Photo by Karlie Pea
The moment we stepped out of the car to get into 2000trees' campsite, the rain came lashing down. After getting the tent up fairly dry in the highest ground we could find, there wasn't long to wait for the special lineup that had been put together especially for lucky early-bird ticket holders. Comedians took over the Greenhouse down one end of the site, while the Cave tent had an impressive lineup that saw the likes of Tall Ships, Tellison and Three Trapped Tigers all perform sets that wowed the very soggy crowd, many of who dared not venture outside the tent to face the seemingly never-ending deluge of rain. Tall Ships even soundchecked with the words: "2000 Trees. Wet." It's worth noting that not all the bands began with T – Straight Lines and Imperial Leisure also delivered fun sets that saw a mud-ridden mosh pit and skanking occur throughout the tent.
On Friday, the festival proper started with more people arriving and the ground conditions worsening. But the sun came out and for the daytime it was glorious, Gunning for Tamar opened the festival to an impressive crowd and their half-hour was over all too quickly. With Biffy or Reuben-style riffs and melodies that recall My Vitriol, they even managed to fit in a fan's request, 'Astronaut Abort', and surely picked up a whole new host of fans. A band made for this festival. Shortly after over in the Cave, Run Walk played what was sadly to be their last ever show with their bass-led blast of noise making sure they signed off in style. A huge crowd developed in anticipation for Maybeshewill's sun-drenched and string-laden set, with people even screaming along to the spoken samples. Magnificent post-rock, this was a big sound that really grabbed people's attention and we're sure plenty would have come back for more the next day when they played a last-minute slot in the Cave.
Over in the Leaf Lounge, My First Tooth further enhanced their reputation as a perfect festival band with a set that was a mixture of old and new, with the latest material developing a Springsteen-esque vibe – never a bad thing. The Futureheads a capella set showed that when it comes to crowd interaction, the festival veterans are among the best of them. With some of their own material, old sea shanties and a Black Eyed Peas 'Meet Me Halfway' (their main stage performance would see them tackle Kelis' 'A Capella' alongside all the hits) the highlight had to be when the whole tent yelled "MACINTYRE!" at the top of their voices during 'The Old Dun Cow', while the cover of Richard Thompson's 'Beeswing' is also worth a mention. As the time for the headliners approached and the rain lashed down, there was a difficult choice to make with the three-way clash between 65daysofstatic, Pulled Apart By Horses and The Xcerts. After seeing them deliver some of the finest festival sets we'd seen over the last couple of years (T in the Park and the legendary Pav Tav Great Escape show), we decided on the latter and the Scottish trio did not disappoint. The crowd were up for it as soon as The Xcerts walked on stage and were in full voice throughout – great sing-alongs to the likes of 'Crisis in the Slow Lane', 'Aberdeen 1987' and 'Home Versus Home', while the pit went crazy for the heavier material like 'Slackerpop' and the closing 'Hurt With Me'. A band to be cherished, and one that will surely be headlining the main stages of festivals this size in the not-too-distant future.
Saturday morning saw Antlered Man open the day's proceedings in the very sludgy Cave and they surely helped wake people up and banish any hangovers from the late-night silent disco dancing. Sounding like the Cooper Temple Clause covering Nine Inch Nails, the band's aggressive in-your-face sound was also packed with sweetly melodic moments. A band to keep an eye on for sure. Despite a few technical hitches, Among Brothers' set was quite simply beautiful – melodic indie rock with harmonies to die for, the Cardiff band have already gained plenty of plaudits and more sets like this will surely see even more high-profile gigs and releases coming. Brontide's set was brutal, but in the best way possible. Addictive instrumental music that is challenging but also has plenty of groove, it was no surprise the tent was packed out. The power cut out during Boat to Row's set, although unfortunately we couldn't quite get close enough to hear their unplugged set in the middle of the tent – although surely this would rank as one of the top moments for the festival for those who could. With jokes about the internet and plenty of crowd banter, The Social Club's mixture of Weezer pop-hooks and the Hold Steady's infectious enthusiasm really helped lift everyone's spirits.
It was a great shame that the sun didn't quite come out fully for Summer Camp's set but the duo (with added live drums) managed to pull it off and make everyone believe they were somewhere far warmer, with the lo-fi sound not being lost on the big stage. Elizabeth Sankey was especially excited to be sharing a stage with Hundred Reasons and could not hide her enthusiasm between songs, while also showing off some impressive dance moves and even more extraordinary shoes. Hundred Reasons appeared on stage to a hero's welcome, and played the likes of 'Kill Your Own' and 'What You Get', which already had delighted people singing along, before moving on to the main event. Frontman Colin Doran told the crowd that years ago when they were small, they released an album and it was called Ideas Above Our Station before the band burst into the opening riffs of the ultimate album opener 'I'll Find You', before playing the record in its entirety to a whole host of smiling faces. Of course, the singles had the best responses but even the album tracks were welcomed like long lost brothers and the closing 'Avalanche' had many wiping away a tear or two. After such a special performance, many moved over to the Leaf Lounge to catch Johnny Foreigner. Recently expanded to a four-piece, the Birmingham band packed out the tent with plenty singing along to every word of the set and people attempting to start mosh. There was so much love in that tent for the band and they seemed genuinely touched by the reaction – the kind of reaction they deserve at every gig they play.
Despite horrendous conditions, everyone at 2000trees – bands, fans and especially the organisers – deserve a huge amount of praise for making sure that it still remained one of the best weekends of the year. Now to dry off and try and get clean…