After three long, long years away, we’re finally back at our favourite festival. An homage to British and international artists alike, fans and band members are all in agreement that 2000Trees is the best festival in the UK and we couldn’t be happier to see its return. Despite the persistent heat and seemingly endless queues for ice cream, spirits are high as time and time again anyone in possession of a mic takes a moment to express their love for this independently run festival. After experiencing it ourselves, we’re in firm agreement. Here’s what we got up to at 2000Trees 2022.
Words by Yasmin Brown [YB] and Catie Allwright [CA]. Photos by Penny Bennett.
When Cherym (it’s pronounced Chair-um) told people they were playing the Neu Stage at 11:30, they always assumed it was 11:30pm. But what better band to uplift and energize us this morning? Hailing from Derry in Northern Ireland, the trio enter the stage to a remix of Mean Girls… although they’re anything but. For a start, they’re waving the Pride flag and are an openly queer band with two female and one non-binary member so they’re absolutely not a ~girl band~ (very helpful and inclusive to reference their pronouns – others take note, please), but more importantly their earnest faces seem anything but mean. Tracks like ‘Weird Ones’ are for outcasts and people who have been marginalized, a victim just for being different. And for the straight people who always assume they’re in a relationship, ‘We’re Just Friends’ sets the record straight. The set is lively and fun, full to the brim with earworm choruses from guitarist and vocalist Hannah Richardson, a funky bassline from Nyree Porter and rhythm from Alannagh Doherty, although time runs away with them – caught up in the moment of playing to their biggest ever crowds – so the last three minutes are a whizz. They’re shocked that so many people have showed up, but they’d better get used to it fairly quickly. [CA]
Kicking off the final day are the self-proclaimed “queer, punk, feminist band”, Dream Nails. Colour fills the stage – the effervescent nature of the band’s attire working in stark contrast to the more serious message that they’re sharing today, most notably and timely being the commentary surrounding the overturning of Roe vs Wade in the US. The set is filled with punk bops that will easily make you “lose your shit” as promised at the start of the set. It’s a perfect combination of political statements, sprightly colours, glaring sunshine and – to top it all off – a cover of t.A.T.u’s ‘All the Things She Said’. Dream Nails know how to appeal to existing fans as well as drawing in those who may be otherwise unfamiliar with their music and their ferocious personas, addictive music and integrity will see them go far. [YB]
In contrast to what you might expect from the bubblegum pop rock nature of Lizzy Farrall, she leaps onto stage this afternoon with a suspiciously edgy undertone. While her shirt and corset remain innocently white, her hair and makeup hint at something else and it won’t be long before we’ll find out whether or not our inkling is correct. In the meantime, we’re given no further time to ponder as Farrall makes her way through a setlist made up of our favourite songs; we bounce around happily to ‘Games’ and ‘Addict’ with the latter finally seeing the crowd come right forward as Farrall throws herself into the sea of arms before her. Shortly afterwards, Farrall announces that there are just two songs left before the intro to ‘Barbados’ kicks in, a notorious set closer due to its fan fave nature. It’s after this, then, that our earlier suspicions are proven warranted as she leaves the stage only to return without the white shirt and corset, leaving only black clothing behind. In addition, though, Farrell has been doused in blood, the innocent and bubblegum nature of her previous persona left far behind as she throws herself suily into a much darker, previously unheard song to close off the set. We already love Lizzy Farrall so very much but with this small taste of what’s to come, we’re incredibly excited for the pending rebrand and all that’s set to come in tow. [YB]
Coming on stage to a track recording of Will Smith’s recent Oscars interruption, Kid Kapichi make it immediately clear that they have opinions and they’re not afraid to voice them. While perhaps slightly out of date by now, the track sets their performance up nicely, leading them into an eight song setlist with no doubt as to what this band are about – that is dancey indie rock with political undertones that will, without fail, get you on your feet. The inside of the tent is packed with existing fans who sing along to every word, while on the outskirts you’ll see a number of curious nomads who are keen to see what all the fuss is about. This set is all about the music as vocalist and guitarist Ben Beetham rarely addresses the crowd, although this doesn’t seem to deter the fans at all, particularly those most enthusiastic who continue to shove forwards to get closer to the barrier. The set makes for ideal summer vibe – its catchy, happy sounding nature appeasing those in the tent and those seeking shade and an ice cream in the surrounding areas, leaving a smile on your face however you choose to enjoy it. [YB]
If there’s anything we love to see, it’s incredible bands rising through the ranks and receiving the platform they truly deserve. Nova Twins are without a doubt one of those bands. Starting their 2000Trees journey back in 2018 when they were still fresh to festivals, the pair now see themselves playing the main stage to a huge crowd of people who all know every word to their incredible songs. Despite being late starting and despite the impossible heat, the enthusiasm from both the stage and the floor remains strong throughout, with only a moment or two taken to acknowledge just how far this band have come. Their live performance breathes new life to already incredible songs with glorious anarchy ensuing whichever way you look. From a throwback to 2016’s ‘Wave’ (dedicated to the OGs) to set closer ‘Undertaker’, every moment is memorable. This is still just the start for Nova Twins and we’ll sure as hell be along to see where they go next. [YB]
Laura Jane Grace
This is the place Laura Jane Grace imagined when she was booked for the festival two years ago, and the shady respite amongst the Forest Sessions trees is the only place to be this afternoon. Everyone might look like they’ve been sleeping in tents for two nights and have been sunbaked, but the lyrics to ‘Two Coffins’ are apt – with our little moon faces shining brightly up at Grace, mesmerized by the raw, soulful performance. “Don’t worry, I’ll do everything. Just sit down and relax”, she says, as we recharge our minds and bodies. We’re treated to songs from both Against Me! and Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers, opening with the heart-breaking ‘True Trans Soul Rebel’ about the anguish of coming out. And just because Grace wants to shout “Hail Satan” in the woods, there’s a cover of ‘The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton’ by The Mountain Goats (the devil balanced with God in ‘Bamboo Bones’ – “What God doesn’t give to you / You’ve got to go and get for yourself”). We’re not saying the set was a religious experience, but we all left feeling reconnected to Grace, and to ourselves. [CA]
From Oldham County, Kentucky, Knocked Loose are a long way from home and excited to be here, with lots of new faces that have come to check them out. The energy at the Main Stage is contagious, which lead singer Bryan Garris feeds off of (and feeds the sprawling crowd too). “Let’s take advantage of this and enjoy the moment”, he says. Describing themselves as a “heavy band” is an understatement. This is a sound you’d expect to hear in a city late at night, the darkness obscuring your vision and blurring the faces of the violent crowd around you. But Knocked Loose are just as brutal, despite the green grass underfoot and the summer afternoon sky above them. It’s beautiful to see so many people smiling, laughing and moshing in broad daylight, the more aggressive pits breaking out closer to the stage as Knocked Loose knock us all for six. As the saying goes, “if you can’t be good, be loud” – but these guys are both. How Garris and backing vocalist Isaac Hale’s voices can carry so well across a field, or how Kevin “Pacsun” Kaine has the stamina to pound drums for that long, we’ll never know. But we enjoyed every last chord. [CA]
We might have Queen Elizabeth here in the UK, but Blood Command’s new vocalist Nikki Brumen is the fucking queen (and if we don’t bring it tonight, we’ll “die one by one by her hand”). Fuelled by swigs of neat vodka, Brumen is an absolute powerhouse and has The Cave well and truly under her command – blowing kisses, shaking her ass and getting in front of the barrier to flex her impressive vocal chords right in the face of anyone who isn’t spinning around the circle pit. The power drops out (because they’re just too good, of course), but it doesn’t take the Norwegian death-pop band long to get back into their groove. ‘Praise Armageddonism’, the first album with Brumen and Blood Command’s current line-up, came out just a week ago and dominates the set-list (with the likes of ‘A Villain’s Monologue’, ‘Nuns, Guns & Cowboys’, ‘The End Is Her’). You can’t say they’re not a fun band, finding a sweet spot between death metal and pop punk, making you want to get down and dance – but also pumping you full of rage at the same time. 45 minutes of this is like getting the wind knocked out of you. [CA]
A full hour before Twin Atlantic are set to take to the Forest for a special acoustic performance (their self-proclaimed “first and last acoustic festival set”), there’s barely room to shuffle on the dusty ground in front of the stage. It’s 6pm and the sun is beating down as brutally as ever, with many taking shelter under the trees simply to escape their ever worsening sunburn. While the shade may have brought some in, however, it’s Twin Atlantic’s humorous nature and charming musicianship that keeps them here for the whole set; when Sam McTrusty and Ross McNae take to the stage, there’s immediate back and forth banter with the crowd, creating an even more intimate feel than the forest environment already helpfully allows for. “We don’t know what the fuck we’re doing”, announces Sam, and from then on it really is the most beautiful kind of chaos. Having previously headlined 2000Trees back in 2018 (their first ever festival headliner), it feels particularly special to experience Twin in this setting, but we feel even more fortunate when McTrusty notes his wife has recently given birth and that it’s only because it’s Trees that they even made the trip down from Scotland. With this in mind, the pair launch into “a song about my wife”, ‘Oceans’, which sees more than a few eyes misting up at the sentiment. After some on-stage conferring as to what to play next (why write a setlist, after all?), the wet cheeks are set to continue as a singalong version of everyone’s favourite ‘Crash Land’ ensues. The response throughout is inspiring and it’s evident that the shade remains a secondary motivation for the size of this early evening crowd. McTrusty is shaking slightly with nerves but a grin remains on both his and McNae’s faces from start to finish as they marvel at the turnout. Dedicating ‘Brothers and Sisters’ to a four-week-old baby, we’re in for another special and emotional moment in among the effortless banter and it’s safe to say that Twin Atlantic are masters of their art. This may be their first acoustic festival set but they handle it like pros, even in the most muddled of moments. 2000Trees is special to Twin Atlantic and their fans for so many reasons, not least being the first festival that allowed them to play out of Scotland in 2008, but today may be their most special Trees moment yet – and we’re delighted to have been along for the ride. [YB]
You Me At Six
Love them or hate them you can’t deny that You Me At Six are one of the best and tightest live bands in the UK music scene. After 15+ years as a band, they’ve had plenty of time to refine their set and always return to the stage more powerful and polished than ever. It’s no surprise then that their set today is one of the most fun of the weekend – everyone is gently buzzed and still not quite ready to go home and a YMAS festival set always brings the best of the band’s back catalogue. Another band who simply love this festival, front man Josh Franceschi announces that guitarist Chris Miller has been here enjoying himself since Wednesday along with the early entry. Amazingly they all seem fresh and energised, powering through the boisterous set without waning. The crowd are having just as much fun as Jesus himself appears during the anthemic ‘Lived a Lie’ and a plethora of crowd surfers soon follow suit during ‘Room to Breathe’. A shout out is given to “the people in the front row who just got their faces kicked” and it seems it may be time to take a moment of respite. It seems the band agree as Franceschi launches into one of his ever emotional speeches encouraging love and acceptance, the sincerity and earnestness of which always provoke tears among the softer souls in the crowd before launching into ‘Take On the World’ – a song that has, over time, become one that unites Sixers worldwide. We can’t stay sad for too long, however, and the pace picks up with the electric performance of 2021’s ‘SUCKAPUNCH’ which sees rave-like dance scenes unfold in the chorus. Water balloons are thrown from the back of the stage, the drenching that follows welcomed by their targets in the near unbearable heat, and You Me At Six close the set with the classic ‘Underdog’ finale, leaving us all on a high and ready to do it all over again. “It’s 2022 and You Me At Six are still fucking breathing”, shouts Franceschi, and thank God for that. May we never know a world where that’s not the case. [YB]
Press to Meco
It’s nearly 9pm on Sunday. We’re tired, filthy and ready to sleep in our own beds but Press to Meco have other plans keeping us from that glorious hot shower and soft sheets. Not that the Neu stage crowd seems to mind, however. While they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Press to Meco are popular, that much is easy to see, and what’s more, they clearly deserve it, too. The sound is strong with the vocals of Luke Caley holding up firm against the backdrop that is his bandmates, all playing perfectly in sync with one another. The band easily commands the crowd who clap on cue before jumping wildly of their own accord, needing very little prompting to throw themselves into this 10 song set as if their lives depend on it. The heavier aspects of the band’s music is captured perfectly in this live environment, easily engaging everyone in attendance from front to back, and it’s clear as to why this three-piece are tonight’s Neu headliners. We may be slightly further from our home comforts but Press to Meco have made it more than worth the wait. [YB]
Vocalist Joe Talbot isn’t going to ask us how we’re feeling as there are lots of us and it would be weird, but he’ll tell us how he’s feeling: it’s the best fucking feeling in the world. He has a theory that when bands perform, they give us everything and let go every single time, and what they get in return is love and energy. Talbot speculates that this offering and exchange can’t be found anywhere else in the world; it’s the most beautiful gift we could give and they’re so grateful. And he’s right. The co-dependency between artists and fans is what makes live music so special, because you can see it unfold in front of your eyes: musicians stepping into a spotlight to share pieces of themselves, and thousands of people who take those pieces to channel their feelings, soundtrack their memories and shape their lives.
This is an oddly poignant moment in a set that also includes a mash-up of ‘Nothing Compares To U’, ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’ and ‘All I Want For Christmas’, but the almighty IDLES aren’t a band that takes themselves too seriously. The final headliner is a special moment at any festival – we’ve mostly had too much to drink, not enough sleep and not nearly enough sun cream, but are clinging onto the euphoria you can only find when like-minded people come together in a field for a weekend. As Talbot himself says, it seems like we’re still standing and us scumbags know what to do. [CA]