2000 Trees: Friday
Yet another day of blistering sunshine and energy crept its way into my existence as Friday rolled in with the remnants of feedback and spiced rum destroying my mind, body and soul (I think it was my soul anyway... it might have just been some shorts) leaving me in need of an audio visual cleansing experience... or at least the cracking chicken satay on offer there to soak up some of the blood in my alcohol system by this point. Regardless of my porcupine tongue or tiny trodden mind, Friday offered some of my favourite bands at this festival and some truly breath taking performances to become the peak of the festival in many different ways.
This glorious Friday however did not begin in as fairy tail a way as I'd expected from waking up. The weather somewhat fluctuated for an hour or two, and I found that the heroic efforts of two piece act Cleft to oversee a battle with a brain tumour had in fact slipped once again due to them having to delay their set due to a seizure literally minutes before the show. However Drummer John graced the stage to announce that the two would be looking to play later in the day in a show of passion and commitment that is rarely seen in bands nowadays regardless of their size... but more about this later in the piece/day. Shaking off the disappointment and concern after a while, the first band I saw of the day became the first discovery in the guise of Yorkshire based, multi-coloured, playful hook machine Allusondrugs, who's harmonies and choruses I appreciated just as much as the honesty in their name. Tracks like Nervous with harmonic vocals, grungey riffs and endless energy made quite a grim start to the day completely swallow itself as the sun came out and I myself begun to reach for the Pimms after the naked, loud, chaotic ending to their set.
Onwards we continued, finding out about the secret wonders of Door Number 9 and FURTHER hammocks and tie die clad youngsters 'finding themselves' somewhat in the jungle. After a good hard sit in that area for a short while, I went on to watch discovery number 2 of the weekend, and what became one of my favorite sets of the weekend. Manchester's own Akcadamy turned up at the BIMM ran forest stage as I retook my place to watch the hip hop/rock fusion band churn out one of the most emotional performances I saw on the stage all weekend. From the emotional Never forgotten with Frontman Adam Cruttenden's haunting lyrics 'I've been through the war now// So I'll sit and watch the peace pass on and on' with such a surrounding as he had, to the wonderfully entertaining and beautiful experience of guest vocalist Romario Bryant making us blissfully aware of his presence throughout, including his own fantastic rendition of Prince's 'What's it gonna be', solidifying Romario's ability to hold and entertain the crowd in his own right in an all round fabulous performance. Akcadamy will be ones to watch in the near future with Cruttendens hooks and lyrics as well as KC Davies and James Franklands interweaving, often emotive guitar lines, and their closer Same Old Shit is a classic 'they're saying what we're all thinking' moment. I left thoroughly entertained.
Sheffield's Dead Harts dragged me back into the pit immediately afterwards as I headed over to the The Cave. These guys were ferocious. Now there's not a lot about this band I knew beforehand, but if you're into dirty hardcore and breakdowns to retract a nutsack, as well as a frontman willing to practically become your face, these guys are what you want. However, those pits where kids just run in to hurt each other need to stop, don't get me wrong, I'm all for a good swing, but some of the shit going down at shows at the moment needs to just stop. (Im looking at you Mr 'oversized pissed off 'WSS' shirt, roundhouses to the back of non-pitters and spear tackling younger people dickhead' man) Anyway, regardless of my inner 46 year old, I managed to catch a stonking set from Feed The Rhino on my way over to speak to Pulled Apart By Horses (lovely guys) filled with massive riffs, including Burning Suns being the highlight of the set.
As aforementioned, Pulled Apart By Horses graced the stage for yet another highlight set. This was roughly the 23,657th time I'd seen this band, and they never, ever fail to impress me. Jumping and leaping and yelling like some kind of slightly terrifying psychedelic frogs around the stage, the four man riff-o-rama tore the house down with tracks spanning all three of their albums... HIPSTER ALERT: although it would have been nice to hear more early stuff, such as I Punched A Lion In The Throat which sent the whole tent off into a frenzy, and led to an update on that vortex pit started by Turbowolf in the previous day... which by the way was fucking massive by this point. High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive as an experience was just as uplifting and energising as anything any random guy in a bucket hat and tiny Adidas man purse ever could. Literally, this band are the perfect live act even 5th time around, especially in a field after a day full of rum and San Miguel.
Perhaps even more heroic though, was finding that not only had Cleft managed to fight off a tumour and a seizure to continue playing at the festival, but in fact were up sizing to the main stage. What followed was half an hour of math-tronic genius. For a man who's fought off so much in his early career, Cleft guitarist Dan stormed through the set like a man possessed. All the cheeky time changes and neck dances, duck walks and slightly weird, quirky chats inbetween songs had you forgetting anything had happened in the first place in the ultimate 'show must go on' moment, blazing through 'turbo-prog' classics like Alec Baldwin's Hair and 12 Second Panda to a rapturous applause and a very grateful, satisfied crowd. This set me up for the feels a great deal as we flew into the night of the festival and hit the halfway point.
Back at camp morale was through the roof, the sky clear and the air humid as the crowd awaited Deaf Havana to come and end the first day while sets blared from Future of The Left and many others, before the time finally came for the Friday headliners to take the stage.
Now as a man who hates pop punk PASSIONATELY, I was dreading this set to be completely honest. The slightly drunk teenage girls and guys in backwards caps and sleeveless tops regardless of the time of year are not my cup of tea, but the altogether well presented, tight set of their catchy pop numbers was quite a surprise. From reworked old hits Friends Like These and I'm A Bore, Mostly to acoustic tracks Saved and Anemophobia and closing with Hunstanton Pier, the boys won me over somewhat with a well rounded show and some genuinely emotional moments shared between James Veck-Gilodi and the audience was warming, especially with the lack of pizza and cinema references. All in all, kudos to the boys closing the Friday of the festival well, before we went to share the 'vibes' for the rest of the night in the forest.
And share we did. Some intense self reflection and environmental bonding was in order on the way out of the night. The forest showed me some great new acts and great new people as well as spelling out what the music festival was all about. Liberto Wolf and their slightly strange, hypnotizing, yet somewhat dark feeling tracks, primarily Everybody Wants To Hurt You really stuck with me for the night, also having the ability to smoke, drink and generally co-exist with what turned out to be a tax man for a good hour or two (it's alright mate, you could be a traffic warden), as well as parents of three and watching MR photographer Cai steal a space on the hammock while the rest of us tried for the whole three days. It just re-opened my eyes to how music festivals mirror the human ability to co-exist and bond through the medium of music in the correct surrounding, and really make me question whether our ability to do these things outside an environment like the one we were in was a part of the human condition, or a sign of the times we had come to live in. Like, what are we scared of? It seems to me that the lack of hierarchy and authority allows people to see other people as people instead of their social label. There was no economy or 'higher class', there was no insecurity and no need to hide our compassion as 'weakness'. Festivals and stages like the forest make you realise that we ourselves are existence, and we together are co-existence and everything else is a silly little game to create profit and the illusion of authority... anyway I digress. This evening became the perfect one with the beautiful Yonaka and mind-crushingly wonderful Lu'Ami playing out a picturesque night into the wonderful closing day.
Words: Greg Dixon | Photos: Cai Dixon