REVIEW: 2000 TREES FESTIVAL 2011
Celebrating its fifth anniversary, Upcote Farm’s 2000trees stands tall amongst the plethora of the new generation of festival for it’s environmental stance, intimate venue and diverse music. This year’s festival saw a new addition to the 2000trees site, The Cave stage, which promised heavier music than previous years. The Early Entry ticket afforded those willing to partake in a premiere of the venue and it was an incredible way to kick off the weekend.
Unfortunately, we missed the much coveted band The Echoes, so the first band witnessed at this year’s festival was OST. With their math-rock and dance sensibility, Old School Tie were the perfect way to start the festival, churning up a curious interested crowd, very keen to settle themselves in. So Many Souls and We Are Machines the stand out tracks, as people fond of Foals and 65daysofstatic found something in OST that they liked – most likely the pulsating riffs, scintillating vocals, doses of percussive electronica and perfectly thunderous bass.
After such a promising start to the festival with the music that Thursday offered, we came crashing back to Earth with Cats and Cats and Cats. Despite offering a number of members from the wonderful A Genuine Freakshow, CaCaC came nowhere near the level of the Reading sevensome. During an offensively ramshackle performance each musician seemed to be playing their own songs, with the wonderfully talented string section completely drowned out by off-beat drums and ridiculous vocal harmonies. Fellow felines Out Like a Lion were not only better (not hard I assure you), but the recently acclaimed indie rockers truly justified their NME hype with an energetic and supremely tight set, reminiscent of early Bloc Party and Sonic Youth. And fellow Bristolian Barry Dolan aka Oxygen Thief gave his typical acerbic dose of acoustic miasma on the only venture to the Green House, nestled towards the back of the site, and it was a joy to watch his intensity in such a serene setting.
Young Glaswegian four-piece Twin Atlantic showered the crowd on the main stage with their blend of pop-rock and Scottish bravado, and maybe, just maybe, stole the award for best band of the festival. What is so joyful about these guys, is that they can drive a crowd into vicarious uproar with the powerful You’re Turning in to John Wayne, before calming them back down with electro-acoustic wonder in Crash Land. On Saturday, most people had only one thing on their lips – And So I Watch You From Afar. The Belfast-rockers well and truly turned their amplifiers up to eleven and stormed the set with their brand of heavy barrage of guitar, drums and mini-Pink Floyd light show. If people were arriving with the opinion that ASIWYFA are your run-of-the-mill instrumental band, then they would have had the cobwebs blown out of their Tristeza minds.
Saturday was prefaced by something far more delicate in Ellen & The Escapades. Her ability to pen catchy folk is there, as it the ability to perform extremely tight and melodic tunes. Having won the Emerging Talent Competition at Glastonbury this year, maybe the heights of Marcus Mumford et al isn’t beyond reach, and no-one would begrudge the charming and delightful Ellen throughout her musical Escapades. Danny and The Champions of the World performed their Bon Jovi-esque stadium rock, evidently enjoying their moment on the big stage. Then, came the bands we’d all been waiting for. The Twlight Sad are a curious band, James Graham, despite his simultaneously aggressive and soulful lyrics, can’t look at you, or anyone for that matter. They are deeply lyrical and breathtakingly atmospheric, so capable of drawing you in to their ethereally depressive poetry, but for whatever reason they can’t seem to translate that magic into a live performance. Perhaps larger stages aren’t conducive to the intimacy that their music deserves and so unashamedly craves, but I have seen them play better than this, albeit on a smaller scale, and I couldn’t take my eyes off them.
The penultimate act on the main stage drew one of the biggest crowds I’d seen all festival, and it’s not surprising, Los Campesinos are amazing. Seriously. Their uniqueness means they appeal to a wide range of people; the twee brigade bounced and joyously clapped along to melodic violin solos and glockenspiel tinkling and the more hardcore amongst the crowd found plenty of opportunity for screaming and riotous moshing – especially in the teetering crescendo to personal favourite ‘You! Me! Dancing!’. Lyrically no subject is out of bounds, love, sex, death and everything in between, Los Campesinos! tackle life’s intricacies through fast paced rhythms, numerous instruments, ridiculously catchy riffs, simple lyrics and handclaps in a way that sounds like nothing you’ve heard before. Inventive, humorous, twee-leaning-indie-folk-rock-pop at it’s best.
If any reveller was feeling slightly worse for wear after a heavy weekend of drinking, ‘sleeping’ in a tent and too much sun, Los Campesions! blew the cobwebs away and suitably prepared one and all for the main event, festival headliners Frightened Rabbit. The energy was positively electric as the down-stroked guitars signalled the start of ‘The Modern Leper’ and as the drums built from a gallop to a thunderous roar, much manic dancing ensued. Vocalist Scott Hutchinson’s heartfelt yelps are dizzying in the urgency of their delivery. Each song is lovingly crafted with delicate vocals against a backdrop of haunting acoustics, sometimes stomping and upbeat, sometimes achingly slow but always beautiful. The self-revelation is so unflinching you often feel like a voyeur on a private moment, but it’s this heart-on-sleeve sensibility which so endears one to their sound. Glasgow is rapidly becoming the indie capital of the UK and Frightened Rabbit are undoubtedly it’s best recent offering.
Of course I had to leave, but I guarantee I will be back next year. The music was fantastic, the food delicious and the weather better than one could have hoped for. 2000trees is at that critical point, whether to go bombastic and grow exponentially over the next few years, or whether to remain true to its eponymous roots. With Glastonbury on a hiatus in 2012, there may be a desire to reach out to revellers hoping for their festival fix, but I sincerely hope that the organisers are able to resist, as the intimacy and relatively-closed nature of the festival is what makes it so appealing and irresistible.
Words and photos: Matthew Tickner and Annie Scott
by 247 Magazine