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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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Vol. 44

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Full Pelt Magazine

Vol. 11

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

Volume 11 features cover stars Massive Wagons as they kicked off their UK Tour this week. We also review live shows from Millie Manders and the Shutup, Bob Vylan and Lonely The Brave.

We have our News Report rounding up new releases from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Neck Deep, Heriot, The Dollyrots, Guise, Defects, BIG SPECIAL, BLACKGOLD, Gen and the Degenerates and Greywind!

Plus new live announcements from Joanne Shaw Taylor, The Zutons, Tool, Lightning Seeds, The Nightmares, Dirty Honey and Peter Hook & The Light!

Finally, we round up the latest additions to our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist with Hunter OliveriThe Cain Pit and Creature Cult!

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