Having driven to the festival on the Thursday ‘early doors day’ in bright sunshine we knew we were not going to be in for a continuous time of this- but we made the most of the sunshine in the orderly queue to get in. There was a very warm welcome from the organisers and security which set the mood for the following days. We pitched our tent in the dry on a lovely bed of clover- which had disappeared under a quagmire within 24 hours. The clover, I hastened to add, not the tent. Although some weren’t so lucky!
“If you’ve never been to a festival before, come to 2000trees. It will get you in the mood, you’ll experience the whole vibe of it and it’s a great place to come with friends. The more you bring the more fun you will have.”
So said Amy, a festival-goer from Kingston, London, who was at 2000trees 2012 with her friends- and I completely concur. Yes it was raining every night – and for 3 days; yes, it was the muddiest one in all their six years, but as was also pointed out by her friend Ben, “The weather makes a festival, just enjoy the mud, be a little kid again.” And you’ll be in great company, as families are well catered for here too; The Trolley Tots are available for hire to wheel your little darlings around from stage to stage. I have to admit though, I saw more booze being shifted in them than tiny tots. Still, priorities I guess. And there is a separate Family Camping area at the top of the hill furthest away from the larger stages.
Before taking root with a pint or two of Cotswold cider we decided to have a ‘get our bearings’ recce. The great thing about this festival is its size. There are four stages: The Greenhouse, a capacity of 300, with acoustic music and comedians plus a silent disco for after hours; The Cave, capacity of 800, where as the organisers like to put it you can hear ‘heavier and weirder , hardcore, prog and metal bands’; The Leaf Lounge, which holds 450 with a diverse mix of indie folk-music and more besides; and at the Main stage, capacity 4000, where exciting bands such as Hundred Reasons, The Futureheads and The Guillemots would be entertaining us and blasting out into the Gloucs fields. A certain thrill ran through the blood looking up at it, very striking with the backdrop of the trees and fields.
The layout makes it easy to get from one stage to the next, (even with the ‘avoid the mud detour’ that came in on Friday) take in some delicious food, (more of which later) drink and merchandise. Speaking of merchandise you can take the girl out of the shops but you can’t take the shopping out of the girl, so I had to check out the 2000trees merchandise tent, which was, along with everything else, easy to find. They only take cash so I had to weigh up whether I should spend my hard earned student loan on pints of cider or a t-shirt? I compromised and went for a Beanie for a fiver, which considering the weather was a wise choice, leaving me plenty of cash for drink. Let me say though the prices at this festival are very good value –something I overheard many people saying over the weekend. I certainly wouldn’t be able to step out of my home in London and get a much needed decent sized cup of coffee for a pound! (More power to your elbow Suzie for your little gem of a catering van positioned near The Cave.)Worth a mention too were the PieMinister and Simply Thai- good value tasty hot fare.
So onto the Thursday line up at the Greenhouse where there was an array of comedians and acoustic comedy. The Greenhouse has been described by a festival goer as an ‘oasis of calm’ in the corner of 2000trees. It certainly was that although not particularly on Thursday evening when the comedians let rip with outrageous jokes and caused much hilarity within the audience. Seats of straw bales and a bar next to the stage it was the perfect place to take stock of what was on offer. I was particularly taken with Fair And Square, Cambridgeshire’s acoustic-comedy duo of three (Square was poorly) who provided great entertainment with their songs Revision, Awkward Situations and a letter To My Future Wife. The boys didn’t look old enough to drink but I can tell you they have years ahead of them in a successful career of entertainment. And’s comic face will earn him a fortune just by turning up.
KWAT a comedy group who would have been at home at the Edinburgh Fringe gave the audience a lesson on not being cool (which is cool) and a familiar story from the horses mouth, (well the brain, liver and stomach), regarding hangovers. Stronger in some parts than others it still raised laughs from the audience. A crowd was gathering outside the covered area and I think it says a great deal about the entertainers that punters were happy to stand in the relentless rain.
The compere for the evening had been held up on the M6 but the stand in Mark was entertaining. Once Richard Massara did arrive it was a smooth transition- if smooth means watching Matt in his onesie returning to the stage, tuning his guitar ready to stand in and sing to us before Richard arrived. All poised to sing, Richard did arrive and the Tiger onesie promptly left the stage! Much to the audience’s disappointment. Not for long though as Richard had us all laughing and introduced some excellent entertainment. The acts continued with Flange Kramer picking up the biggest laugh and (I got the impression) following of the night. A self styled ‘Olympic skiing sensation and world class ladies man’ he was not for the faint hearted or family audience and the guarantee of making you laugh was fulfilled many times over. Eat his powder indeed.
The following morning brought a let-up in the rain, for most of the day at least. We decided to visit The Leaf Lounge to watch ‘This Is The Kit’ a Winchester based folk group described as a ‘warm bath’ and since it was the nearest we were going to get to one in the next two days, it was well worth a visit. Kate Stables did not disappoint, being very chilling (but warm in a bubble bath sort of way) and hypnotic. The audience gave her a great deal of appreciation to which, to add to her charm, she looked genuinely surprised at their reaction. Have faith Kate –it was deserved applause.
The break in the weather uplifted everyone’s spirits, although I have to say I don’t recall anyone looking miserable throughout the festival. It may have had something to do with the Badgers Bottom cider or just that the people who attend 2000trees are friendly folk. At the Greenhouse stage we were able to sit on the slopes and chill to the sounds of Joe Summers and the guest appearance of his sister who sang a few harmonies for him. He told us the story of how he had to put up her tent the day before in the rain and it nearly drove him to tears. Obviously not enough camping holidays for the Summers’ family and I feel this should act as a warning to all parents out there: take your children on plenty of camping holidays, they may need to put up a tent if they become festival artistes.
Following Joe onto the stage was Gaz Brookfield who lived up to his billing of ‘instantly accessible’ with anti bullying, anti -establishment/anti-Simon Cowell and manufactured music lyrics… “You sing it best, when you sing nothing at all… “Let your children hear something fucking real” struck a chord with the audience – as it should have- otherwise why would we be there? The crowd loved him. I caught up with him after his set and he told me it was his second time at playing 2000trees.
“ I love it, it is my favourite festival. I came as a punter two years ago and played here in 2011. It is the only festival where I stay, the atmosphere is incredible.”
Performing for about 15 years but as a professional for the last three he gives his lyrics precedence and the music follows. He said, “It has to be that way as my guitar playing isn’t good enough.” I’d let the audience be the judge of that Gaz.
Later as the rain decided to return – and who could resist this festival anyway? – we made our way to see The Futureheads (A Capella style) in the Leaf Lounge. With a hugely popular set this group of “legendary post-punk heroes” put their instruments down and wowed the crowd without their guitars. The crowd warmed to the Sunderland accents and were leading ‘The Old Dun Cow’ Macintyre shouts – the band happy that the crowd were well tuned into the response they required. The energy was immense and when they appeared on the Main Stage later that night no one would have guessed they had already sung their hearts out earlier in the day. There is definitely something about a 2000trees crowd that feeds the bands playing here. And along with most other bands they were pleased to acknowledge it.
Friday night bought a complete change to the festival. Rivers of mud and flooded tents… we muddled through though. It made for more bonding and exchanges of views on the previous line ups. Reports of how amazing Gallows had been at The Cave and how Pulled Apart By Horses hadn’t quite matched up to their vibe was doing the rounds. Who says us Brits just talk about the weather?
Have I mentioned the weather? Because it rained Saturday too and became a tad colder, which made it a perfect choice to go and watch The Cadbury Sisters. Nothing like an image of chocolate (other brands are available) to warm the cockles. Although in this case it was more cider. Even Farmer John, taking a break from his tractor, was down at the Greenhouse ready to listen to the Bristol-based Cadbury Sisters singing folk inspired pop. Call me a softie but their song based on their Mum Sarah was a crowd pleaser. They wrote it because “Mums are strong”. Now call me biased, but I agree wholeheartedly. A sense of calm came across the crowd sat on the bales, which had become half submerged in the mud; (probably due to the amount of cider being downed by their occupants) even the rivers of mud which flowed passed did so as if there was no reason to hurry. Well of course there wasn’t- it wasn’t as if we were going to run out of rain! A man in a checked blue shirt quietly reprimanded a woman with a pink fringe who was talking through the set, but even that was done so with a polite air barely shaking the mud of the many Hunter wellie wearers gathered round to appreciate the music. The crowds here, whichever day, were genuinely supportive of the acts.
On Saturday there were a great number of fancy dress costumes including Captain America, Angry birds and two guys dressed as Tetris. Some people had left after – yes you have guessed it- another night of torrential rain – with many flooded abandoned tents. However they were in the minority and happy festival folk were a plenty, walking around with cider and being entertained by mud surfers on air beds. It was a pity Team GB was too late to enter a team for the Olympics – we could harness a gold I’m sure.
Hundred Reasons were one of the bands playing before the headliners on the Main Stage Saturday night. They played their debut album Ideas Above Our Station in its entirety – and there were many grateful fans who had this chance to see them before they bow out in November. The Guillemots rounded off the acts here; the programme promised they would be ace- and they didn’t disappoint. A huge presence, and a huge following.
Of course the fun didn’t stop with the end of the sets at eleven. There were many takers for The Silent Disco which rocked…er silently on til the wee small hours. The pink metallic headphones could be spotted around the site and it was the talk of the festival throughout the weekend. I had to feel sorry for the guy who had his knocked off his head during the first song and never spotted them again! You pay your deposit, you take your chances…
Sunday dawned somewhat brighter – it was just a shame we all had to pack up and leave. Leave being the operative word here – muddied tents, airbeds, clothes, sleeping bags even wellies! Now muddied sleeping bags I kinda understand – but how difficult can it be to wash a pair of wellies? Actually I now know and suddenly it all made sense. However I’m glad I didn’t abandon mine because I’ll be needing them for next year. Rob one of the hard working organisers told us “It was worse on the weather front than 2008 and we thought that was bad enough. But it can’t get muddier than this surely?” Let’s hope not… but I’ll be packing my wellies just incase. Tickets on sale already! What are you waiting for?