LIVE: 2000 Trees Festival 2017 – Friday

By Penny Bennett

2000 Trees is now in its second decade as a festival and as the event continues to impress year after year, it happily shows no sign of slowing down. As an alternative festival that focuses on celebrating UK acts both new and old, there aren’t many line-ups that can compete with 2000 Trees and we were on hand to check out this year’s fantastic showcase of talent.

Words: Mark Johnson, Becky Mount / Photos: Olly Hanks

Ducking Punches ease us into our first full day when they open the main stage on Friday, pulling an impressive crowd when there are a lot of hangovers being nursed. And for every singalong, there’s a serious message the band want to get across. Their songs have a candor approach to subjects like suicide and whilst they can be hard to swallow, breaking down stigmas seems to go hand in hand with their punk songs, and they respectfully and wholeheartedly navigate the two. [BM]

They may be one of the smaller bands on the bill, but wars proved why we had them as one of our bands to watch at this year’s festival. Their debut album “We Are Islands, After All” combines heavy riffs and screams with melodic breaks, amidst a compelling concept, and live, the band’s passion and energy adds a dynamic layer that brings their sound alive. Guitarist Sam Barnard’s clean vocals are note perfect and aggressive vocalist Rob Vicars does a fantastic job rousing the crowd from their midday hangovers. With the tent packed out, wars will leave 2000 Trees with a deserved new batch of fans. [MJ]

Decade help us to bask in the sunshine as they bring their particularly pop-riddled punk to the main stage; it’s all catchy hooks and the hits like ‘Daisy May’. And it really feels like they’re Decade are getting into their own stride – their second album Pleasantries seems to have done wonders for the five piece. Not that they needed it, mind, but this new lease of life plays out really very well. [BM]

There probably aren’t enough cliches to get across just how incredible Brutus are. Haunting, ferocious, spellbinding and utterly compelling. Their heavy as hell set on a Friday afternoon was nothing short of stunning, their brutal sound punctuated by drummer and vocalist Stefanie Mannaert stopping just about everyone in their tracks. The Belgian three piece are potentially one of the only bands in a long time that deserve to be referred to as game changers; there’s simply no one out there quite like them. Still shell shocked from such a beautifully brutal performance, we’re totally smitten with Brutus. [BM]

As ever, Black Peaks produce an enormous performance fuelled by pristine musicianship and Will Garner’s powerful vocals. Tracks from the band’s incredible debut album ‘Statues’ are sure to please any crowd but with a couple of years of festivals behind them with the same material, we’re overdue an influx of new songs. The band do trial a couple of new ones that are every bit as frantic and engaging as their well-known material and with Garner telling us “this might be last time you hear these songs for a while”, it seems they’re just as aware as the rest of us. Black Peaks will now head into the studio to write a new record, so it shouldn’t be too long before we get what we crave. [MJ]

Whilst gender shouldn’t necessarily play a part in a festival review, it’s almost impossible to ignore when 2000 Trees has a lineup featuring more female musicians than most. And frankly, when you’ve got the likes of Employed To Serve showing the boys how it’s done, we don’t want to ignore it. Justine Jones is a front woman like no other, and the five piece absolutely slay the crowd with their perfectly frantic, feral sound. It’s exhausting and utterly exquisite. [BM]

It speaks volumes that the tent for Greywind is fit to burst. Actually, no, it’s past that – it’s overflowing. The Irish brother and sister duo are proving once again that despite being in their infancy, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Their heartfelt, passionate sound resonates perfectly with the festival and it’s easy to see just how dedicated they are to perfecting their craft. [BM]

Jamie Lenman is always, always going to go down a treat at 2000 Trees. That said, his main stage set Friday surpasses the expectations of even the most hardened Reuben fans. Because Lenman’s acceptance of his musical past is one to be applauded as he flits seamlessly – and noisily – between his sludgey solo efforts and the likes of ‘Parties Break Hearts’ and ‘Blamethrower’. The whole set veers from melodic to unrelenting, and even features a gender neutral Queen cover of ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ – spectacular Mercury jacket to boot – and showcases just how bloody talented Lenman is. New tracks ‘Mississippi’ and ‘Waterloo Teeth’ warrant an impressive crowd reaction and make us realise just how much the UK music scene has missed Lenman…let’s hope it’s not too long before we get a second solo effort. [BM]

Deaf Havana allowed their Facebook fans to pick their set, resulting in several old favourites making the cut. Rather than play tired old versions though, the band mix things up, ‘Friends Like These’ being a particular stand-out. ‘Nicotine and Alcohol Saved My Life’ was mistakenly requested as ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ on Facebook, but to honour the mistake, the band treat us to a cover of the Oasis classic, which goes down a treat. The set isn’t without its technical gremlins but front man James Veck-Gilodi does an admirable job of laughing them off and plowing through, reminding us all that Deaf Havana have been around the block and their experience shows very well. Though the band leave the stage with the closing lines of Mildred echoing “seems like we lost a friend, it feels like the end”, it feels more like a revival this weekend. It’s a joy to have Deaf Havana back to their best. [MJ]

Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes followed suit and proved what irrefutably one of the most exciting live bands the UK has to offer. Because it doesn’t matter the size of the crowd or the scale of the stage, Carter is frontman through and through and there aren’t many others capable of coordinating circle pits on such a huge scale. No seriously, ask the nearby traders who found their stands in the midst of it. But for all the chaos and venom, there’s an overwhelming sincerity to them. Actively supporting their female fans and keeping the crowds for everyone involved, they end up playing one of the most inclusive, welcoming sets of the weekend. Who would have thought it? [BM]

It takes all of thirty seconds before the crowd are left wondering why The Wonder Years haven’t played 2000 Trees before. Every fist pump, every gang vocal, it all feels like some kind of homecoming. We are treated to a setlist that boasts the likes of ‘Local Man Ruins Everything’ as an opener (seriously) and ‘Coffee Eyes’, alongside a wealth of material from latest effort ‘No Closer To Heaven’. There seems to have been a shift with the six piece, a maturity that still manages to honour those pop punk roots. It is a passionate affair, devastating in places, but even the most introverted fan is sure to be having a Really Fun Time. Because through all the heartbreak and awkward life affirming lyrics, they put on an astonishing, energised show that genuinely feels good for the soul. Bring on album number six. [BM]

Beach Slang’s foot-tapping pop rock make them a strange choice for an hour’s slot high up the bill and the semi-deserted Axiom stage seems to indicate the crowd feel the same way. However, as the band storm through their set of infectious, feel-good tracks, more and more passers-by filter into the tent and the quality of the performance keeps them there for the duration. Front-man James Alex is highly engaging, endearing the crowd with a dose of self- deprecation that will always go down well with a British crowd and with such great tunes and a warming personality, Beach Slang deserve their place at the festival. [MJ]