Every now and then, something comes along that makes Britain seem a bit better. Amidst the dreaded double dip recession, the over-crowded central cities, days of delays to planes, trains and buses and everything else that comes with being in our supposedly “Great Britain”, it’s nice to have a pick-me-up every once in a while. For many, it comes in the form of a quick bit of escapism. Visiting your favourite little haunt, reading the latest paperback fad (although if you’ve picked up 50 Shades of Grey in the last few weeks, I feel like you’re not using the internet properly), switching to a bath once in a while or staggering to McDonalds at 4am because they stay open later now and all that vodka is telling you that a 20 McNugget share box is the perfect remedy for your broken dreams. For others, it comes in the form of moderate sadism mixed with the kind of adrenaline rush that can only come from hearing your favourite band play your favourite song whilst other people share that experience with you in a field somewhere in the British countryside. The adrenaline is natural if festivalling is your kind of thing, but the sadism only comes from the glorious British institution that is rain. Over prolonged exposure to it, hypothermia, trench foot and general wetness become your vices whilst scatterings of sunshine seem to burn you quicker as you bask in its godlike glory. If you’re participating in festival traditions of fancy dress and said fancy dress is made of a material that doesn’t react well to rain, then you’re in worse trouble. Luckily, none of that suffering matters at 2000Trees.
It’s been chucking it down for days, with intermittent spells of radiant sunshine and even the mud being 2ft deep in parts of the main walkway (literally) isn’t going to dampen the spirits of the soaked five thousand in attendance. The festival boasts the best in the British underground and it has to be said that some match this boast much better than others. Thursday’s stage brings enourmous sets from Tall Ships and Tellison as the early bird-ers try not to drown in the endless downpour by dancing in an increasingly steamy tent. Tall Ships are winding up to their debut album release (can I get a “FINALLY”?) whilst Tellison are riding on the success of theirs so watching the two back to back really is a lesson in devotion of fans. The singalongs are massive, only topped by the intelligence of the riffs. Those who don’t give up are subjected to Imperial Leisure (seriously, people listen to that?) and treated to the loudest Three Trapped Tigers set ever.
2000Trees: The main event
Waking up on Friday you’d be forgiven for thinking your tent had been washed far out of the Cheltenham festival’s grounds as peering out of your tent, you’ll discover hundreds more have cropped up over night, seemingly replacing the clouds and grey with pure bright blue. Gunning for Tamar wake up the crowd, Maybeshewill post-rock the heck out of us with more stereo-panning than is ever necessary but enough quality to mask the issues and Lanterns on the Lake struggle against the setting but just about pull of their sunny set on the main stage. We Were Promised Jetpacks see their set compete with live extrordianares The Computers and both pull it off. Jetpacks with singalongs, Computers with pure energy that rivals tour mates and second stage headliners Pulled Apart By Horses. The Futureheads still think it’s 2007 but no one seems to mind until they acapella what was a promised electric set and never regain relevance after and My First Tooth are the surprise of the day bringing a bit of high spirited dancing to the Leaf Lounge tent.
The heavens open as 65Daysofstatic take to the stage and it proves to be for the best as the band thrive in extreme conditions. Playing mostly from their most recent record We Were Exploding Anyway, but with a diverse enough set to please even the most cynical of Trees-goers, the band pull of the set of the weekend and leave those brave enough to choose them over the Xcerts, Gallows and PABH glad of their decision.
Saturday brings a similar schedule of weather (it’s a British festival, I have to mention the weather at least once every 100 words or kittens die) only the downpour starts early on those in fancy dress (there’s about 50 very wet Lemmings plodding about) during a rather moody 2:54 performance. Another band that would be more suited to a tent out in the fields but nonetheless a band with potential even if their debut record was lacklustre. No one minds though after the likes of Fixers failed to excite but definitely got some heads turned and Dog is Dead who are quickly becoming the perfect festival act. You don’t have to be bland to be a festival act and tracks such as Young and Two Devils show their diverse influences and promising debut album in a good light. Elsewhere Johnny Foreigner yet again traverse their back-catalogue and still find room for the singles collection sub-headlining the Leaf Lounge before the ever serene talent of Lucy Rose, Ben Marwood headlines the Greenhouse at the remote far end of the festival to an intimate and dedicated crowd and Summer Camp play before Hundred Reasons who play before Guillemots. The booking order is baffling to say the least but I’m told that the first two worked. Guillemots perform with the usual elegance and insanity as ever mixing last year’s Walk the River tracks with forthcoming new material and the noughties hits. The crowd barely care but Fyfe Dangerfield and company close the festival in eclectic style.
It’s been a very British weekend, you could even buy tea and bacon sandwiches in a makeshift café or enjoy an ice cream in the rain. Wringing out the last of your clothes and looking back on the madness, it’s definitely a worthy alternative to Latitude and one worth noting the lineup for even if you do choose Glastonbury's little sister in the future.
Words: Braden Fletcher
Photos: 1&2 Jacqui Sadler
3&4 Ben Morse
Photos: 1&2 Jacqui Sadler
3&4 Ben Morse