Like many other festivals, 2000 Trees is finally back for the first time since 2019, and the sun is here, and so are the crowds. The 15,000-capacity event is a complete sell-out and shines a light on smaller independent festivals without all the corporate bullshit of the major players. So yes, Trees is 100 per cent independent and let’s hope it stays that way for many years to come. They have also curated one of the most impressive lineups I’ve seen this year. With over 50 acts on my want-to-watch list from the biggies like IDLES, Turnstile, and The Chats to the should be the next big thing artists like Kid Kapichi, Nova Twins, Kneecap and Boston Manor. Also, a host of smaller bands given a chance to shine in front of a larger audience (and this is where the magic happens). This real showcase of older and new talent has set this fest apart from the rest of the pack and is why so many people come back year after year.
I wasn’t sure what to expect on Wednesday. It’s kind of like a soft opening for campers to get settled in, and with only the forest and Word stage open, there’s a lot less entertainment on offer compared to the main days.
The forest stage has been upgraded with a larger stage between the trees. The once predominantly all acoustic stage is far from it today, and I manage to catch all electric sets from Palm Reader, Black Foxxes and Johnny Foreigner. When the evening’s headliners, Pulled Apart By Horses, hit the boards, the pit goes nuts with the band, with frontman Tom Hudson joining the crowd along with his guitar and mic stand. It’s a more than healthy start to the festival, and the place is buzzing!
Thursday starts far earlier than I anticipated due to a faulty mattress constantly deflating through the night, and I’m straight to the camping supplies store to get a new one. 2000 Trees has a great choice of stores. Whether looking for a water top-up, quick snack, packet of cigarettes or a horned helmet, you’ll find them here along with a host of bars and food stands.
People are constantly pouring through the main gates, and the buzz in the air is electric as the bars and venues start to fill to maximum capacity. With over a hundred plus bands playing across the five music stages over the three main days, there’s plenty of choice. Being a photographer, I’m zipping from one venue to the next and rarely get the time to watch a full set. However, I still got to experience sixteen bands on this first day, and highlights came thick and fast with Creeper, Delaire The Liar, Anti-Flag, SNAYX and Cassyette, my top five of a hectic day.
My Friday starts early, the heat is already intense early in the day, and no amount of hats and sunscreen seem to protect me, but after a bit of breakfast, I’m off again, darting from one shady spot to the next. Kicking off with a ferocious set from Heriot and a few belters from James and The Cold Gun, I dipped my toe into The Virginmarys main stage set before legging it up to catch half of the raging Petrol Girls show over at the Cave and the place was absolutely heaving! Saint Agnes‘ main stage show was on another level, and Vampire, Uppercut and Repent sounded huge and undoubtedly my day’s highlight.
The late afternoon brought bangers from Salem, The Hara and Rolo Tomassi, a festival find for me and a band I’d definitely see again. The evening brought the uncompromising brilliance of Bob Vylan, an unforgettable Turnstile and a mass sing-a-long with Pup, who were a joy to finally get to see.
The final day was another blessed with incredible sunshine, outstanding artists, and fantastic company. I’m surprised just how many friends I’ve bumped into from my home town of Brighton and how many bands from there have played over the four days, and I did my damnedest to get to see as many of them as I could. Saturday has some heavy hitters on the main stage, and some choice cuts across the other venues. Things start in the tranquil setting of the wonderful Forest stage with a beautiful acoustic set from Honey Buzz, then a punked-up treble from Panic Shack, Dream Nails and Mannequin Pussy.
Nothing can keep me from Hastings bangers Kid Kapichi over at the Cave, and they get to show why they are the ones to watch right now. Gen and The Degenerates are hugely entertaining, and Nova Twins get a mighty reaction on the main stage, followed by a bludgeoning hardcore set by hardcore favourites Knocked Loose. There’s still a little juice left in the reserve tanks, so I hastily lap up Ginger Wildheart and The Sinner’s sweet slice of Americana before parking in front of the main stage for a riotous punk rock show from The Chats with a seemingly endless stream of crowd surfers. Then a mad dash back to the forest for the always impressive CLT DRP and finally get to see the IDLES close the show with a brutal yet beautiful set of post-punk fan favourites.
2000 Trees 2022 has been the highlight of my year so far and will be a hard one to beat. It may have been my first visit, but I can see this festival as a new addiction and roll on 2023!
Photos and Words by Cris Watkins
Tickets for the next 2000 Trees are on sale now via the link below.