Show Review: 2000 Trees Festival, July 2012 - Cheltenham, UK
The UK has an awful lot to be proud of this summer. The London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee are supposed to be the jewels in our crown on this side of the pond but a couple of weeks ago something very nearly topped it all. For just one weekend, a quiet corner of Gloucestershire countryside played host to the best of British culture as over 100 of the newest and most exciting acts in UK music descended upon 2000 Trees Festival. It was rather good.
Straight Lines began with a professional, almost tepid performance; unbecoming of their status as rising stars here in the UK. However, one tent-wide 2000 Trees conga later and they were a different prospect altogether with punchy pop-rock songs like “Actions” dripping with intent.
Nobody dislikes Tellison (cue a load of people telling me they hate Tellison) but last Thursday, everybody bloody loved Tellison. Uplifting and sweet, their set was peppered with huge hooks and bigger singalongs, guaranteeing one of the crowds and performances of the weekend.
The People, The Poet’s recent journey has been well publicised, but not an awful lot has changed. More delicately arranged than Tiger Please material but not lacking in that trademark vocal power, their superb songwriting stands up very, very well on a big stage. Expect these guys to be much higher on the bill in 12 months time.
Don’t expect to see run, Walk! Around any time soon though - 2000 Trees marked their last ever show. A crying shame, but a superb set filled with visceral screams and grooves that could’ve been lifted straight from a Death From Above 1979 record ensured the bass and drum duo went out with a flourish.
Lightguides completed the clash with a lovely slice of ballsy, unmistakeably Scottish rock. With effortlessly catchy tracks like “The Casting Call” in their armoury, the future looks suitably bright for this young band.
Freeze The Atlantic were up next on the main stage, a band truly the sum of their parts. Boasting members of Reuben and Hundred Reasons, they served up a solid slab of early ‘00s rock that was as unsurprising as it is satisfying. Look out for an album later this year.
Maybeshewill were intriguing on a big, outdoor stage.Their expansive, at times jaw-dropping post-rock benefited from a large setting and on-stage strings but subtleties of their songs like their wonderfully poignant sample of Peter Finch's rant in Network were lost to the wind. However, this proved to be just a warm-up for another set on Saturday. Scroll down for more.
Max Raptor and Marmozets packed out The Cave but had markedly different times. The former's riotous party rock kicked a large proportion of arses and for just half an hour, The Cave tent was hot, sweaty, fun and - perhaps most importantly - dry. Marmozets didn't fare so well, with some of the worst sound this side of Brokencyde blighting putting a dampner on a typically zealous performance.
Spy Catcher have come on leaps and bounds in the past year and Friday's set showed just how much. The razor sharp riffs and piercing vocals on songs from 2011's Honesty rang out flawlessly in front of a woefully underpopulated Cave tent.
Two minutes into Gallows' set, Wade MacNeil wanders off, declaring that he's "just not feeling it" and leaving bandmates and crowd alike looking at each other wondering if and when he'll be back. Fast forward a short while and he trudges back onstage, minus his shirt and plus what looked like hundreds of litres of mud. Yeah, it was that kind of show. Wade is the force that Gallows have been crying out for over the years and he cut an imposing, enthralling figure on the likes of "Abandon Ship" and "Last June". Everyone else might as well have go home. Unpredictable, unsurpassable and unmissable.
It's lucky we didn't go home because up next at the Leaf Lounge was a full hour of The Xcerts; a band whose upward curve doesn't look like ending any time soon. It's brilliant to see a packed out tent screaming the words to coming-of-age anthem "Aberdeen 1987" and "Scatterbrain". What's more, it's completely and utterly deserved. Monsoon-like conditions outside the tent might have contributed to the indoor crowd but my word did they rise to the occasion with a supreme set.
Our Saturday began in the Cave with Maybeshewill's second set of the weekend. And what a set it was. Absorbing and crushing, their show built and built with each song even better than the last until a sublime run through "He Films The Clouds Pt. 2" capped a brilliant weekend for the Leicester lot.
Over on the main stage, Sharks weren't faring so well. Despite having the wonderful No Gods in their favour, the early morning slot and punishing wind meant their rich punk was a little forced and a little lost on the small early afternoon crowd.
Bastions, on the other hand, delivered just what we've come to expect from them over the past year; a raging, tumultuous half hour of pure, unadulterated hardcore; something that the few inside The Cave tent were more than happy to lap up.
A note-perfect set from Brontide picked up the pace even further, with fiery post-rock very much the order of the day. Arcane Roots enjoyed similar success, with the part-haunting, part-battering "Rouen" a huge highlight and their newer material looks set to propel the weird-rock three-piece to further success.
Sunday evening brought a wonderful hour where Hundred Reasons had everything on their side - nostalgia, the weather and a staggeringly impressive back catalogue. After a quickfire opening salvo that included "Kill Your Own" and "No Way Back", "I'll Find You" launched the whole field into seminal album Ideas Above Our Station. Huge, hook-heavy anthems like "Dissolve" are still as resonant, relevant and overwhelming as they were the day they were written and Hundred Reasons are back. That's all you need to know.