I was punched, headbutted in the face and one of my t-shirts was ripped, yet despite these experiences I would still dub 2000 Trees the UK’s friendliest festival. After the punch, the owner of the frantically windmilling arms stopped and profusely apologised. I think I invited the headbutt. I’m not sure, I sustained it while jumping into a moshpit, but when I fell over a space was cleared and I was immediately picked up. And the t-shirt was ripped as a gargantuan stranger gleefully lifted me to crowdsurf upon request.
It’s not just among the festival goers that there is such unity, I spoke to Will Gould, the lead singer of Creeper who had glowing praise for the festival and its organisers.
Everyone is made to feel part of this moment
“I feel really privileged that they keep asking us back. They took a chance on us… they do that with lots of artists and we’re really grateful. What I love about 2000 Trees is that it’s a real community, all the artists are friends.”
We’re walking in the same direction, so we chat about bands. He recommends Holding Absence to me. I recommend Ho99o9 to him. Will wasn’t the only performer I saw, I chatted to one of the comedy acts the day after his set and at a previous 2000 Trees I talked to Ben Barlow of Neck Deep in the queue for a burger. It’s hard to imagine the artists freely mingling with punters in this way at one of the larger Festival Republic festivals. Will is right, there’s a real community vibe at Trees, for artists, punters, and crew alike. There’s ample street food for any diet, tents for progressive causes like Safe Gigs For Women line the main arena, and acoustic sets happen in informal arenas in the forest. Everyone is made to feel part of this moment.
“What I love about 2000 Trees is that it’s a real community, all the artists are friends”
It’s a rock and punk festival but the line-up was impressively varied. A particular highlight was Ho99o9. The singers of this Death Grips-esque rap/punk fusion group came out wearing Edward Scissorhands gloves and a cop uniform, and preceded to cause absolute chaos as almost the entire crowd for their intensely political set became a moshpit.
Because of the rock-centric focus and it being an independent festival, smaller bands pack out massive tents. Boston Manor, Holding Absence and Black Foxxes play to full tents, their abrasive punk met by hundreds of responding voices where elsewhere there might be hard core fans and the interested nods of first time listeners. Marmozets, who not two months ago tore the roof off the Lemmy, commanded the main stage like it was theirs, blasting out hit after hit to the adoration of the crowd. Goth-rockers Creeper played an incredible set, they headlined the Cave stage, though the spill out of the tent suggested that at this festival at least they could probably take the top spot on the main stage. So comfortable were Creeper that they didn’t even play their fan favourite, Misery, opting instead for a Meatloaf cover which took the impressively heterogeneous crowd by storm. Some of the crusty punks may even remember the original’s release, but the tumblr girls and pop-punk kids were also very much on board.
The headliners bridged the gap between the generations.
Friday was headlined by At The Drive In reformed for a UK festival exclusive appearance to the delight of the dads one camp across from me. Twin Atlantic, festival veterans though they are, drew a younger crowd. On the final night Enter Shikari blazed through classics, now well-worn songs like System and their bizarre but eclectic new album The Spark to the delight of young and old. All this was interspersed by Rou Reynolds quips and comments, often nonsensically hilarious as his post-gig drinking began way earlier in the day after his intimate forest session.
Despite the ridiculous heat it was a fantastic weekend. The silent discos which occurred across the entire site rather than in a tent, the forest sessions and the commendably diverse comedy club night all added things you wouldn’t find at other festivals. If you’re a rock and punk fan, or just looking for a festival to get trashed at with your friends, Trees is affordable, has great amenities, and the atmosphere is electric.