LIVE: 2000trees Festival 2019 – Friday

By Punktastic

2000trees is advertised as being a ‘medium’ sized festival, but while medium can suggest mediocrity be misconstrued as ‘average’, nothing about the scorching weekend feels mediocre. With alternative fans from all of the country coming together to celebrate our special scene, 2000trees pens itself as one of the best festivals our scene has to offer.

From the peaceful and emotional sets that took place under a canopy of trees, to the raucous mayhem over at the main stage that had us thrown into the most fun pits we’ve ever experienced, this festival really does have it all.

Lucky for us, we were there to check out the whole thing, braving the heat and having the time of our lives.

Words: Yasmin Brown [YB], Gem Rogers [GR] Images: Penny Bennett [PB], Matt Higgs [MH]

Our day starts in The Cave, where London’s PENGSHUi help us out of our hungover haze with a bang. Combining hip-hop, rock, grime, dance, and punk (to name just a few of their many influences), there’s simply no way you can walk past the tent without the intrigue pulling you in. It may not make sense to you, in fact it more than likely will not, but you can’t deny that this three-piece know how to make an entrance and bring a tremendous amount of energy with them wherever they go. With infinite charisma and confidence, PENGSHUi are loud to the point of being obnoxious, and while your first thought might well be “what the fuck”, there’s still something about them that you hate to love. [YB]

It’s the second time this year we’ve managed to catch Newcastle posse GroundCulture at a festival, and the second time it’s been an absolute pleasure to see them. Their melodic hardcore packs a hefty punch of energy and groove, and front man Roy Watson’s expressive vocals are superb; GroundCulture are reminiscent of early Blood Youth, and easily have all the power to follow in their footsteps. A glimpse at upcoming music, amongst tracks from their self-titled debut EP, proves this is a band who definitely aren’t prepared to slow down, and we look forward to seeing them demolishing the stage at more festivals in future. [GR]

Welsh four-piece Dream State are our next port of call over on the main stage, dripping with nerves despite being so obviously loved by the huge crowd they’ve happily pulled in so early in the day. Frontwoman CJ Gilpin was born to be a performer, her lungs carrying her through both clean and screamed vocals, only further proving how well-suited to the main stage this band are. As with most bands who carry with them humility and integrity, Gilpin thanks the fans who have chosen to spend the afternoon with them, stating that they “are nothing without you, we are one together”. As they make their way through their short set, the sense of community this festival creates is heightened, and it seems inevitable that Dream State will return in the future. [YB]

The Dangerous Summer follow shortly after Dream State, and despite drawing in a considerably smaller crowd, those fans that do attend more than make up for the thin numbers with endless enthusiasm. Sadly, the band members themselves spend much of the set with feet stuck to the floor, their static nature failing to make the most of the ample space that the main stage has to offer them. The Dangerous Summer are lucky the fans are in such good spirits, making what could easily have been a forgettable set into something far more memorable as they reach peak Friday afternoon vibes, carrying them well into the evening. [YB]

Australian rockers Hands Like Houses have had one of the longest journeys to get to 2000trees, and as they take to the main stage with a half hour set of hits and an outstanding reputation for live performances, it should be one of the highlights of the weekend. Unfortunately, the first few songs are taken out by sound so abysmal it should’ve been illegal to continue; unbalanced drums, a chorus completely demolished by what appears to be a backing track overriding all other sound (unbeknown to the band, who continue seemingly oblivious), and no bass to speak of. Fortunately, we’re still able to hear Trenton Woodley’s incredible vocals clearly, and the large crowd manage to enjoy these powerful songs as much as possible, but it’s a crying shame this fantastic band have been let down on this occasion. Hopefully it won’t be long before they return to the UK so we can enjoy these songs as they should be – today it was not to be. [GR]

Back over in The Cave, hardcore punks Drug Church aren’t just about all things loud and fast – with grungy, skate punk vibes creeping in to many of their lively tracks and a healthy dose of fun in their performance, this is an energetic and hugely enjoyable party of a set. It doesn’t take long for front man Patrick Kindlon to comment on the, er, interesting placement of a tent pole directly in front of centre stage, and his easy going vibe lends itself to a laid back, party atmosphere, yet one that’s still driven by plenty of energy (and plenty of pits). “These will be the last two,” he says, shortly before blasting into ‘Strong References’ and the frantic, crowdsurfer paradise of ‘Weed Pin’, “so I must insist that you have a good time.” He needn’t have worried – in a tent full of exhausted grins, it’s safe to say everyone had a damn good time. [GR]

2000trees is nothing if not versatile in the talent to which it offers a platform, and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly is someone entirely unique, not just at this festival, but in the music industry in general. Bringing with him seven bandmates, GCWCF also brought with him one hell of a dance party with plenty of opportunities for a singalong. Despite only having released three albums under his Get Cape alias, there are far more fans in attendance than you might expect, thoroughly enjoying the folk experience that Sam Duckworth offers. With the afternoon sun beating down in full force, it’s a glorious and joyful way to spend the late afternoon, and you’d have been a fool to have missed it. [YB]

For those who caught Rolo Tomassi on their recent tour supporting Gojira, it’s not too surprising that this afternoon’s set is near enough the same, set list wise – but, with songs this ethereal and staggeringly brutal, it’s hard to really mind. Dancing between hypnotic, atmospheric passages, almost poppy melodic verses, and technical, growling assaults, it’s often unbelievable that this range of sound could possibly come from one single band, but therein lies the beauty of Rolo Tomassi. Beyond unique, this is a band who must be seen to be believed, and their delivery is nothing short of perfection – long may they continue to blow our minds. [GR]

Brighton’s pop-punk/emos As It Is may not have a support slot on the main stage this evening, but the crowd that turns up would easily have you believing otherwise. As they swarm the field, the intensity and loyalty shines through and it’s instantly clear this isn’t a band you can be casual about. From the very first notes of opening track ‘The Reaper’ to the lingering riffs of the set’s closer ‘The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)’, the band’s fans don’t stop to take a breath, throwing themselves with unparalleled force towards the four musicians on stage, screaming every word along with front man Patty Walters as though their lives depend on it. It’s always a joy to see a band evoke such pure and raw emotion in their fans, and As It Is do this with ease, standing strong for what they believe in and ensuring their followers feel safe and at home in their presence. Regardless of how you feel about their music, it’s difficult not to find yourself feeling awestruck by the authenticity that radiates through in these men and the sheer energy and happiness that seeps through the crowd is contagious. It’s exactly how a main stage set should feel. [YB]

If Thursday’s headliner Frank Turner epitomises the 2000trees vibe, then eclectic folk-punk heroes Skinny Lister must surely share his crown. One look at the joyful crowd gathered in The Axiom tent tells you all you need to know – young and old, band t-shirts that range from Panic! At The Disco to Slipknot, this is one of the most varied audiences of the weekend and it’s a delight to witness (especially when one young viewer, merrily resting atop a parent’s shoulders, throws the horns). Equally delightful are the band themselves; this is proper festival music, and it’s a shame we’re confined in a tent for this thoroughly sunny, irreverent set. It doesn’t matter a jot whether you know these songs or not – feet, hips, shoulders and arms all join in the movement and singalongs are at maximum volume as Skinny Lister give us one of the most fun sets of the weekend. Can we have them every year, please? [GR]

If you want a band that have ‘absolutely bloody insane’ written all over them, Cancer Bats’ set in The Cave is a damn good place to start – and it seems like half the festival’s attendees have done just that. The tent is filled to bursting point, with many more peering in from outside, and this set is batshit crazy from start to finish; blistering riffs accompany non-stop pits and crowdsurfers, and it doesn’t matter that some people are still outside the tent as the atmosphere spills out with more than enough energy for all. It’s really no wonder that Cancer Bats have remained so popular for so long – they’re one of the best live bands in the hardcore game, their heaviness taking them to levels many can only dream of achieving. We need a lie down after this one. [GR]

Closing the night is the ever wonderful You Me At Six. Never more at home than they are headlining a festival, the Surrey five-piece command the stage in a way that only bands who have spent 13 years touring are able to do. From the inflatable sex doll that makes an appearance during ‘Fresh Start Fever’, to the fan forceably removed from the stage during ‘Save it for the Bedroom’, to Josh Franceschi’s wholesome, accepting speech that led us into ‘Take on the World’ with tears flooding our eyes, the set was nothing short of phenomenal. The performance of these songs is second nature to the YMAS boys now (we’ll forget that Franceschi forgot the lyrics to the eight-year-old track ‘Reckless’…), and as members of the packed out crowd launch themselves into the air relentlessly throughout the hour-long set, You Me At Six continue on their journey of becoming one of the greatest festival bands in the pop-punk/pop-rock genre, closing the night with a set that is as close to perfection as we’re likely to find. [YB]