The first time I encountered Oxford’s A Silent Film I was in the middle of nowhere, hungover as fuck and wishing I’d brought some wellies to the rain drenched 2000 Trees festival. Back then, with a swimmy head and a leathery tongue, they were just the right kind of band to grace the stage with their simple and melodic tunes that took more than a fair share of hints from the likes of Coldplay and Keane, whilst holding it all together with an integrity saving dollop of Radiohead inspiration. Continue reading Album Review: A Silent Film – The City That Sleeps
We woke up early Saturday morning, and I made a bold attempt to shrug off the nagging hangover that had embedded itself into my head. A quick poo in some extremely stinky toilets and a thorough brushing of teeth had me ready to go for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, the damp weather continued to persist throughout the day, and it didn’t look as if the sun was going to be drying that mud anytime soon.
The view from the tent in the morning was ominous at best.
The first band on the mainstage were The Divebomb Revolution, winners of a local battle of the bands competition whose prize was to wake up all the other festival goers who hadn’t quite crawled out of their tents yet. The trouble was, I’m not too sure bombastic prog rock in the style of Dream Theatre can really be fully appreciated at such a tender time. Although showing a great deal of promise, the band really seemed to lack the ideas and talent to follow in the footsteps of their blatant idols, and came across as more style than substance.
So we headed over to the Leaf Lounge, 2000 Trees’ intimate tent that was hosting all of the acoustic acts of the weekend. And when I say intimate, I mean it. As we arrived the tent was pretty packed out, with listeners sitting as close as possible on the ground in front of the stage, as young starlet Natalie Ross walked out to perform her set. If I thought that The Divebomb Revolution were over the top, then Ross was about to show a whole new realm of overbounding enthusiasm. Constantly chattering about how unique she was, her seemingly desperate need to be accepted as a kooky individual fell apart as she pleaded for her audience to appreciate her ‘angle’ at the music industry. Furthermore, once she had eventually stopped talking, her songs were sung with a smug croon that didn’t settle too well on my ears, and just came across as a bland attempt at being ‘different’. I certainly wasn’t a fan, and left pretty early into the set, as she continued to talk about an alcoholic boyfriend or something.
Natalie Ross embodied everything that is wrong with the kooky indie scene.
Returning to the main arena to grab something to eat from the fantastic Pie Minister, purveyors of one of the greatest festival pies I’ve ever eaten, A Silent Film were entertaining the audience with an engrossing, ethereal sound that sounded akin to the likes of Editors and Coldplay, although that description really doesn’t do them justice. It was wonderful music to just sit back and relax to, pint in hand. They certainly have the talent to breakthrough to a bigger audience, and were very enjoyable.
After this it was back to the Leaf Lounge to get an early spot for the late announcement Chris T-T. As we arrived local boy Dan Heaver was playing up to the crowd with a catchy collection of vocal melody driven songs, that had the audience chanting along. Considering I’d never heard of him before I was really impressed by how he had them eating out of his hands, even warranting an extra song as the organisers frantically tried to hunt down the now missing Chris T-T.
Despite his late appearance, Chris T-T did a stellar job of wowing the crowd.
Eventually he was found, and had no problem in enthralling the crammed tent with his overtly political lyrics, reciting his brilliant poem midway through the set to a silently enraptured audience. Despite a set cut short, he didn’t lose any of his power, and his themes of deforestation and anti-war struck a chord with the predominately tree hugging crowd.
Later on in the day and The Anomalies took to the stage, a loud and brash band featuring turntables, rappers and riffs. I was under the impression nu-metal was well and truly dead to the world, but given the hyperactive antics of the two MC’s, whose livewire freestyling took to the ears like a rusty cheesegrater.
Things did not overwhelmingly improve with the follow up act, Imperial Leisure. Given my distaste for ska music in general, I was not likely to enjoy their forcefully upbeat horns, but even I couldn’t help but get a wry smile out of one of the vocalists looking completely out of place, his white shirt and gold watch standing out a mile from the ragged clothes of his counterparts.
Imperial Leisure were…well, certainly nothing akin to what their name suggests.
Given how 2000 Trees has handed a lot of its bragging rights to Frank Turner‘s endorsement and appearances at the festival, there’s no surprise that there is a remarkable amount of expectation from the main stage’s largest crowd yet. Unfortunately the miserable weather only added to what seemed to be a rather uninspired performance, a shame considering how much I have enjoyed his shows in the past.
Just like the weather, Frank Turner was a bit of a disappointment.
However, my personal indulgence this weekend was to be Future of the Left. Having been waiting to see them since getting a hold of their fantastic debut, the whole weekend had been building up to this moment. It was just as well then that their performance did not disappoint. Falkous’ screaming tore the sun out of the clouds, and bassist Kelson Mattias put on a brazenly riveting performance, teasing and toying with the disappointingly empty crowd. After this onslaught, I could only just about manage to hang around for a few of These New Puritans‘ tracks. Given the gradually rising furore being made over these guys I was expecting a lot more than the staid and painful techno infused noise, and the repetitious vocals only grated.
Future of the Left were fucking awesome. End of.
It was up to headliners Art Brut to close off the weekend’s frivolities, and despite technical problems that saw their set cut ludicrously short, frontman Eddie Argos kept the show going with an impromptu juggling performance, and once the music started a highly enjoyable set that dashed through some of their more popular hits (I gather the band have quite a following in Germany, and certainly deserve a few more admirers on their own shores).
And therein did the weekend end. A hectic ride home and a brief shower and all I’m left to say is that 2000 Trees was a fantastic example of how to go about making a festival about the music. The weather was diabolical, some of the food was questionable, and getting there was an upheaval, but I can honestly say that the charming atmosphere and great fresh talent made it more than worthwhile. I just hope that next year things remain 2000 Trees, and we don’t begin to see another passionate event ruined by greed which could see it turn into 4000 Trees or more.
This summer, more than any other, has seen a massive increase in the amount of weekend festivals popping up all over the British Isles. Unsurprisingly, the cop out excuse of a credit crunch, and the more realistic reasoning of oversaturation have seen some struggle, some die, and some just be plain shit. But my attention was drawn to 2000 Trees, a festival in its second year and one that was keen to focus on things other than money, as my interview with organiser Andy Rea proved. So off I went, with a small group of friends to embrace their eco-friendly take on a music weekend. Oh, and all the fresh talent that the curators had fished out of the UK scene.
It came as no surprise that the closer we got to the secluded location of the second 2000 Trees event, the rain pounded at our coach’s windshield harder than a drummer shagging a model. Buried deep in the countryside of Cheltenham, only one thought went through my mind as we drew nearer: ” Probably should have packed some wellies…”
Indeed, my mistake was a foolish one, because once we eventually arrived at the locale, it was like looking upon a miniture Glastonbury of last year. Fields drenched in mud, more swamp than puddles. And to top it all off, the rain kept on storming down upon us, as tents were erected and attendee’s slowly soaked through to the bone in a constant struggle ‘twixt man and nature. But the rain didn’t have the power to dampen spirits, and soon I was standing at The Treehouse, 2000 Trees answer to the Pyramid stage, with a highly recommended local cider, Badgers Bottom, as I witnessed the first of the many great bands on offer throughout this ecletic weekend.
Things got very, very muddy.
Although an unplugged Frank Turner opened the festival for the early comers, the first band for me was Gentlemans Pistols, a three quarters hairy four piece who played music that matched those fantastic examples of facial hair. A bassy combination of the rockiest examples of Led Zeppelin, brought to a modern audience in a similar way to Wolfmother, but with a shitload more comedy and no ear shattering vocals. When you have a song called ‘Heavy Petting‘, you can only expect the laughs to come thick and fast.
Gentlemen’s Pistols absolutely rocked the main stage early on.
Straight after came Ghost of a Thousand, a band I’ve certainy heard a bit about but had unfairly put into the same category as a lot of those screamo bands that are populating most of Brighton. However, as God poured down his mightiest storm yet, singer Tom Lacey shredded his vocal chords through a blistering set that had the audience enthralled. Acting like one of Orwell’s wild animals, throwing mud all over the place and encouraging the first circle pit, Ghost of a Thousand brought a tumoultous sound that was perfectly matched with the biblical weather.
The same can’t be said for Johnny Foreigner, who despite recieving a great deal of acclaim from the likes of Drowned in Sound, completely dissapointed. The vocals were for the most part out of tune, and there was nothing really interesting in the music that took your attention from that fact. I don’t see it, that’s for sure.
Accompanied by the thunderous weather, Ghost of Thousand were a sight to behold.
Unfortunately due to my idiotic decision to not bring wellington boots, rain stopped play for me for a litle while as I gave my feet a chance to recover, therefore what I heard of The King Blues was from my tent nearby, and it really didn’t sound too bad at all, although my head was far too swimmy to really remember any details.
Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster couldn’t quite acheive the heights that Rebuen might have.
I re-emerged a while later to go and witness the nights headliner, Reub…oh no wait, sorry. Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. The trouble was, despite a great opening which seemed to be full of enthusiasm, the boys with their ludicrously fashionable hair and clothing seemed to run out of steam very early on, and the whole set just seemed to drag on. This was no doubt partly caused by the fact that a lot of people standing in the rain and mud had purchased a ticket to be seeing Reuben on this stage, and with their departure from the music world we were left with a lacklustre replacement. Whilst not overwhelmingly terrible, their apparant lack of excitement for the event, especially from singer Guy McKnight who immediately got on the wrong side of the crowd by proclaiming “there were more of you when we played Glastonbury” left only the hardcore Disaster fans smiling. And believe me, you could spot them from a mile. Dissapointing, but the lively and friendly atmosphere saw the festival carry on into the dark night, with revellers getting more battered on that legendary Badgers Bottom, looking forward to (hopefully) better weather tomorrow, and some more great bands.
Pie Minister pies, the foodstuff that kept us going throughout the whole weekend.
The 2000 Trees review will conclude itself once I return from Latitude Festival this weekend!
Summer is nearly here, and alongside the comforting prospects of sunny days and balmy evenings, there is the ever exciting promise of a multitude of music festivals, with thousands of artists in the UK alone performing over the course of our island’s sweetest months. The big names have already rolled out the big guns, with Reading boasting a reformed Rage Against the Machine and Download screaming from the rooftops about KISS headlining.
But for those who don’t quite fancy getting crammed into a field with tens of thousands of other sweaty music fans, and who don’t quite have the guts to either buy or eat an overpriced burger from that burger van, there are a surprising amount of alternative and independant festivals popping up all over the country, offering a nicer atmosphere, intimate band performances, and some quality burgers.
One of these new specimens of weekenders is 2000 Trees, still an infant in just its second year. Taking place in the beautiful surroundings of the Cotswolds, the organisers of 2000 Trees work for a very different mission statement, putting the music first and foremost before any profiteering comes into question. Impressed with their bold efforts I got in touch with Andy Rea, one of the six dedicated music fans who have worked passionately to bring 2000 Trees to the public:
Brigade performing to the audience, sunset and a lucky balloonist.
Hey Andy, would you mind starting things off by telling us a little bit about yourselves and what’s in store for this year’s 2000trees?
We are six friends who love live music, but became fed up of the festivals that were out there, so we started our own. The emphasis is on great music, great memories and great value for money, as well as being as environmentally friendly as possible.
There will be almost 60 bands, three stages and two nights of camping in a picturesque field in the Cotswolds, across a wide range of genres – so something for everyone.
So how did the concept of 2000trees come about?
We were sat around a campfire at a mainstream music event that shall remain nameless, and all of us felt disillusioned. Frustrated with ever-spiralling costs, poor facilities, the pursuit of profits at all costs, being crammed in, treated like children and not in any way relaxed. We decided festivals could be better and that we could make it happen. To us, festivals should have less commercial emphasis and instead be about a love of live music and having a great time in a sunny field.
The name 2000trees reflects our desire to promote green issues and awareness, particularly the threats from man-made climate change. We believe it is our social responsibility to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible. In a time where intervention on a governmental level is essential, we also want to show that individuals can take positive action to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Looks a lot more tempting than a swimming pool of a field eh?
I’m quite interested as to what audience you managed to pull last year. Do you think there really is a genuine demand for smaller, independent festivals compared to the behemoths that are Reading, Download etc?
We had almost 1,500 people at last year’s event which told us there is a demand for good, value for money music festivals. Many more tickets have flown out of the door this year which have been purchased from across the UK. I think music fans have many reasons for attending festivals and we hope that we offer most of them.
There must be quite a lot of challenge in organising something like this – what did you find to be the greatest problems?
Starting from scratch was both our greatest problem and our greatest strength. We knew we wanted to achieve something special but we also knew it would be a mammoth task, so we had to work out how to do it along the way. There were no major headaches and seeing the festival in full swing made it all worthwhile.
You are clearly set out to be anti-corporation. This is great, but how have you overcome the issues of funding and supplying the campers with much needed resources (toilets, food and most importantly alcohol!)?
The issues you mention are only issues when pursuit of profits is the primary objective. Yes, we have done everything ourselves in order to keep costs down – including training as SIA security – but no, we have not compromised on providing the facilities that festival-goers expect. And each year we will strive to improve those facilities as word spreads about 2000trees.
Frank Turner will be making a return to this years event.
You’ve gone a long way to emphasize the green nature of the festival. Do you really feel it’s possible to have a festival that is wholly eco-friendly, given the almost contradictory nature of thousands of people revelling in a field which is sure to cause a mess?
Our aim is to minimise environmental impact while raising awareness of ways festival-goers can take action – and the field was left spotless last year. Recycling stations and compost waste facilities on site helped us to recycle 66 per cent of waste in 2007 and our aim is to have zero waste. Where possible only locally-sourced, organic food and drink is sold – except our Fair Trade coffee stall. All food and drinks are served in either reusable or biodegradable (corn starch) containers.
Various environmental campaigners are situated on the festival site providing information on how we can all do our bit for the environment. Our policy is that the vast majority (if not all our bands) are UK-based, resulting in less miles travelled to reach the festival and zero use of air transport and there is a car sharing scheme in place.
All power and lighting is produced using locally-sourced biodiesel (recycled chip fat), which is significantly better than any petro-chemical alternative. At last year’s festival it ensured that we saved over two tonnes of carbon (in just one weekend!). That’s great, but the use of solar, wind and even pedal power is more environmentally friendly and our long term plan is to increase our use of renewable energy sources.
We realise that we still have a long way to go but we will never stop striving to improve. As well as sustainable energy sources we are also currently looking into sustainable festival travel and onsite composting.
Of course, you aren’t the only people to start developing a festival with green credentials, the most famous example being Glastonbury. But what do you think of Eavis’ weekend yourselves?
Glastonbury is the world’s best-known music festival so they must be doing quite a lot right. I think they have enjoyed a few years of uber-coolness – with famous faces queuing up to be photographed – but even with less tickets sold this year they are at the top of the festival tree as far as I’m concerned. A great event.
Last year InMe were one of the headliners. This year 2000 Trees offers Reuben and Art Brut
Ok, let’s move away from the issue of the environment onto something a little more personal. I myself have become pretty disillusioned with festivals, not least because of the line-ups and corporate nature, but as a result of people’s behaviour at these events, with attendees seeming to think that because it’s a festival they can get away with whatever behaviour they wish. When I went to Download a few years ago, there were riots and a whole mass of tent burning, and it was pretty sickening. How do you go about combating this kind of care-free attitude?
Last year, after most people had packed up and gone, I watched someone carry her bags of rubbish across the full width of the field to the bin. She dropped them half way but rather than walk away, she gathered them up and put them all in the bins provided. This effort was brilliant and was typical of the attitude of pretty much everyone at the event. There was a really relaxed vibe and we hope that will continue. We want people to enjoy themselves but we encourage them to think about their actions too. It is about a love of live music and we are there to make sure that everyone gets that experience. But should anyone break the rules, they will be ejected.
This is only the second year for 2000trees, but already you seem to have had a really positive take up, and are really showing off a great knowledge of smaller bands that deserve more attention (as well as Frank Turner, two other bands who I have covered on the blog are playing, Reuben and Future of the Left). But where do you see the festival in a few years time? Do you want to see it grow to a wider audience?
I’m delighted to hear you say that because the criteria for performing at 2000trees are that bands have to be good and they have to be live. We had more than 1,000 bands approach us to play and we chose the best mix we could. As I said at the very outset, we are passionate music fans who are doing this out of a love for it all and it is great that we can bring together such an eclectic mix of artists. We are also supporting grass roots bands from Gloucestershire and the surrounding counties by giving them a greater platform to perform on – including our annual Battle of the Bands contest – which will always be important to us. I’m sure better-known bands would bring in bigger crowds but I would like the emphasis of our event to remain the same, so that if we grow it will be because it is a fantastic weekend of live music, regardless of how famous our acts are.
Guys, I wish you the utmost best of luck with this venture. It’s great to see some genuine music fans out there take the reigns and make a change, instead of someone in a suit. Is there anything you’d like to close on?
Rather than more from me, here are the words of two 2000trees festival fans who wrote to us after last year’s event:
Anna Hartwell: “It is amazing to go to a festival which focuses on music rather than money-making with good quality food and nice drinks.”
Jeremy and Freya Swan: “It felt like some older festivals did, a long time ago. Good bands, lovely crowd, great idea. Loved the walk to clear the head.”
We hope to see you there.
The 2000trees festival takes place at Upcote Farm, Withington, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. GL54 4BL. on July 11th and 12th, 2008.
Tickets are £39 for a weekend camping pass. Other options are £20 for youth (10-15 years), £4 for early entry pass (from 4pm Thursday July 10th), £55 for joint ticket with the Y-Not festival, £40 for coach travel (return ticket: London – 2000trees). Under 10s get in free, but must be supervised at all times by an adult.
For tickets and more information, visit www.twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk.