2000 Trees Festival Review
Any newcomer to the festival scene lives or dies by it's image and reputation. 2000 Trees is staunchly small-scale (didn’t count the trees but capacity is 2,500 and the festival sold out so...) and prides itself on being chilled out, family friendly, sustainable and nontheless able to attract some awesome bands. In reality there was the traditionally over-priced but unconventionally tasty/healthy food vendors, some awesome bands (some not so awesome) and a host of other charming idiosyncrasies. A small disclaimer; i’m not going to write up every band that we saw because my mother taught me to say nothing if you can’t say something nice, and whilst I’m happy to ignore that little epithet most of the time, there were enough highlights to warrant not dwelling on the disappointments. We arrived fairly early on Friday, the sun meekly retreating from over the rolling fields and the festival is nestled in. Slowly working my way down the already quite treacherous slope of the carpark area (still a field mind) I got settled down to catch the latter half of Crazy Arm’s set. They seemed up for it despite the meager crowd assembled at that stage, and their bluesy rock outs tinged with country moments seemed to keep a few feet moving, although I can’t say they’re the kind of band likely to set worlds on fire.
Tubelord, who are pretty much local heroes, rose the bar nicely on the follow up. After a slew of recent line up changes (and i’m told, slightly wobbly live performances), they definitely showed up to 2k Trees, played a few firm favourites, and performed well. They’re a great band and so long as they can keep the momentum going I’m sure they’ll become an even greater one, but they could do with finding their own unique stage presence. It’s worth mentioning at this stage that the compere of the main stage was a real mood killer, but in a hilarious way. Coming across as more a wrestling commentator than a independent festival compere, his cries of ‘TUBELORD FUCK YEAH’ (or words to that effect) were less rousing more embarrassing. Likewise the guy in charge of introducing the bands and whipping up a frenzy at the Leaf Lounge was a cross between Eddie Izzard (looks, accent, demeanour) and David Brent (awkward humour, demeanour, looks). Not what I'm used to at a festival but let it never be said I'm not open to new experiences. Anyway, Irish instrumental noise makers extraordinaire And So I Watch You From Afar took to the stage shortly afterwards, and having not seen them before but heeding well the tales of their barn-storming live shows, I was grinning with excitement. It was well founded, as they rocked the hell out ably, the heavy breakdowns surviving the transition from stage through open air to audience surprisingly well. Like a great many bands, ASIWYFA would probably benefit from a more tightly packed audience, a smaller stage (in a basement) and a slightly longer set, but they did themselves proud nonetheless and I can’t wait to see them again. Having fallen foul to some vile weather (I was so disconcerted by the weather pattern at one point that I was wearing my waterproof cycling jacket around my waist as some kind of bizarre skirt) thus far, everything came together for Errors’s set. As the sun set gently over the hills behind us (which no doubt blinded the band completely) they belted out an awesome set that got pretty much everyone swaying or dancing. Whilst not a whole lot different to how it sounds on record Errors found their groove and ploughed it thoroughly.
For many, Errors’ set would have been hard to match; not so for the consistently awesome Metronomy whose inimitable stage persona, funk inspired electro pop and newish line-up ensured that they were as impressive as ever. Vocalist and song writer Joseph Mount is widely thought of as a great front man but credit must be given to his band mates, Gbenga, Anna and Oscar, all of whom would be the ‘big personality' in any other band, and they’ve certainly all got the talent to back it up. Amazing, as ever, easily one of the best and most accomplished live bands playing right now and perfectly suited to a festival stage. It must be said however that the highlight of the day, and (for me) the festival as a whole, were actually headlining the smaller stage called The Leaf Lounge. Pure testament if any more was needed that Metronomy breeds talent, the band founder, guitarist and vocalist is actually ex-Metronomy bassist Gabrial. And what a show. The soft spoken, charmingly lisping front man had probably won over most of the crowd before the first song; but afterwards there was no doubt. This is intelligent, thoughtful pop of absolutely the highest order, and the more intimate setting did it perfect justice.
The second day of 2k trees was, in comparison, somewhat lackluster. Three Trapped Tigers were as pleasingly mad as ever, but didn’t quite hit a high note throughout their set; 65daysofstatic were excellent but over far too soon; a very extended groove ending their set on a bit of a confusing note (only three songs...? And you had to end by playing the same riff for what seemed like ten minutes stright?). What I saw of Bombay Bicycle Club was good; but really didn’t add anything to their on-record sound for want of a real stage presence. Probably the biggest pleasant surprise of the day was just how good Vessels were. Hailing from Leeds ala Pulled Apart By Horses (presumably they know each other!) their style is heavier, more mathy, more instrumental and judging by this display, a lot tighter than PABH can be. Headlining the Leaf Lounge once again and rounding off the our 2k Trees was Kill It Kid. Initially I thought they might be a slightly risky choice, but it turned out to be a sound one. Kill It Kid are bombastic; an explosive combination of classic rock and blues/country influences, they command attention. They are, however, one of these bands who will almost always be defined by their lead vocalist; Chris Turpin has an incredible voice. The spirit of Delta blues mixed up with some gravel combine in this throat and his melodic roar just sets the also admittedly strong instrumentation off. A must-see live if they're playing near you soon. In conclusion, 2000 Trees was just what I'd hoped for; some big name bands mixed in with up-and-comings, in a more intimate setting and minus the 'let's get mashed' atmosphere. The food was good, the crowd was better, the weather was the worst thing of all, which says a lot. Good work 2000 Trees, looking forward to next year; but make it sunnier.