A bloody good festival, is what you might call 2000Trees. Two stages with tremendous lineups in the delightful Gloucestershire countryside and 2000-ish festivalees provides, it turns out, all you need to truly enjoy a the art of listening to music in a field. That and a whole load of seven per cent cider, which may or may not be eponymous. Now in it's third year and having enjoyed many an accolade (see first sentence) the event has provided many a fantastic band a much smaller crowd than they may be expecting when asked “would you like to headline our festival?”
Their knack for asking/persuading just the right people to do this though has been key to their success. This year, maybe it's a sign of an ageing Muso, the lineup seemed generally less well known, less awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping. No sign of Beans On Toast or his good friend who has yet to earn a mention (until Thursday at the After Party), Future Of The Left and Art Brut from last year. A couple of big names stepped up, but if it was Cider Smiles providing the much needed proof of the organiser's pre-event pudding. No, not an aptly entitled musical troupe, but the official take-it-home-and-keep musical accompaniment to 2000Trees.
British Sea Power open the compilation as they closed the festival with knowing, wondrous, hugeness. “Astronomical fans of alcohol”? Youknowsit. To hear this is to dance, and feel the urge to wave foliage, regardless of the ethical position of such an act. They arrived on stage late which alas meant a cruelly shortened set, but whilst they were there we heard everything, both large and small, were chastised for our ill-preparedness to catch Noble's mandatory stage dive and made new friends with the band's groupies. 'Remember Me'? We certainly did. 'Larsen B'? Fell on us all. Easy.
Those in charge appeared to be completely in love with Amplifier, ensuring us that they were the best band ever and that we would love them. That the song they provided for this compilation is at least five years old did make me question how far they had come since. As one notable chap informed me, they sound a little like Incubus crossed with someone else. This is correct. A slow burning, epic track that does sum the band up quite well, as on stage they attracted quite the crowd and provided a good backing to the eating of an equally grand pie, the latter of which did admittedly grab more attention.
The Brute Chorus closed the Leaf Lounge (the tent that is stage two) on Sunday so were missed by many, but judging by this were loved by those that made it. Hand claps duelling with the drums to provide the beat and a carefully assured vocal interact with the rest of the standard indie band to create a funky-folky break down. Dance to it, jump to it, ho-down to it, all are acceptable. Baddies are one of a few bands to have pulled out in the build up, their contribution here making it hard to tell if they were missed. Generic, popular, noisy and possibly forgettable.
The Epstein's 'Thunder River' and Babel's 'Hand Me Down' provide good examples of what they have to offer on stage: country tinged, relaxed and upbeat. With the sun daring to shine on Saturday morning this seemed to provide a particularly useful morning recovery. Aided also by Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun, playing their second set of the weekend after the early Thursday party. They drew an impressive crowd, offering something that this mix of local youngsters, bread-stick and dip day trippers and hardened festival goers could enjoy: some more folky, considered, uplifting tunes complete with countdown to the upbeat bit.
It was not all guitars and smiles, there was also Charlie Barnes. Sounding a lot like Styrofoam, 'This Boy Blind' is yearning vocals over clicky electronic beats and twinkling piano. Apparently getting his slot here after supporting Amplifier, he was worth his place, offering more of the same from his looping, intelligent synth. Had the lounge mesmerised. Some clever positioning on the compilation puts Napoleon IIIrd next. Not that he can be described as particularly similar to anyone, he does have more toys on stage than most, with reels turning, pedals and buttons, and a hat on his head. 'Strong Nuclear Force' was played with such conviction and funk that it would only have taken one emboldened, cider-addled attendee to crack and move their feet to get the whole tent bouncing. Alas that didn't happen. Perhaps everyone was driving.
Moving on quite some way to Attack! Attack! who offer the finest in Funeral For A Friend alikes (I'm certain that's the first time these welsh folks have heard that comparison, certain). Sheltering from the lashing rain, we were unconvinced of their brilliance, although there was some excitement when it sounded like they were about to play 'Daft Punk Is Playing In My House' (they didn't), it largely passed by with nary a woop. The cool kids in black loved it though. So cliché. Sucioperro though were spectacular. The first band to get us dancing like loons, it's stop, start, loud, clever lyrics all the way. 'Are You Convinced' is a fantastic example of this, big drums, chugging guitars and some well enunciated words. I decided not to mention Biffy, but then I did.
Beyond the compilation, other highlights were the beautiful Aspen Sails, the huge, name-dropping and wonderfully danceable Dawn Chorus, the shy and short set by a beardy Jay Jay Pistolet. Fightstar were there too, getting us all rowdy before the excellent silent disco. Give your tenner deposit to a guy in a fluorescent jacket and dance around in a field to the finest indie or cheesy records, tremendous and even memorable. There was also the cult hero of Stanton Delaplane (and Tilly), soldiering on despite the failings of his myriad contraptions to give us a stripped, back acoustic set on subjects like the 'Hipposandal' and 'Magical Bird'.
All in all, a “totally wicked and equally ace” long weekend. If all festivals were like this then we'd all be much more relaxed, and band's egos probably significantly smaller. Cider Smiles manages, for the second year in a row, to provide the perfect accompaniment to the even, both as an expertly compiled record and a nudge to the good times for the addled memory (particularly useful when there's writing to be done). More please, Finn.