This summer, The Mic has been busy covering all sorts of festivals! Managing Director, Jake Longhurst made his way to Upcote Farm for four days of punk and metal at the intimate 2000Trees Festival.
On the morning of the 6th of July, I woke up bright and early to head to my local train station, just outside of London. I had packed brutally light, as I had to make my way to the festival exclusively on public transport and so had fit everything into hiking rucksack. Once I was in London, I made my way to Paddington station, then got a train to Cheltenham Spa, where I grabbed a spot on a coach to the festival at the beautiful Upcote Farm, a few miles outside of Cheltenham. Upon arrival, I could tell that this would be different to most conventional festivals, with its stunning setting against the rolling fields of the southwest of England and its much more cozy style of arena where the campsite backs onto all of the stage areas. The festival even has two stages inside the campsite, plus a few busking areas and open mic spots. I found my way to the press area, set my tent up, and then started to wander around and discover the festival. The beauty of press at 2000Trees is that we get backstage access to most of the festival, meaning I could chat very easily to bands who had just played and mix with other people in the industry more easily. Amongst those people whom I either saw or talked to were Daniel P Carter and Alyx Holcombe of BBC Radio fame, as well as plenty of brilliant bands, many of whom I will talk about soon!
After a couple hours enjoying the landscape and the campsite, the music started and the first artist on was Joe Appleford (as he described his name it’s, “like the fruit and the car”). Him and his band played their fourth ever show on the Forest stage to open the whole festival, and showed off an awesome set of some brilliant progressive metal. They were very powerful, showcasing a good grasp of the emotions behind their music, and deserved a much bigger audience than they had, but they are touring their upcoming album Dystopian Dreams Utopian Nightmares later this summer, so catch them there! The next band I saw was the group Heavy Lungs, who were really great to watch. I didn’t know them before this festival but I really enjoyed their set of noise rock, with frontman Danny Nedelko (the subject of the IDLES song of the same name) giving a great show. Next up for me was probably my favourite set of the day on Wednesday, the excellent Palm Reader who I’ll be seeing again at Mangata Festival in Nottingham! They smashed their set, getting the crowd really excited for the rest of the evening. The final two acts I saw on the day were Johnny Foreigner and Pulled Apart By Horses, who were both great! I really enjoyed the indie/emo sound of Johnny Foreigner, and Pulled Apart By Horses’ alt rock tunes were an awesome way to finish the day's live music.
Afterwards, the first silent disco of the weekend began! Because it was only the early bird ticket holders there, the silent disco was held at the same stage as the music had been for the day, which was much smaller than the rest of the week’s silent disco stages, but it was brilliant fun! We all had a great time dancing and jumping to some of the biggest alt, punk, rock, emo, and metal ever released, before I headed to bed to get some rest for the first full day at the festival.
The first full day of the festival began with an altogether far-too-early wake-up, courtesy of my erratic sleep schedule, so I had an early walk around to check out the food stalls and grab a bite to eat. I then managed to catch up with my mates, who were pretty much all arriving today, and helped put up a few tents (read too many). After the campsite was finished we headed into the main arena to watch Holding Absence smash their set, much to nobody’s surprise. They mentioned that they’ve played every stage at Trees except for the Main Stage, which I am sure will change soon enough!
After Holding Absence was a popular one for the group, Dinosaur Pile-Up, who I must confess I wasn’t all that excited for, but was very pleasantly surprised by. They put on a great show, which I really enjoyed! Songs like Thrash Metal Cassette and Stupid Heavy Metal Broken Hearted Loser Punk were great fun to watch live, with plenty of crowd participation. Not long afterwards, Sam Christelow, of the University Radio Nottingham Rock Show and I did an interview with CRASHFACE which was a great chat! The band were really nice to talk to, and are a name to look out for in the scene at the moment, plus if you keep an eye (or an ear) out you might find that interview somewhere soon.
"..having a band such as Heriot start the day off is always recommended by me if for no other reason than they are going to wake you up very well."
Next up for the group was an excellent set by the amazing Creeper, who I’ve seen twice before but Sam had never seen, and so it was made even better by how much he enjoyed it! We had a great time in the moshpit, and when a band can play such great songs as Down Below, Annabelle, Cyanide and Misery all in one set then it’s always going to be a strong show. They finished up by having a supposedly Transylvanian butler announce to everyone that the band have their biggest headline show ever at the London Roundhouse on November 4th, and that it’s imperative nobody goes because it will be dangerous. Naturally we all want to go! I then went and stood by the side of the tent for most of Anti-Flag’s set, which I really enjoyed, but by the end it was starting to get cold so we all headed back to the campsite and grabbed a jumper, then split up into groups depending on who wanted to wait around till the silent disco, who wanted to go straight to see Jimmy Eat World, and who wanted to see Stick To Your Guns before seeing the end of Jimmy Eat World. I chose the cool option (obviously) and headed to watch Stick To Your Guns, who by any means put on an incredible show, before we caught the very end of Jimmy Eat World’s headline set and saw The Middle which was all we were there for, and had a brilliant time! The silent disco then carried on till the early hours, and then off to bed ahead of Friday.
Friday came with a whole new set of bands and a whole new set of aches and bruises. We started the day off right with some blistering metalcore from Heriot, who as always were in formidable form, waking us up from our dreary walk to the arena at 11:30. We again took the day quite slowly to begin with, but having a band such as Heriot start the day off is always recommended by me if for no other reason than they are going to wake you up very well. Grabbing breakfast shortly after this, we then waited till Salem’s set was about to begin and headed over to watch Will Gauld’s second band turn the volume up to 11 in the Axiom tent, and credit where credit is due, they were nearly as good as his main exploits in Creeper! Afterwards Sam and I rushed over to the Main Stage to let him relive his emo glory days and watch ROAM for the first time, and most likely also the last, as the band are breaking up later this year. They were great fun, and I vicariously lived the emo phase through Sam, who was having a brilliant time.
"The band’s abrasive brand of metallic hardcore, made for a brutal and elatory set..."
There wasn’t much time to lose, as we left their set five minutes early to rush over to the press area, to interview Mike from Boston Manor, about their upcoming album and their summer of touring too (watch this space). As we were walking back from the interview, we realised Puppy were still playing, so Sam dragged me in. I didn’t know much of their stuff, but they were a great live band, which I'd definitely see again! Afterwards was another S. Christelow pick, as I went to see Kenny Hoopla, or as we have called him a couple of times Mr Kenneth of Hoopla. Admittedly, I wasn’t such a fan of his set, his style just wasn’t for me, but his energy in a live setting cannot be dismissed. If you’re a fan of his music I’m sure you’d have an absolute blast watching him perform. Speaking of bands who are good live, Rolo Tomassi turned up next on the Axiom and blew it apart. They are a phenomenal live band, and short of a couple of technical issues durin they sounded great. They also performed my favourite song of theirs; Prescience for the first time ever in the UK, which was absolutely wild! Taking a short walk back to the campsite to grab a beer I bumped into Jay and Jenny, two of the people I was camping with, and we went to watch Laura Jane Grace from Against Me! on the Cave Stage. She played some solo hits and AM! bangers too! Personal favourites for me were True Trans Soul Rebel and I Was A Teenage Anarchist, but frankly her whole set was awesome, and well worth having seen.
The next band was a highlight of the weekend. Turnstile have become a global phenomenon, with their latest album Glow On being a hardcore album for the masses that has made them a worldwide focal point of heavy music. Their set was poised as one of the best of the festival, and they didn’t disappoint, with BLACKOUT being one of the best pits of the weekend, and an enormous crowd all singing along to every word. The final band I saw on the Friday was PUP, who are probably the band that united my group of mates the most, with the highest percentage of us watching a single band. My favourite song Morbid Stuff went far harder than I expected, and the whole set was excellent!
Saturday morning brought the most excitement for me, as my top band of the weekend were playing later in the day. After grabbing breakfast and a beer some of us walked to the arena at 1 for Mannequin Pussy’s set. This was a band I’d heard mentioned a plethora of times but never listened to personally, but after watching their electric set I can confirm that I'll be listening to them properly , as I thoroughly enjoyed the entire show! On next was a firm favourite band of mine, Kid Kapichi, who smashed their set on the Cave Stage, as expected, with some great tunes both new and old. The best of their set was doubtless the political New England, which riled the crowd up into a brilliant singalong and mosh combo. After their set, I grabbed a Korean bibimbap bowl, and sat down with my friend Kez to watch pop punk outfit Cold Years on the Cave Stage. I’d listened to their stuff a year or two ago, thought I’d give them a whirl live and it was definitely worthwhile.
Taking a small break ahead of the next band in preparation, most of our group met up ahead of one of the weekend's most exciting sets, Knocked Loose. They performed at Nottingham's Rescue Rooms not long before this festival, but this performance was being played in front of lots more people, and had a far more intense pit atmosphere. The band’s abrasive brand of metallic hardcore, made for a brutal and elatory set: my last of the weekend on the Main Stage, and well worth seeing again! Afterwards, I sat in the Cave Stage to see my favourite band of the weekend, but first Phoxjaw were playing the Axiom, so I watched and enjoyed their show. I’ve listened to one of their albums and will now be delving further into their back catalogue. Finally, my favourite band of the entire weekend was on, the brilliant Blood Command. I’ve been a fan of them for over five years and never quite seen them, so to catch their show was amazing, and they didn’t disappoint! Playing mostly songs from their new album Praise Armageddonism and my favourite album of theirs Cult Drugs, the set was brilliant. I'm glad I managed to catch it.
And with that, I had to head off as I had to catch a plane early the next morning. My 2000Trees experience was thoroughly enjoyable, one of the best festival experiences I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to be back at Upcote Farm again soon!
Edited by: Caradoc Gayer
Cover image courtesy of www.twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk/gallery. In article videos courtesy of YouTube.