LIVE: 2000 Trees Festival – Saturday

By Ben Tipple

Photo courtesy of Dom Meason / 2000 Trees, from the official 2000 Trees gallery.

Haven’t caught up with what we got up to on Thursday and Friday?




Why am I on the floor?

After being reliably informed that I used the half-full campsite bin-bag as a pillow when returning from the silent disco shenanigans, I dust myself off, join up with some buddies and head on the short walk back to the singular tree that has fast become everyone’s meeting point.

Delving into a pulled-pork tamale smothered in salsa and cheese, and rehydrating on a refreshing lunchtime mojito served by another smiley-faced individual behind the bar, I patiently await the return of Birmingham’s &U&I.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying &U&I’s ominous hardcore-rock. Still largely impossible to describe, the band retain the sense of fun within their weighty song-structures. Drifting from the serious to the ridiculous, the showstopping rendition of Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’, complete with frontman Thom Peckett stripping his top half to gyrate on a speaker, proves to be one of the defining moments of the weekend.

Prying myself away from The Cave on one of only a handful of occasions, I meander (what else do you do at festivals?) over to The Axiom to catch Brighton based melodic rockers Verses. Their rawer take on You Me At Six style rock is clearly well put together, however they currently lack the unique character that will ultimately set them apart. With a wealth of bands following a similar direction, Verses run the risk of being lost in the pack – although their penchant for catchy song writing is beginning to show.

Leeds’ Hawk Eyes return with their riff-filled rock ahead of releasing their new album in the foreseeable future. Brimming with energy, the band engulf the tent in their rhythmic tones. That said, ultimately it becomes difficult to distinguish between the tracks and the initial flare appears to fade. Hawk Eyes clearly know how to engage a crowd, but today something is a little lacking.

Not being moved from The Cave, expansive soundscapes and epic vocals are the name of the game for Lonely The Brave. Still finding themselves on a range of  line-ups around the country, it’s the no-frills quality of their performance that allows them to seamlessly blend into them all.

Frontman David Jakes continues his evolution from shy vocalist to centre of stage frontman, although their crowd interaction remains minimal. For Lonely The Brave it really is all about the music, with ‘Backroads’ and ‘The Blue The Green’ providing particularly mesmerising. Looking around the busy Cave, it’s immediately evident that the Cambridge four-piece have picked up a throng of new followers.

Like a hero’s homecoming, Jamie Lenman needs no introduction tonight at 2000 Trees. With The Cave at bursting point he whips through a set built around his recent ‘Muscle Memory’ LP, adding the occasional Reuben track into the mix.

‘No One Wins The War’ and ‘Song For Saturday’ draw big cheers from the die-hard fans, while the sheer imbalance of brutality between ‘One Of My Eyes Is A Clock’ and ‘I Ain’t Your Boy’ demonstrate Lenman’s diversity. Inme frontman Dave McPherson joins Lenman on-stage for the penultimate track before ‘The Six Fingered Hand’ sees everyone leaving The Cave in awe. Fortunately Jamie Lenman lives up to the hype that has undoubtedly brought a lot of today’s crowd on site.

As the festival moves closer to its end, I move my Badger’s Bottom up to The Cove at the far end of the site to catch some of Dolomite Minor, whose indie-grunge is a great alternative to the other bands on display.

Torn between a tough choice of bands, DZ Deathrays ultimately become my headliner. Set to release the excellent ‘Black Rat’ LP in August, and having grabbed attention with their critically acclaimed 2012 ‘Bloodstreams’ record, it takes far too long for the sound levels to do them justice. With the vocals all but non-existent until the final third of the set, the majority of the set is frustratingly disappointing.

Yet as soon as the levels are sorted, DZ Deathrays come into their own. With the smoke machine blasting and coloured lights cutting through the crowd, DZ Deathrays power through a setlist built primarily from their two latest offerings. It’s clear that the Australian duo are a sight to behold, Their stage presence is sultry yet explosive, and their music could soundtrack a serious party as well as an episode of Skins.

Set closers ‘Reflective Skull’ and ‘Gina Works At Hearts’ sound ridiculously massive, as the electronically fuelled reverb pounds out of the tent. By the time the duo leave the stage the sound issues can almost be forgiven, and if anything, it leaves us wanting more. Frightened Rabbit may have the biggest crowd of the day but over at The Axiom, this is the start of something special. The band’s exuberant mix of punk, indie and the slightest hint of electro are perfect for closing the evening.

With that, I’m back on the headphones. Placing myself back outside of The Cave I subject myself to an onslaught of varying music, all designed to clash as much as it can. As I dance around and sing the wrong words at the top of my voice it becomes clear that 2000 Trees really has been something special.

There’s been some hit and misses, some musical highs and lows, but regardless of these the atmosphere has remained at an all-time high. The site is consistently relaxed and cheerful all at once, and perhaps most importantly there is a general sense of freedom – freedom from corporate sponsorship and heavy restrictions.

If festivals are about escapism, 2000 Trees has it all covered. See you next year!