The first of a two part review of this years 2000trees Festival. First up is the purple DM’d Dark Secret with her words and some pictures from our gallery.
We (Still Burning and I) weren’t sure what to expect for our first (and hopefully not last) visit to 2000trees. Arriving at the turnoff from the main road, we met a queue of cars and lots of smiling faces. Once out of the queue and past the car parking entrance booth we were directed into a big field, parked and at the venue entrance within 10 minutes (and that includes the time it took to change my footwear).
Wristband queueing was minimal and directly in front of us on entry was the blue tent containing The Cave – the main stage for the Thursday evening activities. The Forest and The Croft stages were also active for this first evening – both just a stroll away through the rapidly filling camping areas.
Most unusual to me was to see the plethora of tents within the venue – not a few fields away but actually between the stages. Basically you rocked up, set up camp closest to the stage you planned on frequenting the most and that was it. No need to leave again until Sunday. Just brilliant. Quite a few times I saw folk charging down towards The Cave from their tents and diving into the midst of an active mosh pit.
As the venue has a noise curfew, post 11pm the cinema and DJ sets were silent – with headphones to be rented asap on your arrival as they run out quickly. This meant that camping so close to the stages wasn’t too much of an issue with regard to noise if you weren’t a night owl.
If you preferred comfort, you could choose between luxury camping up behind the main stage or a 20-30 min drive to Cheltenham for a B&B or hotel.
As the weather was perfect, dragging the sleeping bag out of the tent and sleeping under the stars was even an option.
So, after an orientation wander we were all sorted and rearing to go. Cameras primed, we approached The Cave for the first band of the day, only to find the singer in midst of the crowd already – SB disappeared into the mosh pit, reappearing at the end with a big grin and a small cut on the bridge of his nose where his camera had impacted. We really must catch The St Pierre Snake Invasion again sometime.
This set the tone for the Thursday evening in The Cave – it was rowdy, raucous and immense fun, however, if you preferred something a bit less active, The Forest stage provided hammocks, hay bales and intimate acoustic sets from the likes of Billy from The Subways and The Cadbury Sisters.
Up the hill a bit further and The Croft had Comedy and alternative music in a laid back tent.
Dotted throughout the venue, amongst the tents, were busk stops – small stages where there were scheduled sets after the main stages had finished but basically anyone could set up for an impromptu gig on them throughout the day.
It’s impossible to talk in any depth about all the bands that I saw over the 3 days – there were just too many – but I was pretty much entertained the entire time. I wandered about so much my feet felt like lead covered pain by the end and I slept like a dead thing when I finally got home.
Trying to work out the band name from the fancy dress costume was great fun; watching a guy in an inflatable pumpkin outfit being followed around and beaten by a bunch of guys with inflatable truncheons and it clicking what it was representing (The Smashing Pumpkins). Seeing 2 guys dressed as tigers walking around in a frame made of plastic pipes, with a small toy tiger tied to the pipework (Three Trapped Tigers). There was another wearing a white coat covered in small test tubes (Test Tube Babies) and a couple wandering about covered in Subway wrappers and cups (The Subways). It became a game and a way to break the ice – going up to confirm your guess or congratulate them on a great idea.
I liked that this festival was totally live music oriented – there were no booming dance tents all day and night – the people were there for the live music, not for DJs.
In fact, it’s hard to find a bad thing from the weekend – one, possibly the only, big fly was that The Subways banned all but their own photographers from the pit and we only found out a few minutes before they were due to start. It felt a bit prima donna-like to me and put me off wanting to even watch them, especially as we’d shot them in Aberdeen and had been looking forward to shooting them again. So, we went for pizza instead.
Our flickr gallery of images from 2000trees 2015 can be found here.
So, what did I enjoy the most? This is tricky – I had fun for different reasons…
Musically I enjoyed listening to Electric River, The Xcerts, Skinny Lister, The Twilight Sad, The Computers… As a music photographer it was mostly The Cave bands; Turbowolf, Bury Tomorrow, Mclusky, Hacktivist, ROAM – you just can’t beat the adrenaline buzz you get from being in the thick of it.
Dark Secrets musical highlights of the festival.
Thursday: The Computers were a nice find. Climbing onto the speakers, Singer, Alex Kershaw, spent most of his time with his head in the lighting rig, tossing guitars casually to his roadie on the other side of the stage when he no longer wanted them. Their punky rock & roll kept the crowd jumping. Four piece Turbowolf were another band I enjoyed, melodic yet dirty, psychedelic heavy rock with a very watchable frontman and a female bassist. For something a lot more laid back, The Cadbury Sisters in The Forest were just perfect (especially if you were lucky enough to bag a hammock). Lovely harmonies in a gorgeous setting.
Friday: Creeper are a gothic punky band, more tuneful than you’d maybe expect from that description. Hacktivist, a name I recognise from their visit to Aberdeen last year, play an odd mix of rap and metal, fast and furious. All girl Honeyblood provided a soothing contrast with their catchy indie rock/pop that sounds bigger than two people could possibly make. Young Guns brit rock with catchy riffs, Pulled Apart by Horses hard rock which the crowd was loving. Quite a few of the people we talked to the previous day said this was one not to miss. A trek up through the tents to The Croft brought me to the synth-poppy Emperor Yes a very happy bunch of lads indeed, surrounded by a relaxed crowd, lounging in the evening sun.
Saturday: For some time now I’d been looking forward to finally seeing mostly Aberdeen band, The Xcerts but somehow always ended up missing them. Now though, my time had come as they rocked the main stage, getting the crowd singing along as well as they had for the acoustic set in The Forest earlier (or so I heard). I actually ended up standing next to 2/3rds of Electric River, who had played an enjoyable set immediately before (and also at the Willowman Festival a few weeks back) – frontman Sponge was having a nap when I left the arena. I would have loved to curl up and nap too but duty called elsewhere… Back to the main stage for Skinny Lister, an excellent festival band who pass a jug of cider around those watching and crowd surf with a double bass. Oh, they never fail to get the crowd jumping too. Bury Tomorrow passed by in a rush of adrenaline, metalcore and flashing lights ended by (so I heard, I’d had to head off elsewhere by then) a crowd invasion of the stage. Mclusky* were an interesting watch, starting with the quiet but hypnotic ‘Fuck This Band’ (‘Shut the f* up, if people in Glasgow can shut up and listen and they have a lot more to say for themselves, so can you’). Comprising Falco of Mclusky (also plays Future of the Left), the Mclusky drummer (Jack), Julia (bassist from Future of the Left) and with the singer of The St Pierre Snake Invasion (Damien) adding his tuppenceworth later on, it was certainly different. I’d started off in the main arena for Alkaline Trio, but they didn’t really grab me and the power outage 6 or so songs in gave me a good excuse to dash off to catch The Twilight Sad, who gave a much more powerful and emotional performance in the intimate setting of The Axiom. A good way to round off the last day of an excellent festival.
Next year is the festivals 10th anniversary – it will be interesting to see what they have planned. Bring it on…
Our flickr gallery of images from 2000trees 2015 can be found here.
All words and images by Dark Secret.
Read Part Two of our 2000trees review by Still Burning here.