a buzz. Songs like new single “Keeping Us Down” have an immediate appeal for the 2000 Trees audience. They delivered a set of hard rocking songs but with just the right level of punk and a dash of melody thrown in. They are full of passion and energy which is exactly what we would want from a small-town punk band.
We don’t know what it is about 2000 Trees but it always seems to attract good weather and the glorious sun is a perfect accompaniment to The Get Up Kids. They seem to be playing a shockingly early-stage time for a band of their size, but that probably shows the increasing reputation of the festival. It certainly didn’t bother the band, who were in blistering form and blast through what could easily have been a headline set. Given their experience, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’re an extremely tight band. But they still deliver the set with spirit and an obvious love for playing live. They certainly throw down the gauntlet to the bands following them on the main stage.
Dinosaur Pile Up were certainly up for that challenge. They also attract a huge crowd (with the expected people in dinosaur suits!). They definitely appear to be one of the bands that many of the crowd have specifically come to see. They have a grungy and hard-hitting sound which really gets the crowd roused up and get a hell of a mosh pit going.
But those bands (and indeed most at the festival) were put in the shade by the awesome Royal Republic. They produced a rock show that was one of the best that we have seen from a band that we were previously unaware of. It literally had it all: An enigmatic lead singer; dancing guitarists; rocking bass player and a drummer who opted to sit atop of his drums as he played. To us, their sound was like a glorious mix of the style of the Hives and the punk rock n roll of The YoYos. The songs were instantly singalong able and managed to get people both dancing and moshing. An awesome set and a contender for our favourite new band!
The incredible growing reputation (not just in the UK but internationally) of this festival is demonstrated by their ability to attract Jimmy Eat World. They had one of the biggest crowds we have ever seen at 2000 Trees. As possibly one of the kings of the Emo scene, it comes as no surprise that they gave a show that had the crowd eating out of their hands. That’s not just the hardcore fans of the band but also those that just knew a few ‘hits’. The whole field is engaged as the band showed genuine warmth and appreciations for the crowd. Not surprisingly, the whole place went mental when they played the classic “The Middle”. It’s a fantastic way to end the live music part of the day (although everyone know that’s only the start of the partying as the awesome, site wide, silent disco then kicks in!)
Fair play to those that got up early and listened to some of the heavyweight sounds that some of the opening bands delivered across the site. For us, the day began with Together Pangea, whose blend of LA power pop/rock matched not only the California type sun, but our own fragile state.
Their bright and breezy pop punk sound certainly got the day off to a great start. That good time feeling was kept going by the aptly titled Fresh. There was a bit more of an indie rock feel to their set. They had songs with big melodies and the punk guitars were balanced out with some cool harmonies.
It was Roam who drew the biggest crowd of the day so far and they were certainly a very 2000 Trees ‘type’ of band. The rapping vocal style against hardcore punk guitars was an attractive combination. Their lead singer was intent on making full use of the large stage as he constantly dashed from one side to the other. Although that was before they delivered the sad news that this was to be their last ever festival date. They are fulfilling some final tour dates but will then be splitting up. So you’ve only got a few more chances to check them out.
There was another challenger for the most energetic front person in the shape of the singer of Kenny Hoopla. There were plenty of songs with an emo feel, but what really worked was when they slowed things down and allowed the numbers to ‘breathe’ a bit. Although the crowd seemed more than happy to wave, jump and shout along to all of their songs.
The legendary Laura Jane Grace showed an incredible amount of sincerity in her words to the crowd throughout her set. For most of us that were in the small Cave tent it was actually just an honour to see such an iconic artist. She apologized for the fact it was just her and an acoustic guitar but that was really what made it such a special and heart felt performance. The reality was that it was more powerful than many of the louder sets you would’ve heard over the weekend. It was full of warmth and meaning, both in the songs played and the reaction of the crowd. Everyone attending would have had their own personal highlight but for us, as huge Replacement fans, it was the chance to hear her cover of Androgynous. A song which is not only brilliant musically but was amazingly ahead of its time in terms of lyrical content.
After that level of intensity, it was nice to have a totally different (but equally as great) experience with Thrill Collins, a band who are now 2000 Trees legends. Sure, you pretty much know what you’re going to get with their set, but there is no greater pleasure than seeing a group of rockers and metal heads singing along with total glee to covers of songs by the likes of Five, Bewitched and S Club 7. We certainly prefer the sets where they focus on the pop tunes rather than the drum and base covers. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the feel-good factor that they bring. There is also the total joy of knowing some people in the crowd will be getting the delight of hearing them for the very first (but you can guarantee it won’t be the last) time.
We’ve already remarked how the pulling power of 2000 Trees seems to be getting stronger and stronger. That’s confirmed again with PUP playing a non-headline set on the Axiom stage. Even a couple of years ago they would surely have been one of the key acts playing on the main stage. They produce an absolutely blistering set. Better than most bands in recent years they’ve really nailed the ability to have a hardcore punk sound and attitude but still be able to encompass a strong sense of melody. It’s certainly something appreciated by the crowd and it’s moshing room only in the packed and overflowing tent.
After a well-deserved rest, if limited sleep time, it was the Avalanche Party who welcomed us into Saturday. They weren’t actually on our list to watch, but we were drawn across the field by their Stooges like sound. They had a ‘darker’ element to their music which suggested a love for the seedier side of rock and maybe also The Doors. They were certainly the only band we saw at the festival that featured a saxophonist. Their sound may have been a bit at odds with the morning sunshine but it seemed to be the contrast that was needed to raise the audience from its slumber (hangovers!). It also exemplified what makes 2000 Trees so great, that guarantee that you will stumble on a few bands that are new to you but you will end up loving.
Hotel Lux are another band to show the diversity of rock music at 2000 Trees. There’s more of an indie tone to their look and sound. They have that nonchalant approach and delivery style that recalls the likes of Joy Division or even Blur (at their most melancholy rather than chirpy Brit pop!). Their look is a complete mish mash of styles which matches their music. In this relatively short set they go through indie rock, angular guitar, punk and even a gothic sounding song. Definitely a band you need to check out.
Mannequin Pussy attract a large audience to the main stage and the vast majority are up on their feet and totally encapsulated by the ferocious energy that the band kick out. Angel Du$t break us in gently to their set with a relatively slow, melodic opener. That just gives the crowd a chance for a breather as they then pick up the speed and the guitars on the following tracks. Indeed, one of the things that we love about this band is the way they slip between full out punk rock to pure melody within the same song. You want a thrash in the mosh pit you can, you want to sing along you can …heck why not just do both at the same time!
The Cold Years were probably the band that we were most looking forward to seeing at the festival and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Often referred to as the UKs answer to The Gaslight Anthem, they are one of the few what we’d call a rock n roll band on the bill. Having recently toured Europe with Laura Jane Grace it comes as no surprise that the band are on fine form and really hit their stride during the set. Indeed, their sound is probably bigger and bolder than ever before. It’s rock n roll but with punk energy and they busily whip the crowd up into a frenzy. Definitely one of our bands of the festival and we’d love to see them continue to go from strength to strength and work their way to the headline act that their sound demands.
One of the very special things about 2000 Trees is the occasional big act that appears on the smaller and beautiful Forest Stage. This year we were treated with the chance to again see Laura Jane Grace. Yes, we had seen her only yesterday, but this was one of those once in a lifetime opportunity. Not surprisingly it was standing room only and this intimate and passionate show seems like the perfect way for her to end her European Tour.
If that wasn’t enough, the next act on the small stage was the legendary Ginger Wildheart. We actually thought it was also going to be a solo show, but it was him and his new band The Sinners which turned out to be even better. Although the actual star of the show turned out to be his dog who did an adorable stage invasion mid-way through the set. It certainly seems that having his dog with him and being back in a band setting is working out well for Ginger. Their sound is a return to good old rock n roll, which is always good for the spirits. It certainly bodes well for the forthcoming album, due in October. We did wonder if maybe the sound might be a bit ‘straightforward’ for hardcore Wildheart fans but we really loved it. And we are sure that many of his fans who remember the very early days with the Quireboys or his time in Silver Ginger 5 will adore it as well.
It seems appropriate that we should end our festival coverage at the same place we started it, the Neu stage. There will always be loads of coverage of the larger, headline acts but we are always keen to provide exposure to new, up and coming acts. That’s definitely true when they are as good as the brilliant Lauran Hibberd. She’s an act that’s been on our radar for a while but we’ve not previously had the chance to check her out. Prior to her coming on stage we spoke to a young fan who passionately told us how she’d seen her live and had immediately literally bought the T-shirt and then devoured all her releases. You can certainly understand how she creates such devotion in her fans. The songs are short, fun and catchy but also lyrically clever and poignant, so are a magnet for her young generation of fans. The billboards around the festival promoting her upcoming album refer to her music as “Dad rock for your daughters”. We’re not too sure what that means, but as a Dad we can confirm we thought she was awesome and so did the young crowd. We can only hope the album, when it is released in August, is a huge hit and that many other people get the chance to experience her great music and brilliantly enthusiastic live show. It certainly provided a fitting conclusion to our festival. Once again 2000 Trees smashed it with perfect weather and an absolutely outstanding festival, showcasing some of the best rock music around at the moment.