Dear Andy, Brendan, James, Mark, Rob and Si,
(Opted for alphabetical order again, so far so good).
Last year I came to what is still your shining accomplishment, 2000 Trees Festival, to lend a hand during set up week and blog a bit.
Afterwards I struggled to compact everything I felt about my time there into a review and instead opted to write you a letter. Namely, this letter.
I incorrectly assumed that nothing would ever beat my week at 2KT 2K16 but this year I gratefully came back to Upcote Farm and, somehow, had an even more incredible experience.
So, as perhaps will become a sort of tradition, I’m writing you another letter.
Thank you for welcoming me back.
After 2000 Trees 2016 I suffered with post-festival blues. HARD. I told anybody that would listen that yours is a truly remarkable festival and I detailed the reasons why…at length.
When you talk about something that much, you really start to consider it a once in a life time event. A memory that will stay just that. Remembered.
So, when I found out that I was allowed back I truly believe that kids finding out they’re going back to Disney World aren’t as excited as I was.
Superlatives aside (but brace yourself because it’s bound to get a lot soppier as we go), it was incredible to get to see you, and all my other 2KT friends, again.
To catch up on what’s happened over the year, to see the strides that everybody has made in their own lives, was really fulfilling. You couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with pride for the whole team.
Thank you for showing me how it’s done.
For a long time now I’ve wanted afterLIVE to host its own gigs. I’ve wanted to do it for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I can see how music is so often maltreated in the UK and I want to play my part in treasuring it.
When I returned to 2KT this year I knew that the inaugural afterLIVE LIVE! was booked and that there was a mini team of extraordinary people working away to make it a reality.
That is utterly terrifying to me.
Of course I’m incredibly excited and so proud that we’re doing it. But it feels like a huge responsibility and one of the few things I’ve done, in a very long time, that a much-younger-me would be completely psyched for.
But as I look through our preparations I’m instantly comforted by the fact that I’ve evidently had a strong example set for me.
Your influence has been paramount in shaping how I’ve communicated, how I’ve booked bands, how I’ve issued press passes, how I’ve tackled Artist Liaison and stage production and so much more.
If afterLIVE Live! manages to harbour a fraction of the atmosphere of 2000 Trees, I can deem this whole thing a success.
Thank you for another STONKING line up.
Nowhere celebrates British music like you do.
Across three days and five stages (at least) the country’s finest did us all proud.
Mallory Knox delivered not one but TWO heart-warming sets. Both their Cave Stage set and Forest Session was a lesson on how to be a band. I defy anybody to watch them without smiling at how incredulous they look. It’s obvious they can’t believe people love them like they do, but from the crowd it makes perfect sense.
On the main stage, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes held the perfect balance between excellently hilarious, incredibly relevant and blisteringly good.
Nothing But Thieves are legends in the making and I’m not sure they know it yet either. Their set was pitch perfect but I’ll never forget watching them walk off the stage repeating “Oh my god!” and “That was amazing!” to each other. Sentiments that I’m sure rang loud through the whole of Upcote Farm.
How, (HOW), do Slaves manage to sound and look like an army on stage?! There are only two of them but my word that set was a monster!
But your headliners were just the cherry on top of the UK Music cake. Muncie Girls, Pulled Apart By Horses, Young Guns, Grumble Bee, Roam, Decade, The One Hundred, Rolo Tomassi, The Xcerts. I could go on and on and on but you really had them all.
I’ve said this a hundred times before but the definitive marker of a fantastic festival is if you leave with a new favourite band. Enter Vukovi. I briefly chatted with the Scottish Mermaid that is Janine Shilstone when I saw her arriving and, upon deciding she was my new hero, marked them as a DO NOT MISS.
That band do whatever they want, their music doesn’t piss about and I got some incredible shots of them because OF COURSE I did – they’re a visual triumph.
Thank you for loving the music as much as we all do.
Don’t think I didn’t see you. I spotted you in those crowds, and so did my camera.
I saw you getting your angry on at Black Peaks with an air of pride because you’ve loved that band since they were brand new and you put them on your main stage (well-deserved after their set last year).
I saw you watch Grumble Bee open up proceedings, still not quite out of set-up mode but starting to enjoy what you’ve achieved.
And I saw you, all of you, watching Hundred Reasons on the Forest Stage. That is a story I will tell for many, many years but I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like to sit with your best friends and watch one of your favourite bands play your festival. We were crying with joy for you.
So just keep on being you.
For the love of god never stop doing what you do. Anybody who has gone to 2000 Trees will tell you how treasured it is.
I can only reiterate what I said last year – because it’s still the truth. You have created something that puts other festivals to shame. You do things right and in doing so you’re giving something to the music industry that it desperately, desperately needs.
Lots of love,