There is a reason 2000trees Festival has a reputation for being one of the best-loved independent festivals this country has to offer. Noted for its friendly atmosphere, keen ear for identifying tomorrow’s big names, and a charmed life when it comes to avoiding the rain, its absence for two editions was very keenly felt. All this and more made us at Distorted Sound very excited to head to Upcote Farm in early July and witness the sold-out triumphant return of 2000trees.
Thursday – July 7th
PHOXJAW – Main Stage
Opening a stage isn’t an easy task, yet it’s one that PHOXJAW take in their stride. As the first of two sets on very different stages for them this weekend, they prove that they are more than capable of opening the main stage for a weekend of incredible acts. It may be 11am on a Thursday morning but that hasn’t stopped a majority of those that arrived early from trekking to the other side of the festival grounds to catch this tour de force of incredible musicians. After entering the stage to a full rendition of Zorba The Greek, they waste no time in getting down to business. Though there may be some technical issues for the first few tracks of their set, vocalist and bassist Danny Garland powers through and they pull it together with professionalism and ease. Despite it being 11am they have managed to draw a decent crowd and show their appreciation by jumping over the barrier and performing a chunk of their set in amongst their loyal followers.
MARISA AND THE MOTHS – Neu Stage
By the time Reading quartet MARISA AND THE MOTHS take to the stage, morning is barely over but they are treating this set as more of a headline ordeal. The time of day doesn’t stop them from giving their everything and performing as if they are right at the top of today’s bill. The tent slowly fills up as their infectious energy spreads throughout the grounds, Marisa Rodriguez’s voice drawing them in from afar. This grunge inspired band are extremely good at what they do with their powerful guitar driven tracks helping to amp the crowd up for the busy weekend ahead of them. By the end of their set the Neu Stage tent is pretty much full, with each audience member enthralled by fuzzy bass tones and impressive wailing guitar solos that make even the most hungover bob their heads along.
KNEECAP – Main Stage
In a huge departure from the rest of the artists on stage this weekend is Northern Irish hip-hop trio KNEECAP. They leave an outstanding first impression on 2000trees, rallying the audience with something many in the crowd wouldn’t have heard before; Irish hip-hop rapped in the Irish language. They are extremely different from the remainder of the lineup (aside from the attitude and swagger they carry), yet this works in their favour and helps to make them among the most memorable. They are as far from being a gimmick as you could possibly get, rallying the crowd with songs like Your Sniffer Dogs Are Shite and Get Your Brits Out, which inevitably ends up them moshing to a sample from the BBC News countdown – just a casual Thursday afternoon. Like the former, a lot of their songs tailor to the Irish republican and anti-Conservative crowd that just so happens to be in attendance today. Their on-stage presence is unmatched so far, with the perfect blend of humour and crowd participation that helps make their 2000trees debut an unforgettable one.
GRAYWAVE – The Cave
GRAYWAVE is the brainchild and stage moniker of guitarist, singer and songwriter Jess Weberly. Fresh off her recently released EP Rebirth, Weberly and her backing band present their melancholic shoegaze for their 2000trees debut. With the group drenched in a haze of smoky red lights to match the mood of the music, their live sound successfully recreates the atmosphere of the recording – ethereal, but also full of substance and punch. With the assured rhythm section pounding along to the jangly reverb of the guitar melodies, GRAYWAVE are displaying their own spin on how to make shoegaze heavy. Songs like Build and set closer Rebirth echo DEFTONES and THE CURE at their darkest and dreamiest, with their hypnotic sway drawing the crowd in. Whilst tonally different from what most of the weekend holds, GRAYWAVE’s set is a welcome variety and an assured debut for an act with great promise.
TIGERCUB – Main Stage
Brighton heavy rock trio TIGERCUB have been on a steady upwards trajectory since they returned from hiatus a few years ago, and deservedly see themselves with a spot on the main stage. Straddling the space between MUSE, ROYAL BLOOD and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, their music is built on driving rhythms and huge catchy riffs. Even with just a bass and guitar, a combination of guitar pedals and smart arrangements maintains the songs interesting and dynamic. The garage/stoner rock of I.W.G.F.U. and the fuzzy bass of Beauty are cases in point, making the backdrop of the sunlit Main Stage feel like one of the infamous ‘generator parties’ from the golden age of desert rock. With a vibrant and fresh take on modern rock, TIGERCUB deliver one of the highlight sets of the day.
HAGGARD CAT – The Axiom
Bringing a more bluesy rock sound to the Axiom Stage was Nottingham-based duo HAGGARD CAT. It’s always difficult to keep a crowd’s interest piqued as a smaller arrangement, yet this pair manages it with absolutely no problem. Their entire set seems like we are just all witnesses to an intimate band practice, with the two constantly interacting with one another in a way that screams “Can you believe this whole crowd is watching us?!” They both have an outstanding amount of energy, despite both being tethered to the spot – one by a microphone, the other by a whole drum kit. For a short half hour, they make the inside of this tent feel electric, like there is lighting coursing through each member of the audience. Their energy never fades, constantly delivering an adrenaline filled performance and starting each song with a bang.
HOLDING ABSENCE – The Axiom
UK rock outfit, HOLDING ABSENCE seemed to be the only band big enough to fill the shoes of last-minute dropouts NO DEVOTION. Though they may have joined the lineup just in the nick of time, they are clearly prepared and offer one of their best performances yet. Frontman Lucas Woodland can’t help but gush at the audience and tell them how the band were all attending 2000trees as fans of THRICE – this set is the cherry on top of their festival season cake. Nothing can take away the genuine happiness on all four faces – even a stage invader can’t mar this experience for them, and they take it all in their stride, seemingly taking it as more of a compliment than an act of disrespect from an audience member that has clearly seen the bottom of one too many pint glasses today. For 45 minutes, they transform the inside of this tent, and most of the area outside, into a sea of constant crowd-surfers and good vibes. In a short 45 minutes HOLDING ABSENCE have proved that they are a sure-fire option for headliners within the next few years.
CAN’T SWIM – The Axiom
New Jersey outfit CAN’T SWIM are no strangers to the UK public, having toured the country extensively in the past. Their brand of punky alternative rock deals in sing-along anthems that you can pick up first time, such as the infectious refrain of What’s the Big Idea, and the crowd obliges by singing back and embracing the opportunity for a gentler mosh than those happening during some of the heavier acts of the day. Musically echoing mid-era PARAMORE through big melodramatic hooks, the recognisable voice of lead singer Chris LoPorto (an extremely rare instance where sounding ‘nasal’ brings colour and character) and the impeccable backing vocals from his bandmates elevate the songs and drill them into the listener’s head. Closing a solid set on a high with their signature song Stranger, CAN’T SWIM will surely be back at 2000trees before long.
DINOSAUR PILE-UP – Main Stage
Yorkshire trio DINOSAUR PILE-UP insert the Thrash Metal Cassette into the deck and instantly set off the moshpit going in the blazing heat at the Main Stage. A frequent feature at 2000trees, their latest album Celebrity Mansion cemented their place as one of the mainstays of the UK alternative rock scene. Their set is unfortunately timed to coincide with the peak of the day’s heat which leave parts of the crowd slipping into a mild sun-induced lull. The more mid-tempo numbers suffer slightly for it, and it is energetic moments like the uptempo rage of Stupid Heavy Metal Broken Hearted Loser Punk that see the band at their best. Beyond their latest record, older cuts like Peninsula and 11:11 bring home just how many live staples they have accumulated to their name. Closing with the monstrous groove of Back Foot, it’s another solid appearance at 2000trees for the Yorkshiremen, but it leaves you with a feeling that it might work better in a sweaty club than the (no-less sweaty) sunny outdoors.
LONELY THE BRAVE – The Axiom
The marching drumbeat of Backroads announces the arrival of LONELY THE BRAVE, and a sea of open arms greets their soaring brand of alternative rock. It’s hard to believe that this is their first gig since last year’s Download Pilot, as they feel and sound so much more assured than they did back then. Vocalist Jack Bennett’s voice sounds on great form, lending a wonderful controlled raspiness to the songs originally sung by his predecessor, and in-between songs he entertains the crowd with subtle but disarming stage banter. While their 2020 offering The Hope List (first with Bennett on the mic) has fallen victim to pandemic tour cancellations, the positive reception of anthems like Bound proves there are many future live staples to come for the Cambridge five-piece. With 45 minutes of thoughtful alt-rock, it’s a triumphant return to 2000trees for LONELY THE BRAVE.
ROYAL REPUBLIC – The Cave
There are bands which are just right for festivals, and ROYAL REPUBLIC fit the bill perfectly. The Swedish garage disco act are the sort of fun act that you picture on a massive sunlit stage, with a bouncing crowd and loads of beach balls soaring above them. It is almost a shame that they are indoors at The Cave, but that doesn’t detract from the party that ensues. The charismatic frontman Adam Grahn and his bandmates strut around the stage as if in an 80s aerobics video, while drummer Per Andreasson bangs his snare with a drive that can move a train. The masses in front of him can’t help but jump along to the beat of Full Steam Spacemachine or bust a move to the extremely danceable Tommy-Gun. ROYAL REPUBLIC even find a little time for a quickfire cover of METALLICA’s Battery, before closing the day’s most fun-filled set with the danceable Baby.
JIMMY EAT WORLD – Main Stage
Pop-punk has been going through a big resurgence in recent years, and a lot of its elder statesmen have benefitted with a second lease of life. One act which has plugged away all this time, however, is Thursday headliners JIMMY EAT WORLD who made the successful transition from youthful rebels into a mature rock band that deals in well-crafted pop tunes. That is not to say that they reject the past, and the opening trio of Futures, Bleed American and Pain pack the same punch they did 20 years ago. The clean timbre of lead singer and guitarist Jim Adkins sounds as good as ever, and it’s impossible to not want to sing along to his “woh-oh-oh’-s and ‘hey-hey’-s”.
It’s not just the golden oldies, though. Highlights of recent years such as the thick wall-of-sound of Criminal Energy and the melancholic country rock All The Way (Stay) carry a radio-worthy sheen. Judging by the many mouths who sing along to every line, keener followers of JIMMY EAT WORLD consume and appreciate their entire catalogue. The Arizonians get a great reception and Adkins repeatedly voices his appreciation for it. Of course, there can be only one choice for a closing song, and we take the assurance that everything will be alright with their most recognisable hit The Middle. It rounds of JIMMY EAT WORLD’s masterclass in how to stay relevant as a 00s pop punk band, and brings a fantastic first day of 2000trees to a close.
Friday – July 8th
CREATURE – NEU Stage
Birmingham trio CREATURE kick off the day early doors with a 10.30am injection of aggression. Despite the hour, their high energy blend of hardcore punk and metal succeeds in stirring up the early birds, fuelled by the committed performance of the musicians. Vocalist and guitarist James Thompson voices his genuine appreciation for those who have gathered to check them out, and his headbanging and shrill screams get the crowd to shake the stiffness off campers’ limbs. Presenting songs from their new release Haunt which concluded a trilogy of EPs, musically CREATURE sit on the same family tree with bands like CONVERGE and EVERY TIME I DIE, combining furious riffs with a bulldozing rhythm section and an ear for dissonance. This breathless half-hour of music is the perfect way to kick back into gear for day two, and stakes a claim for CREATURE as a band that will no doubt continue to grow.
HERIOT – The Cave
If you somehow haven’t heard of HERTIO over the last year, then you must have been living under a rock. It seems that attendees of 2000trees haven’t been living under the same rock, as The Cave is packed within seconds of the band beginning their set. In what is for sure set to be one of the loudest sets of the entire weekend, HERIOT prove why they have garnered so much attention. They are an extremely tight and talented group, with a sound that is not for the faint of heart. They deliver a crushing low end that makes the entire tent vibrate, intertwined with wailing guitar solos and wild screamed vocals from Debbie Gough that really brings the entire thing together. There just isn’t a bad moment in this set and their popularity proves yet again that HERIOT is already prepared to move on to bigger and better things, instead of being stuck playing these morning sets.
JAMES AND THE COLD GUN – The Axiom
HERIOT is an extremely tough act to follow and today that task is left with JAMES AND THE COLD GUN. Luckily for them, the tent is already half full of festivalgoers trying to avoid the relentless sun that is beating down before midday. The band enter the stage to the KATE BUSH song that they take their name from and as soon as the song fades out, they are raring to go with the opener of their debut EP Seven. Frontman James Joseph, who is adorned with a rather fetching leopard print shirt, is a man of few words and instead lets their brand of punk speak for itself. Though he is tethered to the spot by a microphone, those moments where he doesn’t have to sing are spent exuding the same amount of energy as the rest of the band who seem to be throwing themselves around the stage with fervour. They are all just extremely happy to be there and this shines through in their performance, the lack of worry and abundance of joy that they each exude propelling them forward to one of their best performances of the year.
RAIDERS – The Cave
If Sean Smith isn’t the frontman of your band, then you are seriously doing something wrong. Formed by previous members of THE BLACKOUT, RAIDERS are a far more impressive band than the previous. They quite literally explode onto stage with I Still Function – a punchy track that provides them the perfect backing music for kicking off the carnage that will ensue. Before the song can even begin properly, Smith has left the stage to join the crowd that are eagerly awaiting to see what antics he and his feral personality will get up to, and with wasting no time he begins to climb the scaffolding in the centre of the tent like a bonafide gymnast all while carrying on his performance. And just because that’s not enough, he drags his microphone outside screaming and shouting, rolling all over the floor in an attempt to draw in those that are basking in the morning sun. It clearly works because by the time he’s up off the floor and has dusted himself off, the tent is full of people wondering what on earth is going on. After beginning a ‘walking circle pit’ Smith seems content enough to join the rest of his bandmates on stage and continue the set in a genuinely funny stand-up-esque riff about band names. Though the memories of THE BLACKOUT that many of us hold dear are beginning to dwindle, in their place stands this new offering RAIDERS. It is a much more exciting take on a harder, punk hardcore style that suits them and their energy so much more and does nothing but leave an impression on the audience.
ORCHARDS – The Axiom
Brighton trio ORCHARDS had a particularly cruel pandemic, as the March 2020 release date of their debut album Lovecore attests. They are keen to get all of this behind themselves, and give these songs of sunny melancholia the real spotlight that they deserve. Opener Sincerely Overwhelmed acts as a great summary of the ORCHARDS sound. Effects and smart arrangements turn Sam Rushton’s lead guitar into a multifaceted instrument, as suited for pop punk as it is for tropical house. Combine this with a tastefully understated rhythm section and the clean melodious voice of singer Lucy Evers, and you get a wonderfully catchy blend of alt-pop, reminiscent of a math-y twist on PARAMORE’s After Laughter record. Evers is a charismatic presence on stage and delivers the message of their music in such a positive, empowering way, that it’s impossible not to leave their set with a wide smile and a new lease of self-confidence.
SAINT AGNES – Main Stage
The Main Stage has hosted an eclectic mixture of artists so far this weekend and up next on the roster is SAINT AGNES. Their stage attire is always an interesting choice, no more so today than the all black aesthetic that each member is supporting, despite the warm weather. The fact that they can get through their set alone is something that should be commended. Sandwiched between bands THE VIRGINMARYS and ROAM, SAINT AGNES bring an interesting mixture of genres to 2000trees. They open their set with And They All Fall Down, a song that mixes nu-metal influences with the alternative rock style that is so prevalent with the bands this weekend. They are a lot more static than usual, but this doesn’t stop the audience from giving it their all. The peak of their half hour on stage comes in the form of a cover of THE PRODIGY’s Firestarter, which may seem to push them to their limits, but it works its magic to keep the crowd energized.
SALEM – The Axiom
SALEM’s set on The Axiom stage is the second performance of the weekend for half of the band’s members. Obviously, vocalist Will Gould performed on the Main Stage with CREEPER yesterday, but just a few hours previously drummer Jack Wrench had graced the same stage with JAMES AND THE COLD GUN – a decent birthday present for an extremely talented session drummer. It may not be their first rodeo at this festival, but all four members are treating this performance like it’s the last time they will ever perform. SALEM have an incredibly dedicated fanbase that have all seemed to show up for this set, filling the tent and then some. They have an infectious punk energy that is reminiscent of bands like BLITZKID and MISFITS, basing their imagery around horror. Their energy doesn’t dwindle, especially Gould’s who is jumping around the stage and jumping from riser-to-riser effortlessly. Though he may have to share the spotlight with an overly emotional and enthusiastic audience member that has crowd surfed their way over the barrier, he embraces it rather than shy away, proving why so many people worship this band and its members. In a few years, it wouldn’t shock us if this band are lumped into lists with those who pioneered the horror punk genre and credited with bringing it back to the mainstream.
ROAM – Main Stage
In one of their last appearances ever, ROAM graced the main stage to give us a helping of some classic pop-punk. They’ve drawn the short straw with their set timing today with the recently announced secret set by HECK playing at the exact same time. Despite this, they still manage to draw a decent crowd of adoring fans who no doubt want to be a little part of history in the audience of their last ever festival appearance. It’s evident that they are well aware of this fact with the amount of energy they put into their set, with frontman Alex Costello using up every inch of the stage in his attempts to rile the audience. This is an easy task purely because their music is so nostalgic. It takes cues from BLINLK-182 & SUM 41, evoking nostalgia from those classic feel-good pop-punk sounds we all know and love. This is one of those bands that are usually a festival staple, so it will be extremely sad to see them go but it’s always nice knowing that their last ever was an amazing performance by all.
HECK – The Cave
After calling it quits with a farewell set at sister festival ArcTanGent in 2017, Nottingham merchants of noise HECK return with a surprise set at 2000trees. The buzz has been noticeable since the previous day, and The Cave is packed to the rafters with people who want to see their notoriously unhinged show. And what a show it is… To put it bluntly, HECK are maniacs on the stage. Guitarists and co-vocalists Matt Reynolds and Johnny Hall spend more time crowdsurfing or suspended from the iron columns that prop up the tent, than with their two feet firmly grounded on the stage. A drum kit gets disassembled and reassembled in the middle of the pit. Microphones, guitars and cables swim in a primordial sea of limbs. Astonishingly, HECK still don’t miss a beat from their onslaught of math-y metallic hardcore and the whole thing sounds mostly coherent! It would be remiss not to shoutout HECK’s stage crew who make this whole thing possible without any unplugged instruments or major incidents – probably the hardest working people in the business. An absolutely off-the-scale, out-of-their-minds performance, leaving you to wonder – what the HECK did we just see?
THE HARA – NEU Stage
THE HARA is one of those bands that should stand out for every person that saw them this weekend. They don’t limit themselves by genre and instead choose to infuse drama and energy to create a set that feels more like a full show than half an hour of music. Lead singer Josh Taylor is a perfect frontman, with a flawless mixture of vocal talent and showmanship. He enters the stage donned in a fur lined cloak that matches the colour of his bright red hair and wastes no time in jumping up on to the speaker stack to get a better look at the audience. As if this wasn’t enough, the scaffolding would give a better view, so he chooses to climb that as well because, well, why not? This band are extremely theatrical, and every part of their performance is built on leaving a lasting impression on the audience. Their co-ordinated outfits do this, providing a striking sight that is extremely rare among bands today. This doesn’t last long though, as Taylor decides he is too hot and in true THE HARA fashion, he strips down to his underwear to complete the set. The theatrics themselves should make enough of an impact but THE HARA make sure to take it that step further that many artists aren’t willing to take.
KENNYHOOPLA – Main Stage
The Main Stage welcomes yet another new addition to its roster in the form of Kenneth La’ron – better known as KENNYHOOPLA. This is another one of those acts that feels like a full nostalgia trip of pop-punk music, bringing that sounds we’ve all missed right back to the forefront of festivals again. He carries exactly the same extreme energy that many other bands of the same genre do, immediately pumping his audience up. His band gives it a go before Kenny appears, but to little avail. Though this may be far from a hometown gig for him, Kenny lets his talent shine through and bursts onto stage carrying the energy of a toddler hopped upon E-numbers. In an industry where there are so many pop-punk solo vocalists get abuse on social media (some justified more than others), it’s nice to see one like Kenny get taken seriously and draw a crowd for all the right reasons.
BOSTON MANOR – Main Stage
As the heat of the day slowly builds, it’s obvious that the crowd’s energy is extremely sparse, but BOSTON MANOR won’t let this little fact stop them. With the glaring sun staring back at them, they manage to get the exhausted crowd moving again. Coming off a run of festivals in Europe, this would seem like a small task for the Blackpool five-piece, yet they seem to treat it as they would any other performance. Frontman Henry Cox wastes no time in starting a circle pit that spans all the way from the barrier to the sound desk, joking that it “feels like bloody PE”. Though there are some disgruntled audience members that are unhappy with the setlist – they chose to play newer songs like Passenger and Foxglove in replacement of their older songs like Laika – the vast majority are extremely enjoying themselves, none more so than the elderly gentleman that’s found himself on somebody’s shoulders for a vast majority of their set, which is something the band themselves are in awe at. BOSTON MANOR is one of those bands that you can always depend on playing an extremely good set, and today was no exception as they deliver one of the best sets of the weekend.
BOB VYLAN – NEU Stage
There will always be that one act at a festival that has been booked onto entirely the wrong size. This year, organisers have completely misjudged the size of BOB VYLAN’s fanbase and put them on the NEU Stage where the size of their audience completely outweighs the size of their tent. Vocalist Bobby is well aware of this and quips that they’ll be back next year on the Main Stage to those who are unable to actually see them. As much as this would be a major achievement for them, there is just something about having them in a tent that feels right. Their deeply political songs carry so much more meaning this weekend, as tracks I Heard You Want Your Country Back and England’s Ending deliver some deep cuts to the audience. Like many others this weekend, Bobby jumps at the opportunity to jump into the crowd and climb the scaffolding – there really is a running theme – and he makes sure to end their set in the now customary stage invasion that sees some of the rawest emotion of the entire weekend.
TURNSTILE – Main Stage
Hardcore heroes TURNSTILE have been on a meteoric upwards trajectory for some time, and a co-headline spot at 2000trees may seem to pale in comparison to their Glastonbury slot a few weeks prior. There are no signs of them taking it any less seriously though, as the Baltimore quintet break into the steady rhythm of MYSTERY. Riff follows riff and hit follows hit, as BREAKOUT, UNDERWATER BOI and DON’T PLAY are brought out in short succession. Frontman Brandon Yates is an magnetic and assured presence of the stage, not so much throwing himself about with wild abandon but rather suggesting to the crowds an ounce of movement which they feed off and amplify thousand-fold. On his right, bassist ‘Freaky’ Franz Lyons emanates infectiously good vibes, flashing the widest smile and waving at individual members of the crowd. He gets a special moment in the spotlight, singing the joyous NO SURPRISE which acts as a beautiful chance for everyone to look around and appreciate what they are witnessing (the sensuously melancholic ALIEN LOVE CALL later has a similar effect).
A tight hour-long set sees TURNSTILE perform 18 songs, including the majority of Glow On. T.L.C. (TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION) ends things on a simultaneously fierce and poignant point. Its lightning fast riffs spawns one last massive moshpit, while the outro (‘I want to thank you for letting me be myself’) echoes the t-shirt emblazoned with ‘THANK YOU’ across Yates’s chest – not sentimental, just conscious and appreciative of how far they’ve come and with whose support. Justifying their cosmic rise and why they are destined for even greater stages, TURNSTILE came, saw, and conquered.
PUP – The Axiom
Canadian punks PUP have been on a steady upwards rise, and their billing as second stage headliner and the size of the crowd gathered to see them reflects that. The grungy punk of opener Totally Fine sets the tone for the following hour of hard-hitting riffs and winning vocal hooks, delivered with the characteristic air of irony and self-deprecation. The setlist provides a well-rounded walk through PUP’s entire discography, with old favourites like Reservoir and Familiar Patterns causing spikes in the already ceaseless crowdsurfing. All three front-of-stage performers are as energetic as possible, considering they are playing instruments and hovering around their mic stands to deliver the group’s signature shout-alongs and harmonies, while drummer Zack Mykula provides unshakeable rhythm and also chips in with singing. With every word being sung back at them by a large portion of the crowd, it is clear that PUP are well beloved on these shores and have succeeded in delivering yet another memorable 2000trees set.
THRICE – Main Stage
“This is Vheissu“, proclaims frontman Dustin Kensrue, and it is the last time we hear his speaking voice until the end of the 11 songs that make up THRICE’s modern-day classic. First released in 2005, the album cemented their status as musically transcending the alternative and hardcore scenes they originated from. The repeated refrain of Image Of the Invisible is the perfect opener to get the crowd going, and there’s no stopping from there. The apocalyptic dual screams in The Earth Will Shake see a sea of necks move in unison, while the mournful piano of For Miles sends chills down the spine. Where Vheissu really shines is in showcasing the thoughtful, multi-dimensional talents that THRICE posses in composition and musicianship. Odd-time signatures break and restore order seamlessly, dual guitars flow in and out of harmony, vocal lines interweave to create a coherent whole. It’s those qualities that continue to make Vheissu as hauntingly beautiful more than 15 years and hundreds of listens on, and worthy of a live playthrough.
THRICE have always flown somewhat under the radar, and they draw a smaller crowd than their co-headliner, but what they lack in mass appeal they make up for in the really committed fans who sing back every word. After the cathartic release of Red Sky, the Californian quartet have time for a few choice cuts from their extensive discography. Black Honey and Hurricane off their 2016 post-hiatus record find the crowd singing back every word. It’s no THRICE gig without a couple of really early hits – The Artist in the Ambulance, and an encore of Deadbolt cause the biggest circle pit of the night. An album playthrough by a cult band is a bold choice for a festival headliner, and holding it as their own show might have felt like more of a celebration as a non-festival appearance, but it is nevertheless an ecstatic night for THRICE connoisseurs.
Saturday – July 9th
AVALANCHE PARTY – Main Stage
Opening the Main Stage on the final day of 2000trees are North Yorkshire’s AVALANCHE PARTY. Billing themselves as ‘feral garage punk’, they are certainly cooking up an eclectic concoction of sounds. Beyond the punky guitars, funky bass lines and driving 4/4 rhythms propel the songs forwards, layered by a 70s Moog and the occasional saxophone bringing in a lot of colour into the songs. Altogether the fusion recipe results in what it would sound like if KING CRIMSON, DEEP PURPLE and SEX PISTOLS went out for a spot of disco. Delightfully, their line-up is complemented by a man in double denim and shades who spends the entire set standing in front of the drum kit and looking slightly menacing. It is perplexing at first, but by the third song it is impossible to imagine him out of the picture. AVALANCHE PARTY’s blend of quirky psychedelia and garage rock lands well in the late morning sun, and it’s a shame that more people aren’t around to witness it.
CHERYM – NEU Stage
Derry queer pop-punk trio CHERYM are set apart not just by their message, but also how much craft and melody there is in the music. Songs are built on vocal hooks and glorious melodies that incorporate brilliant interplay of guitar and bass, frequently swapping the role of leading instrument and support. Kisses On My Cards sounds like a lost gem of 90s feminist grunge, while Take It Back is tailor-made for the soundtrack to a teenage comedy. All three band members harmonise, and their voices blend seamlessly in a unison that would sit comfortably on an early BEATLES record. Combine that with their winning stage banter and confident performance, and it’s difficult not to conclude that the Northern Irish group are the complete package. Smart, uncompromising and extremely catchy, CHERYM deserve to be on your radar.
LIZZY FARRALL – NEU Stage
British singer-songwriter LIZZY FARRALL and her backing band take over at the NEU Stage to present her honest brand of alternative pop-rock, showcasing cuts from her excellent 2020 debut Bruise. Barbados (which has racked up in excess of a million Spotify streams) is a masterclass in indie synthpop, and the electronic pop punk of Addict will easily get you addicted to its earworm of a chorus. Farrall has an expressive bright voice and a real confidence in her stage presentation, and though her music is on the lighter spectrum than most other bands, it doesn’t fail to stir up movement from the 2000trees crowd. For her final song, a costume change sees her shapeshift from an all-white outfit into a blood-stained devil clad in black. This is accompanied by a similar musical shift, with the brand new song that Farrall presents, an industrial rock track with heavier instrumentation than any of her prior songs. She sells the change in tone with conviction, signalling an exciting new direction for the songwriter, and rounding off an excellent showcase of her work.
ANGEL DU$T – Main Stage
In a sharp departure from the other acts that don the main stage today, we see ANGEL DU$T take to the stage. They open their set with the sombre Love Is The Greatest, frontman Justice Tripp seeming almost out of place with his angelic vocals and gold grill. The crowd seem almost confused by this opening, until they whiplash into the next track Toxic Boombox and treat us all to the hardcore punk we all know and love them for. They may not carry masses of energy, but they are still a tight band, choosing to perform well rather than energetically. They’re another one of those interesting choices for the festival but their music suits the summery weather and sunny skies perfectly, providing the soundtrack we are all craving.
NOVA TWINS – Main Stage
After the year that NOVA TWINS have had, it would be more of a shock if they hadn’t managed to draw a massive crowd for their set. The Main Stage area is heaving with adoring fans by the time their short soundcheck is completed, all clearly thrilled to see one of the UK’s most exciting acts right now. This band has persevered over the last few years so it’s only right that they are awarded with a primetime slot on the main stage at 2000trees. For the three members that are on stage, there is a lot of leftover space so bassist Georgia South and guitarist Amy Love take it into their own hands to use as much of it as they possibly can. They somehow manage to dance and jump around all while keeping perfectly in time and hitting every note. By their third song, Love is sick of the stage and instead decides to jump into the pit that has formed, standing directly in the centre of the chaos as she performs. If this crowd alone is an indication of the sort of attention they draw, it won’t be long before they are a lot higher up on the bill.
KNOCKED LOOSE – Main Stage
Carnage. That is the only word we can use to describe KNOCKED LOOSE. They bring the main stage crashing down with their own venomous brand of hardcore and shake up an otherwise mellow lineup. They are by far the heaviest band to grace any stage over this weekend and wear that badge with pride. Bryan Garris can barely get a word out before the pulsing crowd is a throng of mosh pits and crowd killing. Anything they request is done by their loyal audience. More crowd surfers? Consider it done – to the point where the security has to be doubled because they just can’t keep up with the chaos that is ensuing in front of them. Granted, it would have been fun to see them in an enclosed space that hardcore gigs are notorious for frequenting, but it’s so satisfying to see them on the main stage, breaking the norm for this festival. The brutality of this band is cemented even further into 2000trees history as they walk off stage at the end of their set and a bloke is stretchered off from behind the barrier in a neck brace. This fact alone validates their brutality.
MCLUSKY – The Axiom
Welsh purveyors of noisy post-hardcore MCLUSKY have been enjoying a great second chapter to their career, and plenty of people have gathered to witness the cult band. The doomy tones of You Should Be Ashamed, Sheamus and thick bass of Without MSG, I Am Nothing welcome them with a punishing sonic assault, and the ears which gratefully receive it. Frontman Andrew Falkous is as acerbically likeable as ever, and delivers some of the most memorable quips of the festival (“This next song has laxative properties, so be careful if you’re near the PA“) and generally wreaks havoc on his lungs. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of their classic Debbie Does Dallas, MCLUSKY perform most of the album along with a few choice cuts from the rest of their catalogue. The trio close with certified banger To Hell With Good Intentions, rounding out a set that proves there’s plenty of life in the old dog and justifies why IDLES later on shout them out as one of the most important British bands in recent history. MCLUSKY will be back at sister festival ArcTanGent in August.
CLT DRP – Forest Sessions
For a brief moment, the Clashfinder’s directions putting electro-punks CLT DRP at the Forest Sessions raises the almost unthinkable suggestion that they might be playing a stripped-down acoustic gig. This suspicion is quickly dissipated when the Brighton trio unleash their weapons arsenal of loudness in all its glory. Behind a control room of pedals and effects, guitarist Scott Reynolds does everything to his instrument other than make it sound like a traditional guitar. Vocalist Annie Dorrett controls the stage, belting out anthems of female liberation in her innovative narrative singing style. The abrasive dub of Speak To My makes the wooden boards of the Forest construction vibrate, while Ownership could only be described as RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE put through an intergalactic filter. A band that has to be experienced live to be appreciated fully, CLT DRP are destined for bigger stages
YOU ME AT SIX – Main Stage
In a move that shocks absolutely no-one, YOU ME AT SIX are the main support for the Main Stage. In all fairness to them, they are possibly one of the biggest UK exports and if their anniversary shows for 10 Years Of Sin are anything to go by, they are extremely deserving of this slot. Instead of focusing on this, the band have one aim and that is to play as many songs as possible that the audience will know – a task that they don’t take lightly. It’s pretty much the standard festival slot that they’ve been performing for years – making sure that Underdog, Loverboy and Bite My Tongue are all on there to satisfy even the most casual of their listeners. It may be unexciting, but it works, and they are one of those bands that you can always rely on to perform a solid set. They have no motive but to please the audience, and that is exactly what they do.
IDLES – Main Stage
By the time the final headliners are ready to take to the stage, it’s a wonder there is anyone in the audience left standing. It’s been a tough weekend full of sunburn and heatstroke but if the sheer amount of IDLES t-shirts that have been wandering around are anything to go by, this will be one of the most exciting sets of the weekend. After a slew of headline arena shows at the beginning of the year, a headline slot at a festival seemed like the natural progression for the band to take. They are more than capable of pulling it off, with a large catalogue of music to choose from, though they perform largely the same set that anyone who went to these shows would have seen. They open with the doom riddled Colossus that works its charm in getting everything started quickly. Joe Talbot orders the crowd to split in two and crash together, showcasing the energy that IDLES’ live shows are known for. Before the song can even finish the audience ends up sharing their space with guitarist Lee Kiernan, who decided to use them and the barrier as his stage.
They really are a crowd pleaser, with a sense of the unhinged about them that just does something to the crowd. The setlist itself is the perfect mixture of old and new, pulling everything out from Mother to Car Crash, with something to please every member of the audience. The place is pure chaos for an hour and a half, with crowd surfers and mosh pits utilising the space around them to really show their appreciation for one of the greatest punk bands in the world.
Words: Pavel Kondov, Megan Jenkins
Like 2000trees Festival on Facebook.