LIVE: 2000 Trees Festival – Thursday/Friday

By Ben Tipple

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

2000 Trees is a quintessentially British festival. There’s really no denying it. As I stand underneath the ironically singular tree on site and survey my surroundings, a few things jump out at me that cement the idea.

There’s food, but not just any food. The burgers are served rare, smothered in “techno sauce” – your guess is as good as mine, but I hear it’s delicious. Judging by the hordes of inebriated potential dancers clambering to get their silent disco headphones as soon as the sun breaches the horizon, it may even incite heavy raving. I am one of the horde.

There’s drink, but not just any drink. When I finally get bored of my tent-warm cider, which thanks to the lack of zone restrictions can be carried anywhere on site, the friendly bar-staff inform me that there is a choice between what they call “normal” cider, or what I can only assume is “abnormal cider” – Badger’s Bottom. By the way, abnormal tastes pretty great.

There’s also music. A quick glance at the site map gives an idea of how 2000 Trees is geared. Happy campers are faced with the tough decision of setting up base a stone’s throw away from the main stage in Camp Reuben, or further afield in Camp Turner. Jamie Lenman’s appearance at the festival is the talk of the temporary town, while Frank Turner’s name is never far away despite his notable absence from this year’s proceedings.



I’ve missed Gnarwolves. It’s M25 related.

With my dark blue home-away-from-home set up, and a warm fruit cider in hand, I head off to The Cave – the location for a lot of our bands of choice and certain debauchery over the next two days. I’m met by Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip entertaining a largely exuberant crowd. The duo sit at odds with the rest of the festival’s line-up, and their largely monotonous drones are lost on me, but I’m probably not their target audience.

As the official Thursday early bird proceedings draw to a close, the festival shows little sign of going to sleep. Just into the woods there’s a DJ jumping between in-your-face dance music and Fleetwood Mac, which can be enjoyed from the comfort of your very own hammock. I decide this is no time to be lying down. There are little treats elsewhere – take Oxygen Thief drunkenly, humorously and undoubtedly happily serenading a throng of punters on one of the many busking stages.

After taking in the sights and sounds, it’s time to retire to the blue monstrosity to prepare for tomorrow.


I wake up refreshed with no lingering effects from the tequila, gin and tonic nightcap that seemed like a great idea at the time.

Cheltenham’s own EMPIRE open the Main Stage with their vocally led melodic rock. Although it lacks the heaviness of their recorded material, it’s impossible to deny the chops on frontman Joe Green. They aren’t quite ready for stages of this size just yet, but the band are clearly relishing the experience. Green waves into the crowd – I wave back. It wasn’t for me.

The Axiom, named after a now defunct venue in Cheltenham according to a reveller who overhears my confusion, is playing host to Leeds punks Brawlers. It’s early in the day, but it’s clear these guys are going to be one of the highlights. ‘Heart Attack’ and ‘I Am A Worthless Piece Of Shit’ are instantly infectious and whip the tent into an early afternoon frenzy. Their on-stage banter and quick wittedness give them an extra edge as the frontman unceremoniously jumps the barrier. Their Weezer-esque punk-rock is the perfect accompaniment to the sunshine, and more tent-warm fruit cider.

Bleach Blood keep the party going, presenting a mixture of pop, rock and little bit of funk to the reasonably sized crowd. Perhaps one of the few alternative bands on the bill with a keyboard – and definitely the only keyboard I witness all weekend – the unashamed pop-influences and dual vocals offer something that little bit different.

Famously, or notoriously depending on which way you fancy looking at it, The Computers have dabbled in playing weddings. Having swapped band members, changed management and opted out of the hardcore direction they were tantalisingly threatening to head in, it’s more difficult to escape this fact than ever before. Despite the speaker stack climbing, the guitar throwing and the ultimately misjudged wall of death, there’s something missing from their music. Stuck half way between a rock and roll band and their former heavier selves, it all feels a bit flat.

Eugene Quell might not be flat enough if you ask the concerned looking organisers standing around The Croft, named after a now defunct venue in Bristol according to a reveller who overhears… Taking to the acoustic stage with anything but an acoustic guitar, the three-piece offer a distorted and noisy take on indie-rock. At some point I’ve managed to acquire some tent-warm Cava, which results in a very bohemian moment in contrast to the gritty goings-on on stage. It makes for a great moment with an excellent band.

It’s easy to imagine that the next trio of bands at The Cave have pulled in a large proportion of those wandering around in hardcore vests and mosh-shorts. Unless Main Stage headliners Blood Red Shoes have ventured into a new merchandising market, Cerebral Ballzy, Trash Talk and The Bronx are the leading culprits.

Cerebral Ballzy excite and confuse the crowd with their deliberately mistimed and often out-of-tune wailing and screams, but offer the most authentic punk experiences of the weekend. Their slurred vocals and bedraggled guitars are certainly not to everyone’s tastes, but the five-piece go some way to bringing Brooklyn to a sunny field in Gloucestershire.

Immediately followed by Californian hardcore punk mob Trash Talk, I, alongside everyone else in the vicinity of the tent, am thrown into a ferocious whirlwind of flailing limbs. Frontman Lee Spielman treats the tent like his personal playground, standing on any elevated platform and diving onto the raised hands of the crowd. Once the secondary vocals are turned up after the opening tracks, the new material sounds particularly explosive. Although I had gone into 2000 Trees expecting Trash Talk to be the highlight, nothing could have prepared me for just how mind-blowing this was going to be.

I’m exhausted. Bring on The Bronx.

Bursting into ‘Knifeman’ from their 2008 record, The Bronx prove to be another band that probably don’t belong in a field in Gloucestershire, but one that I am damn happy have made the trip. Their short and explosive set sees them switch between their heavier output and the more melodic, with the band keeping up their high-octane reputation.

As the final notes of ‘History’s Strangers’ ring out and I console myself with a shot of Jagermeister, it becomes clear that 2000 Trees just delivered the perfect trifecta of bands.

Flitting between Three Trapped Tigers and Band of Skulls, nothing can top what has just been seen. Ultimately there’s only one thing left to do. I don the silent disco headphones, press the switch on the side and off I go.

“Let the bodies hit the…”