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Live Review: Two Thousand Trees Festival 2011

It’s quite evident that no one needs informing of just how great the UK music scene is right now, solely because of the sheer amount of great bands, all spanning an overabundance of genres, giving you no need to look outside of our quaint British Isles. Admittedly this is a bold statement to make, however Two Thousand Trees was proof that, unlike many other festivals across the UK you can put together one of the best line-ups you’ll see this year with your very own crop.

For the lucky people who managed to grab an Early Bird ticket, they joined the thousand fans that got to arrive on Thursday to a treat of a line-up on The Cave. A new stage for this year’s fifth birthday, and aptly named to house a heavier selection of bands throughout the weekend. However today it hosted Thursday’s line-up. Cheltenham locals The Echoes were up first bearing their pop/rock influences quite literally on their sleeves, which far surpassed simply inspiration and left little sign of the four local lads in sight. OST pulled in any stragglers that were outside with theirelectronica lead indie rock that was a fair match for the arrival of a 40-year-old dance machine who didn’t show any signs of fatigue. Even when faced with festival favourites Crazy Arm who played their first set of the weekend with as much energy as they left with last year. Surprisingly it was the addition of a new album track that introduced some keys and a beautiful female vocal which brought the highlight of the show.

Maybeshewill without doubt were the most anticipated band of the evening and they certainly
didn’t disappoint. New album ‘I Was There For A Moment, Then I Was Gone’ held the power to grab hold of the crowd - alongside their much loved back catalogue - and quite literally take them on a journey that encapsulates huge heavy moments that sprawl out within subtle delicacies, creating inconceivable soundscapes.


I will admit here that waking up Friday morning I was not ready for any form of loud music which would no doubt destroy what little remnants of my head were left, however after a nature walk through some of the incredible countryside that surrounds the site I was soon ready for Dive Dive over on the main stage. In many ways it felt like the band had started afresh with the majority of the setlist filled with new album tracks making for a great entrance back onto the festival scene.

Vessels were back for another year after stealing the show in the Leaf Lounge last year. This time
they found themselves within The Cave and once again astounded minds with their sheer skill with not only their own, but their band mates instruments. However at points this quest for perfection within their performance leaves the band feeling quite insular, making the crowd feel separated from the naturally outstanding and complicated instrumentation which never threatens to settle on one time signature. And then things suddenly turned genuinely scary with the arrival of Kong. Their bursts of screams, scattered attacks of guitar and drunken slurs are enough to strike fear in anyone. Especially the event organiser as equipment was constantly at threat of destruction. Luckily only a couple of mic stands took the brunt of what can only be described as an assault of instruments creating a must see live show, just don’t bring your kids.

Back over on the Main Stage, Dinosaur Pile-Up proved the perfect festival band, entering
proceedings at just the right time in the afternoon to get the crowd moving with their mid 90’s
grunge ridden, fast paced approach before Twin Atlantic really kicked things off in the crowd.
Proving why they deserved the higher placing on the main stage bill this year, most likely because their new album ‘Free’ is already one of the highlights of 2011. However it took a while for the band to fully immerse themselves into the set which meant it was all over before everything seemed to click, leaving the crowd wanting a lot more.

Late evening brought Your Demise, an unexpected addition to the festival for most people.
Therefore it was unsurprising that The Cave was just about quarter filled. Yet this didn’t
discourage the band, helped out by the fact that a large majority of enthusiastic fans didn’t hold
back in making the band feel at home. A memorable performance and a suitable precursor
for the carnage that was about to erupt for headliners And So I Watch You From Afar. Whose
performance done nothing other than to prove what worthy headliners they were. New tracks
‘BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION’, ‘Search:Party:Animal' and ‘7 Billion People All Alive At Once’ sounded gigantic while the classic ‘Set Guitars To Kill’ sent the place into a frenzy that left the crowd gasping for air, and the band reeling in the success of the show. After an hour one of the most intense, astounding and unforgettable shows came to a close, the band left with a bow and real heartfelt emotion from a band that never fail to amaze, and really didn’t want to leave.


Saturday morning brought with it some much unwanted rain, however after discussions on the
previous day’s events from inside tents were finished, the rain ceased and we were off to see
The Cape Of Good Hope, their mix of complicated time signatures and sprawling guitars were
backed by two drummers, which as you can imagine only intensified the affair. &U&I were up next and instantly drew in a big crowd which surprised the three ex-Blakfish members, but from the performance itself they have nothing to be surprised about, you would have been foolish to ignore this frantic ball of energy, it’s just a pity it raced past offering no time to even blink.

Having missed out on seeing Talons on previous tours I was - to put it mildly - excited to see this
band on stage, and they did not disappoint one bit. The word monster comes to mind when trying to sum up this five-piece, yet when things take a dip and the onslaught subdues the violins take hold and really separate this band from any comparisons to the truck load of post rock bands around at the moment. The effortless harmonies created by the strings in the subtle moments only heightened the intensity of the heavy ones, and with the addition of some sounds I’ve quite literally never heard from a guitar, this band left the crowd in awe. Another instrumental masterclass were Three Trapped Tigers, who once again took their place on the main stage. Predictably the performance was without fault, with their new album ‘Route One Or Die’ sounding ever more insane. However like Twin Atlantic the day before, just as the band seemed to get into their stride it came to an end. This left the crowd wanting so much more from a band that was clearly so anticipated.

The early end to this set meant I got the chance to run over and catch the last three songs of what
clearly was a great Stagecoach performance that ended with most of them in the crowd. After
Stagecoach finally waved goodbye it was time to grab a pint and head over to The Cave and catch
Feed The Rhino in action. Lead singer Lee Tobin is one of the most passionate front men I have ever witnessed. The result of his unadulterated energy was mayhem, with the band not resting until they got everyone involved, and after the biggest circle pit the Two Thousand Trees will ever see and a wall of death it made for a memorable performance. The sheer amount this band put into the performance and the attitude they had towards making it unforgettable for the people who did turn up made it a true stand-out performance for the weekend. Expectedly, from this moment things just got darker and heavier after this. Devil Sold His Soul truly know how to take the crowd on somewhat of a voyage, through deathly growls and frightening riffs, which along with the backing of atmospheric electronica create huge soundscapes that filled The Cave and made for epic, heart wrenching and outstretched segments which you didn’t want to leave.

After such a powerful performance it was time to settle down, grab a cider and prepare for the
festival headliners Frightened Rabbit on Main Stage. From the very opening of first track ‘The
Modern Leper’, the middle of the crowd suddenly opened up into a mosh pit, filled mainly with
people who had got on the drink too early and ended up in a great mess during a band they had
clearly never heard before. It was clear from the start these Scottish indie rockers were elated to
be up on stage playing their first ever headline slot, and it was a pleasure to be part of it. However delicate moments like ‘My Backwards Walk’ were met with mindless chatter and stupidity, and after moving a couple of times it became evident that this performance was unavoidably ruined by the crowd. Yet the performance on stage was filled with every track you’d wish to hear. ‘Good Arm VS. Bad Arm’, ‘Old Old Fashioned’, ‘The Twist’, ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ and ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’ were just some of the highlights that were delivered with such passion and emotion from a very humbled band. This is a must see live band, just catch them on tour in front of an avid fanbase.

Back in The Cave, and annoyances were soon forgotten as we were dealt a treat at the Headphone Disco as another year came to an unforgettable end - with a 4am stint on one of the campsite busking stages trying to deliver that Frank Turner set that we all so clearly missed this year. Putting the capacity up to 4,500 and adding a new stage was the best thing that could have happened to the festival, not only because I got to see more than double the bands of 2010 but because it also allowed for a wider variety of bands to please an ever more dynamic audience throughout the threedays. Who’s going next year? I certainly am.

Connor O’Brien

Alter The Press!