a full on and thoroughly enjoyable opening day

2000trees Festival 2019 review - Thursday

published: Mon 15th Jul 2019

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Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th July 2019
Upcote Farm, Withington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 4BL, England MAP
currently £115 for 2 days; £129.50 for 3 days; £60 a day
daily capacity: 10000
last updated: Fri 14th Jun 2019

2000trees Festival is an event which has continued to grow year on year and unlike many has managed to do so without major financial backing. The Cheltenham based independent festival has done this by growing its dedicated fanbase with each passing year. The Thursday of the event was traditionally a set up day with a few acts playing in the evening, however as of last year Thursday is now a fully fledged festival day. With this in mind the festival opened its doors to early birds on the Wednesday for the first time.

We start our day at the main stage with the pop punk shenanigans of WSTR who do a good job of welcoming the bulk of attendees to the event. There was a selection of acts on offer on the Forest stage last night for early attendees but it's just after midday that WSTR truly open the event with the likes of 'Silly Me' and 'Crisis' getting the crowd pumped up.

I mentioned the Forest stage and that's where we head to next. The Forest stage is a unique feature that helps set this festival apart from others. The festival is renowned for its chilled and laid back vibe and the Forest stage is the epitome of this. The tiny stage is home to performances from a mixture of new artists along with some other festival favourites. You can also see some unique stripped back performances from acts that are also playing the larger stages such as the wonderful Yonaka who we are here to see.

With all four members of the band squeezing onto the little stage, Yonaka rework a selection of tracks from their debut album 'Don't Wait 'Til Tomorrow' to the delight of those packed into the woods. The musical talents of the band and in particular the vocal capabilities of singer Theresa Jarvis are evident throughout the short set with 'Guilty (For Your Love)' a particular highlight.

The festival features four larger stages, the outdoor main stage and three tented stages with the 'Neu' stage housed next to the main stage and the 'Cave' and 'Axiom' stages housed together a short walk away. Music tends to alternate between each stage in the two areas allowing the potential for almost uninterrupted musical entertainment throughout the day.

For today we mainly alternate between the main stage and the smallest tented stage and it was to the 'Neu' stage next for Novacub. Featuring members of Bloc Party, it's no surprise that the group has a knack for a tune with 'Wait Up' and 'We Don't Care' getting the crowd moving. Time will tell if Novacub are just a glorified side project or whether they can make a real go of it, but I for one am excited to see what comes next for the band.

The independent nature of the event allows for the careful curation of the bill and the organisers certainly have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to great young bands. Puppy and Yonaka are two of the most hotly tipped rock acts of the moment and they appear one after the other on the main stage today. First of all Puppy bring the riffs to 2000trees with a great set that sees moshing galore to the likes of 'Entombed' and 'World Stands Still'. Yonaka then deliver a glimpse of themselves at full power and it's glorious. 'Creature' and 'Fired Up' stand out in one of the stand out sets of the weekend.
2000trees spent its formative years touting itself as the home of new, underground British music. As the event continues to grow however the tagline has slipped away and although the festival still provides a great platform to those bands, it now welcomes more and more oversees acts to its stages. American bands Turnstile and Flogging Molly are the next two acts to grace the main stage and both attract big audiences who lap up two more top performances. Flogging Molly in particular get the party atmosphere into full swing.

There is a great new, underground British act on next however as Holding Absence close out the 'Neu' stage. Enjoying a growing reputation, it may not be long before this band is being featured on the main stage and they pull a large crowd to their show tonight. 'Saint Cecilia', 'Like A Shadow' and 'Penance' showcase a band on the cusp of bigger things and elicit delirious sing-a-longs from those in attendance.

Speaking of sing-a-longs, there are plenty of those at a Frank Turner gig. But at 2000trees that is amplified tenfold by the affinity Turner has with the event. Turner has become almost synonymous with the festival over the years and tonight he receives a hero's welcome as he and his Sleeping Souls launch into their main stage headline set with spirited run-throughs of 'Get Better', '1933' and 'Long Live The Queen'.

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

It's a characteristically career-spanning set from Turner who previews his upcoming album 'No Man's Land' with lead single 'Sister Rosetta' which fits in well with the likes of 'The Way I Tend To Be' and 'Try This At Home'. Turner has the ability to hold any crowd in the palm of his hands and tonight the audience react with pure adulation as 'Recovery', 'I Still Believe' and 'Four Simple Words' finish out a typically enjoyable Turner performance.

Now, at most other festivals it's at this point you'd head back to your tent, reminisce about the day and begin to look forward to the next, but not at 2000trees. It is late at night where the festival comes into its own and the whole site is taken over by its legendary silent disco. Silent Disco's not your sort of thing? That's no problem as the campsites also offer podiums to various activities.

2000trees features various campsite areas such as Camp's Reuben, Marwood and Kev. Each camp tends to have its own vibrant atmosphere whilst all fitting within the overall friendly feel of the festival. Each offers its own entertainment with both musical performances and activities such as quizzes.

It's after hours when these areas spring to life and it's to another campsite that we head next, Camp Turner named after a certain individual who just closed the main stage. It's on this small platform that numerous talented songwriters showcase their abilities over the course of an open-mic night. It's also here that the aforementioned individual emerges from behind a tent to serenade those lucky enough to be present with thirty minute performance that includes 'The Real Damage', 'Wessex Boy' and 'The Ballad Of Me And My Friends'. A magical end to what has been a full on and thoroughly enjoyable opening day at 2000trees.


review by: Paul Barnes

photos by: Denis Gorbatov

Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th July 2019
Upcote Farm, Withington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 4BL, England MAP
currently £115 for 2 days; £129.50 for 3 days; £60 a day
daily capacity: 10000
last updated: Fri 14th Jun 2019

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