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2000 Trees Festival 2014 Roundup: Day 3 (Saturday) – Part 2

 
By on Friday, 8th August 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

The first half of John’s Saturday coverage of 2000 Trees 2014 is here.

During Blitz Kids’ set earlier in the day, gradually the Main Stage arena was populated by people in fancy dress. The theme for the weekend was ‘The Box Set’. So we’re talking, Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, Jon Snow, Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin and Doctor Who. You get the picture.

The prizes were for the best individual fancy dress costume and the best group one. Now, my favourite group costume was undoubtedly a group of people with black painted beards and moustaches. They had black feathery long cloaks and carried staffs. I’m hearing you; they were most definitely Brothers of the Knight’s Watch. Surely in this year of Game of Thrones’ Mania, they couldn’t be anything else!? WRONG.

This cast of ten were dressed as Raven, the children’s game show host from the TV show Raven. Ya know, that TV show that was on a good 5 years ago and nobody has the foggiest clue what it is anymore. That. What made it even funnier is that NOBODY had any idea what Raven was and kept on saying they were Brothers of the Knight’s Watch, which just added to their frustration. Add to that the fact that it was hotter than Satan’s armpit, and they were wearing full leather and feather costumes, and you had a concoction for sweatiness.

In the end, despite their efforts, the Ravens didn’t win. They were defeated by six people who had quite literally come as box sets: seasons one to six of Lost. A stellar effort if you ask me. In the individual category, the winner was a Game of Thrones-ite, somebody dressed as Rob Snow, pre-Red Wedding…

Luckily, he was in the tent next to us too.

Its little annual quirks like this – the fancy dress competition and things like Camp Turner and Reuben – which make 2000 Trees a festival like no other. It’s got an unmatchable sense of personality and from the moment you step on the fields of Upcote Farm, it’s obvious that the people who came together to run the festival, were people who really give a shit about music festivals. What makes it even more spectacular is that the festival seems to attract people who are willing to get in on this utopic ideology. The best example of this was probably found just after the fancy dress contest, when I was walking away from the Main Stage in-between Blitz Kids and Canterbury for a drink.

The floor was completely clear. Not a fleck of rubbish on the ground – no cups, no wooden cutlery, no discarded noodles. Just freshly trodden on grass with the occasional welly print. On the final day of a festival, it’s frankly unheard of outside of Upcote Farm for this to be the case. Small things that make a big difference in my eyes.

Back to the bands and next up on the Main Stage were Canterbury. A group of four lads who obviously were very well liked by their head teacher at school, seeing as that could be the only way they’ve been let out of school so early. Either that, or god forbid they’d actually finished school? No way, they looked like they’d barely hit puberty!

Now I’ve heard a few of their songs on Spotify and been impressed, as they were catchy and seemed like a solid guitar band. Unfortunately, their set at 2000 Trees was underwhelming; even with lukewarm expectations, it was instantly forgettable, like a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist. (4/10)

After such a mediocre set on the Main Stage I made my first pilgrimage (300 yard walk) to The Axiom, which serves as 2000 Trees’ third stage. The last time I was lucky enough to bear witness to the ferocity of The Virginmarys was at Reading Festival last year.

Bizarrely, while on the Axiom Stage, the band were wearing almost identical outfits to the ones I saw them wear at Reading. Weird, I know. My first thought was, I hope they’ve been washed, before the threesome tore into their opening barrage. Their set was a breathtaking mix of catchy faux-Americana guitar music and frantic riffs that captivated the ever-growing crowd from the first moment.

Young girls of around 15 were dancing with their flower crowns in their hair, while aged retainers with Virginmarys t-shirts head-banged frantically over the railings at the front of the crowd. Drummer Danny Dolan dominated the stage with his enormous form at the back of the troupe, pummelling the kit like a man possessed and getting to his feet to completely punish the skins with his sticks.

Ally Dickaty’s rasping tones are the perfect front to this incredibly genuine Macclesfield rock band, and their debut album ‘King of Conflict’ is undoubtedly just the beginning of a very special journey for the band, one that continued in tremendous form at 2000 Trees, marking them out as one of the best acts of the weekend. (9/10)

After a brief food related interlude we returned to the fray for something the 2000 Trees audience have been waiting for, for possibly 7 years. Every year when Trees ask their numerous forums and social media outlets who should play at the festival, the cry is for a Reuben reunion. The cult-following of the 2000 Trees faithful is so powerful, so fanatic that there’s even a camp named after the now-deceased gods of underground post-hardcore.

While the band do still remain in a state of indefinite hiatus, the fact Jamie Lenman, the moustachioed frontman of the band, was gearing up for his appearance on The Cave was enough to pack the tent out, so that bodies were overflowing into the campsites. On record, Lenman’s eclectic mix of hardcore screams and then a separate album of lightly woven lovelorn ballads is admittedly a bit bizarre. However, live and with an audience worshipping his every breath, fart and most-likely bowel movements, it was always going to be a triumphant Upcote Farm debut for Lenman.

The crowd hung on every last syllable uttered by the moustachioed troubadour, whether he was screaming himself hoarse or spinning another ballad the he held the crowd within the palm of his hand from start to finish, standing on stage in his dungarees, sweating buckets in the warm red lights that illuminated The Cave. (9/10)

Closing the day’s festivities and the entire event, were the enigmatic Frightened Rabbit, a band who I don’t pretend to know anything about, apart from the fact they’re Scottish. With the serene settings and the great oak overlooking the stage, the band unleashed a set almost tailor-made for this faux-hippy festival. Part folk, part rock and with lead singer Scott Hutchison obviously humbled by the warm reception he received from the 2000 Trees crowd they brought the proverbial curtain down with enigmatic style. (8/10)

 

2000 Trees Festival 2014 Roundup: Day 3 (Saturday) – Part 1

 
By on Thursday, 7th August 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

John’s other coverage of 2000 Trees in 2014 is here.

The final day of music at any festival is a catastrophe of decisions – do you pack up early so you can cheese it as soon as the final band of the day leaves the stage? Or perhaps you get so wasted that your friend is forced into driving the first leg away, while you nap and slowly wee yourself in the back seat? Or maybe you have a sober day, sleep in your tent and sneak of in the early hours of the morning so you don’t have to say goodbye to the associated band of brothers you’ve collected around your pitch?

I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s enough to drive a sane man completely off his rocker in a bad way. With the proverbial dilemma whirling around my head, I decided the best way to banish the thoughts to my head was with some loud music.

Opening the Main Stage for the Saturday were Essex six-piece The Dead Formats – a band I hadn’t heard of, but ended up being pleasantly surprised by. I’m always suspicious of a band that turns out with dual vocalists; my mind always goes immediately to the image of two guys with equally inadequate vocal ranges, battling against each other and in the end sounding like a bit of a mess.

Luckily, The Dead Formats had two incredibly talented geezers behind the microphone and immediately made an impact with their ‘80s punk inspired tunes. They’re a band still finding their feet on a big stage, as every member looked palpably nervous with the prospect of playing to such a wide expanse. They grew into the set though and eventually had people shaking off their early morning grogginess at the front of the pit. (7/10)

Regrettably after a strong opening, I moved back to The Cave to check out the highly fancied, but inexplicably named &U&I. The Birmingham-born threesome had little to endear them to the crowd from the beginning. The songs were entirely forgettable and tended to blend horribly into one after their 30-minute set had concluded, in a flurry of riffs and yelps. (4/10)

It was a move from surprising disappointment, to astonishing shock when I came back to the Main Stage to get a look at Nathan Connolly of Snow Patrol fame and his new supergroup Little Matador (pictured at top at another gig in 2013). On stage they look like a group of grizzled veterans, not in an Expendables 3 way, but in the way you’d want a supergroup to be. They had an air of control over the crowd from the start, without really doing much at all.

Connolly has immense stage presence and immediately commanded the gathering crowd to his will, blasting out some groovy, almost sleaze-rock. There was no rubbish in their set, no waste, no gimmicks. Just a group of grizzled rock troupers with guitars, bass and drums going hell-bent for leather to give the crowd something to bang their head to. I hope they don’t get swept away in the whole “he was in Snow Patrol, so they cannot be truly rock” argument, because nothing is further from the truth. Arguably, Connolly’s experience in the band has honed him into the man who dominated the Main Stage at Upcote Farm. (8/10)

With Kids in Glass Houses bowing out this year and having played 2000 Trees the day before, there is an opening in the UK for a lively pop-punky You Me at Six lite. Enter Blitz Kids, the heirs apparent to the throne that the Kids will be vacating in October. They’ve got all the needed credentials as a group of four good-looking young lads in baggy vests, gallivanting around the stage like nobody’s business!

They’ve got the tunes to back up the look, though: set closer ‘On My Own’ provoked one of the biggest mass sing-alongs of the weekend, whilst ‘Never Die’ inspired an excitable reaction from the gathered group of teenage girls and young blokes with poorly finished sleeve tattoos. Frontman Jono Yates has got some great on-stage banter to back up his excellent form on Twitter, and mid-way through Saturday, they pulled out one of the sets of the weekend. On Facebook they describe themselves as “4 best mates making music for the love of it”, and the set they pulled out certainly made it look like that. These boys are going to get very big very quickly – perhaps the Kids in Glass Houses’ throne isn’t big enough? (8/10)

Stay tuned for the conclusion of John’s coverage of 2000 Trees – including results of the fancy dress contest! – tomorrow.

 

2000 Trees Festival 2014 Roundup: Day 2 (Friday) – Part 2

 
By on Tuesday, 29th July 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

The first half of John’s Friday coverage of 2000 Trees 2014 is here.

Following up from Itch, were a three-piece described by my camp next-door neighbours as “his new favourite band of the last year and a half”. Arcane Roots, have undergone an extraordinary rise through the ranks of British rock, to become one of the most well thought of bands in the UK at the moment. They’ve toured with the likes of Muse and Biffy Clyro and seem to be taking the same path as the Scottish behemoths of rock. Building an underground following with complex riffery, high-pitched screamery and dreamy beardery, they’re only a ‘Puzzle’ away from exploding onto the world scene in a big way.

At Upcote Farm, they opened with their newest standalone single ‘Over and Over’ and immediately began about dominating the vast stage, by swinging themselves around as they picked away. On the times I’ve seen Arcane Roots they’ve always opened with ‘Energy is Never Lost, Just Redirected’, which has a slow build up and normally has the crowd bursting with energy when the riff drops,. However in this shorter festival set, there were a few changes which meant the set as a whole was less fluid then in the past.

Still, the delivery from the three-piece was frenetic and superb and left a lot of the crowd joining in with my neighbour. “They’re my new favourite band! I’m going to download their back catalogue when I get home.” Success. (7/10)

I was surprised by this next act. Mainly due to the fact I forgot they were still a functioning entity, after being dropped by their label. But low and behold You Me at Six-lite… I mean Kids in Glass Houses strode onto stage as if not a year had passed since ‘Give Me What I Want’ had been the anthem(ish) of the year.

It was a joyful last hurrah from the Kids, seeing as they are ready to embark upon their farewell tour after 11 or so years of peddling pop-punk. The songs were catchy and poppy enough to sing along to, especially if you were one of the 1,000 girls clad in denim shorts that just aren’t big enough for you. Some of the older rock purists gathered around me near the sound desk scoffed at the lovelorn tales of teenage angst. I suppose Kids in Glass Houses are a generational thing.

But, to anybody who was looking for a shameless good time, as well as a little dance in front of the Main Stage the Welsh five-piece were exactly what the doctor ordered. Songs like ‘Undercover Lover’ may sound like they’ve been ripped from a High School Musical soundtrack, but in the Gloucestershire sunshine they proved popular. I won’t be one to shed a tear when the group say their final good byes, but after their bouncing, peppy 2000 Trees set, I certainly won’t be saying ‘good riddance’. (7/10)

From preppy, plucky, pop-punk plush to sweaty, sweary screamcore. Everybody in The Cave knew they were in for an ear battering from Trash Talk’s Lee Spielman. Having seen them for the first time only a week previously at Sonisphere, I knew unless I wanted to be caught up in a swirling mass of enforced circle pits, I should stand a good distance to the back of the circus tent which formed The Cave.

From the moment the four-piece arrived on stage the crowd were battered by wave after wave of short, sharp bursts of sound. Trash Talk aren’t the type to mess about and frontman Spielman isn’t the kind of man who enjoys the confines of a stage. No, he’s far more at home amongst the crowd, inciting violence at any opportunity and giving any punter a go with the microphone. (8/10)

Back at the Main Stage, Blood Red Shoes provided one of the most memorable sets of the weekend for two reasons. Firstly, for the fact that as a live outfit, the twosome are a superb band, with a great set of DIY credentials and a fast paced live show like none other. The other reason being that Laura-Mary Carter took offence (for good reason) with a fan in the crowd who looked like he was giving the band the Vs for the entire set. Not cool. Not cool at all and although I hate the word vibe, completely out of touch with the festival’s extremely friendly vibe. Carter midway through the set looked up, pointed in the crowd and told the offending gentleman that he was a “wanker” and he could “fuck off”. The only problem with that being, that pointing out from the Main Stage, half the crowd thought she was pointing at them and looked horror-struck at the accusations.

Unpleasantness aside, it’s no surprise that in the programme the Trees organisers claimed they’ve been trying to get Blood Red Shoes for a number of years. They’re still young, they’re innovative and even after 10 years of touring, they’re still one of the bands championing good, honest British rock music.

Drawing from their immense back catalogue and partly from their most recent self-titled album, the duo roared through an lively hour-long set where the band failed to miss a note. Steven Ansell played the drums like a man possessed and held no quarter when smashing two shades of shit out of the kit at times. Carter, fired up with rage, stomped around the stage like a rock goddess, full of fury and presence. (9/10)

Now, I had some reservations when I saw Band of Skulls (pictured at top) as the headline act on the bill. They put on a superb live show, of that there is no doubt. But do they have enough big tunes to close a festival? Even a small festival like 2000 Trees? How wrong I was proved over their hour and half set.

At quarter to 9 when the three-piece strode on stage, the light was just leaving the sky and the immense canopy behind the Main Stage was lighting up magnificently, showcasing all of the beauty I’d come to expect from the Upcote Farm stage.

Despite the glorious scenery around the stage, it was what was happening right in the middle of it all which held be captivated. Matt Hayward on the drums put in arguably one of the most perfect drumming performances that I’ve ever seen. The power behind every beat was insurmountable and sent a wave of bass across the small arena. It’s a good job Upcote Farm is out of the city, as if Hayward was smashing away at that time at Reading Festival, he’d have sent the entire population barmy with sleep deprivation. Hayward’s immense showing on the drums was matched by the marauding presence of bassist Emma Richardson, who strut about the stage like a giant. Finishing it all off was Russell Marsden, who took every opportunity to thank the ever-appreciative 2000 Trees crowd, who loved every second of the set.

I thought it was a risk playing their most well-known anthem ‘I Know What I Am’ early on in the set, but as a live outfit ‘You’re Not Pretty But You Got It Going On’ and ‘Death by Diamonds and Pearls’ were given a revitalisation and pumped out of the speakers with a ferocity which caused the Trees crowd to get worked up into a frenzy.

Every song had an enormous stomping beat to it and a singalong chorus to boot. The perfect end, to a superb day of British music – and undoubtedly unearthing headline talent of the future. (10/10)

Enjoying TGTF’s coverage of 2000 Trees 2014? More of John’s reports will post soon.

 

2000 Trees Festival 2014 Roundup: Day 2 (Friday) – Part 1

 
By on Monday, 28th July 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

The concept of a lie-in at a festival is a flawed ideal. That was my initial discovery as I scraped myself of the floor of my tent – unsticking my back from the plastic ground sheet after all the sweat had caused the tent and I to have become moulded together in some unholy union. The problem being that on a beautiful summer’s morning – like the one every 2000 Trees reveller woke up to on the Friday morning – tents effectively become mini-greenhouses, where huddled safely in your sleeping bag, you become a pig roasting in a blanket. But far less delicious. 2000 Trees frowns upon acts of cannibalism.

Once I’d extracted myself from the pressure cooked vacuum that was my tent, I staggered towards the nearest vender and bought something palatable enough to be called food. I think they were churros. Questionable food selection aside, my early mid-morning stagger brought me to the Main Stage. Overlooked by the canopy of some beautiful oak trees the Main Stage at 2000 Trees is mightily impressive (especially at night when the aforementioned canopy is lit up), the stage is around the same size as the Other Stage at Glastonbury if you’re looking for a worthwhile comparison.

First up were a band I had planned to get stuck into, Emp!re. Partly because I enjoyed them on record and thought they were underwhelming supporting Arcane Roots at XOYO a few months back. But mainly because our camp next door neighbours all had Emp!re tattoos and one of them was the lead singer’s girlfriend (despite how camp Joe Green is, he is most definitely straight), so they would probably have beaten me up if I’d missed them.

To my delight, Emp!re were the polar opposite of the band I laid eyes upon in the clammy confines of XOYO. Gallivanting around the stage with hands flailing everywhere, Joe Green was a bastion of enthusiasm, even at midday. The perfect cure for any badgers cider induced hangover if you spent too much time last night propping up the Big Lebowski Bar. The set had all the hallmarks of a classic: James L’Esteve, Dave Thomas and Jon Tupper all looked as up for it as you could be on the first day of a festival. Revellers even laid down their swing ball bats as they were entranced by the siren like yelps of Joe Green from atop the Main Stage.

Green’s maturity as a frontman has come on in leaps and bounds in the past few months and while there was some witty impromptu banter – interspersed with gasps for air – Green let the solid tunes in Emp!re’s arsenal do the talking. Understandably due to obvious factors, Green will always draw comparisons with Skindred’s Benji Webbe, but little could be further from the actual truth. The two are as similar as the Queen and Kim Jong-Il. (8/10)

From an energetic lively frontman, bursting with charisma and charm – to an utterly charmless carbon copy of any indie band doing the rounds at the moment, next up were Natives. Showing about as much presence on stage as a sack of potatoes, Natives chugged through a disappointingly lazy and predictable set, which showcased absolutely none of the reasons why they’ve been touted as potential stars of 2014.

The songs were utterly forgettable and the crowd had absolutely no time for it, as vast swathes of the crowd which had gathered for Emp!re trudged their way back to The Cave, disappointed and unfulfilled. (3/10)

Luckily, we were treated on the Main Stage to the polar opposite of Natives, Slaves. Two men, a pair of drums and a guitar.
• D.I.Y credentials, check.
• Punky sense of energy, check.
• Ability to not give a shit how they sound, check.

The Main Stage was in for a pounding.

Slaves provided arguably the soundtrack for the first true day of the festival. ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’ is a song which Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent say was inspired by a time “when they were walking through a forest and looking for a car with a girl named Debbie”. The gloriously simple songwriting, with a touch of ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’-esque suspense in the middle makes for a huge tune that every member of the crowd loved.

The impact of the entire set was obvious, seeing as afterwards everyone around the Main Stage was still shouting, ‘where’s your car Debbie!’. A superb slab of DIY punk, delivered with no bollocks, no pomp, just passion. (8/10)

From the most underdressed punks, to a motley crew of overdressed punks in the form of The Computers. Once purveyors of brutal garage punk, their last album ‘Love Triangles Hate Squares’ was dripping with soul. It was left-field that’s for sure, but with catchy toe-tappingly jazzy tracks like ‘Bring Me the Head of a Hipster’ littering the record and Alex Kershaw’s effervescent sense of exuberance, the set was bound to turn a lot of heads at Trees.

Drawing primarily from their most recent album, the band tore through a frantic set. The funky, soul styling Computers were going for a mid-afternoon set that went down a storm as oldies and young’uns alike got themselves swinging. The crescendo was a glorious ‘Wall of Death’ orchestrated by Kershaw, which saw the lead singer screaming his lungs out in the middle as a torrent of a thousand people crashed in from both sides. If you want evidence of how it looked, take a gander this live footage filmed from a safe distance away. ‘Oh My Soul!’ (9/10)

Next up was Itch (pictured at top) of former The King Blues’ fame, who is cutting his teeth as a solo artist now. In 2009 the full band went down as one of the weekend’ highlights, so it was a shame that on one of his returns, as a solo artist Itch managed to provide one of the more lacklustre performances of the weekend.

Flanked by a creepy backing singer in a creepy crying baby mask – who to my view was androgynous in gender – Itch strutted around stage lazily, blurting out songs with some kind of lightly-veiled political sentiment. In reality, in the baking summer heat after the aural assault of The Computers, all people wanted to do was dance. Instead they were treated to a lethargic journey through the increasingly twisted psyche of Jonathan Fox.

In some instances, when his backing singer kicked in with an overly autotuned interlude, it felt like I was listening to the next in the conveyor belt of BBC Radio 1 rap stars, not the best new and underground British music. I wasn’t coming to watch Itch to see a Professor Green wannabe; I wanted something with an edge, something with a little venom. Regrettably though, it was a performance from one of 2000 Trees favoured sons that should most certainly be forgotten by both crowd and performer. (4/10)

More of John’s coverage of 2000 Trees 2014 will continue soon on TGTF.

 

2000 Trees Festival 2014 Roundup: Day 1

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd July 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

Small, intimate festivals are as common as poorly thought out Ed Sheeran being named most important act in black and urban music jokes.

They’re quite literally ten a penny. If that penny was actually £150…

So finding a festival which has sprung from the humblest beginnings, with a purpose and a drive that is simply the sheer love of music is relatively pleasing. 2000 Trees is a festival with an immense amount of heart and started by six mates who became disillusioned with the mainstream festival circuit. They were sick to death of the over-inflated ticket prices, the overzealous commercialism and the alienated feel they left with. With a Glastonbury ticket setting you back £210, with the addition of some nonsensical booking fee that is rising at a rate comparable to the rise of Isis, it’s understandable that some people would become disillusioned. But instead of moaning about it, the lads got together in 2007 and started 2000 Trees Festival at Upcote Farm.

In its eighth year, the festival opened its doors to a maximum 5,000 people to keep things at an intimate level, and with the mantra to showcase the best in new, unsigned and underground UK bands. This year was no exception. Thursday was for the early birds and those who had cunningly booked the time off work shortly after 2000 Trees 2013 closed the gates.

For those lucky enough to have pitched up at glorious Upcote Farm on the Thursday, like myself, you would have been treated to the talents of Bristol singer/songwriter Oxygen Thief and Reading’s Ben Marwood. These acts were playing on Trees’ second stage, which a few years ago was named by fans of the festival as The Cave. The first band I got to lay eyes upon after snaking along Gloucestershire’s whirling winding country roads were Johnny Foreigner, who provided the kind of aural assault that my mind needed to forget about all the speed cameras I’d raced past with no regard for country lane speed limits.

The following 45 minutes preceded to be a jarring wave of punk-y energy, interspersed with the odd yelp from Alexei Berrow and Kelly Southern. After twelve songs, all dripping with the anti-establishment edge the band are going for Berrow cut a figure as the sweatiest man in the South of England. Possibly even the world. Berrow held no quarters as he threw himself entirely into the feel of the festival: from set-opener ‘You Can Do Better’ to the final screeches of ‘The Coast Was Always Clear’, it was a glut of anarchic energy from onstage, which is bound to get the band noticed in the next year.

For Berrow and co.’s unreserved abundance of dynamism on stage, he was rewarded with a warm seal of approval and what certainly will add up to an invite back to the farm at a more popular slot. (8/10) They rarely forget a friend here at Trees.

Johnny Foreigner’s set focussed on a sense of anarchy, whirling the crowd into a frenzy. Gnarwolves capitalised on the palpable energy throbbing from within The Cave. The first mosh pits of the weekend were extremely kind during their set, with kids pussy-footing around, bouncing up and down with wide smiles plastered across their faces. When Gnarwolves stepped up, it signalled the end of this for the foreseeable future. Elbows were flying and every man with one of those stupid bushy hipster beards immediately threw themselves into the fray to try an impress the nearest girl in short denim shorts with a display of testosterone and violence. No, Gnarwolves playing did not induce time travel, it’s just what happens when a cool skate-punk band starts roaring about how ‘Smoking Kills’.

What the Brighton based three-piece did induce, apart from the first primal displays of viciousness of the festival, was a few roaring singalongs and a big hype around one off the up and coming talents of the scene at the moment. Not only do they have a wicked cool name, but in The Cave they displayed some big tunes with a lot of pop-punk heart and just enough nautical references to differentiate them from less brutal bands like Four Year Strong. Congrats lads, now lose the gash beards. (8/10)

Headlining the Thursday evening entertainment was Dan Le Sac (pictured at top) vs. Scroobius Pip. Quick breakdown: despite the vs. in the title, nobody had a fight. Which is a shame, as I think ole Scroob could probably have the midget DJ that is Dan Le Sac, for then he’d earn twice the money (available for representation soon).

The set was a change of pace from the previous two acts though, as there was neither a guitar nor a drum kit in site. Just a man with a comical shark hat on his head (Mr. Le Sac) and a taller gentleman with one of those hipster beards – but he had one before everyone did – so he can get away with that one. I was expecting a really lively set, as Scroobius has cut a name for himself as a superb showman -the British answer to Aesop Rock or Andre 300’. Instead, it was a bit flat.

The set relied on at least a modicum of the audience knowing the lyrics to more than just one of his songs, to give it all a bit more life. With this not being the case, Scroobius ended up cutting a rather lonely figure bouncing around the small stage, as Dan Le Sac laid down the beats. For the songs where there was a bit of a call and repeat, Scroobius’ showmanship shone through and he gave the farm another taste (he headlined 2 years ago) of the kind of live show people have become accustomed to from the Essex-made rapper. (6/10)

As Dan Le Sac skipped off stage the festivities for the evening did not end there. Unless you were one of those boring old farts who almost went to bed like me.

Around the campsites – from Camp Reuben to Camp Turner – small guerrilla-style acoustic stages came to life. Singalongs ensued and even the smallest, least well-known singer-songwriter drew in sizable crowds, and enough to get a fun vibe going on. The highlight for me was on 2000 Trees’ central busking stage, where Patrick Craig delivered a collection of songs with an immense sense of heart. It was no surprise that a crowd of nearly 300 people huddled around in the small stage in the cold, as Craig passed round an empty Coke bottle full of wine. There was an immense of community right there, and the kind of vibe (god, I hate that word, but it’s the only one for the job) that epitomised what 2000 Trees is all about.

Stay tuned for more of John’s 2000 Trees coverage on TGTF soon.

 

Preview: 2000 Trees Festival 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 4th March 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Prepare to embrace mother earth: I’m talking grabbing her by the grass skirt, jumping in a big muddy puddle and rolling around until you smell a bit compost-y. Sound like your cup of herbal tea? Get yourself heading down south then, to the land of propa’ cider, tractors and a host of other rural clichés – as 2000 Trees (10-12 July) returns to Upcote Farm in Cheltenham.

Established in 2007, the organisers’ mantra was to ensure they didn’t become everything they had grown to hate – this being the corporate commercial entities which they believed most modern festivals had become – the corporate sponsorships and ‘supposed soullessness’ of most major UK festivals. To do so they’ve kept their event true to its now deeply dug roots:
• Maximum 5,000 people
• Locally produced food and drink
• Friendly atmosphere
• A commitment to stay get as close to carbon neutrality as is humanly possible.

With these cornerstones of the festival set, the rest of the weekend is of course focussed on the best live bands available – with every act being personally approved and vetted by the bookings team before being added to the bill. The fruits of this stringent and possibly unique selection process are an eclectic mix, bringing to Cheltenham some of the most exciting live acts doing the rounds at the moment, from a plethora of genres, folk to funk, rock to rap.

Such is the nature of 2000 Trees line-up, that if you were to put a poster up on the wall, throw a dart at the line-up then throw it again, the artist or band it lands on would bear no similarity to the other. While some festivals may target a specific genre a la Download, Sonisphere, etc., 2000 Trees really does cater for most.

Highlights of the bill have to be led by Public Service Broadcasting (pictured at top) – a band whose live show is best described as an aural assault of post-rock goodness, with smatterings of wartime announcements and Chemical Brothers-ish synths.

Since Trees’ inception, Upcote Farm has been a clamour for a Reuben reunion and a performance from the boys – since that doesn’t seem like it’s coming around the corner anytime soon – ex-Reuben man Jamie Lenman will have to do. Bringing with him an almost cult following, his new groove metal album ‘Muscle Memory’ fully showcases the artists immense creativity and eccentricity.

Prog-rockers Tall Ships are also on the bill and are an act not to be missed. Mixing a huge heavy sound with a distinctly minimalist approach, and in this creating a truly unique live experience. One of my favourites Arcane Roots will be appearing across the weekend too, alongside a favourite at the festival – Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – I mean, who won’t lose all of their shit to ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’, yeah?

To book tickets and get all the nitty gritty details, visit the official 2000 Trees Web site.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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