Photo: Gareth Bull
Bristolian singer/songwriter Gaz Brookfield’s (8.5) vibe fit perfectly with the Forest Stage’s intimate setting. His songs were perfectly crafted stories, capturing the attention of his audience. Technical issues prompted Brookfield to head into the middle of the crowd after one song, resulting in a huge singalong. From the amusing ‘The Diabetes Blues’ to the sombre ‘Tale of Gunner Haines’, Brookfield’s set and chatter between songs kept the Forest captivated. There was laughter, some sadness, and lots of singing – everything you could ask for to set you up for a day at Trees.
itoldyouiwouldeatyou (7) gathered quite the crowd in the Neu tent. With a pop-punk/emo sound similar to Nervus, and some catchy choruses, their set was rather enjoyable. They also brought with them a contemporary vibe, adding elements of spoken word poetry to their songs. The crowd bounced and sang along, clearly having a blast. ‘Get Terrified’ added a gentle vibe to their set with hands in the air, while ‘Almost Zero’ got everyone singing and moving about. itoldyouiwouldeatyou were good at what they did, attacking each song with brilliant energy and gusto and ultimately prove why their on the receiving end of near endless praise.
Photo: Joe Singh
Bristolian punks Heavy Lungs (7.5) pulled a fair crowd to the Neu tent. Frontman Danny Nedelko had an interesting stage presence with his jerky dancing and wide-eyed unnerving stare. The band’s guitars sounded huge, effortlessly filling the small tent. Each song was perfectly crafted, and the chaotic nature of Heavy Lungs’ show was reminiscent of an IDLES gig. As Nedelko threw himself about the stage with reckless abandon, the rest of his band worked to get the crowd moving. Flying through favourites including ‘Roy’ and ‘Blood Brother’, Heavy Lungs treated us to yet another high-octane and enjoyable set.
The distinct vocal of Tom Hudson and the meaty riffs of Pulled Apart by Horses (8) gathered quite the crowd, all jumping, singing, and enjoying themselves. The band were confident and energetic, flying through their set which included ‘The Big What If’, ‘Meat Balloon’, ‘Prince of Meats’, and new song ‘Is This Thing On?’. These songs really showcased what the four can do and left many wishing they’d played a later slot. Their big riffs resulted in a big pit, and ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’ saw fists in the air and riotous shouting. Fun was had all around at Pulled Apart by Horses’ early evening set, which set the tone for the rest of the night.
Photo: Joe Singh
It may have been over a year since the release of Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It, but going from this evening’s performance, Rolo Tomassi (9) are still riding high from the release. Whereas the group have graced Upcote Farm many times, this slot is undoubtedly their most lofty set to date at the festival and it’s clear that they now possess the following to support such a high calibre performance. Opening with the crystallising intensity of ‘Rituals’ before plunging into the depths of Grievance’s ‘Funeral’ prior to angelically rising again with the calculated majesty of ‘Balancing The Dark’, this is set another sublime and essentially flawless performance courtesy from band that’s now become near globally renewed for reliable excellence.
With a setlist predominantly composed of material from the aforementioned Time Will Die… Rolo Tomassi are nothing less than spellbinding this evening, with their phenomenal craft proving to be translucent divine violence this summer eve. Ending on the arresting, malignant beauty of ‘A Flood Of Light’, to see Rolo Tomassi finally perform a set of this stature to a crowd of this size after so many performance at this festival is just utterly fantastic.
Photo: Gareth Bull
The Axiom’s tent was overflowing with bodies singing and dancing for Skinny Lister’s (8) set. A band that frequent the festival, their set was the perfect way to get festival goers up and dancing ready for the night’s headliners. Opening with ’38 Minutes’, the five-piece immediately got their crowd jumping. Vocalist Lorna Thomas whirled around the stage as her band flew through upbeat song after upbeat song.
Skinny Lister are a band that does nothing but make people smile. The musicians themselves were having a blast, as were the audience. From the jaunty ‘Rattle & Roar’ to the catchy ‘John Kanaka’, the lyrics were sung back to the band on stage. Skinny Lister’s shows are always a party and their set at Trees this year was no different. They raced through huge sing-along hits, shared drinks with their audience and Lorna Thomas even jumped up and surfed the crowd. Their show ended with ‘Trouble on Oxford Street’ and ‘Six Whiskies’, the crowd and band loving one last singalong.
Photo: Ben Morse
Canadian punks Cancer Bats (9) closed The Cave on Trees’ second night. It was their first time at the festival, and they pulled quite the crowd. They launched immediately into ‘Gatekeeper’, frontman Liam Cormier bouncing endlessly about the stage. Scott Middleton conjured huge riffs and the Cave’s tent was overflowing with moving bodies. A large pit formed in front of the stage and heads were banging all the way to the back of the tent. After some of Cancer Bats’ biggest hits ‘Bricks and Mortar’ and ‘Hail Destroyer’ came a surprise cover. ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys translated brilliantly to Cancer Bats’ sound, getting the crowd bopping and singing along.
The four put 100% of their effort into their show, ensuring that they thanked the festival goers sincerely for watching their set. Cormier didn’t stop bouncing once and had a huge grin on his face as the hour flew by. Few frontmen are as energetic and enthusiastic as Liam, and his energy spurs on every Cancer Bats show. After a heavy set filled with major riffs and some great pits, the set was closed with ‘War Pigs’, a Black Sabbath cover that only Cancer Bats could pull off brilliantly.
Photo: Joe Singh
After the release of their sixth studio album VI last year, You Me at Six (8.5) have been touring hard. Their headline set at 2000 this year was a culmination of that, the setlist perfectly honed to get an entire crowd singing along. Their slot on the main stage was their first at Trees, and crowds of attendees flocked to see them.
Opening with ‘Fast Forward’, frontman Josh Franceschi showed his charismatic side, encouraging his crowds to really enjoy themselves. You Me at Six played favourites from their entire discography at Trees, from ‘Lived a Lie’, ‘Night People’ and ‘3AM’ to ‘Reckless’ and ‘Save it for the Bedroom’. All of these songs got the crowd singing and dancing despite the slightly different sound each had.
Photo: Joe Singh
‘Bite My Tongue’ took things further, the band becoming more animated and the audience singing their hearts out. After a beautifully heartfelt speech about the importance of youth, the five-piece Surrey band took a quick break before launching back into their set with ‘No One Does it Better’. Encores see both the band and audience giving their all before the show ends, and You Me at Six’s was no different.
The crowd raised their phone torches and climbed on each other’s shoulders at Franceschi’s word for the final two songs of Friday night. ‘Straight to My Head’ and ‘Room to Breathe’ were stunning, their easy singalong vibe ending the set, and evening, perfectly.