After three years of the festival circuit being put on hiatus, it was finally time for 2000Trees to join the likes of Download Festival and welcome everybody back. With lots of re-booked bands from the cancelled line-ups, the festival was announced to be a sell-out, just a week before it all got underway. With the summer heat in full force, not a touch of rain and one of its most stacked line-ups that remained mostly intact, Trees was back in a big way.
2000Trees set the standard from the opening hours of the first full day. Line-ups chopping and changing at the last minute was bound to happen and they dealt with this brilliantly by bringing in top bands to fill those gaps. One of those bands was Holding Absence (9) who took to the Axiom stage after being announced around a week before the event kicked off. With one of the best crowds of the entire festival, the Axiom stage would host bigger audiences but the people who showed up for Holding Absence did it to sing their hearts out. Maybe it was the fact that it was in a tent that amplified the noise, but the singalongs sounded bigger than any of the other bands excluding the main stage headliners.
Making a point of saying that they have played every stage at the festival apart from the main stage, it seems only a matter of time before they do exactly that. Huge choruses in the likes of Beyond Belief and Like A Shadow, the weight of Gravity and Wilt and the addition of their latest track Aching Longing (which went down a treat) made for a perfect festival setlist. Holding Absence are on fire right now, creatively and live, with every member firing on all cylinders. Their late addition to the line-up was met with open arms and loud voices and if nothing else, their future booking on the main stage was solidified by the response to Afterlife.
Over on the Forest Sessions stage, one of the few complaints some had regarding the festival once it was finished was the booking of this stage. Whilst the audience was always there to relax and bathe in some much-needed shade, some of the bands performing didn’t always completely fit that bill. That was the ongoing feeling of this stage, that some of the bands would’ve been better placed somewhere else, especially with this area being the stage where people could come to get out of the sun for a while.
Back over at the Axiom, New Jersey’s Can’t Swim (6) were up next to try and maintain the big sing-alongs. They had a solid crowd who were ready to jump around and get their pop-punk fix. They got what they wanted, but it felt like it was being slowly fed to them at a maintained speed with no key riffs or choruses to really dial up the action. They fit right in for the way the Thursday was booked and that allowed their set to keep the momentum of the day rolling on, but their performance didn’t do anything to grab the moment.
On the flip side of that, Creeper (9) over on the main stage had the crowd singing every chorus, lyric and riff. This slot felt like an audition for their inevitable 2000Trees headline set coming in the future and they smashed it with straight As. As a live band, they’ve gone through a fair share of line-up changes and right now, they feel in a great place. Guitarist Lawrie Pattison gets a few moments of his own in the sun and drummer Jake Fogarty already feels like a phenomenal addition to their live performances. Crucially, the now irreplaceable unholy trinity of Will, Ian and Hannah were dazzling throughout and should frankly leave some charisma for the other bands, it’s unfair.
The setlist is just as overflowing with personality as well, dominated mostly by Sex, Death & The Infinite Void. The returning material from Eternity, In Your Arms feels like such classics at this point, interestingly there’s no Hiding With Boys but it’s not like the set was lacking in big crowd anthems. Crickets is a welcome addition with Hannah appearing on stage in a bloody wedding dress and getting her solo moment. Unfortunately, it has to go up against ballads like Thorns Of Love and Misery but it’s still a great moment, hardly something you can complain about either. Choosing between that and Ghosts Over Cavalry for Hannah’s star-making section in the set is like pulling teeth.
On that note, only Midnight finds its way from the American Noir EP into the live set but it’s a perfect encapsulation of this era of Creeper. Will, Hannah and Ian all playing off each other effortlessly with their own spotlight moments and a chorus that is west-end sized. With an appearance from The Count himself at the end of the set to promote their biggest headline show to date at The Roundhouse in London on November 5th, that may be the only thing that could make their current set even better. More of it with and on a bigger scale.
In between Creeper and the day’s headliner, one of the most hyped new bands filled the space in the Neu Stage. Fresh off of winning best UK breakthrough band at the heavy music awards, Cassyette (7) was sure to make an impact during festival season. This appearance in particular, proved that the award wasn’t just about a popularity contest. Whilst the band around her aren’t particularly exciting and the songs themselves suffer from being a bit too predictable, both of these elements do their job and that’s making her look like a superstar. Whilst there’s not a lot of weight outside of that, unlike other bands that might become popular for anything other than the music, there are some legitimately big-sounding choruses here and Cassyette’s vocal performance propels them into being festival anthems. Some really great harsh vocals that sounded crystal clear definitely turned a few heads as well and lured them into the tent.
If singing your heart out was the theme of the day for Thursday then it was time to clear the way for Jimmy Eat World (8). With a 21-song setlist packed full of material primed for a festival-sized crowd, their biggest songs understandably got some of the biggest reactions of the whole festival. If anyone was going into their set thinking anything different, it was impossible not to get caught up in the positivity of it all when they played both Pain and Bleed American in their first three songs.
They sounded absolutely phenomenal and so effortless in delivering back-to-back anthems that felt so, so right as the sun started to go down. One of the best ‘good time’ bands you can see right now, it seems bizarre that they aren’t regularly playing slots like this. There’s nothing, that for anyone who isn’t super familiar with their discography, that’s going to leave them shocked or confused, just big fun tunes to sing or dance to. That’s not to say they can’t put their foot to the floor on a riff though, the setlist has that too. Whilst there’s always going to be a heavy Bleed American presence in their set lists and for very, very good reason, Futures, Clarity and Surviving get some love, as well as a couple selections off of other records. Inevitably, it’s the material off of Bleed American that turns the crowd into a party.
Whilst they aren’t as head-turning as Idles or Turnstile or Thrice for that matter, Jimmy Eat World are so good at what they do and have a really strong festival headlining set to prove it. You’re never waiting too long before there’s another earworm melody on its way and that crowd-pleasing quality makes them a great pick for headlining festivals like this. Hopefully, this isn’t a one-off as it feels like it’s what they deserve.