2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm, Cheltenham – LIVE REVIEW

Marmozets, 2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm, 12.07.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

Have we ever mentioned that 2000 Trees Festival is the best place on earth?

Obviously, that’s a trick question. Not only have we told you, but we’ve told you emphatically, at length, for three years.

There’s a reason for that and that is this: it’s honestly the truth.

Ask any band who has ever played, any camper who’s ever pitched up or crew member who’s worked it, they’ll all tell you the same thing. 2000 Trees is the friendliest, most beautiful, festival in the country (at least).

Although it has inevitably grown and developed over the 12 years it’s been running, the 2KT priority has always been that the guests have the best possible experience.

For that reason, all the things you hate about festivals are non-existent at 2000 Trees.

There’s no hikes to campsites, car parks or stages. You’re welcome to take your own food and drink where ever you like. The toilets are cleaned regularly (in the real life meaning of the word ‘regularly’ not the ‘festival meaning’) and are ALL flushable, and (for a price that’s still cheaper than the big-boy-festival’s standard tickets) you can go VIP meaning access to the VIP bar, some free booze and you’ll get to watch your favourite band from the side of the stage.

You can forget your standard crap cheese burger that you pay £10 for. At 2000 Trees you’ll eat better than you would at home. The Chicken Shack makes the best deep friend halloumi burgers we have ever seen, the Cheese Truck is a truck that serves CHEESE and Smokin Hot Tamales makes the best burritos you’ll get outside of Mexico…probably.

All of these things are primed and waiting every year at Upcote Farm – a location that’s already so beautiful people use it to get married in. Then, just when you think this WEDDING venue that’s basically in the COTSWOLDS couldn’t be more idyllic, the 2000 Trees art team rock up and fill it with some truly incredible, hand made, art installations.

And then, after all of that, there’s that line-up.

Usually I wouldn’t advocate returning bands. At other festivals, to see the same names on the poster year-after-year comes across as unimaginative.

At Trees it’s just endearing.

There are two reasons for this blatant double standard. Firstly, they’re exceptional returning bands. Vukovi, Creeper, Black Peaks – they’ve all played 2000 Trees previously, crushed it and returned to the scene of the carnage for another round.

Secondly, they’re just coming to hang with the family.

See every year, the Saturday before you all bring Trees to life, a huge group of pals have already claimed Upcote Farm as home.

They’re the set up crew and afterLIVE is beyond proud to be a part of it.

As a team we turn those fields into 2000 Trees Festival. After the best festival on earth is over we go home. Some of us might not talk for the next 12 months but you can count on us coming back the next year and settling back into farm life like nothing happened.

It’s like the family at Christmas, except infinitely better than that.

That whole team know that you guys come back to 2000 Trees every year too – you camp in the same spots with the same people year after year. We see you and you’re part of our family as well.

Those bands that keep on coming back? So are they.

And what a proud family we were this year.

Vukovi were our standout band of 2017 and expectations for their set were high. They took those expectations and they battered them to within an inch of their life.

They would probably be the first to admit that a show is only as good as the crowd and my god did Vukovi get a blinder.

From mosh pits to dedicated crowd surfers – they were having so much fun in the Cave pit that vocalist Janine Shilstone spent most of the set in there with them.

Vukovi, 2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm, 12.07.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

Vukovi were exceptional but they weren’t the only ones to rip the Cave apart.

Creeper have become a household name since they first played 2KT in 2015 so, of course, people turned out in hordes.

After all, it’s not often you get to see a sextet on such a small stage and when that sextet includes Will Gould any semblance of space disappears very, very, quickly.

In such compact circumstances Creeper’s theatrics were even more heightened, proving once and for all that they are the best new British band.

Creeper, 2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm, 13.07.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

Speaking of exceptional new British bands, Creeper were spied checking out Holding Absence earlier that afternoon.

Coming to 2KT from Cardiff, Holding Absence have more than put in the touring hours to catch the right attention.

Their set showed all the energy you might expect from five young lads but with an undeniable raw talent underneath.

We’ve said it before we’ll say it again – where other vocalists have started off raw and grown with training and experience, Lucas Woodland has begun his career with a voice that will give you goose bumps.

Holding Absence, 2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm, 13.07.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

Whilst Woodland landed firmly on his feet in a frontman’s job, the same can’t be said for Mallory Knox’s Sam Douglas who took to the 2KT Main Stage for the first time since the departure of ex-vocalist Mikey Chapman.

But Mikey fans should be warned – this is likely to be the last time we write of Knox from this angle since his shock exit in January is simply not relevant any more.

It’s not that we don’t wish him the best – we truly do and hope to see him return to music in the future – but the new Mallory Knox took to their prime Main Stage slot with an endearing humble air and showed that their reinvention is almost complete (all we need now is that new album).

Mallory Knox, 2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm, 13.07.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

The day before it was Marmozets turn to support the headliner – an opportunity they utterly ran with.

Anybody who might have seen Marmozets five or six years ago, and then opted to live under a rock in a soundless hole, only to crawl back out half a decade later and head straight to Upcote Farm would have been punched straight in the face with awe at this set.

Hell, we all were.

This year’s Knowing What You Know Now charted in the UK top 40 on account of it being a masterpiece. The two sets of siblings from Bingley, West Yorkshire, certainly found their niche with the record and have all the gusto and aggression to bring it to the stage – where Becca Macintyre is, frankly, mesmerising.

Marmozets, 2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm, 12.07.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

Scotland’s Woes also unleashed a definitive 2018 release in May’s Self Help, a record that endeavoured to grasp real emotion despite having a classically pop-punk sound.

Woes Facebook Bio reads ‘it’s lit af’ and that’s about as apt a description of their live set as you’re ever likely to get.

All your pop-punk staples are there what with your jump shots, beatdowns and crowd participation, but under all of that Woes are grappling with an emotional reality through their music.

With that and the fact that we had a chat with the band where vocalist DJ briefly touched on his kind of awkward nature and subsequent trouble networking – Woes really tugged on our heartstrings. But more on that another day.

Woes, 2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm, 14.07.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

Whilst the Main Stage was drenched in sunshine, it too had its fair share of reality facing music in the form of Beans On Toast.

Away from elaborate stage production, Jay McAllister was armed with just an acoustic guitar and his phone for timing when he sang songs about politics, love and chicken farming all in just over half an hour.

Beans on Toast wasn’t the only act to take a well earnt pop at Donald Trump or generally lament at the state of politics this weekend but he was certainly the only one we saw just have a frank chat about it with the crowd.

His laid back manner and exceptionally good points (he’s right, David Attenborough SHOULD shoot Donald Trump and porta-loos SHOULD have sunroofs) made him an absolute pleasure to sit and watch in the afternoon heat.

Beans On Toast, 2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm, 14.07.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

It’s true that acoustic guitars do go down a treat at Trees what with the Forest Sessions and busking camp stages. But don’t think for one second that it’s not a freaking party. Enter Turbowolf.

Turbowolf are a force to be reckoned with. A party powerhouse with rock ‘n’ roll roots, their shows are always utter chaos sparking much crowd surfing and dancing carnage.

Their Main Stage set on Thursday afternoon was no exception – even with a minor mic malfunction. The fun that Turbowolf have on stage is enough to plaster a smile on your face, add in infectious guitars and synth and you’re done for.

A particular shout out to Turbowolf’s bassist, Lianna Lee Davis, who smashed this set whilst being about 8 months pregnant (a fact she only found out a few weeks prior). It slowed her down exactly 0% – the woman is a marvel

Turbowolf, 2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm, 12.07.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

After all of that and so many, many, others – there was Enter Shikari.

Last year Enter Shikari won Best Live Band at the Heavy Music Awards. We can now confirm, beyond all doubt, that they thoroughly deserved that award.

Playing tracks from across their more-than-a-decade-long career, Enter Shikari exploded on to the stage with The Sights instantly addressing a generation wide desire to leave this planet behind.

What followed was an extraordinarily charged electronic/rock hybrid of a performance touching on love, loss and political fury.

Rou Reynolds is remarkable. Earlier in the day he graced the Forest Stage with an acoustic set that saw such a large crowd people were literally climbing trees to see.

Rou took the time to connect directly with not one but two younger fans who were both invited on stage to chat with their hero. He talked openly about not knowing lyrics to a cover and not having a tool to mute his guitar whilst tuning.

Cut to this headliner stonker of a set and Rou was like a mad scientist electrified with his own experiment. He shot around that stage like he truly was super charged with jolty dance moves that are either a metaphor for the human condition or are just entirely terrible dance moves. His energy level alone was sensational.

All of that happened in front of an electrifying and perfectly fitting light production that took an entire arctic lorry to transport.

Exceptional.

Enter Shikari, 2000 Trees Festival – Upcote Farm, 14.07.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

And all of that, all of those words (just under 1800 if you were wondering) is just the highlights.

To tell you all of the wonderful, hilarious, emotional, brilliant, exhausting, memorable and life affirming things that happened at the farm this year would take an age.

Maybe all of those stories need to wait until next year. Hopefully we’ll see you round the camp fire?

Thanks 2000 Trees Festival, specifically Andy Rea, Brendan Herbert, James Scarlett, Mark Gardiner, Rob Scarlett and Simon Maltas (three years and I’m still opting for alphabetical order). See you next year.

SEE OUR GALLERY HERE.

GET YOUR 2000 TRESS FESTIVAL 2019 TICKETS HERE.  

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