Live Review: 2000 Trees Festival 2009

Ok ok, so this isn’t really a review as such. More a quick recap of all the interesting bands that took part in Cheltenham’s 2000 Trees festival this weekend just gone. Things got off to a typically British start with a diabolical amount of rain pissing on my group of ‘happy’ campers the moment we took the tent out of it’s bag. But as if that would dampen our spirits, with two days of interesting and unique acts to go get lost in. Here’s a recap of the ones I enjoyed and the ones I can remember.

Sucioperro were the first act to really impress, with a sound that lines up next to the likes of Biffy Clyro. Unsurprising really when you consider that frontman JP Reid is one half of Marmaduke Duke which also features Simon Neil. The band throw together a good mix of more aggressive rock, spiced up with some melodious moments that keeps everyone interested, although there does seem to be a lack of flair that has made the likes of Clyro hit the mainstream in such a big way.

Then there’s Exit Ten, a band who have taken the metal template and injected it with hilarious vocals. These guys dissapoint me, because their early demos promised quite a lot, but it seems that they are really struggling to work out just what they want to do with their music. At times camper than Queen, at others they seem to be trying everything to give it a brutal edge, but none of it is ever convincing, especially Ryan Redman’s baffling hair.

Rolo Tomassi then take to the stage, and as one of the most up-and-coming bands of the festival it’s surprising to hear a rather mediocre performance. I think it’s summed up by one friend, a Cambridge student who has a penchant for things of the scientific nature, as their violent twists and turns leave an impression of confusion on his face that I don’t think I will ever forget.

I can’t really remember anything about Amplifier, which suggests one of either two things. Either the local cider had begun to take its toll on my memory banks and started erasing brain cells, or they put on a fairly forgettable performance. It doesn’t help that I’m not very familiar with the band in the first place I suppose, but there seems to be little that separated them from the millions of other rock bands out there peddling this kind of material.

A quick word about The King Blues. They’re rubbish. Laughable lyrics, trite and boring political overtones and completely undeserving of the praise they seem to be receiving from pretty much the whole musical world.

A longer word about Fightstar, Friday’s headliners. Whilst they fill out the field more than any other band so far, there’s no denying that pretty much 95% of the drunken revellers are hoping, nay shouting, for a Busted cover. Charlie Simpson and his magnificent eyebrows are still finding it nigh on impossible to distance themselves from the days of yore, and to be honest it’s rather unsurprising. Fightstar aren’t a terrible band, but they feel like more like a maths equation, ticking all the right boxes but not actually doing anything exciting for themselves, or their audience.

So now it’s Saturday and IT’S STOPPED RAINING! With everyone cheered by the miracle of not getting wet, the day is started off checking out Howard James Kenny from local band Che. His acoustic set relies on looping various parts of songs, including a wonderful cover of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’. It’s damn impressive watching him slowly piece every part of the song together, building and building until eventually he lets them fade to black, and he certainly leaves a lasting impression to everyone in this packed out tent.

Filling in for Blood Red Shoes, who dropped out incredibly close to the festival, is Slow Club. Whilst not really my thing, their performance at Latitude last year was at least cheerful and exhilarating, giving off the kind of atmosphere you’d expect from a wild west hoedown. However that’s not the case today, as their performance is sabotaged by some terrible sound and a lacklustre attitude. It almost seems like a totally different band, half arsed and uninterested in getting anyone up and dancing.

Danananaykroyd however are a complete delight. Absolutely appalling name, but their juvenile performance is the most enjoyable of the weekend. It’s almost hard to keep track of what’s going on onstage, as drummers become singers and vice versa, but the whole set rolls of the tongue in a wave of charming joviality that leaves everyone smiling and embracing after the Wall of Hugs.

British Sea Power are left to conclude the festival’s frivolities. Although the atmosphere is just right for the band, with some gorgeous scenery and a load of floating tree branches in the crowd, they come across as rather bland and lethargic. Is it so difficult for a serious band to look like they’re enjoying themselves, or must they all wallow in a pit of misery that drags the audience down with them? It’s too sedate an ending for the festival, and leaves a lot of people, myself included, rather weary and uninterested.

Whilst they’ve put on a brave face the organisers of 2000 Trees seem to have struggled a bit this year. The biggest enemy was bands dropping out for various reasons, with each dropout another nightmare problem to solve. It lead to a lineup that was nowhere near as strong as last years, but there was one thing that was just as enjoyable as ever – the fantastic atmosphere. Unlike a lot of festivals these days there are no fears of crime, or horrid toilets that will kill your nostrils. The size is just right, and the audience that attend are people that simply want to have fun in some beautiful surroundings. And, that’s exactly what we all had.

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