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Live Reviews

2000trees

Upcote Farm

10th-13th July 2024

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2000trees 2024 – festival review
📸Jez Pennington

To be established means “having existed or done something for a long time and therefore recognized and generally accepted”. The 2000trees name means something, to fans it means an unrivalled weekend of thrills in a chilled environment, and to musicians it’s a proving ground, a platform for new artists to shine, but also a place to reinvent yourself or test new waters in a safe place. Trees is established as a trusted sanctum for all music lovers, everyone is welcome and good times are guaranteed.

Those who have chosen to arrive at Upcote Farm near Cheltenham early are treated to what is actually becoming the highlight of the event – a special evening in the trees. Yes, Wednesdays belong to the magical Forest stage and this year the line-up is incredible. A mixture of new acts and returning heroes, the bill reflects perfectly what this festival is all about.

WEDNESDAY

With the forest stage alternating with the tiny Word stage today there is plenty of music on offer. At the Word stage alone we are able to catch great sets from KITE THIEF, CARSICK, Enola Gay and Frozemode.

📸 Carla Mundy

But truly it’s within the woods that this festival reaches mythical status. To see a band like Exit Child able to enthral the earliest of attendees with their impassioned grunge, and then have the always uplifting PET NEEDS orchestrate an excitable crowd through a joyous tone setting show before Lambrini Girls galvanise the masses into a united movement all in the space of the first couple of hours just emphasises the beauty of 2000trees.

The audience are all in this together, they believe and demonstrate the ethos of kindness and acceptance which is what makes the event so welcoming.

📸 Carla Mundy

The first of two outstanding Dead Pony sets this weekend soon leads us into the business end of night one. 2000trees royalty The Xcerts understand the assignment and pull out a memorable run through of their third album, ‘There Is Only You’ to celebrate the records 10th anniversary, which is eaten up by the crowd.

It’s around this time that the looming shadow of England vs Netherlands in the Euros takes over the festival. Despite initial reluctance to show the match out of respect to the bands, organisers end up screening the game over at The Axiom. Most impacted are Dream State, who lean into the prospect by showing the football on a TV on the stage, donning football shirts and providing fans with a goal and balls to play with as they belt out the likes of ‘White Lies’ and ‘Chin Up Princess’.

Thankfully Ollie Watkins saves us from the drama of extra time which means that headliners Boston Manor get the full attention of the crowd. Another band performing twice this weekend, they use this set to play early favourites ‘Burn You Up’, ‘Lead Feet’ and ‘Laika’ in a set which is an early contender for set of the weekend.

📸 Jez Pennington

Even when the main entertainment stops however 2000trees is best known for it’s late night activities. A legendary silent disco attracts the majority, but we head next into the camps and one of the busking stages at Camp Turner. There we catch acoustic sets from InMe frontman Dave McPherson and those scamps in PET NEEDS who manage to get mosh pits and crowd surfers in the campsite!

THURSDAY
📸 Carla Mundy

Whether in the general campsite, the family area or the VIP section, fans wake up the next morning to the relief of warm weather! It’s rained persistently in the days leading up to the event, but the ground has held up well. The music is in full flow again from half past ten as relative locals Blank Atlas deliver a great little set on the Neu stage.

The diverse and social conscious line-up at 2000trees builds on the welcoming atmosphere and Thursday morning sees the likes of The Menstrual Cramps, Cherym, Shooting Daggers and The Oozes engaging their passionate crowds.

The structuring of the stages and times means that if you’re that way inclined you can catch non-stop music from early morning until the wee early hours. Us being somewhat inclined to support new music we dash around witnessing more superb performances from Meryl Streek, Dead Pony (again) and Enola Gay (again!).

📸 Jez Pennington

We then head back into the Forest where throughout the main days of the festival you can still see a mix of full band shows, acoustic sets and other unique offerings. We are here however for the always enjoyable Sean McGowan who plays a short sharp set of fan favourites.

2000trees is often at its finest on the smaller stages, but the main stage delivers one of the best barometers for the success of acts. Cassyette is next to grace this stage and showcase why she is steadily moving up bills such as this. A thoroughly captivating blitz of energy, you’d imagine Cassyette will be back soon in an even more prominent position.

📸 Joe Singh

It’s over at the Axiom soon thereafter that one of those magical moments is taking place with Spanish Love Songs attracting a crowd funnelling out of the confines of the large tent. That’s before Kids In Glass Houses then continue their triumphant return back on the main stage, with both bands eliciting some of those beautiful sing-a-long festival moments.

As do Boston Manor as they again prove themselves to be one of the bands of the weekend and an act ready for superstardom as they pack out the Axiom for their second set of the weekend. Manchester Orchestra deliver a charming performance next on the main stage, but clearly many of the uninitiated in the crowd are left a little underwhelmed.

We then finish day two with The Pale White in the Neu tent and The Gaslight Anthem on the main stage. Both bands allow their music to do the talking as they bring the first full day to a close. The Gaslight Anthem in particular are something of a dream booking for the festival, and they don’t disappoint.

📸 Joe Singh
FRIDAY

The festival is in full flow now, with the weather slightly cooler come Friday, fans are ready for another busy day. It’s up to the brilliant BEX to wake the campers up, which she does to great effect with the likes of ‘Fight’ and ‘sunDae’.

📸 Gareth Bull

If you want to watch as much music as possible, you need stamina or an easy to navigate site layout, and as we catch great sets from Mouth Culture, Sløtface and Problem Patterns, we’re very grateful for the simple site layout!

VIP ticket holders at 2000trees have their own campsite, bar and viewing platform and we catch The Rumjacks main stage set from said platform next. The band are entertaining, and the platform gives a nice view of the crowd getting into the party spirit!

In fairness though that party spirit is evident throughout each day and each performance. Tropic Gold get their crowd moving in the Axiom before As December Falls solidify their reputation as a live act over on the main stage. It’s great to see even smaller acts like Other Half in the Neu tent are given the same energy they produce from a crowd not showing any signs of fatigue.

The standard of performance across the weekend is high, with no set standing out as particularly bad. Perhaps that’s because we chose correctly when looking at those dreaded clashes, but you feel that the bands take 2000trees seriously. They know the rewards of a top tier show and they put in the effort that the crowd demands.

📸 Carla Mundy

Two standout performances transpire next however as first unpeople in the Cave tent and then Nova Twins on the main stage put in epically memorable performances. unpeople come from the ashes of Press To MECO and the power of the riff remains at full strength as they get the crowd fully locked in. Equally Nova Twins ooze star power as they take ownership of the main stage crowd. If you had to pencil in a band as a potential future headliner then either of these would be good bets!

📸 Carla Mundy

Bears In Trees represent a change in pace as their pop sensibilities feel like a refreshing change of pace next in the Axiom tent. Clearly the audience feel the same and many comment on their way out how impressed they were with another band with a huge upside.

📸 Jez Pennington

The undercurrent of 2000trees has always been young British rock acts, but the organisers do sprinkle the line-up with some international flair such as headliners The Gaslight Anthem and The Chats. Up next though is grandson on the main stage who brings an element of star power himself. Many in the audience are here to see what the fuss is about, and grandson delivers a good showing which has generally positive results, albeit with a few unimpressed faces remaining.

📸 Joe Singh

The festival gets a rebrand next as Bob Vylan return for consecutive years with a sub-headline spot on the main stage. The duo rename the festival Vylanfest and state that they’ll be back next year to headline. Truth be told, they probably could’ve done so this year as the crowd take their antics to another level.

A mixture of new tracks from recent album, ‘Humble As The Sun’ and favourites such as ‘We Live Here’ and ‘Pretty Songs’ make up a thoroughly enjoyable time. Bob Vylan are one of the best live acts in the UK at present and we’d certainly put money on them following through on their headline promise!

We finish out our Friday with Hot Milk headlining the Axiom and Empire State Bastard headlining the Cave. Hot Milk have just returned from playing stadiums across the world and make a clear effort to make their headline slot special. Again, you’d be happy seeing their performance close the main stage.

Empire State Bastard on the other hand have no bells and whistles, the group fronted by Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil and powered from behind the drum kit by Dave Lombardo destroy the Cave, causing a sonic onslaught that can only be described as magnificent. A different way to end our night compared to The Gaslight Anthem and Don Broco who will close the event, but that’s what makes 2000trees so special.

📸 Joe Singh
SATURDAY

Campers awaken on the final day to the pitter patter of rain on their tents, and the threat of the damp stuff maintains throughout a chillier day, however thankfully the heavens never fully open.

Split Chain are our first watch today and the band who are popping up a lot lately showcase a grunge/nu-metal crossover which explains why they are a good option for an opening act. The Meffs then blow off any cobwebs on the main stage with a blistering set of punk rockers, before the poppier angst of snake eyes thrills the Axiom crowd.

📸Abbi Draper

We then head into the Forest for one last time this year. Firstly, to catch the newly formed Interlaker featuring David Jakes of Lonely the Brave and Jack Wrench of Arcane Roots. The Forest is full as knowledgeable music fans catch a glimpse of this new project. Although only a short glimpse, what is seen is more than enough to whet the appetite for what’s to come!

Next Frank Turner takes part in a live podcast Q&A and acoustic set with the Mark and Me Podcast. Moments like this are more proof of what makes 2000trees different from your standard festival.

📸 Gareth Bull

It’s then a bit of a dash to the main stage for a second The Xcerts performance of the weekend, this time more of a standard hits affair including a surprise cameo from Josh Franceschi of You Me At Six – just one of a few special guests on show this weekend.

The Nightmares in the Neu tent and The Mysterines on the main stage then both make the most of their short times on stage before we catch House of Women and Cleopatrick on the same stages although from afar as we gather any remaining stamina for the incredible run of music set to follow.

We close out our weekend with Frank Turner bringing a headline worthy show to the main stage with new album, ‘Undefeated’, standing tall alongside favourites such as ‘I Still Believe’ and ‘Four Simple Words’.

📸 Gareth Bull

Creeper are then immediately ready to deliver their own headline performance in the Axiom tent. The crowd starting off up to fifteen deep outside of the confines of the tent! What Creeper then proceed to do is simply outstanding. For a band to use their headline set to open with a ten-minute rock opera and to then play almost exclusively all new material is quite incredible. Any other band would be murdered, but not Creeper.

No, the packed tent love every single moment of the set and the time simply flies by with highlights like ‘Sacred Blasphemy’ and ‘Misery’ eliciting some of those mass sing-a-long moments. A finale of ‘Cry To Heaven’ is truly awe-inspiring and again, if we are tagging bands for future main stage headline slots, then surely Creeper must be labelled as oven-ready!

📸 Jez Pennington

The big finale for us this year is a Don Broco currently out of the limelight writing their next record. Coming out of hibernation for this show, they deliver a tailor made headline performance which is up there with the best the festival will have ever seen. The band bring some of those bells and whistles but it’s their party anthems that do the talking this evening.

Over the three nights we’ve seen three completely different headline shows, and upwards of sixty acts giving it everything on stage. Some rest will now be required but with that said, you still don’t feel like you’ve been in a battle, which big festivals can sometimes become. That again is a testament to the magic of 2000trees.

Much is said of the atmosphere here (including by us in this review!), but the number of bands saying it’s their favourite festival is telling. That’s because most fans are here for the music. You can see this with the packed tents before midday and those still seeking live music gone midnight. It’s as much the people that establish 2000trees as what it is than anything else, and long may it continue to be the best festival in the UK!

📸 Jez Pennington

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Live Reviews

Slam Dunk Festival

Hatfield Park

Saturday 25th May 2024

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SLAM DUNK SOUTH 2024 – LIVE REVIEW

In the event programme You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi talks about the bands affinity with Slam Dunk Festival and the aptness that the festival acts as their final UK Festival appearance. Indeed it is fitting, but as well as looking back at the twenty year career of our headliners, it also puts into perspective the journey that the festival itself has been on.

Starting out as a single day event in Leeds back in 2006, You Me At Six first appeared in 2007 as the festival made Leeds University its home. The indoor university campus set-up expanded to include Hatfield in 2010 and would eventually take in a third day in the Midlands between 2013 and 2018 when the Hatfield event first moved outside to Hatfield Park.

Since then the event has become the two day fully outdoor event that has become something of a monster. The now traditional festival season opener has flown high, but last year a little like the story of Icarus, the event flew a little too close to the sun. As the events welcomed their biggest ever crowds, the infrastructure buckled under the strain and the festival was forced to acknowledge their failings with promises of lessons learnt this year.

Funnily enough the parallels to You Me At Six could be applied here as well, as again Franceschi admits within the programme notes that the band previously tried too hard to achieve success, made mistakes and needed to re-evaluate and return to their roots. For both the band and the festival, this approach has paid off, because from first arrival to departure this year at Hatfield goes off without an organisational hitch (although as we type this, Leeds has already run into problems!).

Slam Dunk has always been a festival where the music is at the forefront and we dive straight into festival season at the ‘GoPro’ stage with As Everything Unfolds smashing through a brilliant set as the sun shines down. ‘Ultraviolet’ rightly dominates the setlist and it’s clear that the band have something special. As we bid farewell to a regular headliner tonight, if organisers are pondering the headliners of the future then they may well wish to keep an eye on this band!

There are just the five stages this year as the festival scales back somewhat in order to refocus on the original spirit of the event. The site is more spread out this year which helps with people traffic flow and we take a stroll to the ‘Monster’ stage for a glimpse of old school punk favourites Snuff and to the ‘Kerrang’ stage for a beginnings of upstarts Honey Revenge. This is a great example of the dichotomy on offer under the genre-umbrella of the event.

The main stage will capture most of our attention today however and another band with a big future, As December Falls, pull a big and heavily engaged crowd to the stage early on. With their latest effort ‘Join the Club’ also glowing today, the future of this event does appear to be in safe hands!

Young and fresh artists have always featured prominently at Slam Dunk, but so have blasts from the past and the organisers have always had a knack of pulling out rare UK appearances from groups. Head Automatica are the first such act today, although they suffer a few technical hitches which takes the shine off of their set. That said, ‘Beating Heart Baby’ still elicits one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the day.

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The ‘Key Club’ stage is positioned a tad too close to the ‘Monster’ stage which does cause some sound bleed at times. Good luck to anyone out-noising Pennsylvanian hardcore breakthrough group One Step Closer. The group come out and smash through their set with controlled ferocity, leaving those present in little doubt that they are amongst the very best new bands on the circuit.

Meanwhile the technical gremlins continue to plague the main stage as We The Kings have their set cut down to just five songs, although that does include another huge sing-a-long for ‘Check Yes Juliet’.

As well as rarities, returns also feature prominently this year although oddly two of the biggest clash (but it wouldn’t be Slam Dunk without the clashes!). The Blackout perform seminal album, ‘The Best in Town’ in full over on the ‘GoPro’ stage and pull quite the crowd, although like us many depart twenty or so minutes in to head back to the main stage.

That’s because for the first time in some seven years Mallory Knox are back with vocalist Mikey Chapman! A handful of carefully chosen intro tracks highlight the momentous occasion before they deliver a career-spanning performance which delights their passionate fans. Despite some mic issues for Chapman, it’s fantastic to have his signature voice back at the helm of a band once heralded as the next big thing. With a tour lined up this autumn, perhaps that prophecy can still be fulfilled!

The Ghost Inside then lay waste to the ‘GoPro’ stage in another moment of celebration considering everything that they’ve been through. From there we head back to the ‘Kerrang’ tent for Pale Waves which again demonstrates the variety on offer even within the limited gene pool of Slam Dunk. Pale Waves say that they didn’t know what to expect, but what they get is a huge crowd singing every word back of what may be the best set of the whole day!

We are at the business end of the day now but there is still plenty of business to be taken care of! Another rare booking which elicits scenes of glee and sing-a-longs galore is that of Boys Like Girls who deliver the goods including hits ‘Love Drunk’ and ‘The Great Escape’.

Holding Absence frontman Lucas Woodford can then be found fronting a special performance from Funeral For A Friend on the ‘GoPro’ stage, with Woodford more than up to the task.

Then it’s back to the main stage for former headliners The All-American Rejects who are in the UK for the first time in ten years! Sadly the sound is pretty damn iffy throughout but the sing-a-long moments continue and more than compensate for their poor sound. Fans will be praying that it isn’t another ten years before they get to hear the likes of ‘Swing, Swing’, ‘Dirty Little Secret’, ‘Move Along’ and ‘Gives You Hell’ again!

We then catch the solid beginnings of The Wonder Years set as they close out the ‘Key Club’ stage. Elsewhere stages are headlined by I Prevail, Waterparks and The Interrupters but we naturally finish at the main stage with the festival farewell for You Me At Six.

The atmosphere is celebratory before the band even arrives on stage but when they do and immediately burst into ‘Save It For The Bedroom’ the place goes crazy for their heroes. Thankfully the sound is great for the headliners and the string of hits and fan favourites flies by, which is always a good sign.

The party lives up to the hype and You Me At Six are able to give a great account of what has made them such a special band whilst simultaneously showing what makes Slam Dunk what it is. Even at the end of a long, exhausting day the fans are more than willing to sing back every word of the likes of ‘Take on the World’, ‘Underdog’ and ‘Beautiful Way’.

After a year of negativity about the event, it’s great to see Slam Dunk (at Hatfield at least) firing on all cylinders, because there truly is no better way to kickstart festival season. Fans meanwhile will have one final chance to say goodbye to You Me At Six next year, and on tonight’s showing, you’d be foolish not to!

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Magazine

Full Pelt Magazine

Vol. 16

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The latest issue of the Full Pelt Magazine is here, and you can download your copy for free below!

Volume 16 is a special edition where we run down our Top 50 Albums of the Year! 2023 has seen some amazing records released, but who will take the coveted number one spot?

Our News Report is still here also covering the latest from Vended, Slam Dunk Festival, Liam Gallagher & John Squire, Teddy Rocks, Brighten the Corners and LeeStock!

Finally, we round up the latest additions to our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist with TelltaleShooting Daggers and Fraser Morgan!

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Magazine

Full Pelt Magazine

Vol. 13

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The latest issue of the Full Pelt Magazine is here, and you can download your copy for free below!

Volume 13 features cover stars Holding Absence as they hit the road in support of ‘The Noble Art of Self Destruction’. We also catch Skinny Lister as they take ‘Shanty Punk’ to the stage. Plus we review the latest album from Beans On Toast!

We have our News Report rounding up new releases from Bruce Dickinson, CJ Wildheart, Alkaline Trio, Trash Boat, P.O.D., Atreyu, Normandie, Oakman, Chelsea Wolfe and LØLØ.

Plus new live announcements from Lytham Festival, Slam Dunk, Wild Fields Festival, The Killers, As December Falls, Pet Needs, Indoor Pets, Nickelback, IDLES, Avril Lavigne, You Me At Six, Taking Back Sunday, Don’t Panic and Thomas Nicholas Band!

Finally, we round up the latest additions to our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist with Where Oceans BurnBreak Fifty and fakeyourdeath!

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Album Reviews

As December Falls

Join The Club

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AS DECEMBER FALLS – JOIN THE CLUB – ALBUM REVIEW

If one thing is for sure with As December Falls it’s that the band isn’t afraid of hard graft. Recent years have seen the band play every stage willing to host them and new album, ‘Join the Club’, represents their third studio album in less than five years!

But then what is the old saying? “Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Given their chosen style of music is joyous pop punk, it’s no stretch to imagine that the band feel this way.

‘Join the Club’ is an instantly fun-filled romp through the genre which doesn’t let up throughout its thirty-two minute runtime. If you are a pop punk fan then this album is a perfect example of everything good about the oft maligned music.

WATCH ‘JOIN THE CLUB’ ON YOUTUBE
As December Falls – ‘Join The Club’

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At its core ‘Join the Club’ is simply an enjoyable collection of songs which just flies by when listening, which is always a good sign. Deeper down its an expansion of the groups previous two efforts with the band sounding more assured and ready to take over the world.

Hard work sadly doesn’t always pay off in life and certainly not in the music industry, but everything does seem to be falling into place for As December Falls to climb the echelons of this tricky business. ‘Join the Club’ is exactly the album they need to capitalise on their current momentum, so it will be exciting to see where they go next!

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Read our review of ‘Evergreen’ from PVRIS