Photo: Ben Morse
Haggard Cat (8), a duo formed of the former band HECK opened the main stage for final day of 2000 Trees 2018. The band drew quite the crowd, despite the early slot and quite a few obvious hangovers! Opening with a repeated guitar riff, the crowd fell silent as punchy drums were brought in and the song transformed into ‘Grave Digger’. The duo didn’t let up with their onslaught of riffs, which were cleverly coupled with danceable elements, and frontman Matt Reynolds’ unique vocals quickly got the sleepy crowd moving. ‘Alligator Tightrope’ was a newer track with electronic drums and a pop-inspired intro that quickly morphed into a huge track with an impressive guitar solo. Haggard Cat were the perfect choice to open main stage, they’re a band that create music in their own way and make it fun for everyone involved.
It was only a matter of time before Brighton locals, Muskets (7) had a slot at 2000 Trees. After being an attendee for so long, to playing the emerging stage, it was a great chance for the quartet to set their mark at Trees. Filled with familiar faces of heads rocking, the guys played into a few filled with crowd favorites, ’17 Years’ and ‘Tate Modern’ from their well known collection of tracks. Muskets’ grunge rock sound floats well with the festivals atmosphere as though as they’d been there for years. The NEU stage has been one of great importance to the festival, serving as a launchpad for many an act who have gone to form prolific careers; an invaluable source for emerging talent nationwide.
The XCERTS’ (7.5) Forest Session was yet another busy one. Frontman Murray Macleod and bassist Jordan Smith took to the stage and opened with ‘Slacker Pop’. This was a steady number that highlighted Macleod’s lovely vocals, but unfortunately it didn’t cause the crowd to fall completely silent. A few voices joined in with the lyrics, and the clean bass and acoustic guitar sounded stunning. Murray’s vocals fit perfectly with this stripped back style, and the duo covered a snippet of ‘Tiny Dancer’, which was a lovely surprise!
As their set progressed, more of the crowd fell silent to listen attentively. For their final song, ‘Aberdeen 1987’, Macleod stood in the middle of the crowd and played unplugged. This was a very personal touch and showed just how much talent the young band has.
Photo: Dom Meason
It’s all fun at games at The Axiom stage with Bloody Knees (8) curing your hangover from Friday night's activities. Their playful grunge pop riffs set the crowd in a prompt wave of movement, as vocalist Brad Griffins screamed the lyrics to ‘Never Change’. Despite it being the last day of Trees, and everyone kind of drifting around, still keeping up their high spirits, the quartet received quite a crowd.
It was promised that new music was on the cards, and Bloody Knees, bloody delivered. ‘Spinning’ brought a darker menacing sound to Upcote Farm, filled with slugging riffs and draining vocals that somehow enchanted the Charmed theme song (The Smiths – How Soon Is Now?). For their first time at the festival, Bloody Knees sure captured quite a crowd and sure enough they’ll be back very soon to do it all again.
70s inspired style and massive riffs are the first things you’ll notice when you see Demob Happy (7.5). They’re flamboyant and fun, and certainly kept the crowd on their toes at 2000 Trees. Opening with the distorted riffs of ‘Fake Satan’, the audience found the band’s enjoyment infectious and were quickly jumping and dancing around to their eccentric sound.
Alongside their groovy riffs, Demob Happy experimented a little with creating ambiance with some delicate guitar licks. ‘Succubus’ was the first song to really get things going down in the pit; the colossal sound and shouted vocals (and encouragement from drummer Thomas Armstrong) shook things up, and got bodies moving. The nature of Demob Happy’s music means that they warp from one style to another, and when played live, the band take pleasure in drawing them out. To make up for their lengthier songs, the trio played for 45 minutes, rather than their allotted 30, a bonus for the fans present! Throughout those 45 minutes, the three members on stage were grinning from ear to ear, and their enjoyment became ours as their music got everyone dancing.
Bryde (8) is the alias of singer/songwriter Sarah Howells, who appeared at 2000 Trees for the first time this year. While her crowd wasn’t big, the people gathered around the stage listened politely to her sensational vocal. The picturesque setting encouraged Bryde to play some of her new and more delicate tracks.
‘To Be Brave’ opened in a delicate manner, but the track quickly grew in intensity as Howells showed off her vocal power, alongside her stunning songwriting ability. The more fierce track, ‘Less’ closed Bryde’s set. Her vocals switched from dainty and tender to immensely powerful in a split second and this change held the audience transfixed.The style of Bryde’s music is wonderfully diverse, yet very defined, as shown by her strong performance at Two Thousand Trees.
Folk outfit Skinny Lister (9) were the very band 2000 Trees needed to get people up and dancing on a Saturday night! Their sound was upbeat and incredibly defined - there was no forgetting who you were watching! Skinny Lister gathered a vast crowd, with people sat around outside the tent listening whilst eating food.
The band whirled about on stage, while the crowd below were having the time of their lives singing and dancing along. The sea shanty ‘John Kanaka’ really raised the roof, and even ‘38 Minutes’, a track from their soon to be released fourth album got people singing along with it’s easy chorus and hefty bass-heavy rhythm.
Joining Skinny Lister on stage for their final song was Sean McGowan and Jay McAllister (aka Beans on Toast), and ‘Six Whiskies’ was filled with laughter and dancing. The passion and enjoyment Skinny Lister and in their own music encourages others to have fun too, and the crowd walked away from the stage after the band’s set with genuine smiles on their faces.
Photo: Ben Morse
Like Jamie Lenman, Ben Marwood (8) is one of 2000 Trees Festival’s regulars. Opening with the delicate fingerpicked guitar of The Postal Service’s ‘The District Sleeps Alone Tonight’, Marwood quickly got his audience to fall silent. His vocal was rough and a little unexpected, but this added to the charm of his set.
‘Toil’ featured incredibly raw lyrics, and was performed in an emotional manner, with the emotions only amplified by the stunning surroundings. Marwood was upbeat and comfortable on stage as he happily cracked jokes and chatted away to the crowd. The singer’s ability to hide a multitude of meanings within his lyrics became clear with the stunning ‘Bury Me With You’. Marwood is able to spin stories into songs and create music that is both entertaining and beautiful.
Towards the end of his set, Marwood played the perfect song to perk his audience up; ‘Singalong’ was an original song which encouraged the audience to do just that - sing along. Everyone in the Forest was singing and laughing, Marwood himself included, and his mellow set was the perfect way to chill out before the chaos that the following acts would entail.
A band built for small non barrier intimate shows, now playing the biggest stage of the entire festival is something quite of an achievement. For Ipswich’s modern emo founders, Basement (8), it’s their returning appearance to trees but faced with a much larger crowd.
With the sun beaming behind the clouds, and the breeze cooling hot bodies down, it was almost like the weather was winding down to the soft ambient sounds that their latest record, Promise Everything captivated.
For sworn by fans, this set was focused more on the chillness of the festival, than their old-school energy raging songs from 'I Wish I Could Stay Here' and 'Fading'. It’s apparent they’re a band who could grow in sound yet still maintain the exact same faces when they started out.
Photo: Gareth Bull
This year was 2000 Trees Festival’s biggest year to date, and with Enter Shikari (9.5) headlining the Saturday night, the festival’s organizers clearly saved the best until last.
While the main stage of Trees was slightly smaller than the ones Enter Shikari are used to playing, they went all out, bringing with them a brilliant lighting rig for the stage, and their surround sound speakers. As the sun began to set on Upcote Farm, Enter Shikari opened their set with ‘The Sights’. Things quickly went from zero to one hundred as the crowd sang every word. ‘Juggernauts’ saw things begin to get hectic, as is expected from a Shikari show. The band took a brief break in the set to congratulate a couple who just got engaged, something heartwarming and memorable for all involved!
‘The Last Garrison’ brought things back up to speed again, with the band putting all of their energy into the performance, feeding off the energy of the crowd and vice versa. ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ slowed the pace again, with frontman Rou Reynolds declaring that the song was written to be performed in stunning places such as the beautiful Cotswolds. The audience watching Shikari were incredibly receptive and happy to join in, finishing lyrics without prompting and clapping along and jumping around.
Enter Shikari have always been an ambitious band, and 2000 Trees saw them attempt a “quickfire round”, where they played four songs in eight minutes. These songs were mash-ups of some crowd favourites, so of course included ‘Sorry You’re Not a Winner’ and ‘The Jester’. For their encore, the band played ‘Redshift’ and ‘Live Outside’. These newer songs were filled with as much energy and received with as much enthusiasm as the older material.
As Enter Shikari left the stage, a dance remix of ‘The Embers’ and ‘The Spark’ were left playing as the crowd around the stage began to dissipate. Shikari’s set was filled with passion, energy, and good fun, and is sure to remain a fond memory for everyone in the crowd. A brilliant and rallying end to another amazing weekend down in the heart of the Cotswolds.