2000trees 2017 @ Upcote Farm, Withington, 06-08/07/2017

2000trees 2017If you went down to the woods last weekend you were in for a nice surprise… Okay, so it might provide the irresistible basis of childish nursery rhyme fun, but let’s get one thing straight: 2000trees 2017 was no teddy bear’s picnic. It was a monumental weekend of music from some of the most exciting indie bands of 2017. It offered everything from intimate forest acoustic sets dappled with much-welcomed summer sunshine to politically driven, romp-stomping rock sets that shook the night sky to “Oh Jeremy Corbyn”.

From the first punch of the clock, the line-up was designed to surprise audiences and cemented 2000trees’ reputation as one of the UK’s best boutique festivals.

Thursday 6th July kicked off with high octane performances from Mallory Knox, Young Guns, Pulled Apart By Horses and one of our Ones to Watch, Tigercub on both The Axiom stage and later for a special Forest Session. As expected, Tigercub grabbed the crowd with their mysterious twist on indie-rock, knocking out tunes from their debut album, Abstract Figures In The Dark into a dazzling backdrop of strip white lights. The makeshift stage, flashing amidst the trees brought back hazy but fond memories of 90s free parties when freedom was currency and festivals commanded a much smaller price tag!

This free-gathered feeling generated a pulse for the rest of the weekend with performers and punters alike enjoying the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Pleasantries aside, however, this little festival packed quite the punch and apart from the silent disco, the noise never abated.

Friday 7th July saw performances ramped up both in terms of noise and audience participation; one act, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes even stopped their set to help a damsel in distress in the audience. Not a snake amongst them, these gentlemen of rock.

Deaf Havana turned a Facebook faux pas into a set success, belting out Oasis’ classic “Cigarettes and Alcohol” in place of their hit, “Nicotine and Alcohol” after it stole the number three spot on their setlist poll. Facebook fans were asked to piece together Deaf Havana’s festival set list taking songs from previous albums including Fools and Worthless Liars, Old Souls and All These Countless Nights. Their hit “Friends Like These” claimed first place but in the spirit of the weekend, the band took the mix-up in third place with good humour and turned it to their advantage. Rumours of Oasis reforming, it starts here!

Stand out performances were also notched up by Nothing but Thieves and Shvpes with flawless sets from both that helped carry the genial atmosphere through the warm, now slightly sweaty evening.

But if Friday was memorable for its affability and unshakeable good manners then Saturday 8th July trampled all over this with serious crowd riling music. Let’s line them up; the disquieting Honeyblood at home amongst the fay folk with Babes Never Die, sugarcane pop from the genuinely lovely Peaness who played up to the sunshine with their sun cream-inspired riffs and Spring King with their rapid-fire percussion ricocheting off the trees like the tail end of the hunting party.

Then there was Sløtface, another one of our Ones to Watch and for very good reason as their live performance on The Axiom stage, Saturday night attested to. Norway’s answer to Girl Ray or The Big Moon, Sløtface performed tracks from their somewhat aptly named (given the audience’s reaction) new album Try Not To Freak Out whilst inciting the crowd to new levels of mania without, it appeared, to even break a sweat. A serious dollop of effortlessly cool, feminist funk anyone?

2000trees 2017 wasn’t just about the music, however. With a popular and rather reasonably priced cider festival running alongside it, it’s no wonder there was a lot of love to go around. None more so than for the couple that chose 2000trees as the unlikeliest venue to tie the knot. A wedding full of strangers? Well, at least you can avoid the embarrassment of the best man’s speech!

For me though, of course, it was indeed all about the music and as the last day rolled into the night the energy just kept on building. Whether you were drawn to the jolly jump-inducing japes of the Front Bottoms or the obligatory crowd-surfing antics of Lower Than Atlantis, Saturday night got up and got down, sunburn to hell.

And just when you thought you couldn’t take any more out popped Kent-based punk duo Slaves to finish off the frenetic crowd. It was easy for frontman Isaac Holman to whip the crowd up with his politically-derisive indignation given the machinations of Westminster in the light of the General Election result in June. However, if the temptation to take this as an opportunity to play light crossed Holman’s or bassist, Laurie Vincent’s minds, it was fleeting as the pair tore up the stage with music taken from last year’s Take Control album without pause for breath. True to form there was mosh pit chaos, stripped bodies glistening with sweat and heads banging so hard even the woodpecker’s looked on in envy. Looking out over the mass of writhing bodies, including those that attended the wedding earlier that day, it was hard to believe this was the same crowd that minded its P’s and Q’s earlier on in the festival!

That, then, I guess is the charm of 2000trees 2017. Is it something about being in the forest that makes everyone feel that little bit Poo and Piglet? Or is it that the festival is still small enough to be truly intimate, a real festival of friends? Whatever the reason it was nice to spend the weekend smiling and listening to music that had the power to shake even the most stalwart of gentleman into a fury of arms and legs, moshing to the very end. And as the sun comes up on Sunday 9th July, the birds begin to sing and decorum finally settles once more, everyone shakes hands and retires, back to the woods knowing, "Today’s the day 2000trees was kicking it."

 
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