2000 Trees – The Forest Stage Mini-Review

Throughout the weekend The Forest acoustic stage saw so many performers play that catching them all would’ve been a massive task in itself. Choosing the stand out performance for each day seemed the easiest option and so here are the reviews of each act we saw across the Thursday, Friday and Saturday respectively. With this being the first time Musicology have attended 2000 Trees, some future planning will take place for a bigger review of this mighty fine stage when we next attend!

Black Peaks

Acoustic sets aren’t something Black Peaks are overly familiar with, as frontman Will Gardner explains this is only their time performing in this manner. Nevertheless, he and guitarist Joe Gosney produce an admirable performance. The stripped back nature of the set allows Gardner’s vocals to come to the fore, demonstrating his impressive range. The set contains highlight tracks from the band’s debut album Statues, such as Saviour and Hang ‘em High. The vocalist’s screams maintain their strength even sat down. Closing the set with a cover of Jack Garret, Gardner finishes up with an impromptu saxophone solo. The band’s songs come under a different light as acoustics, bringing greater emphasis to their meaning, whilst lacking the pure energy that the band bring in full shows. [7/10]

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Black Peaks – Photo by Jade Falconer

Moose Blood
Early afternoon at 2000 Trees and the serene setting of the Forest Acoustic Sessions stage was absolutely packed out to hear Moose Blood frontman Eddy Brewerton perform some songs solo. The set worked as something of a preview to their headline slot later, as many of the same songs were played. Opening with Honey, the crowd seemed content to listen rather than sing along. The frontman restated his previous revelation that he struggles with talking between songs, but the silences as he retuned every few song became slightly awkward, detracting from the experience. Other songs on the set were Pups, Bukowski and Knuckles. It was a nice change to Moose Blood’s usual electric performances, but nothing sensational. [6.5/10]

Itch (The King Blues) Acoustic
The verbose frontman of The King Blues played an intimate acoustic set on 2000 Trees Forest Acoustic stage armed only with his ukulele. Itch made his way through a number of songs from different albums within The King Blues discography including Underneath This Lamppost Light and Shooting Fascists with some poems in between songs. The stripped back rendition of the songs allows the meaning to really sink in, leading to a politicised set which any fan of the band could have expected. The vocalist also debuted a new song from an upcoming The King Blues album called Bullingdon Boys, unashamedly aimed at the Etonian boy’s club. It’s an interesting song showcasing some quality writing. Itch finished on a throwback cover of Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell, pausing at the climax of the song to explain how it used to work on stage with the man himself. It’s an amusing break before a calm end to the set. [7/10]

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The Forest packed out – Photo by Jade Falconer

words by Tom Martin

2000 Trees – The Full Review

This is a special year for 2000 Trees festival. As it celebrates its 10th birthday as a festival it also bares witness to not only its biggest line up to date but also a ridiculously high attendance that fully solidifies itself as a growing and important British festival.

 

Thursday

The Thursday kicks off with Max Raptor (8) delivering a feisty set at The Cave that gets everything going in tremendous fashion. It’s genuinely refreshing to see an opening band bring this much energy, as it really sets a fantastic vibe for not only the rest of the festival but also for young newcomers Milk Teeth (7). Having released Vile Child this year to universal praise, Milk Teeth’s set is strong if a little choppy with regards to pace. An ill placed Kabuki ruins the momentum the band gathered with their opening songs, but it is regained by the time Crows Feet kicks in.

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Milk Teeth on The Cave stage – Photo by Jade Falconer

Over on The Axiom stage, Rob Lynch (6) delivers his acoustic melodies with relative success, sounding good but the scarce crowd not overly enthused. If nothing else his set serves as a relaxing half hour before Black Peaks (9) waltz along to blow everyone before them out the water. The stupendous vocal delivery steals the show, with Glass Built Castles becoming a theatrical welcoming of the apocalypse. The band sound incredibly tight, the vocals continuously impress throughout and the crowd loses its collective shit for them, so it all in all a massive success.

It’s a shame that We Were Promised Jetpacks (6) have to follow them because their set certainly fails to live up to expectations. The tracks come short, not quite hitting the emotional mark they were aiming for, and with a set that sees them stretching songs far beyond their intended length makes it all a bit boring after a while. Ireland’s own And So I Watched You From Afar (7) manage to pick up the energy rather well as they follow on. Not having a singer doesn’t seem to stop them controlling the crowd with ease, as the pit swells and crashes with each riff. The songs however are repetitive enough for them to start to become boring if you aren’t already familiar with them.

The not-so-secret headline slot of Frank Turner (8) sees The Axiom tent absolutely packed out. The moment Frank, armed with just his guitar, walks on stage the crowd loses it’s mind and remains captivated for the rest of the set. Performing a slightly altered version of the England Keep My Bones album, it serves as a special set for all those present, and despite losing some momentum towards the tail end of the set, it finishes with an almighty sing along that immediately stands as an early highlight of the weekend. It remains all fun and games though until The Bronx (9) begin their vicious headline slot over at The Cave. Remaining modern-day punk legends, the band deliver a set that is firmly set at 100mph and does not let up for the first 30 minutes. The Unholy Hand is a spite filled middle finger to the religious establishment and White Guilt serves as a welcome reprise before the band slam it right back into overdrive. The performance is effortless, the level of enjoyment is clearly displayed on the face of every single person in attendance and when you see steam pouring off the heads of every band member on stage, it truly indicates a phenomenal end to the first day.

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Frank Turner delivering a stunning set on The Axion stage – Photo by Jade Falconer

 

Friday

With Thursday off to such a cracking success and everyone clearly still riding the high from the previous night, Press To Meco (8) are quick to capitalise on it. Playing early on The Axiom means the tent isn’t as packed as one would like for a band of such talent but tracks like Honestly and Autopsy impress everyone present and the band undoubtedly leave with more fans than when they arrived. Over at The Cave, Trash Boat (7) begin a set that comes off the back of a sweaty headline tour with WSTR in tow, but they remain still full of energy. Their recent album Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through fuelled the majority of their set. Opening with How Selfish I Seem, the atmosphere is tangible and the floor erupted into a pit. Top tracks from previous releases like Perspective and Boneless brought on lots of crowd interaction. The only issue with the set is a slightly unavoidable one. Trash Boat’s updated style dominated by heavy punk and harsh vocals leaves the set more inaccessible for those unfamiliar with the band. It’s a show for the fans, but a damn good one.

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Trash Boat on The Cave stage – Photo by Jade Falconer

Keeping the momentum up on The Cave stage, Palm Reader (6) deliver a set that drips in intensity. From every member of the band staring down the crowd to the sheer chaotic brilliance of their post-hardcore assault. Technical issues and one member struggling to remember the setlist means their performance misses the mark, but the new song they play sounds like their most aggressive out put to date. It’s a better performance than Krokodil (4) though, as they march on the stage only to be greeted by a sparse crowd. They immediately kick into Shatter and Dead Mans Chest, both of which boast monster riffs that just do not resonate with the audience. The performance quickly becomes stale with no one present being too familiar with the material and the band quickly losing favour. A new album will do well to inject some more ferocity into a band desperately lacking something.

Easily one of the biggest draws for the weekend, Lonely The Brave (7) are welcomed by a packed out tent of genuinely devoted fans. It’s a joy to watch the band grow, and whilst their new material goes down well with the audience, it’s obvious everyone is craving more material from their stellar debut. If the set was far more balanced in terms of song choice then this could have easily been one of the sets of the weekend, but it instead falls disappointingly flat. It’s not uncommon to see Neck Deep (7) hitting the main stage of festivals nowadays, and 2000 Trees’ Friday saw their bright, flame-based stage scenery come out in preparation. Opening with the first track of off Life’s Not Out To Get You, Citizens of Earth and it sets off their time well. Neck Deep don’t seem out of place playing outside stages any more, but despite playing with admirable gusto, it doesn’t quite translate perfectly just yet. It’s not surprising to hear Neck Deep bring out their heart-throb acoustic A Part Of Me, but it feels almost cliché. Their recent ballad December was performed as a full band rendition, and proved one of the best songs of the set, filled to the brim with energy

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Lonely The Brave delivering their emotive set on The Cave stage – Photo by Jade Falconer

Mallory Knox (8) follow them out on the main stage and simply captivate everyone in the audience with a confident set that proves them to be one of the recent success stories of the UK underground. Their stage set is cool to look at and their sing along anthems keep the dancefloor moving for the entirety of the set. These lads proved with ease why they could’ve just as easily headlined a stage and in future may just headline this festival. Over at The Cave Basement (9) are back, and their headline set proves they’ve not lost any ground. The band’s song choices for their hour-long set were perfect, paying tribute to the best of each release. Opening with Whole, the first track of their last pre-hiatus album Colourmeinkindness, the crowd were raising the roof on the tent and throwing themselves over the barrier in celebration. The sound mix for the set was stellar, with the live performance sounding nigh on record quality. Songs from Basement’s recent album Promise Everything went down excellently, especially the energetic Aquasun. A magnificent use of lighting and stage smoke had Basement silhouetted on stage resulting in one of the most atmospheric sets of the festival.

Headlining The Axiom stage at 2000 Trees is a big deal for Moose Blood (8) and they address it with their usual, continually repeated thanks. They also couldn’t wipe the grins off of their faces for most of the set. Kicking off with the rocking single Honey, Moose Blood seem more of a rock outfit on stage than a subdued emo-punk piece, and it works excellently. The band’s first ever song and fan favourite Bukowski had the tent ringing as the crowd blasted all the words back. The second half of the set faltered slightly due to a higher number of slow songs coming out, but Moose Blood’s delivery was still spot on. For those who decided to watch the entire Twin Atlantic (7) set instead of Moose Blood will probably feel ever so slightly salty. Whilst Twin Atlantic start off with gusto and tracks like Free providing fantastic highlights of their performance, the set slowly lose momentum in the second half. The set only really re-energises with closer Heart & Soul as the crowd sing the band off in glorious fashion. Whilst not absolutely mind blowing, Twin Atlantic perform deliver a fun set that by and large goes down well with the packed out crowd.

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Mallory Knox had a tremendous main stage slot – Photo by Jade Falconer

 

Saturday

Being somewhat akin to a 12 car pile up on the motorway, Heck (7) are second on the main stage and their set is absolutely fucking mental. With two members spending more time out in the crowd and climbing random structures than on stage, the show becomes very scattershot very quickly, with too much to take in and thus no time to digest the brilliant chaos that’s occurring. Powerboat Disaster remains a banger though and sounds massive on the main stage. After witnessing all that bedlam, Puppy (5) are incredibly tame in comparison and their Deftones-gone-Ghost sound does not gain any traction with the lingering crowd. The songs sound good and would undoubtedly do better at one of their own headline shows.

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Heck being hectic – Photo by Jade Falconer

WSTR (5) are one of the UK pop punk scene’s protégé bands of recent years, but their set proved you can only ride the hype of a six song EP for so long. Newcomers to seeing WSTR live may not have found as much to be disappointed by, but any that have seen WSTR multiple times since the release of their debut EP nearly a year ago are likely to have found the set stale. Despite promising new music “very soon”, the band are still playing the same set as they have been since they made their way into the limelight. When the biggest crowd pop comes from a Limp Bizkit cover then it’s really time to reinvigorate your live show. Remaining the exact opposite of this are Creeper (8), who rather ironically, creep along to deliver a contender for set of the weekend. The crowd is a lot thinner than most anticipated but the band refuse to let that stop them as the energy they bring is second to none. VCR kicks off the set with gumption and playing 4 of the 5 tracks from their most recent EP The Stranger sends the crown into a complete frenzy. Henley’s Ghost doesn’t resonate as well as it would in a smaller venue but the entire set before it more than makes up for the flat set closer.

Immediately following are Arcane Roots (7) whose loyal fan base make up the majority of their main stage crowd. Slowly progressively builds until the entire crowd explodes as the band display their hidden aggression that actually bites harder than you’d expect. A muddy sound prevents the riffs from truly reaching their full potential as notes are lost in the mix, but the band are tight and play with clear enjoyment on their faces. The King Blues (9) are up next and what absolute form they find themselves on. Itch is dressed rather well considering his through and through punk ethos but despite this the seething spite that comes through the microphone during Off With Their Heads is intimidating. The set is balanced nicely and spans their entire career albeit missing out Long Live the Struggle and every song is played with passion. It’s a set of the weekend from a band that are regaining their spot atop the pack.

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Itch getting damn close to inciting a revolution – Photo by Jade Falconer

The Cave quickly becomes a hub for every technical music fan in attendance as Animals As Leaders (8) put on a talented display that simply stuns at every opportunity. As well improvising over already incredibly technically challenging pieces of music, every member delivers their parts with the utmost accuracy. Tosin Abasi is calm as ever as he displays his genuine god-like guitar playing ability. There isn’t a better musician on the line up and for those present they get an absolute treat of a performance. Where Animals… were unable to get the crowd moving, SiKth (7) have no such issues. The crowd explodes as they blast through a full career-spanning setlist that includes tracks off their most recent EP. The instrumentation is masterful but the vocals are so muddy that hearing anything either of the vocalists says is impossible. Pussyfoot fails to hit its chaotic peak because of this, but when either of the guitarists get a chance to shine they steal the limelight.

‘Why we’re headlining this stage I’ll never fucking know’ screams Loz Taylor as While She Sleeps (10) go about proving to everyone exactly why they should be there. The band are on colossal form tonight, as Brainwashed kicks up an almighty mosh pit and the intensity doesn’t let up. Loz’s vocals sound brutal and effortless as rest of the band play like their lives depend on it. Our Courage, Our Cancer sounds damn near identical to record and the planet sized circle pit that engulfs the entire tent during Dead behind the Eyes is just obscene. Couple this with a triumphant Seven Hills and a monstrous Four Walls to close out the set and you don’t just have the set of the weekend, you’ve got a contender for set of the fucking year. It’s a legitimate shame that Refused (8) have to follow this, because following any other band and they would’ve faired so much better. Despite this, the punk legends deliver a comfortable set that sees them confidently play and command the crowd. The band seem to lose some momentum mid set but it is quickly gained back as the band take it all in their stride. Taking time to speak out about issues surrounding the music scene such as the gender inequality sees the band targeting and railing on the wrong people but the sentiment remains true and the crowd agree whole heartedly. When its eventually time for New Noise to play, the crowd collectively lose their minds for one last time and the eruption is nuclear. Refused bring the weekend to a tremendous close and play out a brilliant weekend well.

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The Refused closing out the festival in style – Photo by Jade Falconer