As it reaches 12 years of running, 2000 Trees has come around once again and with it, brought the music industries best and underrated talents who graced the stages of Upcote Farm once more to raise absolute hell.
‘Trees’ is unlike any other festival, it hosts a plethora of bands both big and small, giving mainstream audiences the chance to explore new avenues of music and giving smaller talents the chance to grow into bigger crowds and get their well-deserved success. It’s essentially the crème de le crème of the music industry right now from the big-name titans, like You Me At Six to the little guys fighting their way to the top, like Orchards.
But the three-day festival, spanning from Thursday to Saturday, is much more than its bands. For those who love the community aspect of music, Trees has pockets of intimate moments that break down the barriers between fans and musicians. Their campsite stages especially offer music goers the opportunity to sit down with their idols and just enjoy good music.
2000 Trees set out a show-stopping lineup, here’s some of favourite performance from that weekend:
There’s a lot of things I could write about a band but the first thing that comes to mind with Orchards is “OH WOW, what a band!” Over the weekend I fell in love with the Brighton Math Rock-ish four piece. They redefine the guidelines of Math-Rock and dance to the beat of their own sound (quite literally), flowing in a creatively inspiring direction that results in what frontwoman Lucy described herself as “stuff you can have a boogie to.”
The four-piece pounced onto the Axiom stage with a vivacious, lively nature, kicking off with some of their best hits ‘Honey’ and ‘Peggy.’ The crowd were surprisingly responsive, I unknowingly considered them as a lot smaller so to see fans amass in their hoards did catch me off guard. It’s quite easy to sweep similar sounding bands under the same rug, but don’t cut Orchards short. Their eccentric sound carries through in live performances and results in an electrifying display of life, love and everything in between.
WHILE SHE SLEEPS
It’s a given that While She Sleeps have good crowd rapport, I’d expect nothing less. But on this occasion, they exceeded my expectations and truly blew me away. Sleeps shows are an immersive experience, their cult following of dedicated fans, who’d packed the festival tent to its rim like an overcrowded can of sardines, gave you a sense of belonging. It’s one of those things that you don’t realise until you’re surrounded by the defeaning sounds of over 5,000 singing along to ‘that one bit’ in Silence Speaks ft Oli Sykes that makes you think “holy sh**, it’s crazy that music can bring people together like this.”
Crowd surfers were flying, moshpits broke out everywhere and the Sheffield five-piece tore up the stage with their Heavy Metal bangers, sparing not a second to jump into the crowd and singalong with fans. This time they were down on their frontman Loz, who’d fallen ill, and though this could have been a setback the band turned it into a once in a lifetime experience I’ll truly never forget. Vocalists from bands performing that day, like Lucas from Holding Absence or Kaya from Blood Youth, filled in on certain songs. It was interesting to hear their take on the songs and collectively brought fans who’d travelled out for all kinds of bands together in that moment to just enjoy quality music.
Blood Youth tore up the agile fields of Upcote Farm, bringing a chaotic yet exciting energy to their performances that was intoxicating and enthralling
Heavy gigs have always had that unknowing fear of “I could get thrown into the sky or punched in the pit at any point” that’s so exciting you just wanna dive head first into the pit. So, with the heavier direction of their 2019 ‘Starve’ Blood Youth’s shows have only delved deeper into a display of savagery and aggression seen best in their sweaty, beefy pits or the crowd surfers coming like tidal waves over the barricade.
Frontman Kaya Tarsus has a unique, eclectic presence on stage that typically fronts as aggressive but he chooses pockets of moments to connect with the audience, often climbing into the crowd to reach out to the audience and sing with them as if he is just one of them. The whole band worked cohesively to create a dynamic performance that can be described in three words: aggressive, sweaty and banging.
There was a lot of acts I didn’t see, but you know who was there when I arrived and when I went to bed? Luke Rainsford. The devil works hard but Luke Rainsford works harder, playing every stage he could in the matter of hours - I think I counted four stages but I could be wrong, it’s probably more.
Not only do I respect his hustle but I love his performances, he has a way of encapsulating an audience into every defining moment of his shows in such a somber, personal way. It doesn’t take pouncing on the stage and screaming to get your attention from Luke, the emotional vulnerability and honesty within his lyrics speak volumes to those witnessing then.
There’s no ego and no fan nonsense with Rainsford, the laidback vibe breaks the boundaries of fame and fangirls and is warmed by Rainsford’s humble, quirky personality that makes you feel like he’s just your good ol’ pal.
If it’s gritty, unapologetic Punk you’re after then Petrol Girls can deliver. For those unfamiliar to the British four-piece, the prevailing aspect of Petrol Girls is their strong messages both within their music and their performances that result in audacious, off-the-wall live performances and 2000 Trees was no exception.
Petrol Girls utilized their platform on the Cave stage to highlight sexual abuse in the music industry and flagging the importance of inclusivity in the scene. This paired well with their angst filled tracks like ‘Touch Me Again’ that helped further their message and overall washed well with the crowd who responded with cheers and chants throughout the set. As a bisexual woman of colour I have to say I walked away feeling empowered and like I actually belonged in this community, so thank you Petrol Girls.
AS IT IS
Over the years I’ve always made time to watch As It Is’s sets because in some way or another it’s usually very interesting. Whether that be the Black Parade reminiscent aesthetics or the bombastic stage presence that’s quite literally leaping into your face.
I’ve been following then since their 'The Mind Of Mine' EP era and with each album comes strength in their music and personality as a band that’s seen best in live performances. Their set list is just one example of this, acting as a rolodex of their best hits and underrated bangers including an appearance of their recent reimagined series tracks.
What sets an As It Is show apart from any other is the ridiculous amounts of energy oozing from the stage and the authentic chemistry between members. The band feed from each other’s excitement and the crowd, working as a cohesive force to drive a wave of energy across the room. Walters especially has a theatrical character on stage that adds an extra ‘oomf!’ to the songs, which is both engaging and pushes the crowd to mimic a similar insane energy.
But what prevails over all is the message of their music seen in their songs and in their live performance. As It Is broke from the generic Pop-Punk mould that limited their creative direction and set a new course for emotional vulnerable, honest lyrics that take from real life situations i.e. ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and send a bold, unapologetic message to fans. This translates great into their live performances and really drives into the important messages within their music. Walters regularly uses these performances to make speeches about the meanings of their songs and the importance of destroying “toxic masculinity, toxic femininity” and bringing more awareness to mental health issues.
YOU ME AT SIX
With a career spanning over 10 years You Me At Six have had a collection of triumphs and milestones, but their performance at 2000 Trees is one that could go down in history.
There were a variety of factors that made this performance undeniably one of their best, the crowds of 10,000 people deafeningly singing back every single word to songs I’d listen to at 14, and seeing just how much those songs mean to people just by the look on their face is probably my favourite part.
Smashing in with a collection of their best hits, the five-piece didn’t hold back with bringing some nostalgic tunes to their set but weren’t afraid to slide in their newer tracks. Frontman Josh Franceschi kept a charismatic, humble personality on stage that was still composed even after a fan almost tackled him to the ground- props to him for being so cool about it.
I felt that this performance was a reflection and celebration on the best years of You Me At Six, both in its set list, in the gratuity from the band to the crowd and in the response of the crowd who were quite literally insane. It was phenomenal to watch thousands upon thousands of people gather for a band who used to play small little bars and shows the true success of You Me At Six.
Review - Yasmine Summan
Photos - Sam Robinson Photography