2000 Trees 11-13 July 2019
Many festivals seem to focus on getting bigger in terms of capacity. Thankfully, 2000 Trees appreciates that the most important thing is to get bigger and better in terms of their offering. This has seen the festival grow from being two days to now offering a full bill on the Thursday. They’ve also brought in a whole new area called ‘The Word’ which was offering up some great debates, presentations and comedy acts. They have also generally improved the recreation and chill out areas, in the unlikely event you need a short break from the brilliant music.
Sadly, other commitments meant we weren’t able to fully benefit from the bigger Thursday line up. But we were able to see two acts which in many ways could be seen as the ‘godfathers’ of 2000 Trees. The first of these is Jamie Lenman, an artist who seems to be playing here every year, normally at least twice during the festival. In fact, we’d only previously seen his acoustic performances, so it was a treat to see him in full on electric punk n roll mode. Even though it’s just him and a drummer, they are able to create one hell of a noise! It’s certainly no surprise that there’s a hugely enthusiastic crowd who are completely spilling out of the Axiom tent. Jamie soon has that crowd singing along and eating out of the palm of his hand. He’s a man that loves 2000 trees and that love is reciprocated by the crowd.
That’s followed by Frank Turner, another act that has always demonstrated his love and appreciation for the festival. It’s amazing to see how he has gone from playing folk rock on the smaller stages to not only headlining this festival but also becoming a huge international rock star. To an extent, that shows in his performance which is now a full-blown rock show, delivered by a professional band and a star frontman. The songs themselves are well known to not only to devotees of Frank’s work but also to a much wider audience through radio airplay. The set is effectively a greatest hits show, with the crowd providing background vocals on most tracks. What hasn’t changed from the early days, is Frank’s humility and an ability to genuinely engage with the crowd. He gives a fantastic headline performance and makes sure the first day ends on a jubilant note. (Well we say ends, the majority of attendees spend the next few hours enjoying the silent disco. That in itself is a fantastic experience which is worth the entry fee on its own!!).
Slow Crush are the band who have the dubious honour to wake us from our slumber on Saturday. Appropriately, there’s a dreamlike quality to their sound. Many of the songs are grungy, slow and melodic tracks. They are clearly well liked as they attract a surprisingly large crowd to the Neu stage, especially given their early set time. Whilst they are on the Neu stage, they play with a confidence which suggests that they’ll be on bigger stages in the not too distant future.
The Dangerous Summer have the perfect name for their mid-afternoon set, which sees the weather actually matching their sunny American accents. They also boast a collection of tracks that are huge, melodic, punk rock songs. Indeed, they’re not too dissimilar to the kind of big American rock favoured by You Me At Six who are due to headline later in the day.
Inevitably, Australian Hands Like Houses bring an even stronger sun to the sky. Their music has a far more ‘muscular’ approach. It’s darker in tone and heavier than the previous acts. There are a lot of people in the crowd at the main stage that are familiar with and clearly love their songs.
Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun offer up something a bit more restrained but equally as passionate. There’s more of a folk punk flavour to their rock sound. It prompts lots of singing along from the enthusiastic crowd. They’re a band which seem very well suited to a 2000 Trees with Frank Turner as one of the headline acts.
All Us In Love’s sound adds a bit more of psychedelia into the mix. Some of their songs have an almost classic rock feel to them. But there’s also hints of Nirvana, but perhaps with a funkier backing. They certainly put everything into their performance with the vocalist and guitarists throwing themselves around the stage. They end the set triumphantly with a great glam rock flavoured stomper.
When we saw the line-up for 2000 Trees, The Wildhearts were the one band that we were hugely excited to see. A genuinely legendary British band who have been delivering great and unique rock music for decades. From the outset, it’s clear that they still know how to rock. CJ in particular really throws out riffs with a passion that few younger bands can match. Ginger remains a man who was clearly born to lead a rock n roll band. Somehow, he still looks just as cool as fuck as he did all those years ago (even more remarkable given he’s dressed head to toe in black in the blistering sun!). As always, their sound seamlessly switches from pounding rock to big melodies and sing a long chorus. They do benefit from being a band which has three guitarists who can all sing and are front men in their own rights. It’s no surprise how great they are at smashing out their legendary songs. The crowd also gets the bonus of a special appearance from Frank Turner as he sings a song from their new album. It’s a set full of hits and fan’s favourites. The only downside is that it’s not a full headline set so that we could have even more of their awesome punk n roll.
That’s a hell of an act to follow, but perhaps Skinny Lister are one of the few bands who are able to keep the party atmosphere going with no sense of a low. They may not match the legendary status of The Wildhearts, but they sure know how to have a good time. It’s hard not to get caught up with their infectious good time attitude. They really work the crowd and the packed Axiom is full of people singing, dancing and drinking along with the band. To be fair, that’s pretty much what 2000 Trees is all about!
Indoor Pets then offer something which is pretty different to many of the other bands on show today. They bring a brand of indie/power pop to the rock party. It still rocks but is more based on catchy melodies. They have some really great tunes which literally get people jumping around the tent. They’re definitely one of our new finds of the festival. That nicely takes us up to the headliners “You Me At 6”. They play the sort of US commercial flavoured rock that you’d expect from a band of their size and stature. It says a lot about 2000 Trees that they’re able to attract major acts like all the headliners this weekend. Although it shouldn’t really be a surprise given it offers up the opportunity to play to a field full of enthusiastic and genuine music fans. Everyone in that crowd is dedicated to enjoying it and having a good time (which strangely isn’t the case at every festival).
Saturday sees us catching White Elm as our first act of the day. They soon wake us up with their grungy punk sound. Our early morning haze and laziness sees us drawing the obvious comparisons to a band combining elements of both Hole and Nirvana.
The Drew Thompson Experience bring some much needed sweetness to the morning. Their sound is one of the ‘poppiest’ of the weekend as they mix up rock with a bit of power pop. It’s also nice to have a frontman who chats to the audience, something not many rock bands seem to do anymore. Whilst he says that the songs are about love and heartbreak, the music itself is very upbeat. They certainly set us up nicely for the rest of the day.
Despite being from Norway, The Spielbergs keep the momentum going with some American influenced punk rock. They bring out the sunshine with their fast paced but melodic songs. They have the kind of big sounding punk rock noise that you could easily see being played on much bigger stages. Their songs get the crowd lifting their arms, clapping and singing along.
Muncie Girl are a band we’ve seen a few times at 2000 Trees, but this is the first time on the main stage. If it’s the first time they’ve been on it, then it certainly doesn’t faze them as they smash out a set of catchy rock songs. As with most of our favourite acts at the festival, they’re not afraid of bringing out the melody in their songs. They also get bonus points for having a go at Jeremy Clarkson (which can never be a bad thing!
The Cold Years were one of the other bands we were particularly keen to catch at the festival. They certainly didn’t disappoint. The Gaslight Anthem comparisons are totally unavoidable, but who really cares about that? They produce brilliant punk n roll songs that are full of passion and energy. There’s a proper ‘band’ mentality to them as they hit out great song after great song. They’re definitely one of our favourite bands of the festival. It’s a reminder we need to go listen again to their previous material and we’ll be eagerly awaiting their new album.
Ducking Punches offer some respite from the ear blasting rock music as they present an acoustic set in the woods. It wouldn’t be a proper 2000 Trees without at least one visit to the Forrest stage for a bit of a chill out. Mind you, the stage area is heaving so there’s not much room to actually lay out. However, Ducking Punches offer a great acoustic accompaniment to a rest with a cool beer. You also get the benefit of hearing a song about best friends being cannibals, which is a pretty unusual song topic!
Those of us of a certain age will remember that the band A were absolutely massive at one point. We must admit we never really followed them from those early days and weren’t actually aware they were still around (sorry!). The singers stage jacket may suggest he has switched his allegiances from Starbucks to Just Eat, but his voice remains as distinctive as ever. Their set is actually great and they have some excellent songs. They’re also probably the funniest band of the festival. There’s a particularly entertaining section where they give a sort of emotional goodbye to their departing young bassist. That’s a shame, as he seems to be having the time of his life jumping around the stage.
One of the beauties of 2000 Trees is that you can go from seeing a classic band who’ve had international hits to a new up and coming act like Martha. Mind you, they’re a band who are certainly capable of having a massive hit themselves. Their upbeat rock with a dash of power pop is certainly capable of producing an Indie radio hit. Once again, they benefit from having multi vocalists in the band (impressively all 4 of them). That fact just allows their catchy tunes to really hit the spot. Not surprisingly, it gets a well lubricated festival crowd dancing. They’re a perfect band for the summer sunshine.
As previously mentioned, 2000 Trees is now capable of attracting hugely popular acts like Deaf Havana. It’s clear from the size and reaction of the crowd that loads of people love these big rock bands. But, for us, the real joy is in finding and seeing the smaller bands. They really show how surprisingly diverse the ‘rock’ genre can be. There is such a variety of acts on offer this weekend that there’s something for everyone. It’s no wonder that we have seen so many people commenting on how it’s the best rock festival and far superior (and better value!) to major ones like Download. A point proved to us by the fact that one of our highlights was having a casual walk back to our tent whilst having a chat to Frank Turner about a shared love of The Wildhearts and their associated bands! It’s no wonder the festival is absolutely adored by both the bands as well as the fans. It’s something special and we are already counting down the days until next year!!