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2000 Trees Festival 2014 Roundup: Day 2 (Friday) – Part 1

By on Monday, 28th July 2014 at 2:00 pm

The concept of a lie-in at a festival is a flawed ideal. That was my initial discovery as I scraped myself of the floor of my tent – unsticking my back from the plastic ground sheet after all the sweat had caused the tent and I to have become moulded together in some unholy union. The problem being that on a beautiful summer’s morning – like the one every 2000 Trees reveller woke up to on the Friday morning – tents effectively become mini-greenhouses, where huddled safely in your sleeping bag, you become a pig roasting in a blanket. But far less delicious. 2000 Trees frowns upon acts of cannibalism.

Once I’d extracted myself from the pressure cooked vacuum that was my tent, I staggered towards the nearest vender and bought something palatable enough to be called food. I think they were churros. Questionable food selection aside, my early mid-morning stagger brought me to the Main Stage. Overlooked by the canopy of some beautiful oak trees the Main Stage at 2000 Trees is mightily impressive (especially at night when the aforementioned canopy is lit up), the stage is around the same size as the Other Stage at Glastonbury if you’re looking for a worthwhile comparison.

First up were a band I had planned to get stuck into, Emp!re. Partly because I enjoyed them on record and thought they were underwhelming supporting Arcane Roots at XOYO a few months back. But mainly because our camp next door neighbours all had Emp!re tattoos and one of them was the lead singer’s girlfriend (despite how camp Joe Green is, he is most definitely straight), so they would probably have beaten me up if I’d missed them.

To my delight, Emp!re were the polar opposite of the band I laid eyes upon in the clammy confines of XOYO. Gallivanting around the stage with hands flailing everywhere, Joe Green was a bastion of enthusiasm, even at midday. The perfect cure for any badgers cider induced hangover if you spent too much time last night propping up the Big Lebowski Bar. The set had all the hallmarks of a classic: James L’Esteve, Dave Thomas and Jon Tupper all looked as up for it as you could be on the first day of a festival. Revellers even laid down their swing ball bats as they were entranced by the siren like yelps of Joe Green from atop the Main Stage.

Green’s maturity as a frontman has come on in leaps and bounds in the past few months and while there was some witty impromptu banter – interspersed with gasps for air – Green let the solid tunes in Emp!re’s arsenal do the talking. Understandably due to obvious factors, Green will always draw comparisons with Skindred’s Benji Webbe, but little could be further from the actual truth. The two are as similar as the Queen and Kim Jong-Il. (8/10)

From an energetic lively frontman, bursting with charisma and charm – to an utterly charmless carbon copy of any indie band doing the rounds at the moment, next up were Natives. Showing about as much presence on stage as a sack of potatoes, Natives chugged through a disappointingly lazy and predictable set, which showcased absolutely none of the reasons why they’ve been touted as potential stars of 2014.

The songs were utterly forgettable and the crowd had absolutely no time for it, as vast swathes of the crowd which had gathered for Emp!re trudged their way back to The Cave, disappointed and unfulfilled. (3/10)

Luckily, we were treated on the Main Stage to the polar opposite of Natives, Slaves. Two men, a pair of drums and a guitar.
• D.I.Y credentials, check.
• Punky sense of energy, check.
• Ability to not give a shit how they sound, check.

The Main Stage was in for a pounding.

Slaves provided arguably the soundtrack for the first true day of the festival. ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’ is a song which Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent say was inspired by a time “when they were walking through a forest and looking for a car with a girl named Debbie”. The gloriously simple songwriting, with a touch of ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’-esque suspense in the middle makes for a huge tune that every member of the crowd loved.

The impact of the entire set was obvious, seeing as afterwards everyone around the Main Stage was still shouting, ‘where’s your car Debbie!’. A superb slab of DIY punk, delivered with no bollocks, no pomp, just passion. (8/10)

From the most underdressed punks, to a motley crew of overdressed punks in the form of The Computers. Once purveyors of brutal garage punk, their last album ‘Love Triangles Hate Squares’ was dripping with soul. It was left-field that’s for sure, but with catchy toe-tappingly jazzy tracks like ‘Bring Me the Head of a Hipster’ littering the record and Alex Kershaw’s effervescent sense of exuberance, the set was bound to turn a lot of heads at Trees.

Drawing primarily from their most recent album, the band tore through a frantic set. The funky, soul styling Computers were going for a mid-afternoon set that went down a storm as oldies and young’uns alike got themselves swinging. The crescendo was a glorious ‘Wall of Death’ orchestrated by Kershaw, which saw the lead singer screaming his lungs out in the middle as a torrent of a thousand people crashed in from both sides. If you want evidence of how it looked, take a gander this live footage filmed from a safe distance away. ‘Oh My Soul!’ (9/10)

Next up was Itch (pictured at top) of former The King Blues’ fame, who is cutting his teeth as a solo artist now. In 2009 the full band went down as one of the weekend’ highlights, so it was a shame that on one of his returns, as a solo artist Itch managed to provide one of the more lacklustre performances of the weekend.

Flanked by a creepy backing singer in a creepy crying baby mask – who to my view was androgynous in gender – Itch strutted around stage lazily, blurting out songs with some kind of lightly-veiled political sentiment. In reality, in the baking summer heat after the aural assault of The Computers, all people wanted to do was dance. Instead they were treated to a lethargic journey through the increasingly twisted psyche of Jonathan Fox.

In some instances, when his backing singer kicked in with an overly autotuned interlude, it felt like I was listening to the next in the conveyor belt of BBC Radio 1 rap stars, not the best new and underground British music. I wasn’t coming to watch Itch to see a Professor Green wannabe; I wanted something with an edge, something with a little venom. Regrettably though, it was a performance from one of 2000 Trees favoured sons that should most certainly be forgotten by both crowd and performer. (4/10)

More of John’s coverage of 2000 Trees 2014 will continue soon on TGTF.


Live Review: Arcane Roots with Emp!re and Verses at London XOYO – 26th November 2013

By on Monday, 9th December 2013 at 2:00 pm

We were treated to the Sound of 2014 announcement last week but 2 weeks ago, revellers in London were treated to arguably the sound which has epitomized the new era of British rock music over 2013. Arcane Roots may just be on their first headline tour – in support of their impressive debut album ‘Blood and Chemistry’ – but after support slots with Muse and Biffy Clyro, they’ve honed their space-age inspired stage show into a formidable beast.

Before the Kingston three-piece took to the stage at XOYO we were treated to Emp!re, who did their best to rouse a reaction in the slowly building, Tuesday evening crowd. There was energy in abundance on show from frontman Joe Green as the band drew material from recent mini album, ‘Where The World Begins’, though Green’s Daron Malakian-esque wail wasn’t entirely well received by the early punters. Whilst even their chest pounding anthem ‘Black Heart’ struggled to rouse the crowd, as many decided to hang by the bar with a pint, instead of jumping in to the pit. They’re a band in their infancy though and in Green they have a frontman with levels of energy bordering on the hyperactive that any crowd will warm to.

In stark contrast to Emp!res, Verses were a less-than-striking mix between You Me at Six and We Are the Ocean. The main issue being that with both of those acts, you’ve got tub-thumping songs with soaring choruses the entire audience can shout back, whereas with Verses there was a lack of any real hooks for the crowd to grab on to. To that end, Verses set fell slightly flat, as Jason Danzelman’s voice got lost in to the roar of fenders which accompanied him.

A shortage of hooks to drag in the punters was not a concern that headline act Arcane Roots had to worry about, as they drew material from their debut full-length album ‘Blood and Chemistry’ and last year’s EP ‘Left Fire’.

As Andrew Groves, Daryl Atkins and Adam Burton arrived on stage and plucked the first chiming chords of ‘Energy is Never Lost, Just Transferred’, the slightest of grins was already etched across Groves’ face. “Forlorn your heart / this scratch will leave a mark” and with a screech, all hell breaks loose in a melee front of the stage, limbs fly as Groves and bassist Burton throw themselves around the stage, unleashing a tirade of Marr-inspired riffage on the capacity XOYO crowd.

Chaos ensues as the band’s latest single ‘Resolve’ evokes a mass singalong, with the audience roaring back, “Am I ever worth the wait? / Will it feel like I was never there / As I cannot live with what I’d say to you / If I save me, will you heal yourself? / As my bones grow old from needing a resolve”. Fans who’ve only just discovered the band will have been pleased by the ‘Blood and Chemistry’-dominated beginning of the set. However at the midpoint, Groves with the sheer enormity of the support in front of him, almost tearfully dedicated the furiously frantic ‘Million Dollar Question’ from ‘Left Fire’ to the fans who ‘have been there since the start’. If that wasn’t enough for the hardcore Roots fans in the crowd, this was followed by a sped-up version of ‘In This Town Of Such Weather’.

By this time, with the frothing mass of writhing flesh moshing in front of the stage having hardly relented, you’d expect there would be an element of tiredness amongst them – however, that was as far from the reality – as the one man got a bit carried away and got on to the stage, prompting the band’s tour manager to unceremoniously nudge him back in to the arms of the rousing crowd.

Groves shows off his incredible ability with a guitar on ‘Triptych’ as he is joined by Danzelman of Verses, as the former proceeds to not miss a note throughout the complex song. To finish of a rather splendid evening we were treated to the spellbindingly beautiful ‘You Keep Me Here’ – a perfect mix of power and loveliness – as Groves laments, “love, you’re better for me”.


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