When: 12-14 July 2012
Where: Upcote Farm, Gloucestershire
2000 Trees Festival organisers may have got another sold-out year under their belt, but this one didn't seem quite so easy for them. The festival was inundated with more rain and more mud than ever – resulting in campers heading up hill with rain-violated tents, and some even bailing a day early. But closed-off pathways and welly sucking mud didn't deter everyone, and those who stuck around and embraced the less than pleasurable conditions found that the organisers had put on yet another blinding festival.
Early birds certainly got the good end of the stick – the campsite filled up whilst the grass was still green and the ground still dry, before The Cave opened its curtains in time to shield festival goers from the first of the many downpours.
The Cape Of Good Hope bring some well-crafted progressive rock to the stage – you know, the kind that has a smattering of vocals so not to alienate potential listeners, and get a bit of crowd rapport going. With their line-up including dual drummers (one of which takes on vocal duties), these Brummies tread the fine line between pretentious and fun – and win. Tall Ships make a welcomed return, bringing their inventive math-rock to life with the help of pedals and loops galore – oh, and a tent packed full of fans singing their songs right back at them. Depsite still not having dropped their debut album, they still have fans going wild at their feet. For indie-pop charm, see Tellison, whose set is ripe with singalong hits from their back-catalogue. Going for the 2000 Trees hat trick, though, is Three Trapped Tigers, taking the golden headline slot. Those lucky enough to snag VIP early entry were treated to danceable, electronic math rock in all of its mind-fucking glory. Oh yes.
Overnight, the 2000 Trees site may have taken a bashing, but it didn't stop general entry festival goers turning up in droves. Gunning For Tamar open the festival proper. Knee deep in long grasses, the crowd bob along to their alt-rock, but their vocals leave One Beat less than convinced. Over at The Cave, run,WALK! failed to get the reaction they deserved playing their last gig as a band. An appropriate crowd reaction was restricted by mud suction, and instead left heads a-bobbing until frontman Matt Copley requested a bit more movement. Still, to witness the duo play HEALTH in full was a mighty fine thing nonetheless.
One of the biggest problems with 2000 Trees this year is that the line-up is just too good. So many clashing bands left festival goers with tough decisions to make. Our first was Maybeshewill vs Shapes. We went for the former, who took their intended slot on the main stage. Hands down, these Leicester boys took band of the festival, not only because of their stunning set featuring some lovely string action, but because when they fill in for Rosa Valle in The Cave the next day, they blow the socks off everything we've heard so far all weekend.
Max Raptor know how to command a crowd; Will Ray takes the reigns and pretty much flogs a reaction out of us all, whilst his band blasts out sizeable rock riffs for us rock kids in the darkness of The Cave. Their rapturous showing even earns them an extra slot on the main stage on Saturday. Away from the hustle and bustle of The Cave, We Were Promised Jetpacks take a more laid back approach. Their emotive, indie-rock rouses the sun out from behind the clouds, as frontman Adam Thompson weaves his heavily-accented narratives. Set closer It's Thunder And It's Lightning could so easily have been accompanied by the very same weather, but thankfully, the epic end to the Scots main stage slot was blessed with some much needed rays.
Those who make it to Saturday, are pretty much resigned to their fate. The bodies that make up the crowds are slightly muddier than yesterday, with others opting to throw caution to the wind, and go sliding down sludgy hills on their airbeds. In the confines of The Cave, Antlered Man are almost as jaw-dropping as the mudsliders – taking an unusual approach to alt-rock, these guys conjure the weird and make it wonderful. Certainly a hidden gem amongst the programming. Alt-rock duo Hymns seem to have twice multipied in numbers today, and it's no bad thing. Sporting dark sunglasses in a room already cloaked in darkness, frontman Manville is master of his craft – together with his band, he brings The Cave to its knees with loud, angsty renditions of tracks from their brilliant double album, the new line-up enabling them to truly do justice to album tracks – something they have been unable to do as a two-piece. It's a fucking treat.
Brontide are a change of pace. Having seemed to have obtained god-like status in the year or so since their debut album, Sans Souci, was released – the turnout in The Cave is telling. The instrumental-ers genre surf their way through math-rock, post-metal and almost everything in between. Fierce passages of technical rock give way to bright guitar flourishes, modestly delivered by the threesome – it's thrilling. Over the years, we've seen The JCQ go from strength to strength with their live shows, and today they present as a well-oiled machine. With fire still raging in their bellies, the five-piece run rings around each other whilst they reel off hardcore punk anthems. From midway back in the tent, the sound seems to suffer – maybe it's because organisers employed McLovin' as a sound guy this year? Either way, the band seem to kill it anyway.
Over at the Greenhouse stage, VerseChorusVerse captures what the small stage is all about with his cool and collected charm. It's his third time at the festival, but the first as a one-man-band. It's a far cry from Terrorvision (wink, wink) – instead he goes back to basics in order to conjure some heartfelt, pastoral folk music. Hymns frontman Sam Manville arrives an hour or so later to do a solo set. Armed with a child's acoustic and some dodgy backing tracks, he wrestles with technical issues and comes up trumps with some stripped down songs, including a rather spiffing Weezer cover.
Back to the main stage, and despite a severely restricted bounce factor, spirits remained high for Hundred Reasons album set – not least as the sun made a rare and welcomed appearance. Ten years on, the band manage to pull a great crowd, and have nearly every word sung back at them. Ideas Above Our Station meant a lot to British music in 2002, and the nostalgia factor is off the chart today. Venturing over to the Leaf Lounge, we were met with a sea of backs and muffled sound for Johnny Foreigner's set. Whilst our indie pop craving was left unsatisfied, reports from those closer to the front suggest the newly expanded band were a lot of fun to watch. Note to organisers – stick 'em on the main stage next time, so we can all get in on the action.
Of all the bands that could close this festival, it had to be one with balls of fire. And even though their line-up has been infiltrated by a steady flow of oestrogen, Future Of The Left still manage to reach overload on their testosterone levels. Falco's razor tongue moves at excessive speeds, shoehorning more lyrics per minute into Robocop 4 than perhaps any other song we've heard all weekend. At times it looks like his face may even burst. Between monster bass lines, a duo of McLusky tracks and that keyboard note, the band reveal themselves as worthy headliners. They go down ablaze in chants of "I trusted you", whilst completely dismantling their stage set up.
See you next year?