Cheltenham’s 2000trees is a festival well known for it’s intimate feel and caring, friendly atmosphere; something which the majority of festivals can lack. However, 2018 saw the rock based weekend fully live up to it’s reputation. The entirety of the weekend possessed a safe, warm and family friendly feel, offering something for everyone (including the many children found running around the festival).
Not only did this year see 2000trees secure huge headline sets from At The Drive In, Twin Atlantic and Enter Shikari, 2018’s line up was packed out with female fronted bands including the likes of Vukovi, PINS, Nova Twins, Dream Wife, Black Honey and Marmozets – the list goes on, all excellent variations to each other. With the festival scene infamously lacking in gender equality when it comes to line ups, 2000trees proved the myth of a lack of female artists complete nonsense, setting a standard which every festival should be working for.
Check out our full festival highlights below.
(Photo by Ben Morse)
(Photo by Gareth Bull)
Black Foxxes rocked onto stage with immediate energy from the very first beat. Despite having a reasonably early slot on the sweltering first day and despite frontman Mark Holley having very recently cracked a rib, their set was not hindered in the slightest, it didn’t stop Mark from putting every ounce of emotion into his singing and movement and it didn’t stop the band from producing a remarkably raw and colourful performance. It’s hard to look away from Holley when such feeling is pouring out of him, especially during some of the slower songs, it’s as if his body language and movement is a visual representation of the pure emotion coming from the song itself.
By the third song Manic in Me everyone was singing and jumping, and it instantly brought on that summer festival feeling of excitement and anticipation. Black Foxxes finished their set in the best way any band could finish a set, by adding a trumpet player to the stage during Joy! and proving themselves capable of mixing things up within their genre.
(Photo by Joe Singh)
The second band of the day was the heavy hard rockers, Turbowolf. Once Turbowolf was on stage there was never a dull moment, with each band member exuding confidence, especially Lianna Lee Davis (bass) and Chris Georgiadis (vocals), it was hard to keep eyes off Davis once it was revealed that she’s pregnant because it was inspiring to see how it did not hold her back one bit, there was not one moment where she wasn’t moving with complete power and poise.
Turbowolf have a variety of elements in their sound, including classic and fuzzy psychedelic rock along with punk and electronic dance music. Georgiadis’ unique vocals and distinctive use of synth makes them stand out from the crowd in the best way possible, we predict big things for them and they are definitely not ones to be missed.
(Photo by Joe Singh)
AT THE DRIVE-IN
After already seeing two bands play the main stage earlier in the day, it was difficult to know what to expect. In comparison to most festivals, 2000trees’ main stage is relatively small, leaving crowd space limited. With most of the day’s crowds not passing further than the sound desk, it was easy to assume finding a spot close to the stage would be easy. We were wrong. From the second At The Drive-In started there were miles of people going so far back it was near impossible to see the stage. This was the first sighting of a massive group of people together during 2000trees and it was very exciting to see the feeling of a tight knit family fun festival turn into a community of heavy rock party goer’s kind of festival. The light show was incredibly well put together and it really added to the excitement that filled the crowd.
Cedric Bixler-Zavala (vocalist and occasional guitarist) really knew how to fill a stage, he was never still and if you looked away for a second and looked back he’d always be in a different spot. Since starting in 1994, At The Drive-In have had two breakups but there is no way you’d be able to tell from looking at them, their set oozed the same amount of chemistry and energy you would expect of a new and upcoming band.
(Photo by Gareth Bull)
SCOTT HUTCHINSON TRIBUTE
Friday was started off with a visit to The Forest Sessions. The Forest Sessions provided small stripped back sets from various bands performing at the festival, giving people a chance to sit down and really enjoy the music without the distractions of mosh pits or loud crowds, and a refuge from many flying pints.
Friday’s line up included a tribute performance in memory of Frightened Rabbit’s frontman, Scott Hutchinson after his recent passing. The band were due to perform at 2000trees so having this tribute was a lovely way to commemorate him. Several people who knew or were linked to Scott Hutchinson in some way were performing covers of Frightened Rabbit songs and judging by the sheer mass of people who turned up and by watching the reactions of the crowd, it was clear how much he meant to so many people. It was very touching seeing the love and emotion coming from the performers and the audience, it had such an intimate and personal atmosphere and it was ideal in such a beautiful forest setting. It was deeply moving to see how people can come together out of love for one person and his music.
(Photo by Dom Meason)
One of the bands we had been most excited for coming up to 2000trees was Ho99o9, their most recent album United States of Horror being a constant go to album for an angry or frustrating day. Ho99o9 are an intense group which can best be described as a combination of old school hardcore, hip hop and punk and judging from many live reviews and videos, we knew that they would not disappoint.
As The Cave was very quickly filling up with swarms of sweaty young men, eerie audio and flashing lights started up, slowly building suspense. It seemed to go on forever getting the crowd more and more excited and at a perfectly timed moment, Street Power started and triggered an immediate raging mosh pit. The masses of heat did not stop both Ho99o9 and the crowd from really going for it with an abundance of energy and movement, with band members climbing on speakers and jumping into the crowd, and a non-stop continuous stream of crowd surfers being held up and carried towards the stage.
Ho99o9 might not be for everyone but if you want to go to a show involving confrontational, freaky music with political messages and want to be involved in an audience that just won’t stop, then you know who to see.
Fangclub are a a band you'd struggle to grow tired of, they showcase gritty grunge with brilliant powerful heavy riffs. As with Ho99o9, Fangclub were another band that provoked immediate mosh pits and despite it being a small crowd at the small “NEU” stage there was a multitude of relentless crowd surfers. The small crowd and stage did not stop them from providing a set which would have suited a crowd of thousands.
Watching Fangclub immediately makes you think “Nirvana” and although critics have said this is a negative because they can be a little too similar in both look and sound, making it seem like a tribute, many disagree, because they do it to so well. So what if they are similar? They do an amazing job and it’s very rare you’ll find a band that does not sound even a bit like anyone else. They are great at what they do, and they manage to get a crowd going, regardless of size or setting.
(Photo by Joe Singh)
Glasgow legends Twin Atlantic were one of the much-anticipated bands for 2000trees, it seemed that every other person we asked, “who are you here to see?” replied with Twin Atlantic. We had the luck of being right at the front to see them which at first, which at first was a worry because from experience we knew that being front row for Twin Atlantic can leave you a bit bruised and battered, however, going along with 2000trees’ wonderful friendly vibe, although the crowd was just as intense as expected, everyone was jumping together and dancing together instead of against each other and the only bruising suffered was from yet another continuous stream of crowd surfers.
Although seeing the sheer dedication and love coming from the crowd was a highlight, of course it couldn’t have been done without the talented Twin Atlantic, they lived up to my high expectations, going from classic head banging rock songs like Chaser and You Are The Devil to slower emotional ones like Crashland and Yes, I Was Drunk with brilliant energy and stage presence. Whether you’ve known the band for years or never heard them before we’d always advise seeing the Glasgow boys, because with Twin Atlantic it’s always a good time.
(Photo by Gareth Bull)
A good few hours of Saturday were spent at The Forest Sessions again. Being able to sit down in a quiet crowd watching stripped back sets surrounded by people who have just as much love for the music as you do and being in the picturesque setting of the forest gave The Forest Sessions a very peaceful and calm ambience.
We arrived towards the end of The Xcerts’ set. Although we weren’t there for much of it and although what we did see was from at the back, behind a tree where only a glimpse could be caught of frontman Murray Macleod, it was still sweet being involved in such a happy, peaceful crowd. Although we arrived for The Xcerts, once they finished we decided to move forward and get a good place to stay on for Enter Shikari playing later on, which is what a lot of people seemed to be there for.
P.D. Liddle (ex Dry The River) played as a trio with beautiful melodies and harmonies, unfortunately he was only playing this one set at the festival, but the simplicity of his music was very calming and captivating. Next was Hundred Reasons playing a secret set under the clever pseudonym “Undead Raisins”. The crowd lit up as they came on stage, with people singing every lyric word for word. Along with a few jokes from the band in between songs about the lack of rehearsal, as an emo post-hardcore band they managed very well doing a stripped back set on such a tiny stage.
Finally, the much awaited Enter Shikari came on stage. It was only frontman Rou Reynolds who was performing. There was a certain amount of uncertainty regarding how this set would turn out because a lot of Enter Shikari are very heavy, but despite obvious nerves and a few set-backs with tuning and finding lyric sheets, Reynolds did an excellent job. A Bowie cover and a Gary Numan cover were definite highlights. Later on, while performing with the full band on the main stage he mentioned how nervous he was and apologised for how messy it was, but it was good to see the messiness because it made everything feel more natural. Nobody’s perfect and it can be nice when we get to see the truer sides of artists because we can see normal humanity of the artist coming through.
After several recommendations, with high expectations we had been really looking forward to seeing Demob Happy and they did not disappoint. Unfortunately, a late arrival to their set due to the solid block of people leading out from Enter Shikari at The Forest Sessions meant we did not get to see the full set, but from what was seen they are a high-class band with excellent quality music. Demob Happy overall are a model example of modern day 60s/90s sounding psychedelic rock with songs including fuzzy guitars, a meaty bass line and heavy drum beats as well as a few higher pitched faster paced more classic rock tunes with glorious riffs and compelling vocals.
(Photo by Joe Singh)
Drawing this year’s 2000trees to an end were the incredible Enter Shikari. Seeing them from right at the back of the audience for the main stage with a full light show and loud speakers was a massive contrast compared to seeing Rou Reynolds performing only just hours before sitting on the ground mere metres away from him, unless you knew the band and knew the songs it’d be difficult to know it was the same artist. The dedication from the fans was evident, not just from the masses of people but also evident from several separate groups of people who had told us how they had been to see Enter Shikari the night before in Hatfield before travelling to Upcote Farms to see them again at 2000trees.
Wherever you were standing in the crowd you would be surrounded by hardcore fans dancing and head banging and singing along word for word to every single lyric. Enter Shikari have such fantastic political and powerful messages in their songs, such as Anaesthetist which is about the privatisation of the NHS and Live Outside which is about struggling with mental health. Everything about their set was perfect from the set list and the stage set up to the light show and even Rou Reynolds’ outfit. They truly are a band that will be loved and known for years to come, and the perfect close to a delightful year for 2000trees.