2000 Trees Festival 2009: Rated!

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Jamie Skey | 21 July 2009

Overall - 7/10 As far as festivals go, 2000 Trees fits neatly into the 'small is beautiful' brigade. Its intimate site, limited number of stages and mainstream dodging ethos proves that festivals need not be grand and lavish in order to be exciting. With a 2,500 capacity and weekend tickets humbly priced at £49, its value for money factor trumps all of its contemporaries. Moreover, it is organised by six music loving friends who want to reconnect punters with a stripped down, strictly for the love of it experience. Game on. Music-wise, there is something to tickle everybody's fancy. Whether you're a metal-head, indie-Cindy, folkie or blues enthusiast, most bases are covered. And, seemingly, all bands have been booked because the organisers laud them, not because they might rake in the dough. Getting there and back - 8/10 2000 Trees is nestled among the verdant, undulating hills of the Cotswolds. The farmland, in the small village of Withington, is situated equidistantly from two larger neighbouring towns, Cheltenham and Cirencester, and is roughly a 15 minute drive from both. In a bid to cut carbon emissions, the organisers booked coach services to and from London and Cheltenham train station. Atmosphere - 5/10 A sense of intimacy and camaraderie is emphasised by the small site. Many revellers are locals, so there is a lot of friendly back-slapping and whoops of recognition circulating. However, there is a contingent from outside of Gloucestershire who have been drawn in by the excellent prices and solid line-up. To use a cliché, the festival itself is a game of two halves. On Friday, it pisses down relentlessly, effectively extinguishing any convivial antics. In fact, a lot of people trudge around in a shivery daze, looking glum and uninterested. Mostly, the main-stage attracts small crowds as everyone else heads for the shelter of the Leaf Lounge. However, despite the rain, a dedicated army of Kerrang! loving kiddies march down to the front to throw devil signs at their emo-core idols. Saturday, however, is a fairer day, which allows the parents to stretch out on the main-stage lawn and enjoy the day's milder, folksy vibe. As the evening approaches and the Badger's Bottom (locally produced 7% cider) is more freely flowing, the party ignites, with bands like Imperial Leisure and Danananaykroyd at the helm. Music - 8/10 As above mentioned, the line-up is pretty solid. There is a mix of ascending stars and festival favourites. The two main headliners are the Busted reincarnate, Fightstar, and indie-prog darlings British Sea Power, but down the pecking order is a range of thrillingly eclectic artists who by and large provide a weekend of top quality music. Not to mention that the main stage PA is proper loud and clear as a bell, resounding with perfect dynamic range. Uppers Amplifier - 8/10 In the program, the organisers rave about the Manchester based art-rockers. It is easy to see why. They have a deep, expansive sound that plumbs depths which other heavy acts could not touch. After a string of uninspiring nu-metal acts, they come onstage to inject some much needed intelligence into the airwaves. For a three-piece, they produce an expressive sound, with megalithic riffs underpinned by groovy basslines and cannoning drums. Tracks like 'Strange Seas Of Thought' and 'Hymn Of The Aten' break over the crowd in barrelling waves of energy and distortion. The King Blues - 8/10 London protest punks The King Blues are gathering momentum within the industry, garnering a lot of respect from Radio One DJ's including Jo Wiley. Tonight, their whistle-stop tour through punk, reggae and ska is as uplifting as it is spiky. For most of the set, cockney oik front-man/ukulele player Jonny 'Itch' Fox commands the stage, venting spleen over the world's injustices. "I bet if the BNP came to this town you fuckers would run 'em out." However, despite all his talk of war and revolution - "going to war, to prevent war, was the most stupid thing I ever heard"- Fox's underlying motivation is love, as he explains in songs like 'I Got Love' and 'Save The World. Get The Girl.' The crowd cannot but dance maniacally to this unashamed display of politically spiked ska-fun. Charlie Barnes - 7/10 At the end of his set on Friday afternoon, Charlie Barnes thanks the rain for a largely packed out Leaf Lounge. The young and talented crooner is a buddy of main stage rockers Amplifier, and his feeling for music is similar, except that he trades in guitars for a piano. His mix of beat boxing loops and choral textures is hypnotic, and at its best, frighteningly beautiful. His layer on layer of ascending vocal melodies would send shuddering waves down the spine of Muse's Matt Bellamy and the damp packed out tent is spellbound. Diagonal - 8/10 Brighton jazz rockers Diagonal are Saturday afternoon's curveball. They appear onstage after a run of summery folk bands to deliver a set of progressive rock that could bring King Crimson's Robert Fripp to his knees. Their fusion heavy, head shredding noise sounds like Santana taking a Tardis trip to the outer limits of the universe and back. 'Canon Misfire' ricochets through space and time like the offshoots of an interstellar explosion and is played with the kind of impending doom akin to the Dr. Who theme. Danananaykroyd - 7/10 Let's be fair: these guys have a shit name. That aside, they rock the fuck out. Their bouncy brand of loud pop is infectious as hell and has the crowd pogoing like a field of punch drunk kangaroos. Plus, they attack their jangly art chords with two blistering drummers, which earns them 10 out of 10 in the head-banging department. Downers Fightstar - 3/10 Fightstar are Saturday night's headlining act and they fail to match the quality of the day's previous bands. What they lack is the ability to craft a memorable tune. Each bland song seems to blur into the next. Charlie Simpson's vocal performance is particularly bad and he looks like he would rather be at Download than here. Even when they try to pull off a show stopping breakdown, they fall down with a lack of sharpness and precision. However, as far as one can tell, Fightstar are the only exceptionally bad performers of the weekend.

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