Ok, let’s get this out of the way, early doors, it is hard for us to be unbiased about 2000 trees, as it is undoubtedly one of our favourite festivals. It is what we would call a proper music festival, they keep it simple and cool. The tickets are comparatively very cheap, you can take your own drink, plenty of camping space and most importantly it books loads of brilliant bands. We do, of course, want it to succeed but, if were honest, not necessarily get bigger and lose its charm
Even on the main stage we saw a number of bands who were new to us. The first of these was the strangely named Bite The Buffalo, who are one of the now many two piece, guitar and drum outfits. They also share the increasingly common dirty, blues, rock n roll sound. However, these guys also really rock and actually have some tunes you can shake your arse to. It’s just good rock n roll music played with energy and also a sense of fun. It is no wonder that they generate a large crowd for the opening lunchtime act.
Tax The Heat follow them, and really mix things up. When you first hear them, it appears to be just straight forward punk n roll, but there’s far more to their sound. They blend in a hint of funk but also have an ear for a melody which makes us think their parents must have played a lot of Beatles in their childhood years. It may not be cool, but there is also a hint of classic rock about them, for us that’s great and ensures that it’s a rocking set and marks them as a band to watch out for.
Over on the relatively tranquil stage called The Croft, we see Sam Russo. On the intro to “Keep Dreaming” he advises us that it’s a “fuck you to all those that tell you to stop following your dreams”, a very apt comment for 2000 trees. The easy comparison to make is with Frank Turner, a fate that all singer/songwriters with a punk flavour have to face. Sam, however, is actually less angry and mellower, certainly compared to early Frank.
The biggest crowd of the day, so far, gathers for Tellison. They certainly have a commercial appeal, with a big but melodic sound. They are very American sounding pop/punk, which seems to hit the right spot on a sunny afternoon. A total contrast is Rob Lynch, but having reviewed and enjoyed his album, we weren’t going to miss him. As expected, it was a great set. Some acoustic acts are getting a bit tired nowadays, but not Rob, who has the huge advantage of actually having some great songs. They all give the illusion of being uplifting, sing a long tunes even though the meanings are sometimes melancholic, as shown on “Whisky”. He also has a neat line in banter and encourages the crowd to join in and really enjoy the set. We certainly hope that he gets some greater exposure as he’s a great talent.
One of the biggest and most recognisable bands playing over the weekend must have been Idlewild. It’s a name that has been around for ages but we didn’t think we actually knew any of their songs. However, as they went through their set it was amazing how many were very familiar and is perhaps a reminder of the airplay they have enjoyed. One thing that was quite clear, is that they are a very good band. They have loads of great songs that walk along the indie/rock boundaries.
The gauntlet is therefore thrown down for Deaf Havana who have the task of following that. They pretty much manage it, with a set that has Arena/American rock written all over it. They are certainly slick, polished and catchy. Then with “Boston Square” they had a track as anthemic as anything The Who delivered at Glastonbury. When they hit their stride, mid set, they’re a force to be reckoned with, punk but with commercial rock at its heart.
The end of the bands doesn’t mean bed time for most of the 2000 Trees crowd, indeed, it is just the start of the party. In one of the bars there is again a brilliant three piece band who play the greatest mix of cheesy covers you are ever likely to hear. In addition, there is the brilliant silent disco. This beats all others hands down, as you can listen to the separate sets across the entire site, making for an awesome party atmosphere.
Once you hit the hay, you only have a few hours’ sleep and recovery before you have to ready yourself for another day of awesome music. It’s quite a rude wakeup call from Boston Manor, who roll on stage looking like a bunch of US frat kids, although they are actually from Blackpool! The lead singer is certainly full of energy and they come across like a far heavier Sum 41 type of punk/pop. They definitely help to blow away the cob webs and get you forgetting that hangover by opening up the first beer of the day.
The day really gets going with the excellent Electric River, a band that we’re a little surprised are not higher on the bill. We reviewed their album previously and thought it was excellent and their set certainly didn’t disappoint. As a live band they are really tight and obviously talented musicians who deliver a very slick set. They have a whole bunch of songs that are fine melodic rock that you feel have really been written for performing in arenas, or at least headlining 2000 Trees sometime in the future. They’re a top band who we could see developing in to being the UK’s very own The Gaslight Anthem.
They’re followed by another artist we have featured at http://www.thesoulofaclown.com, Tim Vantol. Unlike when he supported Chuck Ragan, this time he is backed with a full band. This really suits him and brings the songs to life. They have travelled for an entire day for this thirty five minute set and are obviously keen to make the most of every second. What we love about Tim, is his desire to get the crowd’s attention and make sure they have a good time. He manages to get those lounging at the back in the sun to get off their arses and by the end of his excellent set he has easily won over the entire field.
Boy Jump Ship are another good band who have a blend of punk rock with a more commercial rock feel. The key ingredient, which sets them apart, are the use of harmonies which help to lift the choruses and get the audience jumping. They’re a band you can imagine having the potential for radio play, or at least exposure on Kerrang TV. Only Rivals could actually be their Irish cousins. They share a similar sound but perhaps a little more aggressive and less polished.
We’re not sure about the cynic bit, but the inclusion of great in their name is certainly appropriate for Great Cynics. They have a look which had us oldies reminiscing about the brilliant Redd Kross. Indeed, with that image in our heads, their sound didn’t sound a million miles away from that band as well. Although perhaps at their most fuzzy indie style, around the release of “Phase shifter”. There’s an indie rock feel to it, but with a jangly pop song underneath it all. It’s proper pop/rock with a dose of power pop sneakily thrown in. The best thing about them, however, is that they actually look like they are having a great time. They’re yet another band to add to the list of those to check out again.
Lloyd Yates might look like a group of blokes you’ve seen drinking cider in your local park, but they deliver a set of surprisingly emotive folk/rock songs. They’re performed with an intensity and sense of pent up passion and frustration. It’s very off the wall, but engaging at the same time. One of the most eagerly awaited bands of the weekend were McLusky (although not the full original band). Each of their songs are lapped up by the hungry crowd. The songs are screamed, ferocious punk rock tracks. They’re certainly not for the faint hearted, but it’s one aggressive, punk fuelled song followed by another. Not surprisingly, they also generate one of the biggest mosh pits of the weekend.
If ever a demonstration was need that 2000 Trees just can’t fail as a festival, then it was the headline performance of Alkaline Trio. After twenty minutes a festival organiser’s worst nightmare happened, a total loss of power on the stage. One member of the band tried to keep the crowd interested with an acoustic number, but it looked like the festival was going to come to a sad, premature end. However, the gods look favourably on 2000 Trees and the power was restored. The result, a set which had been a bit pedestrian prior to the power cut suddenly sprung to life. Whether it was because the band sped up the songs to get through them all or just due to the crowd being delighted and relieved to hear the music again, the fact is that it ended up really boosting the end of the festival. It was an unusual way of inspiring a great end to the festival, and we’re sure they won’t repeat it, but it sure as hell worked and made the set very memorable!!
It brought to the end yet another brilliant 2000 Trees. Other festivals may offer more side shows and alternative things to do, but they can’t match the music offering of 2000 Trees. You can guarantee that you will always come away with a list of new bands that you are desperate to check out. It takes place in a great setting with a truly brilliant atmosphere. A fact demonstrated by the number of bands who at the end of the set say they are going to join the crowd for a beer and to watch other acts, and then actually do! It’s a reminder to many other music festivals that it is supposed to be about the music and entertaining the punters!
Roll on next year!!