With its ninth year a roaring success, 2000trees is already looking toward next year – their tenth as a festival. But before plans progress to celebrations for their decade in the game, let’s take a look back at this year’s offering and the highlights it was so keen to produce.
What a wonderful weekend it was (and i’m not just saying that because the Glastonbury wood-fired pizza company chucked everything they had on my pizza once they’d run out of cheese…) When it was good it was good, but when it was great – fuck me, was it great. That’s not just from a music standpoint, either. Good food, cheap-ish bevvs and good company throughout. Along the way there were a selection of interviews too, with the lovely folk in Pulled Apart By Horses, WOAHNOWS, Allusondrugs and The Lion And The Wolf all getting involved.
Not long through the gates on Thursday afternoon, and with a tent precariously in place toward the main stage, our party made a break for The Cave stage and to the front for Birmingham trio &U&I. Just as they had been a year previous, &U&I were nothing but dominating. ‘The Stamp’, taken from their eagerly anticipated EP ‘Merci’ has become a staple of their live set these days, and it was certainly a welcome addition amongst tracks from their previous two releases. They very nearly stole the show again for the second year in a row, teasing the intro to Nickelback soft-lad anthem ‘Hero’ from one of those shit Spiderman films – a hilarious nod to their storming rendition of Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’ at last year’s 2000trees.
Later on that afternoon, Bristolian four-piece Turbowolf bought their special blend of party to Cheltenham, and the whole crowd subsequently turned into a giant pit. Playing a selection of screamers from their latest album ‘Two Hands’, they had the congregation in the palm of their hands. Always a highlight.
Friday morning got off to a good start with the combination of coffee, bacon and Plymouth trio WOAHNOWS at The Axiom stage. These guys are always a pleasure to watch, and it was good to see a packed tent greet their arrival. Their debut album ‘Understanding and Everything Else’ (which came out earlier this year through Big Scary Monsters) is such a sterling debut, and the songs sound just as fantastic live.
The festival debut of To The Wall was a real riot. Featuring ex-Blakfish/&U&I faithful Thom Peckett and Wiz joining up with ex-Shapes players Gavin Filmer and Steve bachelor, the result is…fucking heavy. An entirely different level of intensity to previous projects from all four, it’s exciting to catch these guys from the very beginning as a band. Deafeningly loud, I loved seeing former Shapes guitarist Steve back on stage, riffing away like a man possessed. If you missed it, Birthday Cake For Breakfast recently had the pleasure of debuting their very first single ‘Stockholm’, which you can check out for yourself here.
Disaster struck early on in the day, with Manchester duo Cleft having to abruptly pull out of their slot at The Cave following a backstage emergency. Thankfully, after a very nice gesture from the organisers, Cleft were able to move up to the main stage mid-afternoon. With a gigantic turnout to welcome their triumphant rise to the bigger stage, the kings of “turbo-prog” wasted no time in blowing the minds of all those in attendance. It’s great to see Cleft making appearances like this and grow bigger and bigger. It sure beats watching them play to four people in a freezing cold nightclub in Manchester…
With the heat beating down outside the tent, anticipation rose to fever pitch as Leeds juggernauts Pulled Apart By Horses took to The Cave stage to the familiar rumble ‘Hot Squash.’ With new drummer Tommy in tow, they played through a blistering set. ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’ was a surprising addition, and one which had the crowd acting accordingly – going ballistic. I’ve had the pleasure of catching PABH twice this summer (both times in the space of seven days, no less) and it’s always great to see them. Thanks to a days worth of drinking, I was proper pissed-up at that point too, so crowd-surfing joy was had. Delightful.
The Axiom got a lot of love over the weekend, featuring notably great stuff from Samoans and Great Cynics (though sadly, I was only able to catch a song or two of the latter.) It was particularly good to see the tent rammed for home-town kids Milk Teeth on Saturday afternoon. When I recently interviewed the band, drummer Olly confided “I’m usually the drunken mess every year at 2000trees…” He was easily one of the biggest highlights of their set, bringing insane levels of intensity to his performance. Constantly eyeballing people in the crowd and mouthing ‘What the fuck are you looking at?’ – he was on another level. With the crowd showing huge amounts of appreciation, Milk Teeth absolutely slayed – even getting to perform an impromptu “encore” after their set was almost cut short.
Whilst The Croft stage didn’t receive perhaps the same level of attention as The Cave and The Axiom, there were still various highlights from that stage dotted throughout the weekend. Thursday evening had comedy from Progress Wrestling’s Jim Smallman, who regaled a pissed-up crowd with stories from the wrestling world and elsewhere.
On the music side of things, Emperor Yes and Jurassic Pop provided some superb vibes on Friday and Saturday respectively. Emperor Yes are always a highlight whenever I get the chance to see them, and their appearance here was no different. Jurassic Pop (the brainchild of Alcopop! Records head honcho Jack) were a fine hangover accompaniment, as we lounged in the sun drinking much needed coffee. Who can argue with a set featuring an impromptu round of official Jurassic Park trading card swaps between the crowd and Jack, a crowd surfing dinosaur and an Ace of Base inspired song about murderous raptors?
Two major highlights that still linger in the memory occurred on the main stage Saturday afternoon. Birthday Cake For Breakfast favourites And So I Watch You From Afar and The Xcerts put on near perfect festival performances.
Mid-afternoon, The Xcerts took to the stage and put on a masterful performance. I bumped into half of the Samoans crew in amongst the crowd, and myself and bassist Calvin were in total agreement – The latest Xcerts album is just wonderful. They played through quite a few numbers from ‘There Is Only You’, with the utter pop smash ‘Shaking In The Water’ making the hairs on the back of my neck stand REIGHT UP. The real clincher came when bass player Jordan and drummer Tom left the stage to just Murray and his guitar. Standing alone on stage, Murray looked out across the vast crowd and poured his heart out on a wonderful rendition of ‘Aberdeen 1987’ (slightly marred by a pack of lads near us who wouldn’t shut up…)
Over the past year or so, And So I Watch You From Afar have cemented themselves as firm favourites at Birthday Cake For breakfast headquarters. Their appearance at 2000trees this year was one that could not be missed, and so it was a great delight to find ourselves at the barrier for their arrival on the main stage. Whilst I was slightly disappointed to not hear the brilliant ‘These Secret Kings I Know’ from latest album ‘Heirs’, the two tracks that bookend it on their new album sounded mighty. ‘Run Home’ and ‘Wasps’ fit in exceedingly well with their work from previous albums, with the big hits from each getting a good showing during their set (I was reliably informed that we were treated to two tracks from each album!) Their stage presence is just so wonderful live, and i always marvel at their playing, given the complexity of it. ‘Set Guitars To Kill’ created a surge forward from what was a reasonably docile crowd, with final track ‘The Voiceless’ setting everybody off. What a band.
2000trees is a wonderful festival. Second time on the bounce for Birthday Cake For Breakfast, and I can’t see it not becoming a tradition. Line-up wise, this year’s featured some truly great stuff and the weekend was laugh a minute.
Great crew, great bands, great fun. Same time again next year, yeah?