There’s something about 2000trees that makes it feel completely different from every other festival. Obviously it always has a fantastic lineup, draws a friendly crowd of like-minded people and is generally very well run, but there are enough soulless festivals around these days to prove that it takes something more than that to make it really special. This year was 2000trees’ 10th anniversary, and with so many successful years under their belt, they had a lot to live up to.
When you look past the obvious festival activities of drinking warm beer, stumbling around a field, listening to bands and inevitably ending up at the silent disco until 3am, 2000trees exists for one reason: to help create a community surrounding up and coming independent music. It’s the little things like naming the campsites after long-time friends of the festival Frank Turner and Reuben, or having small stages set up around the site and encouraging festivalgoers to bring along their guitar and play a short set for a group of strangers. You’ll see the same faces return from year to year, both in the crowds and on the stages, because everyone feels so comfortable that they don’t want to leave. Frank Turner put it well during his secret set on the Thursday of this year’s festival – “At 2000trees we take care of our own, and everyone is welcome.”
A perfect example of a band that have worked their way up the Trees ladder is Twin Atlantic. They made their first appearance at the festival in 2010, before returning the next year after the release of their seminal sophomore album Free. Five years later and they’re back, preparing for the release of their fourth album GLA in September and headlining the festival’s main stage. The size of the crowd goes to show just how popular these guys have become, drawing in what is probably the biggest crowd of the festival, who brought their best Scottish singing voices and (for some reason) a number of inflatable sharks. The band even share their moment with friends and fellow Trees regulars The Xcerts, bringing out lead singer Murray Macleod to join in on vocals for ‘Free’.
Another group that work very closely with the festival is the independent label Xtra Mile Recordings, who brought a number of artists from their impressive roster to the festival including Frank Turner, Beans on Toast (even the staff WiFi password was ‘beansontoast’), Will Varley, Crazy Arm, Jamie Lenman (of Reuben), Jim Lockey and Oxygen Thief.
Will Varley’s set in particular stands out as one of the festival’s highlights, playing an early evening slot on the Neu Stage. There were clearly a lot of existing fans in the audience who sang along to every word, but Varley’s catchy commentary on people, politics and the state of the world was enough to gain him some new followers. Festivals such as 2000trees will always see artists talking about politics and at the moment, you can’t go anywhere without someone mentioning the EU referendum (which was brought up by a number of artists at Trees). He didn’t go into too much detail, but Varley did make a point of saying “The worst thing about the referendum result is now all of my songs are out of date.”
However, past the punk-rock bitterness and shouting lies a festival that is gentle at heart, with a small stage in the woods for the artists to play acoustic sets to a crowd of people sat cross-legged on the floor or, if they’re lucky, lying in a hammock. Not often will you get the chance to sit and listen to Moose Blood, Muncie Girls or Arcane Roots playing a small show in a forest. It’s a great place to go and relax if you’re partied out, or a good way to convince your hungover self that you can get through the day and that cracking open another beer is definitely a good idea.
Perhaps it’s that juxtaposition that helps to make 2000trees special. The aggressive hardcore band and the folk singer-songwriter who are singing about the same subjects. The guy that puts away his favourite band tee to dress up as Doctor Neo Cortex from Crash Bandicoot for the fancy dress competition. The silent disco DJ that follows System of a Down’s ‘Prison Song’ with Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’. The crowd that knows every word to both. At the end of the day, the differences mean nothing, everyone is at 2000trees to have a good time, and it’s pretty safe to say that everyone does. It’s probably the friendliest and safest festival you’re likely to come across, and let’s hope that it never changes. Here’s to ten more years of Trees.
Tickets for the 2017 festival are on sale now (with 20% off!) over at the 2000trees website.
Photos by Dan Hess.