Photo: Gareth Bull
Opening with ‘Ecstacy’, the four-piece from Sweden, Normandie (8), immediately got a pit going. Combining unusual synths with big riffs and catchy choruses, Normandie’s sound made their set really enjoyable. A large majority of their audience knew their lyrics, and Normadie were all bouncing around the stage as they played. Frontman Philip Strand worked the crowd easily, getting them to jump and sing at his command. Since the release of White Flag last year, the band have worked to better their live shows, something immediately clear at Trees. Flying through songs new and old, Normandie created a set that was great fun for everyone involved.
It may be their first time to ever grace the main stage that stands tall at Upcote Farm, but Vukovi (9) charge the stage with reckless ambition. Whilst they may vocally admit that facing such an impressive crowd is terrifying, the Scottish collective never, not once, show any induction of such fear. As many who have previously seen their renowned performances may expect, this main stage, midday performance is just pure chaotic and athletic hedonism. The group lacerate their way through content their self titled debut with neon dynamism, breathless energy and grounded charisma and honestly, to state that is performance is collective and controlled chaos would be an understatement.
The untameable spirit of constant movement that is the frontwoman Janine Shilstone is the very embodiment of this band, with her physically technicolor animation only amplifying the group’s hyperactive and overzealous craft. From inciting mayhem en mass to forcing the now legendary Mr. Fridge (The winner of this year’s fancy dress content, and ultimately, the festival itself) into the fray for a riotous performance of ‘Target Practice’, Shilstone ensures that the chaos never subsides at any moment. Whilst this year has hosted many phenomenal acts over the course of this weekend, this is undoubtedly a set that will be reminisced about in the years to come. A wonderful set from one of the most brightest sparks within the UK alt-punk scene.
Photo: Gareth Bull
Another band that drew the attention of Big Jeff, JOHN (8.5) didn’t disappoint. The London duo were lively, with guitarist Johnny Healy bouncing about with reckless abandon. With screeching guitars and pouncing drums, they flew effortlessly through their noise punk set. Just watching them do their thing was brilliant, a thought shared by the crowd present. The pair gave off quite strong IDLES vibes, with drummer/vocalist John Newton’s rough vocal often joined by many of the audience. From the high-octane ‘Balfron’ to newest single ‘Future Thinker’, the quality of JOHN’s music and performance never slipped. They had a blast on stage, and because of that, so did we.
Muncie Girls (8.5) walked onto the Main Stage with a brilliant attitude and showcased their wonderful song-writing skills. Their upbeat punk sound fit perfectly behind frontwoman Lande Hekt’s gentle vocals, creating something effortlessly attention-grabbing. Opening with the bouncy ‘High’, Muncie Girls immediately seemed at home on the big stage. Their set included songs from their entire discography. Before launching into the catchy ‘Jeremy’, Hekt declared sarcastically that it was written about her favourite person. Their chilled vibe really suited the Main Stage arena, as the gathered crowd lazed in the sun, nodding their heads appreciatively. ‘Respect’ closed their set all too soon with a funky bassline and clever feminist lyrics. Muncie Girls played brilliantly, earning themselves a few new fans we’re sure.
Photo: Dominic Meason
Floods of people headed to the Main Stage to watch Every Time I Die. (7.5) They played their 2003 album, Hot Damn!, in full which was a huge feat. Opening with ‘Romeo a Go-Go’, their giant sound grabbed attention. The crowds had a great time, the band’s heavy sound prompting proper movement and pits. ‘Godspeed Us to Sea’ was played for the first time in over five years, its riffs sounding massive. Vocalist Keith Buckley owned the stage, working the crowd and delivering powerful vocals.
After Hot Damn!, Every Time I Die played songs spanning their other seven albums. ‘Decayin’ With the Boys’ was fast-paced and saw the crowd become frenzied, everyone singing along. While their sound is perhaps not for everyone, Every Time I Die managed to create a set that catered for fans new and old. This highlighted how their sound has evolved in their 21 years together, moving from hardcore metal to something more, elements of different styles leaking into their music. The beefy ‘Map Change’ closed the set, Buckley’s vocals moving from harsh to melodic and soulful.
Photo: Gareth Bull
Frank Iero has come a long way since his My Chemical Romance days. After a few name changes, his solo project came to 2000 Trees as Frank Iero and the Future Violents. (7.5) Iero has progressed as a frontman, doing well to both chat to the crowd and encourage them to enjoy his music. Both his sound and his songs were well crafted, if a little samey, and his band were a force to be reckoned with.
Opening his set with ‘Moto Pop’, he set the tone for the night – high energy and fun. Iero’s vocal was powerful and from the off he was showing how much fun he has playing for crowds. As his set progressed, some gentler songs were played. ‘Medicine Square Garden’ had a huge bass riff, with delicate layers of keys hidden underneath. This was a huge contrast to ‘Basement Eyes’ which preceded it. ‘Basement Eyes’ had chugging guitars and an emotional vocal, Iero getting the gathered audience to sing along.
Iero’s set and sound was a nod to the classic emo style, reminiscent of Taking Back Sunday. While it took him a short while to warm to the audience, once he managed it he performed well, prompting dancing, singing, and crowdsurfing. His solo music is clearly a passion project and that came across in all elements of his performance at Trees. We left with smiles on our faces, as did many others.
Photo: Gareth Bull
After releasing their fifth studio album, Rituals, last year and a live album this year, Deaf Havana (8.5) headed to the fields of Upcote Farm to close Two Thousand Trees this year. Their gentle sound and frontman James Veck-Gilodi’s humble nature fit wonderfully with the vibe at Trees. Opening with ‘Boston Square’, the upbeat guitar riff got the gathered crowd dancing.
Deaf Havana’s set was perfectly crafted, spanning their vast back-catalogue. The balance of sing-along favourites and delicate, emotional ballads was perfect. The four on stage joked easily, entertaining the large audience watching them. They flew through the stunning ‘Cassopeia’ and ‘Mildred’, James Veck-Gilodi’s vocals powerful. It was effortless for the band to get their crowd to join in, thousands of voices joining their own.
Photo: Gareth Bull
The delicate and emotional ‘Happiness’ and ‘Anemophobia’ highlighted the reach Deaf Havana have – their crowd knew each and every word. Even those who didn’t sing along were able to sit back and enjoy a wonderful show, complete with stunning lighting. Watching them on the Main Stage, it felt as though Deaf Havana and Trees were made for each other. The subtle synths and relaxed nature of the music worked with the chilled-out nature of Two Thousand Trees.
As their set progressed through to ‘Hunstanton Pier’ and their encore song ‘Sinner’, the band highlighted how vast their influences are, and how much their sound can change. Their bouncy, upbeat songs were a brilliant way to see out a festival that sees so many different artists across its stages. A fitting end to another brilliajt editon of this flawless festival.