This being our fifth year at 2000trees, we’re running out of ways to describe its friendliness. There are only so many times you can say that it’s ‘the most welcoming festival’ without it sounding insincere. It’s the little details that make 2000trees this way, and it comes as no surprise considering it was started by a group of friends who were fed up with paying so much to go to festivals themselves. Things like having the car park close to the entrance, easy re-entry, clean toilets, and being able to bring your own drinks really make you feel as though the organisers have your best interests in mind.
Once you’re at the festival, you’ve settled in and made some friends, it’s up to the bands to keep you happy. Luckily, the organisers have got your back there as well. Every year plays host to hundreds of bands who have been selected for their talents as musicians and entertainers. Upon seeing the lineup, one of my (now former) friends had the impertinence to call this year’s lineup “terrible” due to its lack of big, familiar names. He left raving about the new bands he’d heard, and saying how his love for the festival had been rekindled. I would like to think that this was down to the music and people, but it’s probably worth mentioning that he’s also a bit of a fiend for a Silent Disco.
There’s a bit of something for everyone – if you don’t want to be shouted at by Slaves on the main stage, you can listen to Kevin Devine play Elliott Smith covers in the forest (which we chose to do with no regrets). In fact, there can be a bit too much going on at times. I’m sure nobody would rather they booked fewer acts, it’s just a shame to be forced to decide between bands. With the number of great bands they have on the lineup every year, they could easily make a full day of the ‘early entry’ Thursday night.
Arguably the best and certainly most unique stage at the festival is The Forest. As the name suggests, the small stage is surrounded by trees and sees acts from across all other stages perform intimate, acoustic sets. The artist isn’t high up on a stage behind a barrier lined with security guards, they’re sat on a stool a metre in front of you. Some of what you see could be acoustic acts anyway, but it’s when you see an artist like Frank Carter perform an acoustic version of a song with the refrain “I fucking hate you” that you know you’re seeing something special.
The stewards, security guards, technicians and stall workers all seem set on having as much fun as the crowd, while still doing a great job of keeping everything running smoothly. Everyone looks out for each other at Trees, and the people in the crowd feel more like a community. You’ll bump into the same people every day and know for certain that if you fall down in the crowd, they’d pick you up. This ethos is one encouraged and echoed by the artists, none more so this year than Frank Carter. He stopped his main stage set no fewer than three times to help find a lost bumbag, return a found phone, and break up a fight by going into the crowd and talking to those involved. As a guy that puts on some of the rowdiest shows going (with this one featuring a circle pit around the sound tent), you couldn’t feel more safe. Step aside Mr Turner, 2000trees may have found a new Frank.
Through it all, with everything considered, there aren’t really any areas where 2000trees falls short. The music, the staff, the site and the facilities are all excellent. However, with every year that the festival gets larger, we can only hope that it can hold onto the things that make it special. Nobody wants it to go the way of festivals such as Reading or Leeds, where it has almost become a ‘rite of passage’ for young people who want to get wrecked and pass out in a field. We don’t want 2000trees to become ‘mainstream’. We don’t want it to change at all. This is our festival. In fact, I shouldn’t even be telling you about it.
If you want to see what all the fuss is about, tickets for 2018’s festival are on sale now from the 2000trees website with 20% off until 16th July.
Photos by Dan Hess.