July serves as the perfect time to be trundling around the Cotswolds. Imbedded in a sea of golden rolling hills, 2000 Trees returned with a true corker of a year. This year’s return to Upcote Farm was one of sheer excitement with the festival really showing it’s versatility in it’s line-up. This is the home of great unsigned British music, but this is the first time the festival has looked beyond our humble nation for contribution, and what a contribution did these acts make. With the likes of The Bronx and Cerebral Ballzy coming from over the Atlantic, it made for some fantastic additions to a line-up full of good ol’ Blighty talent.
First up over on the mainstage were exactly that. The local boys in Empire are just beginning their ascent into the stratosphere. We caught them in the middle of their Summer festival tour dates here at Trees, after playing last week at Sonisphere festival. There’s a reason this band are going places, and that reason is that their sound is nothing short of massive. Frontman Joe Green bounces around the stage with a neverending energy and one of the most distinguishably fantastic voices here this weekend. The sound mix feels a little bass heavy in places, but is soon resolved after the first couple of songs. Green’s voice soars perfectly over the rest of the instruments, hitting every single note in that massive vocal range. Crowd favourite tracks such as ‘Black Hearts’ and ‘Future, Past and Present’ really stood out as huge sing along moments and for the first band of the day it took little time to have the quickly growing audience eating out of their palms. You couldn’t have asked for a better band to open todays great showcase of music.
After, in the Cave stage, The St Pierre Snake Invasion from Bristol were doing what they do best - a wall of fast punk rock strut, with barrells of character and charm. Frontman Damien Sayell was raucous and banterous throughout, yet commanded the stage. Great tracks such as ‘Hey Kids, Do The Choke Stroke’ and ‘Encore, Encore’ sounded absolutely huge. Sayell puts his all into every single note exiting his body, regularly leaving him in a heap on the floor, but his boundless energy quickly finds him back on his feet and with the growing roar of appreciation after every track, he understandably finds it easier to do so. The band sounded infectiously catchy, and had a great portion of the audience bopping around at all times. The sound in the Cave stage was brilliantly mixed also, which gave each track a deeper resonance and further appreciation for the output these five gents created.
Next up were the pop-punk Brawlers. Full energy and singing most of the set from the crowd, they were exactly what you’d expect from the pop-punk world. It wasn’t going to reinvent the wheel, but it’s still great fun music with some clearly concise and impressive talent. Brawlers are a great act to follow for any fans of the likes of NOFX or Anti-Flag.
Back over on The Cave stage, two piece God Damn really brought a wall of noise. Just one drummer and one guitarist, they rattled through 30 minutes of chaos. Huge crescendos and a sinister sound really made God Damn a standout act. Both Ash and Thom on drums and guitars respectively were a delight to watch onstage. Ash’s massive hair was thrown around onstage as he smashed twelve shades of shit into his drum kit, with a huge smile on his face the whole time. Thom danced around the stage always just making it back to the mic in time to roar to the crowd. These two boys from the Black Country stand proud to their heritage and fill every note with hard hitting steel. God Damn were fantastic and any fan of Russian Circles with anger issues would do well to check these guys out.
Over on the mainstage, The Computers brought their own brand of good fun, singalong blues/pop-rock. Climbing stage speakers and playing their set precariously balanced from the stage made for a great show to watch. There was a lot of love for the adoring fans right at the front, and plenty of energy emitting from the four piece. It was good fun to watch, and The Computers felt like a perfectly safe bet to play a mid afternoon set at a festival.
However, those who were looking for something more passionate had a real treat over in The Cave. Baby Godzilla turned the place into a full scale riot. Their hardcore, offbeat pounding riffs thundered around the tent with some fantastically catchy chorus’ thrown in there for good measure. Watching Baby Godzilla onstage felt like a visit to a demented monkey enclosure with hardcore music on loop. Each member of the band climbed every possible surface on the stage and even made it to the back of the tent to climb the sound desk too. The pinnacle of the madness was the bin mosh pit in the middle of the crowd, where a dozen willing volunteers were commanded to climb into the bin, and create the ‘world’s first mosh pit in a bin’. It was a fantastic moment to be a part of, and on a scale of sheer chaos - one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.
Turbowolf were up next, and would have no problem bringing their own demented twist of rock and roll.Opening up during soundcheck, the moustached hippy genius frontman - Chris Georgiadis kept the crowd giggling by “Welcoming you to the 2nd national cheese festival.” , a nice take on the Big Cheese stage sponsor banner behind them. “I don’t like cheese, but for those of you that do, you’re in for a real treat today!” proclaimed Chris. By the end of the first song, we’d have had planking in the crowd from Georgiadis, and bassist Liana balanced sexily on top of the speaker stack. As expected, the Bristol psychedelic four piece really delivered on a setlist which was diverse and unpredictable. Turbowolf are a great act, with a swagger and sexiness which has to be seen to be felt.
Trash Talk, dubbed by NME as the ‘most dangerous band in the world’ played everything at breakneck speed. Thier frantic and quite frankly intimidating reputation doesn’t fail to deliver.
What follows is forty minutes of everything we expected – bodies flying everywhere, circle pits and sweat – all to the soundtrack of heavy, chugging riffs leading into thrash style drumming and Lee Spielman’s no-fucks-given vocals and stage presence.He spent most of the set on top of the audience, in the middle of a circle pit, or generally causing audience based chaos. It was loud, brash and unashamed, and everyone loved it.
Probably the most well known act of the weekend The Bronx have had a lot of competition throughout the day before them, but every single band who had played on this stage, owes something to The Bronx. Their performance was exactly what it needed to be. It was Heavy loud and intense. It was very much like Trash Talk before them, but fun! Crowd invasions and general good times were balanced with prominent lyrics and an affirmation the band were just clearly enjoying themselves.
My evening closed not on a mainstage, but on a quiet small stage buried amongst the shadows of the trees and the soft glows of the scattered fairy lights. Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun played their final set in this, the most romantic 2000 Trees setting. This particular performance held huge emotional relevance as this would be the band's last performance as a folk fueled, venomous acoustic punk act. Instead they’ll become Solemn Sun - and morph into punks for life. I’d seen the new logo for the band dotted around the site. With no further information or explanation, just a date at the bottom. There were tinges of sadness in the set, but that just made one of the most passionate performances of the weekend. Every single person here knew how special the moment was, and made for the most fondest singalong to end out the evening. A beautiful performance from a group of gents who have ascended to the next level of musicianship, and the perfect way to close a most glorious day.
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