the first day in rural paradise bought to a close by instrumentally mammoth performance

2000trees Festival 2011 review

published: Wed 20th Jul 2011

And So I Watch You From Afar

Friday 15th to Saturday 16th July 2011
Upcote Farm, Withington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 4BL, England MAP
£59, children 0-10 years free entry - SOLD OUT
last updated: Mon 23rd May 2011

This weekend saw the 5th annual instalment of 2000Trees festival. The festival is now seeing noticeable differences to previous years; confirming its success as it continues to grow and evolve even larger. A bigger camping area set in truly stunning poppy fields just helps complement the festival's gorgeous backdrop. Couple this with a whole new stage (The Cave) containing some of the heaviest music to grace these humble Gloucestershire fields, makes it all the more easier to digest and appreciate 2000Trees' mature growth.

around the festival site
Be it camping in the old grounds, or the new poppy field- the magic and accessibility of this festival still remains. With good pace and little distraction, most can still traverse the length of the entire festival in under 10 minutes, which proves discovering new music couldn’t be easier. Yes the four stages have been sprinkled throughout the site, but the layout just works. It’s a refreshingly uncomplicated task to move from stage to stage allowing you a wealth of choice in music guaranteed to keep you smiling. And boy did it start with a bang.

Over on the cave stage, The Me! Me! Me's? performance was nothing short of awesome. Fast, brimming with life and energy, and no sign of slowing down- it's refreshing to see such a fantastically talented local act. Local legend Joe Green became a different beast altogether behind his drum kit. His hair frantically flailing as nothing but pure talent pummelled through each and every drum fill and beat. The band fired through their 30 minute set quicker than a blink of an eye, with hit single 'K.I.S.S.I.N.G' provoking one of the biggest reactions from the crowd. Whistles and cow bells helped make it more fun too. Make no mistake - these guys have something special. So keep a look out for them, because this band truly has no way to go but up. And fast.

After a few more local delicacies from Little Lebowski's bar the mid afternoon pace had slowed perfectly. Back in 'The Cave', Vessels were subtly serenading the audience with their instrumental magic. Their music is, much slower and calmer then some of their post-rock predecessors. But don't let this be detraction, Vessels were exactly what the afternoon needed. A band with an almost black hole like ability to suck intrigued passersby into the tent. With most leaving not until the last note had been rung is just a testament to the magic that Vessels delivered.

Back out in the sunshine, local legends Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun had hit full stride. With infectiously catchy tracks such as 'Waitress' and 'Atlases' it was crystal clear to see why this band have played every year of this festival. These guys are engrained into the very lifeblood of this festival, and with nothing but pure energy, pitch perfect harmonies, and those iconic folk style riffs pumping each heartbeat- long may they live on together.

But then any remenance of normality and feel good factor were scarily chased away back in 'The Cave', as Kong appeared onstage. Emerging with their cronically disturbing masks, and a distinct lack of clothing they exploded into nothing short of audio dementia. Destructively heavy bass lines, with some truly eerie vocals and guitars, Kong were just pure fantastic. Some of the softer, curious punters quickly passed by the tent, leaving the rest of us helplessly sucked into Kong's domain. Their humour, music, and taste is a purely marmite affair. As after the band muddle through the opening bars of Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', guitarist 'Magpie' comically declares "Ahh, Fuck. I love them Foo Fighters!" The set comes to its untimely close as 'Magpie' grabs the snare drum and tosses it into the audience, to be smashed upon by the feral like maniacs in the crowd. It's a mad band, made by mad men. But if you'll let them tap into your skull, it's some of the best new music you will ever hear.

Next band Malefice failed to make such headway. Again within the cave surroundings, the acoustics sounded brilliant. But the music just lacked spark. It's a solid performance from a metal band which didn't seem to offer anything to really grab onto. Just a shame after the performance Kong had dominated just prior.

And So I Watch You From Afar
But today had always been about one band. Four Irish lads from Belfast with four of the loudest instruments ever heard at this festival. Instrumental pioneers And So I Watch You From Afar were nothing short of majestic. They emerged onstage and fired into the instantly recognisable 'BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION' followed by the unmistakably epic 'Gangs'.

I don't say it often, and especially in a festival environment because a band never has its home crowd, but these guys were truly perfect. Blasting through their hour long set, with tracks from both albums along with their 'S Is For Salamander' single; it was the perfect choice to headline the cave stage.

Guitarists Rory Friers, and Tony Wright were often found crowd surfing over the audience, with their guitars wailing into the twilight. The bands energy and output was at an indescribable high. A sea of chants from the loyal, chiming in at just the right times to the sparse vocals within specific tracks culminated in an inspired sing along during 'The Voiceless'. Wright stood high on speaker with microphone in hand pointed towards a crowd in awe of his every move.

The sound in the cave that night was an all encompassing powerhouse, pulling everything and everyone within that tent as closely as possible. It's a very rare experience to feel truly enveloped by music. With every sense, thought and movement focused on nothing but the sound- It's the most euphoric and festival defining experience 2000 Trees has ever seen.

And So I Watch You From Afar
review by: Phil Davies

photos by: Angela Martin

Friday 15th to Saturday 16th July 2011
Upcote Farm, Withington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 4BL, England MAP
£59, children 0-10 years free entry - SOLD OUT
last updated: Mon 23rd May 2011


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