LIVE: 2000Trees Festival 2019 – Saturday

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]

Sweden’s Normandie have spent the last few years steadily ticking off the UK festival circuit, and after a triumphant set at Reading + Leeds in 2018, it’s now 2000trees’ turn to see what the four piece can do. Blending rock, pop and metal sounds, Normandie are masters of all they turn their hand to, and it results in a thoroughly upbeat and enjoyable set with a true festival vibe. Heavier tracks like ‘Dead’ bring monster mosh pits into The Cave tent, while set closer ‘Collide’ is a beautifully uplifting dose of pop rock; their experience on stage is evident as they lace the air with energetic fun, and the packed tent is full of smiles and singalongs that stretch all the way to the back. It’s the perfect start to our final day at 2000trees, and main stage slots will surely be coming Normandie’s way in future. [GR]

After two wonderful yet tiring days, Scottish delights Vukovi are the perfect band to revive you. Their vibrant and humorous set entices aimless wanderers to position themselves purposefully in front of the main stage. Front woman Janine Shilstone carries the band on her back, the combination of her charisma and flawless powerful vocals a definite highlight of the weekend. Those in the crowd who have up until now been seated quickly rise to their feet, intrigued by the rough and ready Glaswegian accent that fills the field in between sweetly sung songs. Shilstone’s personality never shines through quite as much as it does when she first spots ‘Mr. Fridge’, however – an apt (if a little unoriginal) name given to a crowd member who is, indeed, dressed head to toe in a cardboard fridge-freezer, his head popping out of the open freezer door. She’s so excited, in fact, that she commands a circle pit to open around ‘Mr. Fridge’. It’s a pit made up of just two rules: “Keep Mr. Fridge in the middle and keep Mr. Fridge safe'”. The entire set is the very definition of a delight, made up of wonderfully catchy music and inexplicably cool characters that you can’t help but give into, setting a high bar for so early in the day. [YB]

Following Vukovi’s vibrant and entertaining set, Muncie Girls is unfortunately met with little enthusiasm. With the very nature of their music being more serene, the atmosphere mellows as they make their way through the afternoon set. While the Exeter trio are undeniably talented, their presence on the main stage seems out of place, and the lack of enthusiasm throughout the crowd highlights that perhaps they’d be better suited to festivals with more indie lineups than the heavier, more energetic vibes we have come to expect from 2000trees. [YB]

Hello – did anyone order an extra large helping of Incredibly Loud and Crushingly Heavy? Because it’s just been delivered (albeit a few minutes late) to The Cave in the form of Glasgow five-piece Lotus Eater, and you’ll definitely want to come and get it. This set is absolute mayhem, with riffs that climb in to rip out your eardrums and a rhythm section that rattles the hell out of (what’s left of) your bones; each song is a short, sharp hit to the senses, with that energy mirrored in the pits in front of the stage. This is an impressive, rage-filled set from a band who are only just beginning – Lotus Eater could well be one of the best breakout bands of the year. [GR]

Cold Years know exactly how to work a festival, not taking for granted the fact that the crowd may just be killing time between sets and wandering into their tent by pure chance. Before the set even starts, front man Ross Gordon demands that everyone in attendance comes forwards to the stage, so as to see “the whites of your fucking eyes”. The soft aggression in this command results in total compliance, and as Cold Years make their way through the set, their outstanding performance sees the tent quickly fill up. More commands are met with obedience as the crowd claps along in time with the beat, and while Gordon finds himself restricted behind the microphone, bassist Louis Craighead has enough charisma to carry the whole band, likely being the main reason the crowd eventually loosens up and lets go. [YB]

Back in the forest, we’re in for an emotional rollercoaster as Norwich-based Ducking Punches take to the small stage for a stunning acoustic set. There’s no setting more appropriate for this duo, bringing with them an acoustic guitar and violin to ensure that there isn’t a dry eye under this shaded canopy of green. While following the acoustic nature of this particular stage, there’s still something unquestionably punk about Ducking Punches, not least when Dan Allen takes a moment to discuss the importance of mental health and suicide, particularly among men, before dedicating their song ‘Six Years’ to Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit. This is particularly poignant given Frightened Rabbit’s band’s history at 2000trees, with Scott’s death coming just before they were due to play last year. Silent tears roll down cheeks, drying only during ‘Big Brown Pills From Lynn’, inciting the loudest singalong the forest has seen yet. [YB]

As it nears the start time of Deaf Havana’s set in the forest, the floor becomes a carpet of people, until it’s soon standing room only at the back – and even that’s only if you’re lucky. It’s a solo show today from vocalist and guitarist James Veck-Gilodi, and when he finally appears ten minutes late, he gives profuse apologies – in an incident that most festival goers can probably relate to, he’s had the “chicken wing shits”. Whoops. He then confesses that he’s not sure what to play, not wanting to ruin Deaf Havana’s headline set later – before realising that “we don’t have that many good songs, or at least that I know the lyrics to”. Of course, that’s just not true, and we’re treated to some soul-mending renditions of tracks like ‘Sinner’, ‘Fools And Worthless Liars’, his soothing voice blending perfectly into the beautiful surroundings. It feels personal, relaxed, and elating, and ends with brother Matt Veck-Gilodi taking to the stage to join James for a rendition of classic singalong Robbie Williams track ‘Angels’. The Forest Sessions are one of the most special parts of 2000trees, and sets like this are exactly why it is so loved. [GR]

Can’t Swim seem to have appeared out of nowhere, launching themselves into the scene without taking a moment’s breath. With numerous UK festival slots and headline shows under their belt, they’ve picked up one hell of a British following with only two albums released to date. Their afternoon set at Trees as a testament to this, as the crowd refuses to let up, persistently throwing themselves around, not least when guitarist Danny Rico throws himself into the crowd during ‘sometimes you meet the right person at the wrong time’. The energy wanes slightly when it comes to front man Chris LoPorto, who stands stationary with his hands behind his back for the majority of the set, only seeming to relax part way through the set during ‘$50,000,000’. This doesn’t deter the rest of the band or, indeed, the crowd, however, and the set is a strong contender for being one of the most manic of the day. [YB]

Sadly, The Bottom Line lets down an otherwise outstanding day. Their performance is entertaining, yet the music itself feels stuck in 2002 with early Simple Plan and Sum 41. While most bands have matured and developed their sound to grow with their fans, The Bottom line have unfortunately remained stagnant, and it shows through the response to their set. Even those stood at the barricade are hesitant to get involved and an attempt to get the crowd clapping along with the beat is met with a painful reluctance. It’s not a great sign when a band has to explicitly coax a crowd forward midway through a set, but sadly it perfectly sums up the set. [YB]

When it came to Every Time I Die’s exceptional and noteworthy set at this year’s 2000trees – featuring ‘Hot Damn!’ in full – it seemed only right to hand over the mic (or keyboard) to our resident ETID expert, for a very special look at a set that was not only a powerful experience for all in attendance, but held extra significance and meaning for many. Head here for Liam’s moving report on a set that will be remembered for many years to come.

Finishing up The Cave’s weekend is a man who needs little introduction; now performing as Frank Iero and The Future Violents, third album ‘Barriers’ was released in May, an authentic and well-received collection of punk-infused rock and roll. Despite the band’s status and excellent performance, though, the tent is relatively empty – though the front few rows are crammed in with enthusiastic fans. It feels almost like Iero has a battle on his hands to break through the expectations that come with his role in seminal emo band My Chemical Romance, and it’s a shame – his performance is incredibly slick from start to finish, with sublime harmonies from guitarist Evan Nestor. It’s a set that could do with a bit more variety in pace at times, and doesn’t always feel as exciting as it should, but there’s plenty of love from fans gathered near the stage and there can be no doubting the band’s skill; Frank Iero and The Future Violents are well deserving of your attention. [GR]

Through little fault of their own, Deaf Havana’s headline set falls flat. With technical issues that means the sound doesn’t travel much further than the first few rows in front of the main stage, it’s hard to command the crowd in the way we know they can. The drums sound like they’re five miles away, failing to cause that thumping in your heart that allows you to feel the music as well as hear it, and you can’t help but feel that nothing about this set up is doing this usually incredible band any justice. With that said, front man James Veck Gilodi’s voice is as strong as ever, belting out tunes from across the band’s discography with ease, and there has clearly been a lot of thought put into the set with extended intros and outros highlighting the band’s strengths.

Ultimately, it’s evident that both the Deaf Havana boys and their fans are having the time of their lives. From a blow up sex doll gracing the stage, to humble and sincere expressions of gratitude (“Thank you for supporting us. I don’t have any other skills”, states Veck Gilodi), the set has all of the fundamental tools of a great show and is embraced by the majority. Most of the crowd seem oblivious to any issues and spend the evening screaming the lyrics back at the band, never louder than when Veck Gilodi’s memory fails him, undeterred by the slight imperfections in his performance. There’s no doubt that Deaf Havana have been stronger than they are tonight, but it’s still a monumental end to what has been a near perfect weekend. [YB]