Live Review: 2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm – 06/07/2017 – 08/07/2017

On paper, the 2000 Trees Festival looked like it was once again going to be one of the highlights of the summer with its stellar lineup of underground rock, indie, pop-punk, and hardcore. After a successful 2016, expectations were high for this year. Already Heard spent three days basking in the Cheltenham sun to see if it succeeded in living up to its potential.

Thursday, July 6th 2017

Opening proceedings is none other than Grumble Bee, and he’s wearing a pretty swish onesie! Between shredding his vocal chords to pieces in the name of pure passion and turning the excitably supportive crowd before him into a sea of head nods, Jack and his merry men make sure that Trees kicks off with a roar rather than a whimper. Collectively they provide a stirring and soulful start to the weekend as they showcase Grumble Bee’s dynamic style.

One year on from playing the small Neu Stage, Bellevue Days pull in a crowd in the bigger Axiom stage tent. Displaying their pleasing brand of quiet/loud alt-rock, the Croydon quartet continue to show why they’re labelled as “ones to watch”. The hushed to explosive dynamic is pulled with precision and is thoroughly effective. Songs from new EP, ‘Rosehill’, ‘Jack and I’ and ‘Faith’ especially prove to be convincing.

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After an eventful 12 months, Puppy return to 2000 Trees with an array of metallic riffs complimenting Jock Norton’s harmonious melodies. Having toured with a variety of acts, the London trio are becoming tighter with every showing. Once an inevitable album drops, you can expect to hear a lot more about Puppy.

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Although we’ve witnessed Muncie Girls several times over the past 18 months, seeing their brand of socio-political indie punk is still a joy. In between the array of ‘From Caplan To Belsize’ highlights is a new song. ‘Locked Up’ show the Exeter trio continue to be as lyrically relevant. We look forward to hearing what they have to say with their next release.

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Upon the release of ‘I’m Not Well’ last summer, Black Foxxes received plenty of praise for their emotional brand of alt-rock. However, with a mid-set lull of two unknown songs, the trio doesn’t quite meet expectations on this occasion, even if the impassioned pairing of ‘River’ and ‘I’m Not Well’, to an extent, redeem their set.

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There are only two guarantees in this life; that the sun will rise every day and that Feed The Rhino will turn whatever stage they play into a total war zone. From the furious ‘Caller Of The Town’ to the building atmosphere of ‘Tides’, it sure feels nice seeing these lads back to what they do best.

Although he’s not the biggest pull on the intimate Forest stage, Jonah Matranga offers a short but satisfying retrospective set of his various projects. While a cover of Prince’s ‘Kiss’ is as charismatic as Jonah’s beaming smile.

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Pulled Apart By Horses see the evening’s entertainment out on the Axiom Stage and make sure they pack in as many grooves as they can. Tunes picked from latest record ‘The Haze’ have the packed out tent tapping their feet, but it’s the classics such as ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’ and ‘High Five Swan Dive Nose Dive’ that really gets the blood pumping.

Friday, 7th July 2017

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Opening the main stage of any festival is no easy feat. Yet despite saying how odd it feels playing such a huge place is daunting, Ducking Punches make it look all too natural. The band’s neat slices of honest and open folk punk go down a treat in the early afternoon sun and see more and more smiles forming on faces as the set goes on. Whilst over on the Axiom stage, Leeds psychedelic grunge band, Weirds, show plenty of energy as their kick off Saturday with their stirring, twisting sound.

What better way to blow away the cobwebs of a heavy Thursday night than with some premium riffing courtesy of wars! There’s a lot to enjoy about the Rugby band’s brand of visceral post-hardcore and more than likely pick up a whole new batch of fans in the process of making the whole of The Cave bang their head.

While Vukovi have a minor hiccup by starting later than expected, the Axiom tent is packed out to see the Scottish quartet. Janine Shilstone is unfazed by it though as she gives a confident vocal performance. Musically ‘Weirdo’ rides on in its groove as it’s warmly received by a small dedicated following down the front. Likewise ‘La Di Da’ and ‘Animal’ are as vibrant as you’d hope for.

A brief walk over to the Cave stage sees Brutus produce a slice of controlled chaos with their headache-inducing sound but we’re not complaining. The Belgian trio have often been noted as ones to watch by this site, and today’s outing shows just why. They’re intense but harmonious with singing drummer Stefanie Mannaert at the band’s core. Undoubtedly Brutus have won over some new fans.

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Employed To Serve have been turning heads throughout the heavy music world and their set only serves to cement their place as one of the finest even more. Unrelenting, unrestrained and unbelievably brutal, the band make sure that everybody in The Cave leaves with their ears ringing and their hearts racing.

Canadian trio The Dirty Nil are as raucous as they are on record. With cuts from last year’s exceptional ‘Higher Power’ record appearing throughout, a new cut – ‘Pain and Infinity’ matches their punk rock n’ roll sound with precision. Throughout Luke Bentham’s vocals soar against a thriving wall of sound, covered in sweat and acting like a natural rock star.

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There aren’t many bands better in the UK right now than Deaf Havana and this fan picked set only goes to prove that sentiment even more. From a new, much more suitable, version of ‘Friends Like These’ to a joyful run through of ‘22’, this is set from a band who are once again loving what they do and making sure that it shows.

In the future people will look back on Frank Carter as one of the finest front men of our generation. Right now though he is just continuing to break down boundaries and reek havoc wherever he is allowed to with his Rattlesnakes in tow to think that far ahead. From the opening wallop of ‘Juggernaut’ and stalking ‘Paradise’ to the brilliantly anthemic ‘Lullaby’, this is just another in a long line of victories for Frank and it is a joy to be a part of.

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Having spent time away writing a new record, The Wonder Years’ Cave stage headline set is treated a stop-gap between albums. Nevertheless, over the course of 14 songs, the Philadelphia group go above and beyond with a wealth of fan favourites. As they see out their set with ‘Came Out Swinging’, we’re amongst those left walking away covered in sweat and beaming with broad smiles.

The past 12 months have been a rollercoaster for Beach Slang, but on tonight’s evidence, things are back on track. Frontman James Alex is in a well-spirited mood as his band play through a series of heartfelt punk rock numbers. Throw in some playful snippets of Santana’s ‘Smooth’, Lit’s ‘My Own Worst Enemy’, the Chilli Peppers’ ‘Give It Away’ and ‘Wonderwall’ alongside a Pixies cover and you’re left with an undoubtedly, fun Beach Slang show to end Friday with.

Saturday, 8th July 2017

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With their Irish charm firmly in tact, The Winter Passing ease the crowd into the final day through a series of convincing, springy indie punk. It’s a positive UK festival debut outing for TWP, even if some of them are suffering the effects of last nights silent disco. They solider on with some of the best moments from their ‘A Different Space Of Mind’ full-length and their recent ‘Double Exposure’ EP. It might be there first time at a UK festival, but we hope it’s not their last.

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Leeds duo Kamikaze Girls’ profile continues to grow following their warmly received debut full-length, ‘Seafoam’. Lucinda Livingstone’s honest and impassioned lyrics resonate with the growing crowd, while supplying fuzz-laden guitars and urgent drum work from Conor Dawson. Petrol Girls’ Ren Aldridge joins the pair for the punk-fuelled ‘KG Goes To The Pub’, before ‘I Don’t Want To Be Sad Forever’ ends their set on through a wall of satisfying feedback.

On the brink of releasing their debut album, ‘Live & Learn’, Croydon trio Bad Sign clearly have intentions to impress today, and they do just that. ‘Intermission’ proves to be thunderous with vocalist Joe Appleford supplying a monstrous bass line against Kevin Miller’s domineering drum work. In addition, recent singles, ‘Closure’ and ‘Square One’ deservedly sound huge. With a well-rounded album, Bad Sign deserve to be touted as “ones to watch”.

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Apologies I Have None don’t play that many shows these days, but when they do they sure make it worth it. The more personal cuts from last year’s ‘Pharmacie’ sound even more affecting on the live stage while the brilliant ‘Long Gone’ and ‘Sat In Vicky Park’ receive some of the most passionate sing-alongs of the weekend from the punters in the know.

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Gnarwolves in the sunshine.; does it get much better? Everybody’s favourite crusty skate punks do what they do best on the main stage to the joy of all those stood before them. From newer bangers ‘Wires’ and ‘Stratjacket’ all the way through to the older cuts such as ‘History Is Bunk’ and ‘Tongue Surfer’, this is every inch a party as it should be.

Fizzy Blood have been ruffling feathers all over the shop for the past year and based on their showing on the Neu stage they are still going from strength to strength. Unpredictable, vibrant and at times really fucking loud, their time in the sun may be closer than we think. We suggest holding on tight.

Acres may be a change of pace to the rest of the lineup today, but their heartbroken and sensitive take on post-metal sees the Neu stage fill up more and more with each dissonant chord. A definite one to keep an eye out in the future, because based on this display these lads will only keep getting bigger, better and sadder.

Not many bands can get away with bringing a sofa out on stage for their crew to chill on, but when it comes to The Front Bottoms they just do it anyway. As vocalist Brian Sella’s baby daughter watches on, the band pull out all the stops to make the huge crowd before them smile as much as possible. From ‘Arizona’ to ‘Skeleton’, ‘The Beers’ to ‘Twin Size Mattress’, there are few sets this weekend which will be more fun than this.

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The secret has been out for the best part of a week, yet The Xcerts’ “surprise” set is still a celebration. As 2000 Trees Festival regulars, the powerpop/rock trio are given a rapturous welcome from the Cave stage audience. From the opening chords of ‘Live Like This’, there is a collective feeling that is the start of an exciting new chapter for The Xcerts. Alongside longtime favourites, such as ‘Aberdeen 1987’, there’s a hint of new material with current single, ‘Feels Like Falling in Love’, especially receiving an overwhelming response just days after its release.

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By the time The Menzingers arrive on the Cave stage for their headline slot, the crowd is spilling out on all sides of the tent. Undoubtedly one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, the Philadelphia punks truly delivered and wasted no time delivering a wealth of anthems. ‘Good Things’, ‘After the Party’, ‘Tellin’ Lies’ and ‘In Remission’ being just some of the stand out moments. As they jokingly call the festival ‘2000 Beers’, it’s clear the quartet are enjoying their time as much as the packed crowd.

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What better way to close out a weekend of joviality than with some crushing post-metal desolation, eh? Oathbreaker are on absolutely untouchable form as they turn the Axiom into a melting pot of sadness and leave everybody standing before them completely spellbound. Last years ‘Rheia’ features heavily and when heard live, signals more and more why this is a band who should be cherished while they are around.

In many ways, 2000 Trees 2017 was almost perfect. The mix of its friendly, feel-good atmosphere and well-balanced line-up made for a memorable weekend. And it was made even better by the brilliant sunny weather. Yet while the range of bands on offer fulfilled festival-goers needs, the unattractive choice of Nothing But Thieves and Slaves as main stage closers is questionable. Nevertheless, this won’t deter us from attending in 2018.


View more of Already Heard’s coverage from 2000 Trees Festival 2017 here.

Words by Sêan Reid and Jack Rogers. Photos by Helen Messenger


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