You know a music festival has achieved its purpose when the weekend isn’t solely reliant on the music to make it what it is. 2000 Trees Festival, whilst it also has some of the best live music to offer, is a festival that packs so much more! From an incredibly organised two-night silent disco, an actual wedding on the Saturday morning, and an atmosphere and sense of belonging that we can assure you now, comes unmatched by any other festival in the UK!
Those brave enough to venture down for the early entry on Thursday were rewarded kindly with a fantastic selection of music to satisfy… Black Foxxes  made do with a slightly boring crowd, showcasing some raw talent and serious potential, but the whole set felt something missing as the crowd merely stared back at the triplet as they poured out high emotions from debut album, ‘I’m Not Well’. Nonetheless the band proved worthy of high profile festival slots and are definitely one to watch in the coming years. Kent based hardcore rockers, Feed The Rhino , weren’t taking no for an answer in their tireless efforts to bring energy to the early stages of the festival, and eventually succeeded as they had the crowd on their feet and going crazy to the brutally heavy vocals and riffs.
Young Guns  just have an air of professionalism about them and know exactly what they are doing. Even on stage to a packed out tent, there’s not one point where they seem out of their depth. Lead vocalist, Gustav Wood, has complete control over the crowd throughout and maintains a good blend of crowd interaction and cracking performing. Covers are risky in any measure, covering a band like Foo Fighters is a different tale, but somehow their rendition of ‘My Hero’ sent chills down the bones of every last person in attendance giving testament to this bands talent. Mallory Knox , whilst not my cup of tea on record, absolutely blew me away with a clinical, energetic, and downright quality set to close the Thursday at 2000 Trees. There’s a line to be drawn where energy becomes dangerous and there were a few medical emergencies as the crowd got a bit rowdy, but the band took this in their stride, dealt with the situation and continued with a truly fantastic set that incorporated both old and new music to please the multitude of fans.
Friday arrives as 2000 Trees saw the opening of the main stage, and what a sight it was. Thousands of people, those fresh faces easily distinguishable from the slightly tender bodies that had been present since the Thursday, all walking down to the main stage for first band of the day, Ducking Punches . Never hearing a band before and then seeing them live always makes the experience better when they hit home in one way or another. Their set was OKAY, an interesting mix of clean vocals and tame growls with a folk-rock vibe. At times it seemed slightly sloppy and not very clinical, very easily explainable by the early set time of 12:30! However last song, ‘Six Years’, found a place in many of the audiences hearts as the tribute to lead vocalists friend who had committed suicide was played respectfully to an attentive crowd.
Strange Bones  then delivered what was possibly the best set of the weekend, showing huge potential for such a small profile band. With a stage presence that gives the illusion of a rockstar with decades of experience, lead vocalist Bobby Bentham had his shirt off and was in the crowd screaming in people’s faces before the end of the first song. Whilst a lot of smaller bands showed potential throughout the weekend, it’ll be a true shame if these guys aren’t fucking massive in five years. SHVPES  set was almost a disappointment, but at no fault of the band. Clashes weren’t in their favour as the crowd they deserved was simply absent. A band with such energy and tunes that are payed homage to through mass crowd destruction just isn’t the same when playing to a very small crowd consisting of literally 3-4 people showing any enthusiasm at all. Nevertheless, they showed some true musical talent and I can only hope to see these guys crush a headline show at some sweaty venue sometime soon! Frank Carter’s  acoustic set with Rattlesnakes guitarist, Dean Richardson was truly something different. The forest session stage at 2000 Trees is by far the most intimate and well thought out stage at the festival and has such a beautiful atmosphere as everyone sits down amongst the trees whilst incredible musicians perform acoustic renditions of their songs. Frank’s chilling voice resonated through the trees and left the huge crowd in awe of his talent when he’s not screaming the main stage down. Performing songs of both Modern Ruin and debut album Blossom the crowd sung along and paid their deepest respects and the slow, melancholy intro for Beautiful Death was followed by a powerful and heart wrenching rendition of the song that clearly held huge sentimental value for Frank.
Black Peaks , although their raw mathrock sound feels it could be too heavy in comparison to the other artists sharing the stage, they go down a treat and pulled a huge crowd that showed nothing but energy in response to the magnificently intricate guitar skills and brutally heavy vocals. Performing a mix of songs of their first two records and promising a small hiatus after the festival in which they were going to record their next full length album there was plenty to please fans and leave everyone on the edge of their seats wondering what is next from the Brighton four piece. Jamie Lenman , ex member of 2000 Trees legends, Reuben who even have a campsite named after their legacy, took the main stage on the Friday of the festival, and took it with style. Clearly a crowd favourite from the moment he walked on, with teeth clenching riffs and a composed, yet extremely powerful voice that captivates an audience. Evidently from many years of playing the festival there’s a mutual respect between band and audience that is noticed immediately and the experience as an artist that Lenman has becomes clear on stage.
In contrary style to his acoustic session earlier in the day, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes  took to the stage at 2000 Trees with one purpose, to destroy. And that they did. Opening with ‘Juggernaut’ off their debut album, the crowd was immediately sent into frenzy as pits devoured the space between the stage and the sound desk. The set was interrupted multiple times as Frank assisted those who had lost mobiles, bags, and even ventured into the crowd to split up a dispute. This goes hand in hand with a speech made by him about respect, and more so respecting women at gigs, something he shows a lot in his character both on and off stage. He finished his set in style, with a minimum of 100 crowd surfers during crowd favourite, ‘I Hate You’ as he stood in awe of the mass destruction him and his Rattkesnakes had just caused.
Now, there’s no doubt at all that Nothing But Thieves  are big enough, and talented enough to take the headline slot at the festival, however put any band on after Frank Carter and it just won’t feel the same. The set felt like it lacked energy, and maybe it was simply because the crowd were still nursing broken bones and what not from the chaos before, but there was something missing that would’ve taken it to that next level. It was clear how much the set meant to the band and their gratitude to the crowd and festival organisers for such a prestigious opportunity was nice to see from a band who are only moving upwards and onwards.
Now the final day of any festival is a sorry sight at best, a mass of blistered, sunburnt bodies all dragging their way through the campsites down to the stages for one last push before the weekend comes to an end. For those not in their tent nursing a two-day hangover, Bad Sign  were on early to play a banging set. The heavy trio bashed out some great riffs and certainly woke many up from their slumber with what was a very energetic set for the early hours. Milk Teeth  followed on the main stage, performing to a decently sized crowd for the early hour, they were received well and seemed to be very comfortable on stage as they played songs from their first album, Vile Child, incorporating clean, soothing vocals with a grungy instrumental which together work an unsuspected dream! Gnarwolves  brought the energy to the main stage with an aggressive set, showing not only their talent, but how much they clearly love performing. Their stage presence makes half of the show and certainly gets a crowd going with their punk gone hardcore tunes!
Stepping away from the crowds for a moment, towards the Neu Stage where melodic hardcore band Acres  were pouring out thick emotions onto a small crowd. A band springing onto the underground scene and making a name for themselves off the back of tours with the likes of Capsize and latest EP In Sickness & Health they put their all into their short set and left the crowd anticipating the day they’re opening pits and running emotions higher on the bill. Time for the (not so) secret set from 2000 Trees favourites, The Xcerts . There had been speculation for months that the TBC slot on the line-up was going to be taken by the Scottish festival legends, and it was therefore no surprise when they were announced days before the festival. The “early in the day” slot meant that the tent they were accommodating was completely packed out with fans that wasted no breath in singing along to every word, and when it came to crowd favourite, ‘Aberdeen 1987’, there wasn’t a quiet person in sight. In what must have been an amazing moment for the band, they finished with their latest song, ‘Feels Like Falling in Love’, which despite being out under a week, was sung back to them in multitude as the band finished what was certainly a memorable set for them!
As someone who isn’t a huge Lower Than Atlantis  fan, to hear that lead vocalist Mike Duce’s voice was extremely sore throughout their set was almost a pleasant surprise as it seemed like they put on a quality show despite this. With a lot of energy and a set list that seemed to extend throughout their fruitful career, I thought the band put on a great show despite fans expecting more. Now Slaves , such a highly anticipated set, after a small warmup show at 10:30 that morning (their sound check that got gate crashed) there was a proper buzz in the air as the space filled up ready for the punk duo to take to the stage. With a technical stage setup involving screens and fancy lights that had been absent throughout the weekend, there was already an air of professionalism that comes from bands of a higher tier. It’s fair to say that they didn’t disappoint one bit, with a crazy politically fuelled sweat fest that lasted from the moment they walked on stage, to the second they departed. Even for those who aren’t as keen on their questionable lyrics and untraditionally short songs, their energy and passion has to be admired and respected by all as they brought a close to a memorable 11th year for 2000 Trees Festival.