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2000 Trees Festival 2014 Roundup: Day 1

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd July 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

Small, intimate festivals are as common as poorly thought out Ed Sheeran being named most important act in black and urban music jokes.

They’re quite literally ten a penny. If that penny was actually £150…

So finding a festival which has sprung from the humblest beginnings, with a purpose and a drive that is simply the sheer love of music is relatively pleasing. 2000 Trees is a festival with an immense amount of heart and started by six mates who became disillusioned with the mainstream festival circuit. They were sick to death of the over-inflated ticket prices, the overzealous commercialism and the alienated feel they left with. With a Glastonbury ticket setting you back £210, with the addition of some nonsensical booking fee that is rising at a rate comparable to the rise of Isis, it’s understandable that some people would become disillusioned. But instead of moaning about it, the lads got together in 2007 and started 2000 Trees Festival at Upcote Farm.

In its eighth year, the festival opened its doors to a maximum 5,000 people to keep things at an intimate level, and with the mantra to showcase the best in new, unsigned and underground UK bands. This year was no exception. Thursday was for the early birds and those who had cunningly booked the time off work shortly after 2000 Trees 2013 closed the gates.

For those lucky enough to have pitched up at glorious Upcote Farm on the Thursday, like myself, you would have been treated to the talents of Bristol singer/songwriter Oxygen Thief and Reading’s Ben Marwood. These acts were playing on Trees’ second stage, which a few years ago was named by fans of the festival as The Cave. The first band I got to lay eyes upon after snaking along Gloucestershire’s whirling winding country roads were Johnny Foreigner, who provided the kind of aural assault that my mind needed to forget about all the speed cameras I’d raced past with no regard for country lane speed limits.

The following 45 minutes preceded to be a jarring wave of punk-y energy, interspersed with the odd yelp from Alexei Berrow and Kelly Southern. After twelve songs, all dripping with the anti-establishment edge the band are going for Berrow cut a figure as the sweatiest man in the South of England. Possibly even the world. Berrow held no quarters as he threw himself entirely into the feel of the festival: from set-opener ‘You Can Do Better’ to the final screeches of ‘The Coast Was Always Clear’, it was a glut of anarchic energy from onstage, which is bound to get the band noticed in the next year.

For Berrow and co.’s unreserved abundance of dynamism on stage, he was rewarded with a warm seal of approval and what certainly will add up to an invite back to the farm at a more popular slot. (8/10) They rarely forget a friend here at Trees.

Johnny Foreigner’s set focussed on a sense of anarchy, whirling the crowd into a frenzy. Gnarwolves capitalised on the palpable energy throbbing from within The Cave. The first mosh pits of the weekend were extremely kind during their set, with kids pussy-footing around, bouncing up and down with wide smiles plastered across their faces. When Gnarwolves stepped up, it signalled the end of this for the foreseeable future. Elbows were flying and every man with one of those stupid bushy hipster beards immediately threw themselves into the fray to try an impress the nearest girl in short denim shorts with a display of testosterone and violence. No, Gnarwolves playing did not induce time travel, it’s just what happens when a cool skate-punk band starts roaring about how ‘Smoking Kills’.

What the Brighton based three-piece did induce, apart from the first primal displays of viciousness of the festival, was a few roaring singalongs and a big hype around one off the up and coming talents of the scene at the moment. Not only do they have a wicked cool name, but in The Cave they displayed some big tunes with a lot of pop-punk heart and just enough nautical references to differentiate them from less brutal bands like Four Year Strong. Congrats lads, now lose the gash beards. (8/10)

Headlining the Thursday evening entertainment was Dan Le Sac (pictured at top) vs. Scroobius Pip. Quick breakdown: despite the vs. in the title, nobody had a fight. Which is a shame, as I think ole Scroob could probably have the midget DJ that is Dan Le Sac, for then he’d earn twice the money (available for representation soon).

The set was a change of pace from the previous two acts though, as there was neither a guitar nor a drum kit in site. Just a man with a comical shark hat on his head (Mr. Le Sac) and a taller gentleman with one of those hipster beards – but he had one before everyone did – so he can get away with that one. I was expecting a really lively set, as Scroobius has cut a name for himself as a superb showman -the British answer to Aesop Rock or Andre 300’. Instead, it was a bit flat.

The set relied on at least a modicum of the audience knowing the lyrics to more than just one of his songs, to give it all a bit more life. With this not being the case, Scroobius ended up cutting a rather lonely figure bouncing around the small stage, as Dan Le Sac laid down the beats. For the songs where there was a bit of a call and repeat, Scroobius’ showmanship shone through and he gave the farm another taste (he headlined 2 years ago) of the kind of live show people have become accustomed to from the Essex-made rapper. (6/10)

As Dan Le Sac skipped off stage the festivities for the evening did not end there. Unless you were one of those boring old farts who almost went to bed like me.

Around the campsites – from Camp Reuben to Camp Turner – small guerrilla-style acoustic stages came to life. Singalongs ensued and even the smallest, least well-known singer-songwriter drew in sizable crowds, and enough to get a fun vibe going on. The highlight for me was on 2000 Trees’ central busking stage, where Patrick Craig delivered a collection of songs with an immense sense of heart. It was no surprise that a crowd of nearly 300 people huddled around in the small stage in the cold, as Craig passed round an empty Coke bottle full of wine. There was an immense of community right there, and the kind of vibe (god, I hate that word, but it’s the only one for the job) that epitomised what 2000 Trees is all about.

Stay tuned for more of John’s 2000 Trees coverage on TGTF soon.

 

Update: The Great Escape 2014

 
By on Wednesday, 5th March 2014 at 9:00 am
 

A whacking great 150 new acts have been announced for The Great Escape 2014 this year. The UK’s answer to South By Southwest is situated on the calming, classic British seaside town of Brighton from the 8th until the 10th of May.

Joining Kelis, Royal Blood and Charli XCX on the line-up is first and foremost Mercury Prize nominee Jon Hopkins, whose inimitable take on melodic electronica has seen him work with Imogen Heap and Brian Eno. Breaking out and going solo, we have The Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., who whilst being well known for the exploits of ‘Last Nite’ exploits, is attempting to cut his teeth as a lone performer – what a place to pick up fans TGE is, eh?

One of my picks, of the newly added acts to the bill has to be BBC Sound of 2014 darling George Ezra. His bluesy-melodic pop shows a maturity well past his age, and to hear ‘Do You Hear the Rain’ in a small venue is sure to have the hairs on the back of your neck, not just standing to attention, but saluting and giving a little ‘Ten Hut’ as well.

Close to our hearts at There Goes The Fear is another one of the new additions: Jimi Goodwin, who is best known as the frontman of Doves, he’s another one who only recently has decided to walk the walk of a solo artist, and Brighton seems as good a place as any to see how he is managing on his own.

Other highlights on the bill now are Scots Casual Sex, who will be showcasing at SXSW 2014 before coming out to Brighton, new-age folkers Dry the River, Go Wolf and rap collective Ratking. And last but certainly not least, Wild Beasts will be making a triumphant return to Brighton to headline at the Dome on Friday night, supported by These New Puritans.

To buy tickets and get more information on the Great Escape 2014, visit their official Web site. You can also read John’s original festival announcement here.

 

Preview: 2000 Trees Festival 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 4th March 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Prepare to embrace mother earth: I’m talking grabbing her by the grass skirt, jumping in a big muddy puddle and rolling around until you smell a bit compost-y. Sound like your cup of herbal tea? Get yourself heading down south then, to the land of propa’ cider, tractors and a host of other rural clichés – as 2000 Trees (10-12 July) returns to Upcote Farm in Cheltenham.

Established in 2007, the organisers’ mantra was to ensure they didn’t become everything they had grown to hate – this being the corporate commercial entities which they believed most modern festivals had become – the corporate sponsorships and ‘supposed soullessness’ of most major UK festivals. To do so they’ve kept their event true to its now deeply dug roots:
• Maximum 5,000 people
• Locally produced food and drink
• Friendly atmosphere
• A commitment to stay get as close to carbon neutrality as is humanly possible.

With these cornerstones of the festival set, the rest of the weekend is of course focussed on the best live bands available – with every act being personally approved and vetted by the bookings team before being added to the bill. The fruits of this stringent and possibly unique selection process are an eclectic mix, bringing to Cheltenham some of the most exciting live acts doing the rounds at the moment, from a plethora of genres, folk to funk, rock to rap.

Such is the nature of 2000 Trees line-up, that if you were to put a poster up on the wall, throw a dart at the line-up then throw it again, the artist or band it lands on would bear no similarity to the other. While some festivals may target a specific genre a la Download, Sonisphere, etc., 2000 Trees really does cater for most.

Highlights of the bill have to be led by Public Service Broadcasting (pictured at top) – a band whose live show is best described as an aural assault of post-rock goodness, with smatterings of wartime announcements and Chemical Brothers-ish synths.

Since Trees’ inception, Upcote Farm has been a clamour for a Reuben reunion and a performance from the boys – since that doesn’t seem like it’s coming around the corner anytime soon – ex-Reuben man Jamie Lenman will have to do. Bringing with him an almost cult following, his new groove metal album ‘Muscle Memory’ fully showcases the artists immense creativity and eccentricity.

Prog-rockers Tall Ships are also on the bill and are an act not to be missed. Mixing a huge heavy sound with a distinctly minimalist approach, and in this creating a truly unique live experience. One of my favourites Arcane Roots will be appearing across the weekend too, alongside a favourite at the festival – Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – I mean, who won’t lose all of their shit to ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’, yeah?

To book tickets and get all the nitty gritty details, visit the official 2000 Trees Web site.

 

Album Commentary: Dan Le Sac – Space Between the Worlds

 
By on Tuesday, 18th September 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: Ben and Luke both asked to review the new Dan Le Sac album so instead of assigning it to one, leaving the other empty-handed, I decided the best approach, given the close proximity of their humble abodes, was to lock them into a room together and hash out exactly what they thought about this album, examining each track one by one. Read on…

Two world-weary, casual music observers on a Tuesday night sojourn through the passage of irreverence into the clearing of inconclusiveness with just an album, a bottle of wine and an unplanned conversation…

Disclaimer: Expect facts to be few and far between.

‘Long Night of Life’ (feat. Merz)
Ben: Well, the intro’s a bit like Stomp…but, would you say this crosses the border into pop music?
Luke: He’s an electronic musician with vocals over the top.
Ben: My point is, how does that differentiate from the majority of music in the charts at the minute?
Luke: It’s basically something the Antlers would do, but the Antlers would do better.
Ben: There’s a lot on the album that could be done better by someone else.
Luke: He’s not going out there to set the world on fire. He’s gone one way and Scroobius Pip’s gone another. Dan Le Sac’s just thinks “Well, I should probably get something done too!”
Ben: I suppose that’ll be the litmus test of this album. How he stands up without Scroobius Pip.

‘Play Along’ (feat. Sarah Williams White)
Luke: It’s more jilted than ‘Development’. There’s a lot of skipping and heading back. But it’s more fluid than the stuff he was doing with Scroobius Pip.
Ben: This track’s a lot techier.
Luke: The singer’s kind of like Katy B.
Ben: It’s that faux-cockney thing where they always turn out to be from public school.
Luke: Exactly, like Jessie J did ‘Do it like a Dude’, and then it was like, ‘oh’.
Ben: Who else is there? Kate Nash, Lily Allen.
Luke: Who is now a riot girl? Lily Allen’s having babies.
Ben: And, she’s’ retired’ from the music business…
Luke: No one wants to buy pop off posh people anymore.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzPBD69UI3g[/youtube]

‘Memorial’ (feat. Emma-Lee Moss [Emmy the Great])
Luke: This is the one with Emmy the Great. She’s about on a par with how famous Dan is in these circles.
Ben: It’s got a kind of Arabic feel to it, this one. Or, maybe a bit of James Bond; like a James Bond porno theme. The love gun aiming… You could dance to this though.
Luke: You could sway to this; it’s bass heavy.
Ben: But heavy enough?
Luke: Not for me. It’s heavy for a pop track… If he didn’t have the vocal track, he could have been tempted to just put in a massive drop like everyone else. But, he’s kept it steady. Not like a lot of other artists who are just about the WOBWOBWOBWOB.
Ben: Do you think a dubstep artist would have done it better?
Luke: It reminds me of ‘Haunted’ by Digital Mystikz.
Ben: How would you stack this against it?
Luke: Probably Digital Mystikz. But, that’s because they’re dubstep artists.
Ben: That’s exactly my point. Should he try it if he’s not qualified?
Luke: It’s a different scene now. Dubstep’s more accessible to the public. When you’ve got the internet explorer advert with it on, then you know something’s changed.
Ben: There’s a risk of being jack of all trades and master of none.

‘Reprisals’
Ben: Heavier start! A bit Pendulum-y.
Luke: It sounds a lot like Thunder by the Prodigy.
Ben: The Prodigy kind of picked up on the Pendulum thing when they came back.
Luke: It’s ‘Insomnia’ but worse. You could see Rammstein walking on stage to this.
Ben: You could see Rammstein walk off to this… heads down; going to cheer each other up in whatever way Rammstein do. Four on the floor… with Rammstein.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmrKN0lQ3JE[/youtube]

‘Tuning’ (feat. Joshua Idehen)
Luke: I quite like it.
Ben: It does have the odd profound moment, but you wonder if that’s accidental against the rest of it. “Often looking for my keys”?
Luke: Well, aren’t you often looking for your keys? It’s relatable!
Ben: … I have a place for my keys. I don’t spend much time looking, they’re always there.
Luke: I think this would be better if it was done with Roots Manuva as the vocalist.
Ben: I agree. So Roots Manuva could have done it better?
Luke: Dan Le Sac didn’t write the lyrics. But it’s quite a decent beat to get involved with.
Ben: … I’m certainly feeling involved.
Luke: It’s got a pumping beat.
Ben: But, where would you pump to it?
Luke: An early ’90s rave hole.
Ben: Maybe a 2012 interpretation video of a 90s rave hole.
Luke: It reminds me of Clouds’ ‘Mighty Eyeball Rays’.
Ben: The first bit had swagger. This is a bit stupid, a bit happy hardcore.
Luke: This you hear glow sticks, before you heard grimy basement.
Ben: And, I liked that basement, Luke. It wasn’t a Fritzl basement. It was more of a…. wine cellar.

‘Good Time Gang War’ (feat. B. Dolan)
Luke: It reminds me of Digits but it’s not too dissimilar to ’05 dubstep.
Ben: I think it’s more snare heavy, there’s no real beat to it.
Luke: It could be darker, it would be better if he’d made it dirtier.
Ben: It needs to go somewhere and so far it hasn’t.
Luke: The songs with vocals are stronger than those without. There’s a lot of “that’s good but you know someone else could do it better.” This album was never going to be a 10/10. For me it’s currently 6/10, there’s definitely more positives than negatives.
Ben: I think it’s a 5 so far, it’s nothing special. It’s more of a showcase than one thing done incredibly well. He had the opportunity to carve out a niche but he didn’t take advantage of his audience.

‘Hold Yourself Lightly’
Luke: There are a few songs I’ll listen to again, but it’s more of an album you’d stick on in the background than gather your mates round to, because there are not enough original hooks.
Ben: I think Dan Le Sac’s fans listen to it on their own.
Luke: Harsh.

‘Zephyr’ (feat. Merz)
Ben: It reminds me of ‘Egyptic’ by L-Wiz.
Luke: It reminds me of Gorillaz in a way. Not vocally but if there was more twinkle to it, it could easily have been on ‘Plastic Beach’. The vocals aren’t hooking me in, though.

‘Breathing Underwater’ (feat. Fraser Rowan)
Ben: It’s not as good as Metric‘s song of the same name.
Luke: A nice, hazy, chill-out tune. It reminds me of Renton in Trainspotting.
Ben: It reminds you of an overdose? I’m not sure that’s a symbol of a good album. It’s bit like New Order and A Flock of Seagulls. But, it’s got that techy edge and if you remove the glitchy overtones it’s pretty much Kraftwerk.

‘Break of Dawn’ (feat. HowAboutBeth)
Luke: It sounds like the intro to a slow ’90s pop track. Atomic Kitten will come out in a minute.
Ben: It sounds like a Japanese car advert.
Luke: I think it’s too interesting to be on an advert.
Ben: I can see a Subaru cruising past in the rain to this; slow motion. Maybe we could send it in to Top Gear, it’ll get Clarkson’s juices going.
Luke: I’m still sticking to my 6/10.
Ben: You can imagine leaving a club to this. There’s too much ‘leaving’ on this album, either leaving a stage or leaving a club.
Luke: This is when everyone has stopped dancing and they’re having a conversation but no-one wants to turn the music off. When you leave the dance floor to go to the bar, this is the song you’ll hear.
Ben: Everyone else has got their coats on. It’s that sort of music. The barman is staring into an empty pint glass.
Luke: The barman has called last orders and there’s a few people on the dance floor – that’s this song.

‘Caretaker’ (feat. B. Dolan)
Luke: It’s an intergalactic funeral march.
Ben: This track’s been better than the past few. This is people returning to the dance floor music.
Luke: Maybe, the album is a journey?
Ben: It’s a transitionary album!
Luke: If you’re going to spend 51 minutes at a disco, this is the album you need to put on. It will guide you through. It’s an aural map to your night out.
Ben: Split the album into two and have the first 25 minutes at the beginning of your evening and the second 25 minutes at the end.
Luke: This song has counterbalanced the three before that weren’t very interesting. Not in a harsh way but it was needed to pick the album back up again.
Ben: I feel like it’s a rush to the finish after the lull.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7ITq7aZ7fQ[/youtube]

‘Beside’
Ben: It sounds like a David Firth cartoon.
Luke: There’s a dead guy on the floor with no-one else around.
Ben: And a cat is being used as an uzi.
Luke: That’s when you know you’ve made it, when you’re the soundtrack to an internet cartoon.
Ben: It’s sort of a shame the last song ended. The album has been a very mixed bag.

‘Cherubs’ (feat. Pete Hefferan)
Ben: This last track has pretty much passed without incident.

Final verdict:
Ben: Overall 5/10.
Luke: I’ll go 6/10. There’s more good bits than bad bits. There are hooks there and the vocals on some tracks are great.
Ben: He’s spread himself too thin. There are moments in it but it’s relatively forgettable.
Luke: There’s a few tracks there that stick with me.
Ben: The Wonga.com advert gets stuck in my head; that doesn’t mean it’s any good.

Dan Le Sac’s debut album ‘Space Between the Worlds’ is out now on Sunday Best (Rob da Bank’s label). You can stream it in its entirety below.

 
 
 

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