Live. 2000 Trees 2013

“After the crowded loneliness of Glastonbury and before the rampant nostalgia of Reading, we have 2000 Trees. We have home.”

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2000 Trees Festival
11th-13th July 2013

2000 Trees is a festival of extremes. Based in the heart of Gloucestershire, the independent event focuses on the best of British underground and every aspect of the three-day affair is handled with severe passion. Two thousand and thirteen saw 2000 Trees continue it’s very British turn with the far-reaches of the weather, but the boundary pushing didn’t stop there. From the hand-picked line-up, strewn with radical excellence to the sense of community, 2000 Trees knows exactly what it wants to be.

Future of the Left are a band brimming with self-awareness. The four-piece take rock music to its very limits. With a live show full of clattering walls of noise and darting screams, the abusive nature of the music is complimented by the reckless vigour in which they subject themselves to. It’s deranged yet it actually makes a lot of sense. The newer songs are the most confident, most accomplished yet. The madcap genius of Future of the Left hasn’t lost its fight yet, and they’re still afraid of no one

Axes are just as fearless. Bold instrumental rock straddles an energetic performance, courting danger. Not only do Axes bewitch with vibrant melodies locked in constant turmoil but, for a band of few words, they say a lot.

As Tom Lewis jumped off the mainstage mid-set, the crowd shared a collective intake of breath, yet his band didn’t miss a beat. This is Stagecoach’s party, and anything goes. Providing the perfect soundtrack with a mix of delectable pop and intelligent indie, the five-piece create both cause and effect. The unstoppable carnival that is Stagecoach shows no sign of slowing. An acoustic performance later that day attests to both the undeniable joy and the deep resonance that their music cradles.

The Crimea craft dark intensity that needs protecting. Laced with anguish, the songs are robust but the performance fragile as waves of side-stepping indie gently crash. It’s understated and subtle, but the rewards for investment are timeless.

By contrast, The Retrospective Soundtrack Players are stuck in the times. Well, two times to be precise. With songs about either ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ or, ‘Cool Hand Luke’ the source material is limited but the results dynamic. Folk in the purest sense, The Retrospective Soundtrack Players are storytellers and entertainers.

The unashamed pop flowing through the veins of Emperor Yes makes them an entertaining and brilliant concept. Dreamy synths and off-kilter vocals flirt and flounce while the barrage of drums takes exactly what they want. The lyrical pondering about wasps and ants may seem insincere but the childlike delight in which they’re delivered makes way for grand observation.

Jurassic Pop is a simple idea; songs about Jurassic Park. Niche and ridiculous, it shouldn’t work but with passion and a brontosaurus-sized sense of fun, it prowls with genius. Movie sound bites, dinosaur masks and a touch of brass all support the husky growl of the vocals. It’s hard to explain quite what happened or why, but everyone was in agreement; Jurassic Pop is magic.

While Jurassic Pop was pulling rabbits out of a hat, My First Tooth were bewitching with awesome beauty. Their stern deconstruction of love, accented by the stripped down instrumentals, was hauntingly seductive. Group harmonies twisted as complimentary strings entwined. While the mainstream continues to bastardise folk, My First Tooth keep a torch burning and the ideas pure.

Purity isn’t high on Wet Nuns priorities. Besides grungey, blues-rock and unadulterated fun, I’m not sure much is. As the two-piece grow more musically proficient, the members get more ludicrous. Every new song is a step forward in the bands ability to craft a hook; they toy with tempo, with volume and with direction. They play the most intelligent blend of dirty rock n’ roll, and they have an infectiously good time doing it. It’s not just a show; Wet Nuns are an experience. As the arms race between music and silly shows no sign of slowing, it’s just going to get better.

Black Moth have come a long way since we last saw them supporting DZ Deathrays at the OBL. They’ve grown into a fully-formed beast of a band. The riffs that run throughout their blackened rock are monstrous, the vocals hypnotic and the whole sordid affair oozes with dark promise.

The harrowing rock stutter of Bovine is also without fault. Brief pauses highlight the ferocity in which the four-piece attack with. Taking on desert rock with a more agile and fluid assault pattern leaves Bovine in an altogether different league.

Freeze The Atlantic aren’t the polished foray they usually lead. The hunks of smouldering alt-rock are fraught with a burning intensity. This gifts the band a jagged bite. The choruses are huge and the breakdowns swell with resilience, but there’s an underlying danger to the band that’s simply glorious. Freeze The Atlantic are an ever-shifting wonder, one that you don’t want to take your eye off of.

Hold Your Horse Is blow through 2000 Trees like a whirlwind. Chaotic, destructive yet demanding respect, the three-piece are well-versed in power. The breakdowns tumble with avalanche force while the vocals verge on deranged. Hold Your Horse Is are a force of nature. You don’t get in their way, you just sit back and appreciate their uncontrollable might.

The Xcerts have a unique consistency about them. Distorted fury holds hands with a fragile emotional state, resonating and reasoning. They manage to play every show with a level of constant brilliance, yet turn each one into a special moment. The sincerity of the band is second to none. The new songs sit next to the classic like an older brother; more advanced and with more to say for themselves. As the band finally step into the starring role of The Xcerts show, you can’t help but salivate at the prospect of album three.

Maybeshewill also play with a whole-spirited emotional charge. Soaring instrumental rock that not only soundtracks moods, but forces feelings through an intense grip. Greeted as returning heroes, the band thrive on this deserved admiration and play with the vibrant grandiose that’s befitting of their station.

Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun and 2000 Trees go way back. But it’s not their history that’s secured them a prime mainstage slot. It’s their future. ‘Death’ has provided the blueprints and their live shows, a brutal honest mix of upfront punk and beauty, have taken it to this. The crowd, proud and in awe, sang every word back at the band with the same fiery passion that it was delivered. Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun didn’t just play the mainstage, they made it their own. Even an appearance by Frank Turner couldn’t change the facts. This crowd belonged to them. The first of many.

Wot Gorilla? play a complicated, yet accessible flourish of math-rock. Live, the drive and the glitter compete and compliment in a dizzying pose of brilliance and musical articulation. Absorbed in their own instrumentals, yet pulling in the same wonderful direction, Wot Gorilla? balance the technical finesse needed for the slanted genre with a delicious pop understanding. It’s a dangerous dance, and one that isn’t synchronised but the discordance only makes the unity more brilliant.

If you break down the alt-rock giants, you’ll find an alarmingly similar set of credentials. It’s surprising then, that more bands aren’t doing what Gunning For Tamar do. Their music, a jangly yet weighty mix of punk, pop and rock, is the perfect partner for their lyrics. The band not only has something to say, but says it through huge, filthy choruses. Stripped of their noise in a rare acoustic set, The band show that beyond the breakdowns and the aural assaults, lays pristine charm and a beating heart. Casual remarks about circle pits, after seeing them elsewhere, may be off-the-cuff but show a desire to be responsible for huge crowds. Exploring new territories yet built upon the old school, Gunning For Tamar are an exciting prospect for the future yet utterly brilliant now.

If there’s one artist who sums up the entire ethos of 2000 Trees, it’s Frank Turner. His hardworking, DIY approach to every aspect of his career mirrors that of the festival. The day before his headline set, Frank plays a rearranged Love, Ire and Song in full during a not-so-secret acoustic set. The atmosphere is electric and the once folk-troubadour takes us back in time, delighting the die-hards and the casuals. He squeezes in three more sets across the festival site before his headline appearance.

Come Friday evening, he’s warmed up enough. The mainstage takes on its biggest ever crowd and there’s a distinctive buzz in the air. Frustratingly, through a deathly mix of sound issues and time constraints, the set doesn’t quite reach the dizzy heights it promised. Everyone expected brilliant, yet we only saw flashes of it. For the most part it was just really, really great.

For the entirety of the festival, 2000 Trees didn’t sink below the realms of really, really great. There was an invitation to find your new favourite band at 2000 Trees and, amongst all the old favourites, you’d be hard pushed to have failed. The bands, the people and everyone else involved excelled at making a very real claim for the best festival in the country, which is what the organisers set out to do. Job achieved for this year. Now, how do you better it for next?

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~ by justdip on 18/07/2013.

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