2000 Trees 2016: Friday
We fall in love with a festival dedicated to up and coming alternative talent
Words: Rhiannon-Skye Boden | Photos: Cai Dixon
I put it to you, that the second day of a festival is the most surreal place in the universe. The fresh-face newbies without early bird tickets stand out in stark contrast (and glittering cleanliness) to the battle hardened few, normally not seen until around 2pm, that deigned to get there a day earlier. At 2000 Trees in particular this dichotomy is ruined by a third elusive group, the crazy individuals who chose to spend 9am doing Yoga at the Axiom tent, complete with their own instructor and often a pair of loud paisley pants. However, all three sects are united by one thing: a desire to see some of the best alternative acts up close and personal, a mission even the one’s who don’t emerge from their tent until mid-afternoon take very seriously.
Charged with opening the mainstage were Vant . Battling technical difficulties and an understandably lukewarm crowd given the time slot, the Leeds-based band did an admirable job of waking up their somewhat groggy audience, and when they all but ran offstage to make their afternoon Manchester gig, the combination of happy dance-along lad rock and sunshine had proved the best hangover cure of all.
Over on the Nue stage Unhappy Accidents  showed the true virtues of a diamond in the rough, with cutesy indie-pop tracks like Coexist and Leaving Parties Early combining with the sheer enthusiasm of the frontman (who, without any trace of irony, demanded of the crowd a call and response of “2000!” “Trees!”) to show all the hallmarks of a band sure to see success in the coming years. Meanwhile, Trash Boat  employed their tried-and-tested blend of harcore and pop-punk to unsurprising success, with a set that would be ranked highest should the scoring be based on frequency of circle pits and crowd surfers alone.
Then it was the turn of John Coffey  to take to the mainstage, delivering a somewhat genre-defying show that justified the band’s facebook page listing their sound as simply “loud”. In a set that maneouvered between the solemnity of dedicating No House For Thee to the refugees, to the levity of blaming microphone malfunctions on Brexit and frontman David attempting to crowd surf around the sound booth and all the way “back to Holland’, the guys injected an inspired kind of energy previously missing. The reception to their more political elements may have been cool, but on the whole they were white hot, and get kudos for managing to so expertly incorporate both heavy metal hair-whipping and three part harmony in a midday set.
Moose Blood  found success on both the main and Forest stage, but fangirl favourite Eddy Brewerton’s decision to go it alone when it came to the acoustic set added an intimacy that took their first appearance from good to great. Opening with Honey and taking the crowd on a whistle stop tour of his life via Bukowski, Boston, Pups and Cherry, he dropped in anecdotes and dedications relating to his father and daughter in a way that seemed truly authentic. Even his nerves, evidenced by his trembling voice and occasional forgetfulness when it came to the lyrics, proved endearing, and created an atmosphere straight out of a teen 8 Tracks playlist.
Neck Deep  were next up on the mainstage, powering through both new and old material with the characteristic confidence of a band that know they’re at the top of their game. From the first chord, which caused a tide of plaid and backwards snapbacks across the grass towards the mainstage, the guys were relentlessly charismatic, thrashing out heavy-hitters like Citizens Of Earth and new single Serpents alongside their classic Losing Teeth and an acoustic rendition of Part Of Me. Add to that their deft relation to current affairs (“Big up Wales though!”) and they really couldn’t go wrong.
Through the haze of the smoke machines and the glare of the lights Basement  entered stage left with characteristic gloom, to meet a crowd spilling far out the feeble parameters of the tent. Though Pineapple and Covet easily proved the high points of the evening, with the crowd screaming out the choruses past the point of needing either the vocalist’s or the instrument’s help, their entire hour and fifteen minutes was an exercise in perfect control. The pacing varied from deliciously languid to expertly erratic, going from ballad to fight song and back again with no time or need for filler, and though much of the crowd were left sweating and exhausted it was clear they were ready for whatever else the night could throw at them.
As it turned out, that was Twin Atlantic . Armed with a back catalogue spanning almost 10 years, lead vocalist Sam McTrusty lept out of the dry ice like a devil, and delivered his set with the furious vehemence of one too. Live, the somewhat radio-friendly rock was transformed into something far more brutal, from driving guitars of Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator to the stripped back rawness of Crash Land. Though admittedly there were rough spots, new offering No Sleep seemed to be pitched uncomfortably high and lead to a few cracks and squeaks, it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed by the playing of Beast Of Myself, Yes I Was Drunk and Free in quick and glorious succession.
What stood out most however, was the humour. For every great riff there was a laugh, sometimes deliberate (a command for the huge crowd to sit down was ignored, leading to Sam’s line: “I’m not fucking kidding we’ll wait all night if we have to. It’s your gig you’re wasting.) sometimes, as in the contrast of gorgeous orchestral strings with the audience screaming “we’re fucked!” on loop, not. When the massive double-whammy of Brothers and Sisters and Heart And Soul was over, it was clear that while it might have been the band’s first non-Scottish headline slot, it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Then all that was left was to begin the long walk back to the refuge of either the bar or the sleeping bag, in preparation for what 2000 Trees’ last night would hold.