After weeks of anticipation, for the largest 2000trees festival yet, GIGsoup sent Caitlin Damsell down to Gloucestershire to experience this award winning event, and take stock of some of the hottest British bands currently playing the circuit.
As one of the opening bands of the Thursday, the Cave stage saw Black Peaks returning to take control and tear it down early. This set was truly remarkable – with a highly enthusiastic crowd completely packing the tent and causing chaos, which really contrasted the response they were greeted with the previous years, overall signifying how big the year in between the festival had been for the band.
This was shortly followed by Scottish rockers The Xcerts, providing some more mellow sounds for the early audiences. As a returning day, the trio were greeted with familiar faces and fans – creating a really special set for both the band and audience, with an incredibly loud singalong to ‘Aberdeen 1987’ taking place. The set also saw a marriage proposal during ‘There Is Only You’, the closing song – which luckily resulted in a positive outcome, and a lot of emotions!
Moving over to the acoustic Forest Stage, InMe’s Dave McPherson provided a half hour of guitar-based entertainment, blasting out both covers and songs old and new. Despite facing a broken string, he managed to carry out the entire set – entertaining with humour and tunes at the same time. His InMe tracks definitely went down most successfully, with the crowd singing along with drinks in hand and smiles on their faces.
Taking the stage after Dave came Black Peaks for a second round, but proving their mettle when it came to the softer sounds. Serving as their second ever acoustic set, both Joe Gosney and Will Gardner from the band came onstage to give impressive, relaxing renditions of tracks such as ‘Hang Em High’, ‘Set In Stone’ and ‘Saviour’. Will even revealed his secret talents with a saxophone during a cover of Jack Garratt’s ‘Falling’, carrying out an impressive, long solo on the instrument.
Helping to close the day came the ‘secret guest’ Frank Turner, packing out the Axiom/Xtra Mile tent completely. With fans having a hunch for a long time that he would be playing, his appearance wasn’t so much to everyone’s shock – but it was definitely needed for the anniversary of the festival, being such a large figurehead in the 10-years’ worth of lineups. Performing most of his 2011 album England Keep My Bones in full, he made the most of the 45 minutes of allocated set time and pleased the crowds with tracks such as ‘Balthazar, Impresario’ and ‘Redemption’.
Heading into Friday, and Lande from Muncie Girls leads a solo acoustic set in the forest before their full band set later in the day. This was well received from the polite audience sitting on the forest ground, despite the stripping back of their live, loud punk sound. Lande’s soft voice allowed for a very laid back, relaxing set – which was very appreciated and suitable for an early set.
Returning for more shortly after came The Xcerts – taking to the forest stage once again to perform some acoustic tunes. This set wasn’t short of special moments like their one the previous day… with the forest absolutely packed to the edges with supportive crowd both sat down, and stood up. Despite mass hangovers, ‘Aberdeen 1987’ proved an incredible success – with frontman Murray MacLeod jumping right into the centre of the crowd to perform the song alone.
Despite not being well known in circle of the festival goers of 2000trees, Counterfeit proved their mettle upon the mainstage later in the afternoon. As a new band formed by actor Jamie Campbell-Bower, the group attracted numerous dedicated fans from all over – despite half the set consisting of unreleased songs, the band were well received. With songs from their debut EP Come Get Some sounding very strong live, it showed that the band definitely aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
Travelling back into Xtra Mile territory, Will Varley proved a delightful success at the festival this year. Playing in the Neu Stage tent, it surprisingly packed out right at the start of his set, with people standing around the entrances to try and grab a chance to see him play. This really showed how successful being introduced into the Xtra Mile label scene has been for him, with each song being sung along to with dedication and heart.
Returning to 2000trees for the first time since 2014, Lonely The Brave treated the Cave stage to lots of material from their recent album, Things Will Matter. With the entire set almost consisting of new tracks, the 45-minute slot whizzed by – and frontman David Jakes took center position, blasting out his flawless vocals in accompaniment with the instruments. The band burst with energy, undeniably giving it their best on every single track.
Finishing off the day came Scottish heavyweight headliners Twin Atlantic, proving that they were back with a bang. With a surprisingly active and excitable crowd, the set flew by – with the new material going down well with the masses, and the live introduction of brand new song Ex El, the group tackled the crowd and stage with impressive ease. The band got the crowd singing along to each word, and moshpits opening up to every single song – it definitely went to show that they’ve warmed to the big stage, and it felt that’s where they definitely belong.
Opening the main stage on the Saturday came festival favourites Heck, who came to cause carnage in the early afternoon. For those not acquainted with Heck beforehand, this was an excellent introduction – with members Jonny Hall and Matt Reynolds jumping off the very high stage before the first song was even halfway through (…it was soon discovered after Matt broke his foot doing so). This set was also home to the biggest pit of the weekend, with a circle opening up as wide as the main stage itself – of course, with band members getting involved right in it, too.
Making a swift run to the forest, one of the main festival heroes Jamie Lenman took to the stage early to carry out an ‘acoustic covers set’ before his solo one later in the evening. With the grounds absolutely packed to the edges, the ex-Reuben frontman mixed his natural humour within the covers – ending the set with renditions of the ‘Neighbours’ and ‘Home and Away’ theme tunes.
Another surprising set of the weekend came from Creeper, who made the mainstage their own. This contrasted their set last year in the Cave, where the turnout was good – but not many people were acquainted with them at that time. Now, in 2016: the band carried out an incredibly successful set, with their banner hung high above the mainstage, and their iconic merch seen everywhere. Filled with crowdsurfers and moshing, the reaction from the masses to this set was very impressive – showing how big the last year for Creeper has really been.
Delving a bit heavier, festival favourites Arcane Roots followed on mainstage – opening with a brand new track ‘Curtains’, which despite nobody knowing and a mysterious keyboard making an appearance, sounded absolutely huge. The set shortly warmed up with tracks ‘Over & Over’ and ‘Slow Dance’, with plenty of action and movement from lively members of the audience.
Heading into the evening, and prog metallers SikTh get the Cave warmed up for the heavier bands of the final night. With lots of movement happening at the front of the crowd, the return of the London-based legends was definitely welcomed into the lineup – moving their set over from ArcTanGent festival, and providing 2000trees with some heavy progressive sounds instead.
As the final headliners of the Cave stage 2016, While She Sleeps definitely did not fail to disappoint and proved one of the true highlights of the weekend. With the tent utterly packed out – the crowd went ballistic for the Sheffield metalcore group, and showed that heavier bands are always welcomed on the 2000trees lineup. Opening with the powerful track ‘Brainwashed’, the band blasted through fan favourites such as ‘Four Walls’, ‘Our Courage, Our Cancer’, and ‘This Is The Six’ – allowing a generous mix from each album in their hour long set. The set also saw a massive circle pit encasing the entire tent, with fans running crazy lengths both inside and outside.
Finally – closing the entire weekend, legendary Swedish band Refused rocked the mainstage to completion. Making their way through a 12 track set, the band made sure to include all the hits, with tracks ‘Elektra’ and ‘New Noise’ sounding massive in the open air of the stage. The biggest audience of the weekend definitely weren’t short of energy, moshing and crowd surfers – and made sure that nobody was standing still. This was the ideal set to send the 10-year anniversary of the celebrated festival off with a bang – showing Refused still have as much energy and success in 2016, as they did back in the 90s.