This year marked the tenth anniversary of 2000trees, as well as my third visit to the festival, and I have to say I think it was the best yet.
The line-up felt more varied with some stonking headliners to top it off and a slight change to the layout, which made it easier to avoid dreaded band clashes. 2000Trees prides itself on showing the full spectrum of rock music, from post hard-core to pop punk to folk – there is something for everyone – unless you like dance music.
It’s a festival that in past years felt a little like it was going the way of a mini Reading with copious amounts of drunken lads trying to impress each other, making the atmosphere feel a bit gross, but this year it was more relaxed and at ease.
Everything kicked off a little earlier and, after having the traditional tent building argument (which involved a broken zip and a lot of gaffa tape), I managed to catch some of the Oxygen Thief set which lightened my mood with the band’s discordant acoustic tunes mixed with rousing singalongs. For the rest of Thursday I floated between stages, catching great sets from Crazy Arm, whose country-esque folk punk tunes created a buzzing atmosphere in The Axiom tent, and Beans on Toast.
The special guest that night was Frank Turner, who has a huge following at 2000Trees, with a camp being named after him. Personally I find him quite bland and his performance this year did nothing to change my mind. The Bronx, however, were incredible – they brought the kind of energy to the stage that I have come to expect from this festival. What The Bronx do best are hard-core sing-alongs and there were plenty peppered throughout the set, with a highlight being History’s Stranglers.
With no silent disco on Thursday it was to bed complete with bruises from The Bronx pit and a buzz of excitement for the weekend ahead.
Friday morning came all too quickly and after the 6am painkiller/rehydration ritual and extra nap, I hung out at my tent and caught the first few bands at The Cave, before catching the Muncie Girls in the forest for a stripped down acoustic set. My personal Friday highlight was Tired Lion – a grungy Australian four-piece who delivered a confident set, with singer Sophie Hopes’ gruff voice powering over boisterous guitars, helping to head bang out the residual hangover that was still hanging over me.
On the other end of the scale was Non Canon – the solo project from Oxygen Thief’s Barry Dolan. His beautifully crafted acoustic tunes and self-conscious humorous lyrics were a welcome change to the hard-core heavy line up I’d listened to throughout the morning. For the rest of the day I wandered around catching parts of different sets and it quickly came time for the two headliners to take to the stage. Moose Blood have an incredibly loyal fan base and, standing on the outside of The Axiom, I could see how this band seems to give back to their fans tenfold. Whilst Twin Atlantic on the main stage had the singalong, stadium rock tunes that I could see becoming huge, and as the cold air of night drew in it was time for the long awaited silent disco.
Saturday was the main event, with a packed line-up of bands and Rufused as the headliners. 2000trees veterans St. Pierre Snake Invasion had been upgraded from The Cave to the Main Stage and they kicked of the morning in a way only they could, complete with 2L of whiskey, with new songs that really got the sleepy crowd moving and ready for the day ahead. Taking the energy down for mid-afternoon I found Ginger Wildheart in the forest using his guitar tech as a guitar strap and mixing a surprisingly bluesy set with a welcome touch of humour.
Performing on the main stage was alt-rock band ASH, who provided the flagging festivalgoers with a solid set of classics bookended with Girl from Mars and Burn Baby Burn. Then it was time for 17 year old me’s favourite band, SiKth. On my way over I could hear Mikey shouting from the cave “look at the sky”, getting the crowd ready for Skies Of Millennium Night, the textbook start to a solid set that got me back into the band within minutes.
After a dirty yet satisfying chicken burger I was finally ready for the headliners. In many ways Refused were the ideal way to end 2000trees. Although, as they rightly pointed out, Refused are neither new, independent nor British, but their turbulent past and huge middle finger to the man attitude suits the ethos of this festival perfectly. Front man Dennis Lyxzen was a mesmerising sight, creating a bigger frenzy from the crowd with each song he performed. Half way through their set a gazebo was crowd surfed, baffling the security guard as well as what seemed like a never ending queue of people. It’s this kind of punk that can still make you feel positive in these dark times; angry but hopeful at the possibility of people united against injustice.
Before the final song, Lyxzen made a speech about the need for feminism in the music industry and pointed out the lack of female talent on the bill, which audibly split the crowd (I was whooping like a mad thing and almost cried…). Then it was time to close the Main Stage down and get ourselves ready for the final silent disco – this time me and my fellow campmates mixed things up a bit and instead of going to The Cave for some nu metal and rock classics, we opted for some sickly pop and R&B classics that kept us moving until 3am.
So the tenth anniversary event was a booming success. 2000trees is a grassroots festival that seems to have really carved out its niche. It might be a small festival but it has big ideas and I look forward to seeing what the next ten years brings.