LIVE: 2000 Trees Festival 2017 – Saturday

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, Dave Bull / Photos: Olly Hanks

The Winter Passing ease us (and our hangovers) into Saturday on The Axiom stage and they are nothing short of lovely. Their folk infused punk feels tailor made for 2000 Trees and we hope they’re going to be a regular fixture at the festival. Their infectious hooks and darling vocals sound particularly strong today and whilst their EP ‘Double Exposure’ may only be a few months old, we are more than ready for their next full length (and subsequent shows to woo us even more). [BM]

The south Croydonites kick off the Cave Stage due to Giants pulling out due to apparent van trouble, but man do Bad Sign put on a performance. Vocalist and bassist Appleford is the perfect frontman – he is oozing with charisma and likability, cracking gags during the soundcheck around the fact that the Croydon education system only allows him the ability to count ‘one, two’. But he really comes into his own during their performance – his vocal strength and ability nothing short of stunning. The beautiful layers delivered of ground shaking rock and lighter spine chilling moments are devoured by the crowd early on. With their album ‘Live and Learn’ out next week, Bad Sign are definitely ones to watch. You won’t find a better festival stage opening set this summer. [DB]

Milk Teeth are riding the crest of a wave that seems to extend long over the horizon. Each and every time this band plays they exceed their previous performance. Their main stage slot today, basked in glorious summer sun provides the perfect backdrop to a sizzling hot Milk Teeth performance. All concerns over losing guitarist and backing vocalist Bannister have been washed away as Billy Hutton has gelled so well within the Milk Teeth formula, and where the grunge edge has lessened, a new punk/futurastic pop vibe has germinated. New single ‘Owning Your Okayness’ is proof of this, the vocals of Blomfield punchy and professional – they have come a long way since they were refused a 2000 Trees slot due to not having enough Facebook likes, as Becky reminds us, and it would seem the future is incredibly bright with the bar not so much being set, but left in their possession to do whatever they wish with. [DB]

This female three piece are the perfect accompaniment to the sweltering heat here on Upcote Farm, with their uplifting blend of indie-pop reminiscent in places of Vampire Weekend but with that likability factor that is sure to be the key to their future success. Their debut EP, ironically named ‘No Fun’ is as packed with as much summer fun as a two week trip to Skegness (no sarcasm intended). Hits in the making ‘Same Place’ and ‘Oh George’ highlight the simple but effective formula Peaness have mastered. The chorus of ‘Same Place’ lifts the tent roof off with sugary sweet aplomb. It would seem that these Chester University graduates who started the project for fun, may have to start taking themselves more seriously, as the potential for Peaness is massive. [DB]

Bristol’s Svalbard are easily one of the best performances of the weekend and if it wasn’t for two off the chart performances by Oathbreaker and Palm Reader, they would have taken top spot, full stop. As vocalist and guitarist Serena Cherry points out, it is fantastic that 2000 Trees have endorsed and supported so many female fronted bands. And the list is staggering in terms of quality across the weekend – as it should be. In direct opposition to the archaic view that girl bands don’t sell records, Svalbard are at the helm of a hugely sumptuous plethora of incredible bands that just so happen to have women in them. Svalbard themselves are an exciting proposition, they blur the lines between genres and the energy they possess is second to none. Cherry is the perfect front women and intoxicates all that watch with her humble, yet incredibly full on live performance. [DB]

Gnarwolves bought their bare bones punk to the main stage on Saturday, a frenetic set featuring the likes of ‘Straitjacket’, ‘Bottle To Bottle’ and ‘Shut Up’. We fell back in love with their pure, unadulterated, delinquent sound that translates surprisingly well to such a large stage. And therein lies their talent – whilst the band may feel at home playing those sweatier than the seventh circle of hell shows, they are more than capable of playing to such big crowds and absolutely nailing it. [BM]

There aren’t many frontmen around with the confidence of The One Hundred’s Jacob Field. Stepping on stage sporting a mullet, orange shorts, t-shirt and a Hawaiian shirt takes a certain amount of self-assurance but to then burst into rap at an alternative rock festival takes even weightier balls of steel. No matter how out of place The One Hundred’s rap/rock/electronic hybrid might seem, their live performance is undeniably outstanding. The riffs are heavy, the rapping impressive and the aggressive screams give the band’s sound an imposing edge. Even better than the band’s material though is what they represent. Field announces through the set “I don’t care how cool you think you are, I want to see you dancing” and when commanded by a front-man with such questionable dance moves and gaudy attire, there can be no greater advocate for just being who you are. The One Hundred teach you to leave your inhibitions behind and just have fun; what better message is there for a festival crowd? [MJ]

The Forest Sessions are fact becoming one of the biggest draws of 2000 Trees, and Sundays line up boasts those almost once in a lifetime sets. Menzingers vocalists Tom May and Greg Barnett took to the stage to woo us with the likes of ‘Time Tables’. Their own brand of existential punk translates almost too well to an acoustic set, the songs feeling all the more relatable. [BM]

Rolo Tomassi never disappoint. It’s a fact. Their nerve shredding take on math rock and metal is as unique as it is frenetic. Eva Spence is the perfect front women. She is humble in her appearance and onstage demeanour, yet the juxtaposition between her inter-song rhetoric and performer is nothing short of the full Jekyll and Hyde. She commands the stage gyrating from back to front, from left to right like a hallucinogen infused pilates teacher. The new track shared ‘Ritual’ adds another layer of intensity to their already beguiling back catalogue. ‘Stage Knives’ is the stand out moment of the set, Spence’s furious bark giving way to her roof lifting highs. Their strong DIY ethic is highly commendable but it would be justified and pleasing to see Rolo Tomassi be given the opportunity to take their project and unique soundscapes to a larger audience, because they are one of the UK’s best alternative performers and we should be celebrating this more often. [DB]

The Xcerts were a late addition to the bill, announced as the final TBA slot only a few days before the festival, but the packed-out audience in The Cave were certainly happy to see them. The trio have appeared several times at 2000 Trees and this set proves why they’re regularly invited back. Giving by far the biggest singalongs of the weekend, the crowd get thoroughly involved, singing back favourites ‘Shaking Underwater’ and ‘Aberdeen 1987’ at the top of their lungs. New single ‘Falling in Love’ has only been out a week but already the crowd know every word, proof that everyone in the tent is ready for a new album. Murray Macleod happily confirms that this is complete and on the strength of this performance and the new songs within the set, we’re in for a real treat. [MJ]

The day’s cancellations continue with Lower Than Atlantis unable to perform their acoustic set in The Forest, but Jack Bennett of Grumble Bee is on hand to fill in. The mass of people sat by the acoustic stage tells of a crowd unaware that Lower Than Atlantis wouldn’t be performing, but to appease the masses, Bennett opens with a rendition of ‘Sad Song’ and his confident version goes down a treat. As Bennett progresses through his own fantastic Grumble Bee material, the crowd stay firmly planted, seemingly happy with this substitute performance. And who wouldn’t be? Bennett is a superb songwriter and performs with his heart on his sleeve, making this impromptu sets one of the highlights of the weekend. [MJ]

And so to the headline slot at The Cave, one big singalong that serves as a glorious reminder that The Menzingers are undoubtedly one of the best bands out there. Their Americana punk is so personable, almost uncomfortably so, and 2000 Trees feels like the most perfect setting for it. And really, it says a lot about a band when they can drop the of likes ‘The Obituaries’ three songs in. There is an unfaltering energy with The Menzingers found in each and every performance, with the likes of ‘Lookers’ fitting in perfectly with hardened fan favourites. It’s hard to objectively review anything by The Menzingers when all you want to do is tell everyone they should be one of their favourite bands. And after a set as fist-pumpingly good as this, we think that’s some damn good advice. [BM]

And so to the Axiom stage headliner, Oathbreaker who produce the set of the festival and almost certainly one of the year. For fans of Church of Ra and any of their musical projects from Amenra to Wiegedood, there is a unique quality unseen in many other bands of the same genre. They simply produce soundscapes that are above and beyond and have been for several years. With Maelstrom and Eros/Anteros providing the perfect backdrop to last year’s stunning record ‘Rheia’ which was Punktastic’s album of the year, and for good reason. The voice development and maturity of Caro Tanghe towards a more haunting and atmospheric delivery, emotionally and emphatically woven between waves of musical perfection provides both an album which will not only stand the test of time as one of alternative music’s greatest albums, but also provides the band with the necessary tools to produce live performances which steal the show every single time. Tanghe is mesmerising, both vocally and visually and the cool nonchalance of the other members provides this mysterious aura to the band that perfectly enhances both their music and their physical appearance.  ‘Second Son of R.’ is as punishing as ’10:56′ is beautiful. A stunned crowd devours what is nothing short of perfection, the anthesis of commercial drivel and the most unbelievably incredible ending to a near perfect festival. [DB]