Photo: Dom Meason
It's that time of the year again. The sun is beaming down, cans are being popped left right and center and it's clearly evident that we're within the midst of another fantastic festival season. With that in mind, we popped down to Upcote Farm for another amazing installment of the incredible 2000 Trees Festival, where that classic festival atmosphere was in full swing.
SHVPES (7.5), the hardcore five piece from Birmingham managed to pack out the The Cave, which was no mean feat when you take into account that they were the first band to play this year’s event at 2.10pm; a time where most revelers are still arriving.
Frontman Griffin Dickinson had incredibly distinctive vocals and his energy when on stage was infectious - within minutes the band had the audience throwing themselves around and having copious amounts of fun. Their sound spanned genres from hardcore to pop, blurring the lines between sounds has left them with music that can appeal to fans of a range of genres. Despite the restrictions the time has supplies, SHVPES managed to really get the audience up and running around in a circle pit by the end of their energetic set!
Originally hailing from the mountainous regions of Switzerland, singer/songwriter Marius Bear (7.5) treats the early birds within the pleasant confides of the forest to a stunning stripped back set, with his music featuring electronic elements and soulful vocals that commandeered attention. As well as playing with a real elegance, Bear was charismatic and full of praise for 2000 Trees, commenting on the real sense of community that can be found there.
Marius Bear’s first EP Sanity was released earlier this year, and his set heavily featured these songs and the stories behind them. ‘Frame Me’ had a heartfelt backstory filled with empathy, and we were treated to two different versions of this. The first opened with gentle keys and atmospheric synths, before Marius decided that playing his acoustic guitar only felt more comfortable. Marius Bear’s music is sure to go down a storm with fans of Hozier, and this young musician is one to keep an eye on in future.
A band that needs no introduction is Arcane Roots (7.5). Ahead of their set on the main stage, they settled down at the Forest Stage to treat the gatherers to an ambient and experimental set. Whilst The Forest is typically an environment reserved for sitting, due to sheer numbers gathered, this sadly wasn’t an option. While their sound was delicate and filled with swelling synths, it did little to get the gathered crowd to keep quiet, thus tainting the ambience being created.
Frontman Andrew Groves had a powerful vocal with a stunning range, and each element of their set was clearly carefully planned and rehearsed. The songs played were mainly from their 2017 album Melancholia Hymns, with some of the most captivating tracks being ‘Indigo’ and ‘Matter’. However it was their latest single. ‘Landslide’ that stole the show with the synthesized keys and electronic drums that swelled to create a beautiful crescendo. Theirs was certainly one of the more unique Forest sessions, and taking the risk of standing out paid off, resulting in a set that will be cherished by old and new fans alike.
Potentially one of the UK scene’s most best kept secrets, Press To MECO (9) have been bubbling upon the surface of the DIY scene ever since the release of their fantastic debut and their illustrious signing to Marshall Records. With a set primarily composed of material from the excellent Here’s To The Fatigue, the trio perfectly demonstrate their home cooked amalgamation of gripping pop sensibilities, devilish riffage and soaring three part harmonies in a fashion that’s precise and youthfully energetic. Truly, it’s difficult to pinpoint another act within their respective league who have forged an intricate sound that’s so subconsciously infectious and who have the skill to deliver it with directive finesse.
With the trifecta of ‘Familiar Ground’, ‘If All Your Parts Don’t Make A Whole’ and ‘Here’s To The Fatigue’ delivering the calculated bounce and captivating hooks of their latest offering, the marring of such content alongside tracks from their back catalogue truly showcases the group’s subtle, yet evident evolution and development. Whilst this act have often been labelled as one of the UK scene’s most profound underappreciated acts, going from sublime sets like this it’s surely only a small amount of time before the lads are given more lofty stages to play around and experiment with. If you’re yet to experience this act live, you better get on it soon.
Photo: Dom Meason
Bristolians Turbowolf (9.5) attacked Two Thousand Trees’ main stage with all of their usual gusto - and then some! The band brought all of their usual flair with them and opened with the big riffs of ‘Capital X’. While frontman Chris Georgiadis’ vocals couldn’t be heard clearly over the riffs, there were large pockets in the crowd that were able to yell every word back at him, creating quite the ruckus. Turbowolf stormed through a thirty minute set containing favorites from all three of their albums. Crowd favorites were as always ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ and ‘Solid Gold’, and as pointed out by Chris, the crowd knew what to do and jumped, clapped and danced along with no prompting.
The eccentric nature and ranging influences of Turbowolf meant that their music went down a storm at 2000 Trees, and their energetic stage show certainly earned them a few more fans. Closing with The Big Cut’, and it didn’t take much asking for the crowd to get rowdy for this track, with it’s huge sound and lyrics that are easy to pick up and yell along to. While Turbowolf may not be for everyone, their stage presence and enjoyment is infectious, and those that did check them out were happier - and sweatier! - after the encounter.
Despite hundreds of acts having played this event over the years, there are a handful of acts who have forged their name as 2000 Trees veterans; artists who have played pivotal roles within the expansion of the event and have gone to become trusted fan favorites. As aforementioned, one such act is progressive metal trio Arcane Roots (8). In all truthfulness, writing a review of an Arcane Roots set fills like a redundant exercise; anyone who has seen them perform over the years can testify for their continuous concrete brilliance.
Opening with the metallic tinged drop of ‘Off The Floor’ before delving into the frantic nature of ‘Matter’, whilst the group may not have the time or correct environment suitable to manifest the immersive and hypnotic atmospheres associated with their live shows, the trio perfectly and borderline effortlessly present their intricate and deeply formulated take on sonic progression, with content from Melancholia Hymns blending beautifully with choice cuts from the back catalogue. With the sporadic intensity of ‘Triptych’ blending into the complicative nature of ‘Arp’, this is an act who have honed their sonic experimentation on stages such as this, taking into account how tracks are conveyed and received in different environments. Ending on the hectic ‘If Nothing Brakes, Nothing Moves, a possible subtle reference to their last performance in 2016 where they ended on the same track, Arcane Roots are a crucial staple within the UK alt scene and an act who are abound to be treasured for years to come.
Photo: Gareth Bull
The hype around Turnstile (8) is still real, and even more energized. With their recent drop of their second record, Time & Space, the Maryland five-piece have been the highly anticipated band to grace the festival, getting adrenaline levels in shape for the weekend ahead. Their funk-wave groovyness and emerging hardcore aesthetic is what draws new faces into their shows. Not conforming to boundaries and musical limits, the hardcore, punk metal elements allows room for all with pulse to simple let loose to. It’s hard to stand completely still at a Turnstile show, and they brought out all of the bangers to their Trees set from ‘Gravity’, to ‘Pushing Me Away’, all time favorites were played in full. From sets such as this, it's transparent to see why this hardcore act have been the subject for a fervent and devoted following.
Marmozets (7) have always been a band to bring brilliant power and energy to their live shows, and they’ve exploded back onto the live scene this year after the release of their second album, Knowing What You Know Now. These songs are bigger than ever and really gave a new edge to their performance. Opening their set on the main stage was ‘Play’, a song that immediately saw frontwoman Becca Macintyre transform into a whirlwind, never keeping still. Marmozets drew a really large crowd, which is no surprise when you consider how widely known they are. Their set was filled to the brim with hits and the gathered crowds knew every word. The intro to ‘Move, Shake, Hide’ has been given a bit of a shake up since it’s 2014 release, but the band threw themselves into a frenzy and the crowd reciprocated by singing, dancing and jumping around. While their newer songs held their own when played live, it was the tracks from Marmozets’ first release that got the crowds in disarray.
Black Peaks (9) were back at 2000 Trees for the fourth time this year, having risen through the ranks to become 2018’s first headliners on The Cave stage. The tent wasn’t too packed out for the beginning of their set, but there were fans calling for them before they’d even walked on stage, and it was clear from the start that this was going to be a rowdy show. Black Peaks are a heavy band with massive riffs, solid drums, and simply enchanting vocals that can change from tender and delicate to harsh and rough at the drop of a hat. On top of the riffs and diverse vocals, the four-piece managed to create real ambience with gentler synthesized lulls in their tracks, turning the music into something curious and beautiful - as highlighted by the stunning way that ‘Drones’ grew in intensity and volume. Black Peaks seamlessly blended songs together in their set, leaving the audience attentively waiting for the next opportunity to let go and do as the music commanded.
‘Glass Built Castles’, an incredibly diverse track and a fan favourite got everyone singing along, and even ‘Electric Fires’, a new track from their upcoming release did nothing to dampen the energy and atmosphere. In fact, it did quite the opposite with circle pits being opened and the band on stage feeding off of the crowd’s energy. ‘Saviour’ was humbly dedicated to the team behind Black Peaks, and the fans that followed them right from the start. Closing the set - and The Cave stage for the day - was ‘Home’. It became a huge, emotional sing-along with everyone present singing the song perfectly. Their positive attitude and enthusiasm came across on stage, and coupled with true musicianship, Black Peaks really are a band on the up.
Photo: Gareth Bull
Despite their status as genre founders and pioneers being simply unquestionable, there’s been a lot of mutterings and musings over the live capabilities of At The Drive In (7) as of late. As the physical tell tale signs age begin to show, many a loyal fan and curious punter has noted their tendency to deliver sub-par performances at certain events. Whilst the group don’t necessarily deliver a show of a life time, tonight's performance is one that contradicts the cynical arguments that surround this act. With this being a festival headline performance, it’s understandably justified that the setlist is predominately composed of material from the landmark album that is 2000’s Relationship Of Command. Despite the album now being almost old enough to legally drink alongside the fans in attendance, the material from the release still feels current and highly relateable to the global affairs that transparently surrounds us.
Whilst the act does feel somewhat contrastive to the nourishing nature of the festival and the emerging acts performing today, it feels like a highly applicable choice considering the influence has had on the majority of the line-up. Jarring and often pleasantly discordant, it’s a showcase of the act’s legacy, with intricate and musical dynamism being played with ease and finesse, indicating how these melodies and structures present have seeped into the fiber of the members themselves. Of course, it wouldn’t be At The Drive-In without the cultivated frontman Cedric Bixler at the helm. Capricious, political and poetic, he’s the true embodiment of this act and the driving force of this performance, radiating a reserved and withdrawn level of confidence and charisma. Whilst the few cuts from 2017’s in.ter.ali.a do feel somewhat second place within the setlist, there’s a still a jovial atmosphere looming and one that is of celebration of the life of this act. Ending on the titanic post-hardcore anthem that is ‘One Armed Scissor’, such an energized headline performance truly commemorates the legacy of this remarkable act.