Opening up the entire 2000trees Festival weekend, and making his second consecutive return to the festival on the Cave stage with a blast came Grumble Bee – who were greeted with many faces familiar and new. Jack Bennett and his live band whizzed through half an hour of songs old and new, and it was great to see so many members of the audience singing along to his tunes.
Following after in the Cave came Exeter’s three-piece Muncie Girls, bringing their politically melodic tracks to the festival. Like Grumble Bee, the group’s second return in a row to the festival was very well received, with the tent solidly packing out to watch the band perform their raucous punk tunes.
Moving over to the first highly anticipated Forest Session of the weekend, the typically-loud Pulled Apart By Horses stripped down their sound and brought out the acoustic guitars for a set full of alternative versions of their tracks. With the forest entirely packed out right to the edges, the set still had a lovely relaxed feel to it – it was clear vocalist Tom Hudson enjoyed every second of it.
Over on the Axiom stage came the second of Exeter’s finest – Black Foxxes provided their melodic jams to help wake up the still-arriving crowds. The group were definitely more well received than their first time playing the previous year, with many of the crowd singing along to vocalist Mark Holley’s words. Despite a set that started out with Holley asking the help singing as he was feeling a bit under the weather, it was an absolute triumph in such circumstances – and we could see that he was putting every ounce of effort in.
The day suddenly got taken up to a whole new level when Feed The Rhino walked onto the Cave stage. It had been a good 2 years since the group had last graced 2000trees, with quite a long time of general silence in between, too – but they were greeted as if no time had passed. The reaction to their set was out of this world, and probably completely fair to say they were the most intensely-received band of the weekend, with the audience going absolutely ballistic for every single song. The set wasn’t short of frontman Lee Tobin’s in-audience antics, with the man spending most of the half hour on top of and in the crowd, in his usual fashion – all adding to what made the group an absolutely stellar highlight of the weekend.
Another 2-year awaited return came in the form of Young Guns shortly after the tent cooled down a bit, with the group absolutely smashing the stage. As a band that really did suit the mainstage slot in 2015, it was curious to see how they would deal with being in the Cave stage (much like Deaf Havana’s slot the day after on the Friday), but it seemed being in the tent made the crowd go much crazier – with huge pits during almost every song, especially their iconic ‘Bones’. It was interesting to see them pull out a pretty decent first-play of Foo Fighters cover ‘My Hero’ in the set, as well, which was a nice unique touch.
Closing the Axiom stage came Leeds’ heroes Pulled Apart By Horses, who came well prepared to take on the ravenous crowds after their successful forest session. Whizzing through an entire hour of favourites both new and old, it was clear how well the group are always received at the festival. The reaction to material from their 2017’s release ‘The Haze’ was also very promising, even though its undeniable that the album definitely changed a lot in sound from their self-titled debut in 2010 – but there was no shortage of action or movement from the crowd. Finishing their set with the legendary ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’, the tent was truly electric with fans bouncing all over the place – it was quite a sight, and really showed how much the group are still loved.
To finish off the Thursday completely to deliver their usual slice of excellent came Mallory Knox, who arrived prepared with a much more diverse set than the one they brought to the mainstage in 2016. With the arrival of their third studio album since, the hour-long set showcased the hits of each album – from new tracks ‘Wired’, ‘Falling in Love’ and ‘Lucky Me’ – to older favourites like ‘Wake Up’, ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Beggars’. This was the first true case of the weekend where the Cave stage was utterly packed out right to the outskirts, with fans and new spectators itching to just see how well Mallory Knox handled the responsibility of closing the first day. Luckily, they did not disappoint as always – bringing the same impressive showmanship the tour in March showed. Yes there were less theatrics and illuminated lights, but the quality of their performance shone through at the end of the day.
To start off the madness and full-day that was Friday came Strange Bones, who kicked the day off to a heavy start. Billed on the same day as Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, this worked in their exceeding favour (due to previously touring together earlier in the year), with the crowd entirely in their fingertips. The audience didn’t even need to know songs – their Gallows-like energy and participation electrified the front of the tent into instant action, with the set ending with frontman Bobby Bentham on top of and in the arms of the impressed crowd.
The first of unexpected delays occurred with Frank Carter’s acoustic forest set being moved an hour back – so this gave fans an extra hour to check out those he clashed with instead. One of those bands were Tall Ships, gracing the mainstage with their beautiful melodic sounds. These were an absolute gem of the festival – perhaps overlooked because of their early set time and original clash. Frontman Ric Phethean’s voice worked so delicately alongside their incredibly talented instrumentation, really highlighting how effective the band work in both songwriting and onstage together.
Back on track in the forest, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes finally took to the stage to give his first large-scale acoustic performance. Opening with newer tracks ‘Wild Flowers’ and ‘Acid Veins’, he also delved into toning-down older favourites such as ‘Beautiful Death’, which hadn’t been played in some time and was very well received with respect and silence from the audience. This was possibly the most packed the forest was all weekend – with spectators filling right to the edges just to watch this very special set.
One of the most emotional sets of the weekend came from Black Peaks, who were bidding goodbye to their debut album run with their last show ‘for a while’, in preparation for the next release. This was aptly celebrated with their biggest 2000trees slot yet on the main stage – with absolute chaos erupting in the audience, complete with circle pits, walls of death and surfers everywhere. There was a lot of doubt earlier this year that Black Peaks ‘aren’t a band that you can move a lot to’, but as always – this show exceptionally defeated that claim. Showcasing a couple of outstanding new tracks in the set too, their 35 minutes almost didn’t feel long enough for their last show for a while – but its definitely left everyone hungry for more, and eager to see what is to come for the Brighton group.
Moving over to the Neu Stage, Irish-rockers Greywind made their debut at the festival, bringing their ferocious female-fronted sound. Complete with lots of whimsical harmonies and bold choruses, they gently filled up with tent – bringing lots of spectators interested to check out what they had to offer, especially being such a new band.
Taking to the mainstage, 2000trees legend and ex-Reuben frontman Jamie Lenman delivered an absolute catastrophic set in comparison to his gentle acoustic one the previous year. Hinting about ‘special treats’ prior to the set, Jamie brought the crowds just that – giving a delightful 11-song-long set, with 4 of those being Reuben tracks. This delighted many, and despite only being a two-piece live band, they filled the stage surprisingly well.
Deaf Havana proved one of the most intriguing sets of the weekend – after headlining the entire festival in 2015, they returned for an early set on the Cave stage, instead of the mainstage. This was an interesting decision, as the turnout was set to be huge – and that it was. With fans packing outside the edges of the tent, the Norfolk-favourites delivered a set picked by fans prior to the festival on a Facebook poll – which the band were willing to leave open, but luckily the results of the poll didn’t pick anything too obscure. With old favourites such as ‘Friends Like These’ and ‘Hunstanton Pier’ making appearances, the set wasn’t short of a good mix of tunes to keep the fans happy. A surprise cover of Oasis’ ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ made an appearance too – due to the most-likely misunderstanding on the poll between Deaf Havana’s track ‘Nicotine and Alcohol’, the band still decided to play Oasis anyway.
Finally, the time came for Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes to bring chaos to the festival on a new level – taking to the mainstage for their big slot of the night. Of course, the set wasn’t short of members of the band diving into the arms of the crowd from the start – in their usual fashion. Carrying out their hour-long set, plenty of material from both albums released to date was played and received excellently, including the short ‘Jackals’, where the biggest circle pit the mainstage at 2000trees has experienced to date occurred. After his idea of the tent-circle at Glastonbury, it was interesting to see how far he’d manage to get the eager participants to run outside on the mainstage – this was eventually achieved as far as around the sound desk, and back. Quite a lot of unexpected drama went down during the set surprisingly, with Frank stopping at various points to address things such as harassment, a lost shoe and a lost phone. This felt quite comedic at first, but when he ran down into the centre of the pit to deal with something serious between two people, everyone began to show a lot of respect for him. That’s something that has always been admirable about Frank Carter – both the sincere continuous respect he both has for the audience, and the audience has for him, making for an excellent set each time he and his band grace the stage.
Toning the heaviness down to close the night came Nothing But Thieves – who, many did worry about contending after the chaos of Frank’s set. However, their set proved to be a sheer delight, with many new faces coming away exceptionally impressed with how well the band put on their first ever festival headline slot. Its very clear the band are in the stage of progression onto the next album, with the tracks like ‘Trip Switch’, ‘Itch’ and ‘Wake Up Call’ from their original debut release sounding near to live perfection – showing the last few years running with that singular album really have allowed them to come so incredibly far. A highlight of the set was when frontman Conor Mason invited a small boy who was singing along in the audience on his fathers shoulders up onstage to sing with him, which was very touching, especially for such an important headline set for the band. Recent single ‘Amsterdam’ was chosen to close the set, and was received very very well – with the audience singing along to every word, and exploding in movement. Usually a decision like this (closing with a new track) from any other band would be risky, but this was a great move as its such a strong, vibrant track to close the set with.
With the last day of bands upon the festival-goers, Bad Sign brought their strong melodic sounds to start off the Saturday with a bang. This was quite a defining set for the band – as they were acquainted with a full tent of many completely new ears, so worked hard to impress the crowd with their fast-paced material. This was definitely achieved, as the applause only got louder as the set progressed – showing the band accomplished something pretty special in the 30 minutes they were given to shine.
Another debut at the festival came from The One Hundred, who surprisingly were incredibly received. Sporting plenty of material from their debut album, after running with their successful first-EP ‘Subculture’ for the last few years, the band really knew how to get the crowd working in the palm of their hand – both with singing along to tracks (especially those from ‘Subculture’) and movement of all forms.
Bringing something a bit different to the festival came Rolo Tomassi – who, from previous years are no strangers to the lineup – but definitely didn’t feel as well recognised this year. In comparison to their near-insanity set at last years ArcTanGent, the 2000trees crowd were definitely more in the mood to spectate – which wasn’t a bad thing at all, especially for those who hadn’t been acquainted with incredibly powerful frontwoman Eva Spence before. The band also debuted a new track, after revealing they had just finished recording a band new studio album, which was great news for fans of the group.
An impromptu destructive last-minute set from Palm Reader suddenly took place on the Axiom after Rolo Tomassi’s set – after it was revealed Sløtface were forced to pull out of the festival. Luckily, as the band were conveniently in the area with all their gear in hand, they took to the stage to deliver an unexpected set. This pleased many fans and friends of the band quite handily – especially as they debuted brand new material within the set as well.
No 2000trees lineup is complete without yearly Scottish favourites The Xcerts – who were announced as the ‘TBC’ on the clashfinder shortly before the event. Luckily, this was clearly an excellent decision – as the trio took to the absolutely-packed-out Cave stage to deliver one of their finest performances. It definitely seems like the Xcerts’ performances at 2000trees just keep getting bigger and bigger every year – gaining more fans with each festival that rolls by. This set felt like they were really home in their element, greeted with absolutely ear-ringing singalongs inside the tent – and the reception for their newest single ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’ was actually incredibly responded to, with a large proportion of the crowd singing along word for word, even though the track had only been out for less than a week. Hopefully, this symbolised something even bigger – and with the release of their next studio album, that will bring them what they have deserved for many years.
Nearing towards the end of the day, Hertfordshire rockers Lower Than Atlantis took to the main stage to provide one of the final sets of the weekend. Despite a few technical difficulties during the set, they showcased the best of their recent release ‘Safe In Sound’, as well as a few older favourites – which sparked plenty of loud singalongs. For their first time at the festival it was clear they were very loved, with the entire front half of the crowd sparking into excitement. The set saw a lot of creativity as well – with boats and chairs among the dozens of crowdsurfing fans, alongside frontman Mike Duce throwing in parts of their gear into the audience at the end of the set.
To ultimately close the weekend, the job was down to duo headliners Slaves – who before the show, both fans and newly-acquainted spectators were curious as to how exactly it would go down. Like Nothing But Thieves, it was their first ever big headline slot at a festival, so this was another important set to watch – and it was a very special one indeed. Bringing possibly the biggest and most visually impressive setup at the festival to date, the duo took to the stage with ease. There was concern that the two wouldn’t fill the stage, especially with vocalist Isaac Holman remaining stationary at the drums – but this initial fear was easily dissolved as soon as they started blasting through tracks. The crowd was just as excited as the duo onstage, and that energy worked really well and made for a great set, with plenty of friendly bouncing around. Coming back for an encore of ‘Beauty Quest’ and ‘The Hunter’, the crowd almost didn’t seem satisfied once they’d finished completely – many demanding a flattering second encore because of how well the duo had performed. Its undeniable they could’ve easily managed a longer set than just over an hour – but in headliner fairness they filled that time perfectly and very effectively.