Last weekend, On Record was once again treated to a weekend of frolics in the Gloucestershire countryside at the aptly named 2000Trees Festival.
Amongst an ever-expanding roster of independent UK festivals, the strengths of 2000Trees are clear to see:
Its size is ideal; the walk between the furthest stages is – including all necessary toilet and beer stops – at most, 15 minutes. This means you get more bands for your money and spend less time watching sound checks than at any larger festival.
It also benefits from the lack of distinction between arena and campsite. Want to camp 100 metres from the main stage? You’re welcome to. Or, if you want a bit more peace and quiet, you can pitch up next to any number of acoustic tents.
Another nice feature is the option to bring all your food and booze with you. Again, because of the festival’s size, carting a few crates from your car to your campsite is no problem. And once you’ve got the beer in, you can drink it anywhere. This is a refreshing change from certain festivals – British Summer Time in Hyde Park is one – where it feels like you’ve been turned upside down and shaken by the ankles for every penny you’ve got.
And while I’m on the subject of things my parents would care about, the food stalls and bar are reasonably priced. And the toilets are not too bad either, if you’re game for pissing on a hay bale – which you obviously should be, because it’s great fun. Sadly, I can’t speak for the ladies’ loos, because the queues were too long and I’d already grown quite attached to the hay bale.
Now the logistics are out the way, a brief mention should problem be given to the music. Sadly, in some ways, this is where this year’s 2000Trees wasn’t as strong as it might’ve been.
As I mentioned in a preview, compared to last year’s festival, the organisers opted for far fewer household names in favour of a more underground line up. Arguably the biggest name on the bill was Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip and, due to what I can only guess must’ve been a double booking, they ended up playing on the Thursday night only to those lucky enough to have an early bird ticket and an extra day off work.
For the majority of people who arrived on the Friday, therefore, there were few big names to get them excited. Now, this shouldn’t necessarily be a problem – I’m not saying every festival should cater to the lowest common denominator – but when the largest crowd of the day is for the Silent Disco, this should raise at least a few eyebrows.
Nonetheless, when people did take the gamble and leave the relative comfort of their campsite to check out a band, they were often rewarded with quality. Public Service Broadcasting and MaybeSheWill each bought their own brand of sample-based joy to Upcote Farm. The JB Conspiracy also deserve a special mention – but then again where can you go wrong with ska music in the afternoon sun? TurboWolf spent more time in the crowd than on the stage when they played The Cave – and Slaves and were outstanding. Blood Red Shoes went down a storm on the Friday and Frightened Rabbit fitted comfortably into their Saturday night headline slot.
However, the highlight of the weekend – and the embodiment of the reason why 2000Trees is well worth your money even if the line up doesn’t entirely tickle your fancy – was Dave McPherson. The InMe front man played six increasingly intoxicated acoustic sets over the course of two days, including performances at tiny “busking” stages dotted round the festival site. Each set was unique and – what’s more – many of them took place in and around people’s campsites – on stages where anyone was welcome to get up and play.
And that’s the magic of 2000Trees: there’s no “us” and “them” of artists and fans – the bands seem to enjoy being there as much as you enjoy watching them. Bring along your guitar, and you could find yourself being supported by InMe in front of a crowd of drunken revellers.
Oh, and the Silent Disco’s really good. Check out our full photo gallery below!
Photos by Dan Hess.