The heat was reaching its peak as the second full day of 2000Trees came around. Promising one of the most exciting bands in the world right now and one of the most beloved bands in their scene, playing their most iconic album in full, Friday was arguably the most stacked day of an incredibly well-put-together line-up. There were plenty of acts capable of stealing the entire event and it certainly lived up to the hype. Whilst this was everything we were able to check out, we’re sure that whatever company you decided to spend your Friday with, it would’ve been a blast.
There aren’t many better ways to kick off a day at a festival than with a great pop-punk band, if you’re into that sort of thing (which you should be when it’s good as this was). Salem (8) take to the stage and aside from Will Ghould’s other project, a little-known band that played the main stage the day before, (read our review from Thursday here) they bring you the best of what the genre has to offer at 2000Trees. For a band with just ten songs split across two EPs, to play an 8-song set and it be this good is ridiculous, you’d think they’re playing the best festival material off of at least two full-lengths. If Will talks in his sleep, you could record it and sell it to much more established pop-punk outfits for millions.
After calling it a day in 2017 at ArcTanGent, the beloved Heck (8) had returned just a few days before the festival with a show in London and had announced that they would be playing Trees. One of the unmissable sets this year, Heck tore the place apart with a big crowd packed into The Cave tent. Whilst the sound had been hit and miss at points on that particular stage, it really didn’t matter on this occasion. Easily the most frantic and visceral performance taking place at Upcote Farm, there were great moments to watch, like them performing in the crowd or climbing up the tent supports, but what really mattered was that they were back and that the love for them had only grown stronger in their absence. Welcome back.
The final three bands playing the main stages spots on Friday were all stellar choices for this festival. Blackpool’s own Boston Manor (7) were the first of the three and the first thing that made an impact was how intense and heavy their live performances can get at points. Some harsh vocals and a circle pit running around the sound desk, which seemed to stop and start again throughout the set, stopped the crowd from feeling burnt out in the sun. Now three albums into their career with a fourth titled Dature on its way, their 11 song set had some great moments in it.
The sound across all the stages was largely great aside from a few hiccups on The Cave stage and Boston Manor took full advantage of this. Drowning the main stage in the riffs from England’s Dreaming or Bad Machine, whilst contrasting that with the big choruses of songs like Plasticine Dreams and Halo, it was another festival set that ticked a lot of boxes. They’re guaranteed to be a staple of UK festivals for many more years to come, especially if Dature keeps up their trajectory.
Despite the nature of Trees allowing for stage hopping due to its scheduling and short walking distances, a large portion of the overall attendance seemed to linger around the two further stages for the final few hours of Friday. Once Boston Manor had finished, that meant taking a short walk over to the Neu Stage for another one of the UK’s biggest breakthroughs in the last year or so, Bob Vylan. Surprisingly being booked on the smallest tent of all the sheltered stages, the set seemed like one of the best moments of the entire festival but unfortunately, most people were left on the outskirts. Easily capable of filling a tent twice the size of the one being played, with the people who did stay to watch from the outside, this was one of the few booking mistakes but it was quite a big one. The energy that was inside had a gravitational pull, but there was simply no room for it to expand and in that location in particular, it’s very hard to see the actual stage over all the bodies in the way. This was a miss-step that meant the majority of the crowd that showed up to watch Bob Vylan, couldn’t even get a spot to see and the sound didn’t travel that well to the outside. Likely one of the ‘write home’ performances of the three days that the majority couldn’t see or hear all that well.
As mentioned, the crowd that had gathered to try and catch a peak of Bob Vylan then made their way to the main stage for one of the festival’s big draws. Arguably the hottest and most talked about band in alternative music right now, 2000Trees capped off a run of three UK festival appearances for Turnstile (9). Headlining Outbreak festival, getting a great spot at Glastonbury to then co-headlining 2000Trees, shows the mass appeal that Turnstile now have and that’s because of a few key things that define their live shows. The energy, the performance itself, the big moments and that they’re just one of the coolest bands around.
Out of the 18 tracks they played, 11 come from their massive 2021 album Glow On. They probably could have played the entire record and the set would’ve been just as great, that’s how many incredible songs there are to choose from. The first two and last two songs that they played off that record are the highlights of the set, setting things in motion with MYSTERY and BLACKOUT and crescendoing with HOLIDAY and T.L.C. All of their music translates brilliantly live, because that’s what it’s built for, and the anticipation to see a band who are on this kind of form only amplifies that so when they take to the stage, everyone is itching to hear those opening notes.
This isn’t just Glow On in full though and the seven other tracks from their previous projects are great as well. Whilst they don’t incite the same level of sing-a-longs which is understandable, it is wild to see a crowd of this size at 2000Trees going this crazy for some of Turnstile’s older more hardcore-leaning material. It shows just how bought into Turnstile people are, that they can play three totally different festivals with the same setlist and every time the audience is dialled into every single moment. Don’t let Glow On’s dreamy vibe have you mistaken also, they play everything with a breakneck pace driven forward by urgent riffs. Whilst they may not have closed the stage, it’s inevitable that wherever Turnstile play they will draw one of the biggest audiences and will likely be the talking point. There wasn’t a noticeable divide between longtime fans and newer ones, everyone was there to have the best time with a great band and that atmosphere will see them headline festivals like this for a long time to come.
The stage closing band on Friday was Thrice (8), playing their beloved album Vheissu in full with a bit of time left over for a walk through some of their other biggest songs. When it comes to bands playing albums in full, Vheissu is such a perfect fit for 2000Trees. It’s an album that many of the bands playing the festival will site as a touchstone for their influences. What else is there to say about Vheissu at this point in time, it’s a great album that completely shattered the idea of what Thrice were capable of and that makes for a great live experience. Hearing all of its eleven tracks back-to-back, it makes perfect sense for them to be doing it in full, it really is their masterpiece.
With the majority of their setlist being taken up by Vheissu and the consistency of Thrice live, if you’re into that album you would’ve likely had a great time. When put into a live set, the twists and turns from heavy to peaceful mixed in with some great melodies makes it easy to forget that this is all the same project. As for the rest of their set, it was a whistle-stop tour through five of their biggest hits outside of the 2005 release. Black Honey, Scavengers, The Artist in the Ambulance, Hurricane and Deadbolt close out their performance in style but it really is the artistic achievement that is Vheissu that defines their set.
Unfortunately, they did have the smallest crowd of any of the headliners by some distance and some of the audience seemed to struggle with the tempo changes of the set. It was always going to be tough playing after Turnstile, but Thrice playing that album in full as a headliner felt like something that needed to happen at some point and 2000Trees is exactly the right festival to scratch that die-hard fan itch. Whilst it didn’t capture the imaginations of the entire attendance, it’s definitely going to be a show that fans reminisce about and leave people, who are in the Thrice ‘if you know you know’ populus, eternally jealous.