“New and underground” is the sort of tagline that sends shivers down the spine.
It screams niche, deliberately holding you at arms length but after nine years 2000 Trees Festival has learnt to twist this into nothing short of a celebration. From the triumphant return of Deaf Havana closing out the mainstage on Friday night to Nothing But Thieves‘ ever-shortening fuse on a ‘soon to be left behind’ mid-afternoon slot, the Cheltenham festival steps up and plays the hits.
Creeper is one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now. That’s not an opinion, it’s a painfully obvious fact and another sterling performance sees the Southampton 5-piece garner another wave of fans. It’s a similar story for Black Peaks who, despite the majority of the crowd only knowing two songs, captivate an ever-growing crowd with theatrics atop a rich vein of musical texture.
Solemn Sun offer more riches. Their gnarled rock is fed through the productive bounce of hip-hop and while material from last years self-titled EP is as urgent as ever, it’s the new tracks, deeper into their experimentation, that really act as a cause for excitement.
Bringing his ‘Demon Joke’ to life, Vennart is all impressive mastery, well timed kicks and goosebump inducing beauty. From ‘255’ until ‘Music For A Nurse’, the band indulges in victories both old and new. With the return of Biffy Clyro getting ever closer, Vennart’s moments are fleeting but in their ebbing chaos, feel forever. mclusky called time on their band a decade ago but with a reunion, of sorts, staged in late 2014 for a handful of benefit gigs, mclusky* (the asterisk is important) are enjoying a brief return to the sun. Their importance has grown during their absence, a nasty habit of the UK scene, but tonight’s headline set -possibly their last ever show- is proof that every ounce of that admiration is deserved. As glorious as the look back is, it’s nothing compared to Future Of The Left’s forward motion on the mainstage. From the stuttering howl of ‘adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood’ through to the jagged charm of a new song, the band is ferocious and gifted space to prowl they’re terrifyingly entertaining.
Woahnows’ sunshine punk is perfect for a festival crowd while Tellison look surprisingly at home on the mainstage. It’s The Xcerts who really grab for the crown though. From an acoustic performance in the woods, surrounded by birdcalls and a breeze toying with the leaves, to a crowded mainstage a few hours later, The Xcerts are faultless. Last years ‘There Is Only You’ has galvanized their audience and gifted the band a dynamic prowess. As the band lead the field in the exhausting purge of the title track, there’s a real sense that there’s an arena-dominating band itching for their chance.
And therein lies the magic of the festival. New or underground, every band at the event is important and by giving them a platform, 2000 Trees has found its sound.
Photo: Jess Jones