Amidst erratic weather and a surface of the slippery and gooey sort, 2000trees Festival held another stellar edition of new British music (with a couple of underground heroes to top it off) with three days of the most varied rock genres and exciting bands to emerge from the UK.
Early entry ticket holders were treated to a fine selection of alternative rock to enjoy under the biblical rainfall. Real newcomers I, The Lion and The Cape Of Good Hope both made decent introductions to their sound with the latter edging somewhat with their instrumental dual-drumming sound. Straight Lines’ brand of infectious pop-rock drew a comfortable crowd under the tent as they confidently belted hook after hook after hook.
Quite suddenly, and out of the blue, 2000trees were with what was certainly one of the stand-out gigs of the festival. Tall Ships unleashed a synthy, post-rock, loop-pedal-overusing, rousing, dancing and emotional thunderstorm of a setlist. From ’T=0’s arty dance rhythms to ‘Vessels’ wonderful crowd participation with ‘Plate Tectonics’ a superb highlight, the band were drawing muddy drifting souls into the tent and selling them their world.
Similarly, Tellison certainly made some new converts with as they stormed through a set of highly melodic pop-rock of the most excellent variety and hooks so efficient most of the newbies were singing along after the first chorus. Finally, Imperial Leisure delivered an assured bit of brassy fun as night fell as they unleashed they’re exciteable ska unto the cruddy mass before Three Trapped Tigers took the stage to blow the mind of everybody within ear range. They might have been as surprised as the crowd were regarding their place as headliners but the band’s cerebral math-rock was as impressive as it was confusing, but it certainly left no one sonically unscathed.
The festival second day was blessed with some welcome sunshine and it is in glorious light that basked The People The Poet, after Gunning For Tamar opened the Main Stage with a convincing set of mathy pop-rock. Formerly known as Tiger Please, The People The Poet’s electric folk and good nature worked a waking crowd and was a great introduction for the festival’s new arrivals.
For all the glory of their respective other/former bands, Freeze The Atlantic sadly never quite add up to the sum of their parts and constant marketing of the band’s new album and dates quickly became tiresome. Fortunately, the tempo was swiftly picked up by fan-favourites Maybeshewill who wowed the gathering crowd with their catchy instrumental work. Max Raptor unleashed beast of raging English punk and outstanding song-writing by shaking up a crowd predominantly made up of people who’d never heard of the band, a lesson in urgency.
The next band to truly light up 2000trees were to be found just as a torrential rain started pouring down onto the poor festivaleers when Crazy Arm took on the Leaf Lounge. The band’s sensational country-punk packed the tent to maximum capacity with every song hitting home closing with a triumphant ‘Broken By The Wheel’. Yet surely the stand-out set of the day goes to Leeds headliners Pulled Apart By Horses who produced one of the most energetic gigs of the festival, tearing through hardcore hits from both their albums complimented with some of the better band banter available at this edition.
The first stand-out band of the festival’s final day are called Sharks and they play intelligent punk rock which was warmly received by both the crowd and the sun. Not at all following in their footsteps came the thunderous Bastions who, with their crashing brand of hardcore, made sure nobody could leave The Cave without severe tinnitus, not that anybody would complain.
Yet The Cave’s dwellers were still insatiable and so they were graced with a mighty set from Brontide who turned the tent around with their epically-proportioned post-rock, going from hypnotizing licks to titanic earthquakes of sound. Just when they didn’t think it could get less healthy for their ears, 2000trees gave them The James Cleaver Quintet. The band’s powerhouse of a post-hardcore set drew a fleshy crowd with the sole aim of sonically crushing their soul with wonderful abrasive noise.
Eventually, the tide had to change, as did the weather with the arrival of British alternative rock heroes Hundred Reasons playing the entirety of their debut album ‘Ideas Above Our Station’ along with a couple of other hits. In front of a crowd of converts, the quintet’s set was delivered with triumphant good feeling and all manners of sing-alongs. From start to finish, Hundred Reasons had their audience hooked and gave us fans what might be a fitting farewell (for now?). Similarly, Johnny Foreigner’s setlist consisted of a non-stop selection of fan-pleasers executed with their signature urgency. Certainly one of the gigs with the best audience participation at this year’s edition.
Closing the festival, The Cave was subjected to the mighty Future Of The Left who, if anyone wasn’t convinced beforehand, played a stupendous, arrogant, bratty, cool, fun, welsh and crazy set that nobody could ignore. Constantly drawing ambling people, the band gave a fitting finale to a superb edition with one of the most surprising and varied gigs at the festival. Just like the festival itself, the band effortlessly drift from synthy indie to noisy hardcore to crafty alternative rock but with a love for hardcore.
As always, the 2012 edition of 2000trees heavily promoted new and underground british music while also booking some old favourites. With possibly the festival’s most eclectic line-up yet, it meant there were a lot of pleasant surprises and a lot of bold choices. In 2013, everybody who’s anybody should be there.
More information on 2000trees can be found at twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk.
Words by James Berclaz-Lewis