One of the best things about 2000trees is how, as a smaller festival operating on the same format as the industry juggernauts, those at the very top of the bill don’t have to conform to what’s typically the done thing in the festival sphere. Even when they’ve been on-hold choices since the original, ill-fated 2020 edition, both Jimmy Eat World and Thrice are headlining choices that no one else would really go for. Both are excellent bands, undoubtedly, and while the former definitely have the bigger cache of recognisable hits under their belt, there’s a buzz of excitement to the both that’s hard to overlook. They’re joined at the top of the bill by Idles, the biggest foot forward into a more mainstream space, but they too are widely regarded as one of current-wave punk’s brightest to fit with 2000trees’ vaunted ethos. At the same time, it makes You Me At Six subbing to them an odd pick—not only as the bigger band but as previous headliners of the very last event—but they’re the sort of reliable, festival-ready rock band that’s an undeniably draw. The same can be said of Creeper and Boston Manor, two bands at the height of their respective powers within British punk, but there’s an overriding theme of giving the Main Stage push to bands who, otherwise, would be deemed far outside of that remit. Turnstile have the most precedence, as a hardcore band with an enormous alt-rock slant that’s seen them leap from strength to strength, but as for the incendiary hardcore of Knocked Loose, the reliable old-school emo of The Get Up Kids and oft-strong alt-punk of Mannequin Pussy and Angel Du$t that’s on the cusp of really breaking through, the opportunities for greatness in a new environment are plentiful. As always, there’s also the slew of British talent from all facets of the alt-rock world raring to hit those big stages, headed by Nova Twins’ fiery punk riding high from every win imaginable, and a pair of grunge’s big modern players in Dinosaur Pile-Up and Tigercub. On the same wavelength is the terrific, life-affirming alt-punk from Nervus, Fresh and Dream Nails; forward-thinking post-hardcore from Phoxjaw and Saint Agnes; effervescent pop-punk from ROAM on a final run before their farewell; and quaking post-punk from DITZ and Avalanche Party. Finally, there’s the sundry others that prove to be a little more hit-or-miss. The Virginmarys are a definite lowlight in terms of alt-rock, and neither The Chats or Together Pangea are that gripping within garage-rock, but KennyHoopla’s wonderful live spectacle and pop-punk electricity are a healthy concession, as is the off-kilter, thoroughly Irish hip-hop of Kneecap.
The Cave’s heaviest hitters this year are, appropriately, its heaviest acts, in a particularly banner showing for hardcore and metal. In terms of headliners, Stick To Your Guns are one of melodic hardcore’s most consistently excellent bands, and what Deez Nuts lack in innovation, they make up for in true blue hardcore riotousness. Elsewhere, Ithaca and Heriot continue to stake their claim as two of the buzziest, most brilliant names in current heavy music (with both being on way too early, honestly), and Blood Command’s sweltering post-hardcore is as kinetic and frantic as ever, while the scene’s newer blood yields some exciting results in hardcore from Grief Ritual, deathcore from Defects and grind from Helpless. Hell, you can probably bucket in a rock-solid punk contingent in there too, not least because of the presence of Laura Jane Grace, the genuine, all-around legend with a healthy catalogue to draw from for her set, be it Against Me!, The Devouring Mothers or her own solo material. Meanwhile, Crazy Arm return as, once more, a true underrated gem of British alt-punk (something which can similar apply to Cold Years); Petrol Girls arrive off the back of their best album to date with a short-fused, totally thrilling take on post-hardcore; Kid Kapichi’s sardonic, sneering post-punk sets them up to really explode this year; and a triple-headed assault of Raiders, XL Life and Intechnicolour brings a hoary, heavy variety of punk with bared teeth and knotted manes aplenty. As for the rest, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs are incredibly unconventional for a third headliner—distinctly underground with precious little crossover potential—but it’s still good to have more in the vein of progressive, more difficult material. That can similarly be applied to The Wytches’ psychedelic rock, Slow Crush’s heavy shoegaze, and the layers of sludge bearing down on God Damn’s garage-rock, but it’s not like too much of the spotlight has been stolen from a notably strong alt-rock vein. Royal Republic are particularly esteemed in that regard, in least in the stakes of ludicrously fun and catchy garage-punk, and there’s a lot more in a similar lane from Airways’ indie-rock, As December Falls’ pop-rock, and the 2000s Britrock nostalgia trip of They Fell From The Sky that’s the complete embodiment of the 2000trees rubric. Finally, there’s some alt / garage-rock from Grandmas House and shoegaze-y indie-rock from Graywave as a cool pair of new acts coming through, topped off with an enticing secret set to really push The Cave over the top in a major way.
One of the prevailing themes of The Axiom this year seems to be old favourites coming out for the sort of reliable output that festivals live and breathe. While that sounds a bit backhanded—and in the case of The Amazons as undoubtedly the weak link headliner, it is—the bar of quality is so high by design that there’s not a lot to complain about. Also topping are Anti-Flag and PUP, each representing their own generation of punk as a beloved flag-bearer, and the sort of bands for whom live reputation has been considerable and unmistakable for years. Carrying similar stock are Young Guns and Lonely The Brave with their scream-along Britrock anthems; Can’t Swim’s burly, rough-and-ready post-hardcore; and the intelligent, detailled post-metal of Rolo Tomassi, perennial 2000trees favourites that have only continued to improve. There are plenty of arguments to be made for those breaking into that level too, the acts that have the groundswell or even the presence at the festival itself, as well as just offering some great music in their own right. Chief among them is genre-blending riff-maestros Puppy, though joined by the clobbering riff-rock of Haggard Cat; the ‘90s-loving hardcore of Higher Power; the sun-dappled indie-pop of Orchards; and the varying flavours of post-hardcore from Delaire The Liar and Chapter And Verse, they’re in fine company. On top of all of that is just more fuel for the cavalcade of excellent alternative music that’s so regularly represented. For one, a rare appearance of noise-rock mavericks Mclusky is the sort of move that’s so intrinsically tied to this festival in particular, simply on the basis of a decision that no one else would really pull off. The rest of the lineup is a bit more conventional, though that isn’t even close to a bad thing when it’s helmed by Salem, seeing Creeper’s Will Gould pulling double duty with his frantic punk side-venture. There’s also The Regrettes for some lighter, summery alt-pop, as well as a hefty contingent of riff-rock courtesy of Fangclub, James And The Cold Gun and JOHN, all of whom are capable of solid, noisy work in their field. Finally, there’s a couple of newer names bringing their own flair to proceedings—dynamic garage-rock from Gnarlah; assertive, acerbic indie-punk from Panic Shack; nervy post-punk from Hotel Lux; and a dense indie-rock concoction from High Vis.
The NEU Stage
It says a lot when the universal quality and appeal of 2000trees is such that, on a stage that primarily focuses on its newer or less established acts, The NEU Stage still comes packed to the gills with serious names. Headlining is Press To MECO and Vukovi as a pair of British alt-rock’s most consistently exciting and engaging names, as well as Cassyette to add another notch to her bumper year of establishing herself as the face of nu-gen. That influence similarly trickles down further to a crop of other acts here finding a lot of their hype through branching outside of stricter alternative parameters; Bob Vylan are the big ones with a punk-cum-hip-hop attitude that’s been spreading uncontrollably across the scene, but there’s also the vast genre peaks and valleys of Kid Brunswick and the industrial crunch of Peaks! to dip into something a bit outside the expected 2000trees remit. Really though, scanning across the NEU’s lineup reveals a who’s who of alternative breakouts and acts with a lot of promise to rocket up the bill in years to come. The most obvious cases, even reaching to the wider musical landscape, come from the individual takes on alt-pop from Lauran Hibberd and Lizzy Farrall, as examples of this level of act for whom potential star power seems unprecedented. Sticking more in the alternative and indie space though, Cassels and False Advertising bring a gripping, biting post-punk intelligence; The Winter Passing still stand as one of modern emo’s in the UK, now with The Luka State to join them in an indie crossover; punk feels in rude health with its representation from Gloo, Witch Fever and The Violent Hearts; and even in a more straightforward rock mould, there’s plenty coming from Sick Joy, Marisa And The Moths, Slothrust, Rews and Gen And The Degenerates. To round off is the crop of names to stand on their own within their stage’s lineup, but still prove worthwhile—Superlove with their glitchy, technicolour alt-pop; The Hara and Uninvited to occupy differing ends of the current indie-rock spectrum; Cherym for big, bright indie-pop-punk; Crashface for the taut angst that modern garage-rock excels at; Creature for a roaring fix of hardcore; and Daisy Brain as a notable up-and-comer in lo-fi bedroom-indie.
The Forest Stage
Always the most famous component of 2000trees’ makeup, The Forest Stage once again brings a stacked lineup of newcomers, risers and established acts to strip down their work for an intimate setting, though feeling a bit shaken up this time. The grade of quality remains the same, notably on the early-bird Wednesday lineup headed by the likes of Pulled Apart By Horses, Black Foxxes, Palm Reader and an ever-pleasant appearance from Johnny Foreigner, plus Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun, Heavy Lungs and ex-Bad Sign frontman Joe Appleford embarking on his current solo journey. Beyond that, there’s a decent number of big names from the bill proper coming down to the smaller climes, most noteworthy being Anti-Flag and Laura Jane Grace, both of whom are well-versed in acoustic performances, and The Amazons, in a pretty surprising example of a band big enough to not have to pay any mind to an opportunity like this, but do so anyway, which is unquestionably a good thing. There are also the exclusive appearances, both from mainstays like Beans On Toast, Will Varley, Katie Malco and Ginger Wildheart (not to mention Thrill Collins, effectively as 2000trees’ house band now), as well as the likes of Muncie Girl’s Lande Hekt, Creeper’s Ian Miles and former As It Is man Ben Langford-Biss’ Bleak Soul project, as a new generation of unplugged crossover performers. The bigger story, though, comes in how many of these exclusive performances would easily fit across the main lineup, but feel a lot more special with how tucked away they are. Twin Atlantic are the big one, a band who only headlined a couple of years ago but make arguably the more exciting, exclusive appearance here. Beyond that, the more indie-leaning fare of Island Of Love, ME REX, cheerbleederz, Wych Elm and Bears In Trees make rather natural editions, but the slew of electronically-driven acts like Calva Louise, Strange Bones, Tokky Horror, CLT DRP, HalfLives and Zand each offer boundlessly intriguing prospects.
Surely after all of that, you’ll agree that 2000trees has one of the best lineups going, right? But the question remains, who to prioritise? Well, we’ve asked loads of acts playing this year who they’d suggest, and here’s what they’ve come up with…
“Our flaming hot tip this year is the incredible Nova Twins. We’ve had the pleasure of supporting them on tour this year and have been blown away night after night. For huge riffs, filthy basslines and clever, hooky anthems, look no further than these guys.” Anya Pearson (guitar, Dream Nails)
“We’re really looking forward to seeing our friends in Phoxjaw on the Thursday, they’re easily one of the most exciting guitar rock bands around at the moment, they’re like a hybrid of early Biffy and Cave In! Josh their guitarist / producer sometimes plays bass for us too and is a total legend.” James Joseph (guitar / vocals, James And The Cold Gun)
“We are looking forward to Turnstile, Turnstile, Turnstile and also Turnstile! Notable mentioned for Nervus, Fresh and The Regrettes, excited to see them too!” Phoebe Cross (drums / vocals, cheerbleederz)
“Kneecap are the best night out goin’, upsetting flagshaggers everywhere they go.” Zee Davine (production / instrumentation, Tokky Horror)
“My pick would be Lauran Hibberd. I believe the traditional POV for failed musicans like us is to whine about how unfair and unoriginal it is to repackage our record collections for a young mass market audience but snobbery is silly, gatekeeping is dumb, and all her songs are straight-up bangers. Gonna be the oldest person dancing in the tent, absolutely fine with that.” Lex Berrow (vocals / guitar, Johnny Foreigner)
“Phoxjaw – Royal Swan was my favourite album of the year. They’re lovely dudes and an absolute storm live!” Evan Reeves (drums, Gen And The Degenerates)
“Vukovi – they seem like such cool people and their latest releases slap hard.” Jake Jones (guitar, Gen And The Degenerates)
“CLT DRP – one of the most original, exciting and just fun bands on the scene right now, their album slaps like nobody’s business and they’re fucking great live.” Sean Healand-Sloan (guitar, Gen And The Degenerates)
“Bob Vylan – I’ve been wanting to catch them for ages, I just missed them at The Great Escape, we had to walk for ages, and my feet hurt. My friend Mia saw them and they said they were really good.” Gen Glynn-Reeves (vocals, Gen And The Degenerates)
“Rolo Tomassi – the last time I saw them I actually cried. Absolutely captivating, you owe it to yourself to watch them…oh, and us of course you should definitely come and watch us!” Jay Humphreys (bassist, Gen And The Degenerates)
“We are really looking forward to our FIRST ever 2000trees experience! We’re particularly looking forward to seeing PUP, we had tickets to see them play in Belfast a few years back and there was a very surreal moment where we threw one of our band shirts on stage and Stefan [Babcock, PUP frontman] wore it for the rest of the show and we didn’t stop buzzing about it until weeks later, so just to be able to play the same festival as these lads has really been a full circle moment for us!” Hannah Richardson (vocals / guitar, Cherym)
“I literally just got the words WILD WRLD tattooed on me off of Turnstile’s new record, so you could say I am stoked to see them play on the Friday night, also Heriot! They are friends and smashing it up right now, it will be so cool to see them live again.” Annie Dorrett (vocals, CLT DRP)
“Hey Soundboard! Marisa of Marisa And The Moths here! I can’t tell you how excited we are to be playing 2000trees Festival this year. The line-up is crazy good! I’m particularly excited to see so many of my favourite bands that I’ve not seen live before, including Cassyette, Black Foxxes, Thice, PUP, Nova Twins, Puppy, The Hara, Fangclub, False Advertising, Jimmy Eat World and The Amazons… just to name a few haha! I think 2000trees smashed it with the lineup and have a really good balance of big bands and the up and coming bands too. I would say to anyone who’s unsure of who to see that they should check out the 2000trees Spotify playlist and see who they vibe with, and if they’re anything like me then they’re gonna feel spoiled for choice!” Marisa Rodriguez (vocals, Marisa And The Moths)
“2000trees always has such a stacked line-up but this year is something else. The artists Grief Ritual think you should go check out are Witch Fever, Orchards and Heriot. Witch Fever have a really unique sound that reminds us of the riffs of Black Sabbath, mixed with frenetic energy of The Fall and angst of Placebo, whilst retaining a raw punk edge. Orchards as they produce really glorious energetic experimental math-pop that will be perfect to dance and sing along to after a few drinks at a summer festival. Heriot, as they’re our mates, but also because they are one of the most impressive bands to emerge from the UK heavy scene in years. They’ve grinded for a while so deserve all their success. Expect circle pits and heavy hits from start to finish.” James Broady (drums, Grief Ritual)
“There’s a bunch of amazing bands playing 2000trees this year that we’re fortunate enough to call friends. Make sure you check out: CLT DRP – a wicked electro punk trio from Brighton who are absolutely incredible live! Witch Fever – a four-piece doom punk band from the Midlands, they’re so fierce and energetic live. They also recently smashed stadiums with My Chemical Romance! Grief Ritual – such a dope blackened hardcore band. If you like angry, you’ll like Grief Ritual. They have a record coming out real soon and it’s wicked!” Julian Gage (drums, Heriot)
2000trees Festival takes place on 7th-9th July at Upcote Farm. For more information, visit www.twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk.
Words by Luke Nuttall