As the sun continued to shine on Friday, 2000 Trees truly kicks off as the main stage opens and the full 10,000 capacity of the festival is reached.
The singer-songwriter tinged punk rock artist opened the main stage at this years 2000 Trees, with a brilliant energetic and emotional performance. With clever stage patter and huge singalongs the crowd grew massively as people enjoyed the midday sun. Two particular highlights of the set were, a poignant speech regarding mental health, and closing song Big Brown Pills From Lynn, which had a brilliant singalong reaction from the crowd, considering the time of day.
Next up were Polary. The pop rockers played to a reasonably full tent on the NEU stage. Playing a side stage early on in the day can often be hard but the larger crowd numbers didn’t intimidate the band, who rattled through their songs with great professionalism. Soon grabbing the attention of passers-by as well those who were using the tent as a source of shade from the midday sun.
Next up Strange Bones played The Axiom. Their energetic indie punk translated brilliantly to the half full tent who, with a little encouragement from frontman Bobby Bentham, seemed to thoroughly enjoy the set. As the members, particularly frontman Bobby, flew around the stage during the songs, it was perhaps no surprise to see a guitar strap break. This didn’t deter the bands energy as they continued playing as if nothing had happened. This was an early set that certainly woke up anyone who was still nursing a hangover from Thursday.
Playing to a small crowd, arguably due to Frank Carters scheduled acoustic (time was changed, but still had effect), Making Monsters tried to make the best of the situation. Unfortunately throughout this set the crowd was rather flat. That’s not entirely down to the band who were energetic and put on a good performance, the vocals of frontwoman Emma Gallagher being a standout memory from the set.
Following Making Monsters and also playing to a small crowd were SHVPES. Their almost nu-metal style of metalcore bought energy and riffs perfect for moshing. Despite the small crowd their energy and bouncy sound managed to get a pit going. The bands on stage energy was certainly repaid as the crowd got bigger and more involved during the set.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Forest Session
For this stripped down set Frank Carter was joined by lead guitarist of The Rattlesnakes, Dean Richardson. Playing at a slightly later time than originally scheduled, the forest was still rammed with people waiting to see how Frank (a notoriously energetic frontman) would approach an acoustic set. With a set list consisting of six songs brought from both their debut album Blossom and 2017's highly successful Modern Ruin. The highlight of the set was undoubtedly the closing song Hate You (now an anthem for Frank Carter) as the crowd joined in a huge sing-a-long. This was a great contrast to the usual energetic atmosphere of a Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes concert.
Perhaps the clash of the weekend was between Black Peaks and Employed to Serve. I chose to check out Black Peaks, and it was the best decision I made all festival. Nearing the end of the touring cycle for the phenomenal 2016 debut Statues, the band took to the stage to a huge crowd considering the time of day. Quickly grabbing the audience’s attention, with their unique style of post-hardcore. The band looked right at home as they commanded circle pits and the songs sounded huge on the a bigger stage, even the new unreleased songs sounded brilliant. The highlight of their set, and proof of the attention they got from the crowd, was how they managed to get a wall of death from the front of the crowd to the sound desk, no mean feat for a band playing in the late afternoon. This was easily the set of the weekend from a band destined for bigger things.
The Dirty Nil
The Canadian trio took to The Axiom stage to showcase their youthful punk rock. Whilst the crowd wasn’t as big as it should have been, the stage patter and showmanship of frontman Luke Bentham captivated those in the tent. Playing songs from their brilliant 2016 debut Higher Power as well as a mixture of songs from their 2017 compilation Minimum R&B, the three piece proved themselves to be one of the coolest bands on planet earth.
The former Reuben frontman, took to the mainstage to play a mixture of songs from his solo material as well as a few Reuben classics. Being the showman that he is it was no surprise to see Mr Lenman put on a yellow leather jacket for his cover of Queen's Fat Bottom Girls. This obviously went over brilliantly with the crowd and his loud exuberant rock music was a perfect fit for the mainstage and closing on new song Mississippi proved the love for Jamie Lenman from the Trees audience as the entire crowd sung along.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
Opening with the barn stormer that is Juggernaut, it was clear that Frank Carter was aiming for the destruction and chaos synonymous with his sets. At this point in the career of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes it’s hard to imagine a bad set from the band, and this was no different. With crowd in the palm of his hand Frank managed to get a circle pit around the sound desk, as well as a “jump da fuck up” to Devil Inside Me. Further to this he continued to advocate safe gigs for women by dedicating an entire song for the women in the audience to crowd surf, something that is now a staple of his set. Closing with I Hate You he had a huge singalong and ended the set on a massive high.
The Wonder Years
Playing to a packed out and sweaty Cave tent, the Philly pop punkers played a brilliant set full of older and newer material. With songs mainly coming from The Greatest Generation and 2015 effort No Closer To Heaven. Songs like Cigarettes and Saints and Cardinals were a brilliant contrast to their older more pop punk material. Obvious highlights would be closing two songs Passing Through a Screen Door and Came Out Swinging the latter getting the best crowd react of the set. On a bill with very few pop punk bands The Wonder Years proved there is demand as well as proving themselves as one of the best pop punk bands out there.
Beach Slang frontman James Alex, is one of these rock star personalities on stage. He commands a stage like very few out there, and this was more than proven when Beach Slang headlined The Axiom. Playing a hugely energetic and emotional set, James bounced about the stage non stop, encouraging a almost party like atmosphere. Songs like Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas and Dirty Cigarettes sounded brilliant. Whilst many people were watching Nothing But Thieves on the mainstage, they also missed out on another punk band proving that Philadelphia has one of the bets punk scenes around.
Beach Slang – Acoustic
About 45 minutes after their headline set on The Axiom stage, frontman James Alex played an entirely acoustic, unplugged set in the middle of The Axiom tent. As people gathered and sat on the grass captivated by the brilliance of hearing these songs in such a fragile and emotional setting. The acoustic set was a huge contrast from the rock star persona that James Alex commanded on stage as the intimate setting made this acoustic set one of my highlights of the weekend.