For a number of years now I've looked at the line-ups at 2000trees Festival with great envy. This is because I've always been otherwise engaged and unable to attend - that is until this year. With the festival celebrating its tenth birthday this year and with arguably its most impressive line-up yet I was eager to see what the event had to offer.
The first thing to strike me about the festival was the stunning location, set within the rolling hills of the Cotswolds the views can really take your breath away. The second thing was the atmosphere - so relaxed and so friendly with none of the hustle and bustle that comes along with major festivals in particular on opening day.
Thursday was technically only for early bird ticket holders, however it appeared most people had taken up the option of an extra day in paradise and why not? Along with an extra night of camping came a bumper day of musical delights with only the main stage not yet in operation. The happy campers didn't have too long to set up before the entertainment began. A mere two hours after the gates opened Max Raptor were kicking proceedings off on the Cave stage. Sadly I was a little slow in setting up and missed out on their set, but I was able to catch a portion of Oxygen Thief's performance on the Axiom stage.
There were five main stages at the festival with the main stage being a typical outdoors main stage for a festival attracting up to five thousand attendees. There were three tented stages with the Cave being the largest, followed by the Axiom and the smallest known as the Neu stage which saw comedians entertaining the Thursday early birds. Finally there was the unique Forest stage which I will get to in a little while. These stages provided enough alternatives for attendees without being overkill. They were also thankfully a maximum of five or so minutes walk apart.
Following a quick tour of the compact site I headed over to the Cave stage where I was able to catch an impressive early set by Gloucestershire's own Milk Teeth, whose punk rock warmed the early afternoon crowd up nicely. My day would mostly be made up of darting between the Cave and the Axiom; the stage times of which alternated allowing attendees to see all bands on both stages should they so wish.
Over the next couple of hours I was able to indulge in the folk offerings of Rob Lynch, and Ben Marwood in the Axiom and the rockier outings of Black Peaks, and The Xcerts in the Cave. All four artists put in decent performances which would set the tone of the weekend. Lynch and Marwood got the crowd singing along and the brilliant Black Peaks got them moving. Having seen The Xcerts a couple of times before and not being overly impressed, I was pleasantly surprised when they got the crowd both singing and moving with one of the surprise sets of the weekend.
It's at this stage that I first make my way between the trees where the Forest stage was located. This was a fantastic idea, and a unique feature of this special festival. The Forest sessions of 2000trees were something that I'd heard great things about and was keen to see for myself. The sessions see acoustic performances from an array of artists that included some already playing electric sets elsewhere at the festival. Over the three days the likes of Black Peaks, Moose Blood, and Arcane Roots went acoustic.
There were also performances from solo artists already appearing on another stage at the festival such as Jamie Lenman, Ginger (The Wildhearts), and Itch. It was another well known name that I was able to catch in the form of InMe main man turned solo artist Dave McPherson. McPherson's set sees him mix solo tracks and InMe material such as 'Faster The Chase' and 'Firefly' to the delight of those gathered in the woods. There was even an interesting rendition of 'Boom! Shake The Room' that got the crowd moving.
As a part of the ten year celebration this weekend, Thursdays Axiom stage was taken over by Xtra Mile Recordings who paraded the amazing talent on their roster. Oxygen Thief, Rob Lynch, Ben Marwood, and Crazy Arm had all already performed when it was time for Beans on Toast to take to the stage. Born Jay McAllister, Beans On Toast kicked his set off with a new politically charged track entitled '2016'. He isn't the first artist to reference the recent tragedy that was the EU Referendum - that honour went to Oxygen Thief - but he certainly brought his point home.
Beans On Toast was in a playful mood, performing from within the crowd, announcing the staff wi-fi password and giving away the identity of the stages secret headliner. In amongst all this though is a serious musician with a great talent for telling it how it is. His set tonight was well received from a full tent of followers and when he left the stage an encore is demanded and duly delivered including a guest appearance from Will Varley.
If Frank Turner's affiliation with Xtra Mile didn't raise suspicions that he was the secret headliner of the Axiom then surely his signing session and guest appearance with Ben Marwood gave it away, but if you still hadn't quite clicked then Beans On Toast flat out told you. Turner has been a frequent performer at 2000trees over their ten years and even has a camp named after him, so it was only fitting he would appear for their tenth birthday party.
Playing solo Turner decided to make the evening even more special by playing his seminal 'England Keep My Bones' album in full. Turner ploughed through the likes of 'I Still Believe', 'If Ever I Stray' and 'Wessex Boy' making one change to the album and as he put it righting a wrong by replacing 'Nights Become Days' with 'Balthazar, Impresario'. When 'Glory Hallelujah' brought the album to a close Turner still had time to belt out 'The Ballad Of Me And My Friends' and 'Get Better' to end a fantastic crowd pleasing performance. This certainly felt like an "I was there" moment for Turner fanatics.
Closing the evening on the Cave stage were American hardcore punks The Bronx who sent the tent crazy with pits and crowd surfers aplenty. This was certainly a heavy end to the days entertainment from the main stages, but a great aspect of 2000trees is that the night needn't end at this point. A stroll over to one of the two bars and Thrill Collins kept the party going well into the night; a fun end to a great first day at 2000trees.
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