LIVE: 2000Trees Festival 2019 – Thursday

By Punktastic

2000trees is advertised as being a ‘medium’ sized festival, but while medium can suggest mediocrity or 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]

If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to kick off a festival the right way, pop punk is it. Despite many still battling their tents into position, Liverpool’s WSTR have pulled a sizeable crowd out into the sunshine at the main stage – and it only takes the likes of ‘Tell Me More’ and ‘Bad To The Bone’ to get things moving. Their punkier approach to the genre makes them one of the most enjoyable bands the UK has produced in a long time – and though they don’t have quite the same level of energy as usual this morning, the finale of upbeat anthem ‘Crisis’ is more than enough to get 2000trees off to a fantastic and enjoyable start. [GR]

At almost the opposite end of the spectrum, Bristolians Phoxjaw pump the nearby Neu Stage full of darkened atmosphere with their loud and powerful alt rock. Featuring a mixture of tracks from debut EP ‘Goodbye Dinosaur…’ and the recently released ‘A Playground For Sad Adults’, this set is nothing short of flawless; expansive and intricate, every riff rings out with perfect clarity, whilst Danny Garland’s impressive vocals tie everything together for what already feels like one of the most memorable sets of the weekend. Phoxjaw are only just getting started – and things couldn’t look much better for this quartet’s future. [GR]

Londoners Wallflower are next up on the Neu Stage, with a much mellower set than the preceding Phoxjaw. In fact, it’s a bit hard to tell they’ve even started, with an overly understated move from soundcheck to performance, and they struggle to capture the audience’s attention. Wallflower have a lot of promise, but this unfortunately is not a set that shows them at their best, as songs merge together and lack the energy they possess on record. Though today might not have been their day, Wallflower are still a band brimming with potential, and their upcoming debut album may well ignite a new fire – watch this space. [GR]

The first of our many ‘Forest Sessions’ is spent with YONAKA, a band we’re wholly familiar with yet of whom we never find ourselves getting bored. As a band that likes to make the most of a large festival stage, it would have been easy for this tiny wooden stand to seem restricting, however front woman, Theresa Jarvis, maintains energy and oozes attitude, despite the small space. It’s a stage they’ve played before – in fact was the very first stage they ever played at a festival a few years ago – and they’ve more than made the most of the opportunity today, with the setting only further highlighting Jarvis’ incredible vocals. It’s a special moment for fans of Yonaka, an increasingly rare opportunity to witness this band in such an intimate setting, and one they’ll be holding on for for years to come. [YB]

A similar experience is in store for fans of Holding Absence too, as they take their turn on the miniature stage in the forest. Appearing in a “Self-love is punk rock” t-shirt, front man Lucas Woodland showcases his immensely powerful and emotive voice. The band’s music is already melancholy, but this emotion is amplified by the tranquil setting of the sheltered forest and the acoustically driven vibe of the set. Fan favourite, ‘Monochrome’ is a particular showstopper for both fans and band, as the crowd’s voices overpower that of Lucas as the chorus kicks in. The performance provokes goosebumps and strengthens the fan-band relationship as it gives Woodland an opportunity to chat to the crowd, something he claims he doesn’t get to do much. During his mini monologues, we learn that while they may “look gnarly”, they are “not a gnarly band”, and in this quiet and respectful environment – such a stark contrast to their usual shows – you almost believe it. [YB]

2000Trees is one of our favourite places to discover new music, and over in the Neu tent, Novacub – who take to the stage, rocking ‘90s inspired outfits and bringing with them a giant bear head which remains a feature of the stage layout for the duration of the performance – are just one of the bands we happily discovered over the weekend. While this band of extremely cool women have only officially released two tracks at this point in their careers (with, we’ve learnt a third on the way soon), they fill their 30-minute set with ease, filling the half-full tent with energy and enthusiasm which more than makes up for the sparsity in the crowd. With a novel offering, there’s no reason as to why Novacub won’t slowly but surely pick up a fierce following as they release continue to release new music. [YB]

Fast becoming one of Punktastic’s favourite bands, Puppy’s afternoon slot on the main stage is an unquestionable highlight of the whole weekend. With metal undertones and metal-like talent, combined with a pop-punk vibe, Puppy are sure to appeal to almost everyone in attendance. The crowd continually grows throughout the performance, reaching a point where – despite it still being early in the evening – it becomes a struggle to get anywhere close to the stage, highlighting the impact the band has made during their two previous Trees performances. There’s an indescribable level of energy rippling through the crowd that is reflected on stage right up until the very last note and our only regret is that it has to end. [YB]

Never a band to be ignored, Loathe entice a huge and rowdy crowd into The Axiom tent for music that isn’t just loud – it’s dirty, exciting, and properly bloody interesting. And when we say interesting, do not under any circumstances read ‘dull’ – their fusion of djent into an industrial, almost oppressively heavy style means they sound unlike anyone else on the circuit, and it’s absolutely crushing inside this tent. Vocalist Kadeem France brings plenty of expressive energy along with it for one hell of a kick start to the heavier side of 2000trees. [GR]

Conjurer are building quite the reputation for themselves this year, and their set at Download just over a month ago was one of the most discussed of the weekend – here at Trees, though, it’s possibly just a little too early and a little too brutal, as the Axiom tent is much quieter than would be expected for this powerhouse of a band. This doesn’t detract from another flawlessly thunderous and atmospheric performance from the Warwickshire four, including a spine-tingling moment when vocalist and guitarist Dan Nightingale steps down onto the barrier and, without a microphone, sends his guttural voice to echo around the space. Conjurer are coming to take over the world – and they won’t be doing it gently. [GR]

In stark contrast to their earlier forest session, Yonaka’s main stage performance brings with it the perfect opportunity to lose your mind. As Theresa Jarvis struts her way across the stage, members of the crowd ignore the sticky humidity and persistently throw their arms in the arm, singing along passionately to each and every song, not least obvious favourites ‘Ignorance’ and ‘Rockstar’. Despite the nature of their stunning early afternoon forest session, the band seem far more comfortable on this much larger stage, playing to an audience 10 times the size of the one played to earlier in the day, and it’s a treat to have been able to witness two such polar opposite performances. As the set draws to a close, we’re hit with a brutal reminder of everything we’ve come to this festival to forget, as Jarvis dedicates ‘Don’t Wait Til Tomorrow’ to anyone “dealing with shit”. While acting as a potentially painful reminder of life outside the confines of the trees, it’s also a reminder that you’re not alone – somehow perfectly encompassing the entire message this festival seems to convey. [YB]

The noisiest thing to ever come out of Harrogate (although to be fair, there’s not much competition), Blood Youth made a shift in sound earlier this year with sophomore album ‘Starve’. The result is a band whose live performance is more powerful and impressive than ever – and, as anyone who’s had the pleasure of seeing the four piece before will know, that’s no mean feat. Grinding, thunderingly melodic, and utterly relentless, the delivery is full of passion and the crowd respond in kind with huge pits taking over the Neu tent. The set pulls primarily from the nu-metal influenced ‘Starve’, with the sublime bass and riffs of ‘Nerve’ being a particular highlight, but earlier tracks from debut ‘Beyond Repair’ still fit in well; ‘I Remember’ receives an especially high energy welcome as crowdsurfers pour over the barrier. By the end of this set, closed with the riff-heavy album title track ‘Starve’, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Blood Youth are one of British metal’s brightest lights, and we look forward to their inevitable headline slots in future. [GR]

If there’s any name that is synonymous with hardcore, Comeback Kid is surely it. The Canadians have been at the top of the game for almost twenty years, and show no signs of slowing down; despite us now nearing the end of a long, hot day, they tear through The Cave with the force of a Category 5 hurricane, taking the (very) willing crowd with them. The tent is almost bursting at the seams as bodies clamber over each other. The spirit of hardcore is well and truly alive as the setlist picks its way through their back catalogue. Comeback Kid are absolute masters of the stage, and it feels all too soon when the set is brought to a close with the hugely popular ‘Wake The Dead’ – long may they continue to dominate. [GR]

For some bands, two sets in one day might feel excessive. For others – it’s still not enough. Holding Absence easily fall into that second category as they take the headlining slot on the Neu stage, and within moments of the haunting opening notes of ‘Perish’, it feels like this is the set we’ve been waiting for all day. For any newcomers to the band, it’s an almost perfect introduction to everything they are, and are capable of – there is truly a feeling of witnessing something special during this set. From the huge singalongs on ‘Monochrome’ and ‘Your Love (Has Ruined My Life)’ to the utterly beautiful, soaring melodies of ‘Wilt’, and the high energy of ‘Like A Shadow’, there is a love that ripples through the air and catches anyone in its path; more than simply a show, this is an experience, and one that leaves plenty of smiles on faces in this packed tent. Holding Absence are still a young band, and with surely even bigger things to come, their future is looking incredibly exciting – we can’t wait to see it. [GR]

At the same time as Frank Turner takes to the main stage, While She Sleeps are playing to a packed out crowd in The Cave. While front man, Lawrence ‘Loz’ Taylor has to pull out due to a last minute emergency, this doesn’t even come close to hindering the band’s performance. It kicks off with a nod to the band’s 2017 album ‘You Are We’, a notion that is fully encompassed as the lead singers of other bands in attendance take to the stage to fill in for Loz. While there is no replacing him, the sentiment is stunning, making it – arguably – even more special. The likes of Holding Absence’s Lucas Woodland and Comeback Kid’s Andrew Neufeld are among the few that took on the challenge, and despite the late notice, no-one stutters or stumbles over the lyrics, highlighting just how well-loved While She Sleeps continue to be. As far as the fans are concerned, it’s as if nothing at all is amiss, as the entire Cave goes berserk regardless of the vitally missing piece, causing absolute mayhem as the various front men join the band. It’s a beautiful and heartwarming end to the night, and one that will never again be replicated. It feels as though we’ve just been a part of something historic. [YB]

Frank Turner and 2000trees go together like… well, Frank Turner and 2000trees. There’s a massive amount of affection for this folk-punk legend here at trees- and if it wasn’t obvious in advance (the campsite named in his honour is a hefty clue), the vast crowd at the main stage for the weekend’s first headliner should clear it up for anyone in doubt. Although the festival covers a wide array of genres, there’s something about Turner’s uplifting folk rock that feels like it goes hand-in-hand with the vibe here; as he pulls out favourite tracks one after another, thousands of voices carry across the field alongside his. There’s even some special celebrations, with one fan marking his fiftieth show and another his hundredth – and as there is, of course, only one appropriate way to mark such an occasion, they are both sent on a crowdsurfing mission into the middle for a high five and a hug. Aww. With tracks like ‘Get Better’, ‘The Way I Tend To Be’, and ‘Recovery’ making an appearance in the eighteen song set, this hour (and a bit) we spent with Turner and The Sleeping Souls is truly cathartic and joyous, full of good humour and community spirit – the perfect way to round off this first day down at the main stage. [GR]