Thursday 7th July:
Whilst looking at Royal Republic touring dates my other half stumbled across 2000 Trees, a rock and alternative festival nestled in the Cotswolds that I had never heard of before now, and after winning 2 free tickets we were away. After camp was made, sun cream applied and cans of lager cracked open the first act was Nervus, a punk group from Watford who played at midday on the main stage. Their short but sweet set was a joy, with the taut riffs of ‘Drop Out’ and the sumptuous hooks of ‘Jellyfish’ from their new album The Evil One particular highlights – demonstrating their knack for a melody (7/10).
Later on in the day on The Cave stage were one of my highlights of the festival, the aforementioned Royal Republic. Those irrepressible swedes were a hoot from start to finish, kicking off with ‘Fireman and Dancer’ and continuing in a blitz of raucous energy and big choruses. From the funky licks of new song ‘RATA-TATA’ to the raucous foot tapper ‘Make Love Not War’, their danceable, beefed up Franz Ferdinand-esque rock is purpose built for a crowd. Frontman Adam Grahn has stage presence to spare, even their impromptu but well received cover of Battery did not seem out of place (9/10). The headliners on the first day were early noughties pop punk botherers Jimmy Eat World, their brand of angst and teenage worry is not my cup of tea at all but the crowd seemed to enjoy it and they did indeed play ‘Sweetness’ and, the one everyone knows, ‘The Middle’ (6/10).
Friday 8th July:
The first band on my radar was the eclectic metal band Puppy, on the Axium stage at 3.30pm. A three piece from London, their 90s, alternative, stoner, Black Sabbath and pop elements make for an absorbing and inventive sound. Metal guitars, burly riffs and a 90s alt rock vibe are melded to melody – with ‘Black Hole’ a particularly enchanting earworm. I had never heard of them before but very quickly became a fan, their sound is a refreshing mixture of heaviness and pop sensibilities – with the sweet, Weezer like hooks and the glammy solo of ‘Glacial’ getting an airing. If people still bought records, these chaps would be huge (8/10).
A few hours laters, at 6pm on the main stage was Boston Manor. A rock band from Blackpool who blend emo, pop punk and modern metal into one pleasant, and Kerrang magazine friendly, package. They did not set the world alight but were decent, and their final track ‘Halo’ – with its radio friendly melodies and easily chantable chorus – went down well (6/10). Next up on the main stage, and fashionably late, was the boisterous American metal band Turnstile. Hailing from Baltimore, their sound is a mix of Punk and Thrash and, despite their lax timekeeping, they know how to put on a show. Their set was largely based on their latest album, 2021’s rather good Glow On, with the propulsive beat of ‘Blackout’, the shotgun blast of ‘Dont Play’ and the ethereal ‘Underwater Boi’ particular highlights. In between the crunching chords and ringing cowbell (more metal should have cowbell!) was playful, Freddie Mercury-like audience interaction from frontman Brendan Yates and lots of mosh pits (9/10).
Saturday 9th July:
Nestled amongst the trees was the serene looking Forest Sessions stage, and gracing it at midday to a relaxed and mostly hungover crowd was Masca. A trio from Bristol, their set was brief and it was a strictly heads down and straight to business affair. Despite the minimal chatter the newcomers were a nice surprise with their feisty, Skunk Anansie and Garbage influenced sound and the lead singer’s powerful voice (6/10). Later on, in the thankfully still shaded forest stage was Ginger Wildheart and The Sinners. Despite Ginger’s geordie roots his new band specialise in good ol’ fashioned, American rock n roll. They have not released any albums yet and sadly they did not play any of Ginger’s past work, but their boogie woogie, southern rock sound sparked some life into the crowd (7/10).
Over at the main stage just before 6pm, were the rowdy, beer loving, Australian punks The Chats. As none of their tracks go past the three minute mark, they blitzed through a jammed pack set with gleeful abandon. It was a visceral experience, with ‘Drunk and Disorderly’, ‘Dine n Dash’ and ‘Identity Theft’ exploding out of the amps – they even blasted through a cover of ‘Rock and Rock all Nite’. They are an anarchic throwback and played with great gusto, but you feel their sound and style is better suited to a smaller, packed to the gills, venue (7/10).
With the sun’s heat finally abating, Saturday’s headliners Idles were upon us and boy were they good – the English punk band were full of energy and a sense of purpose. Seething with rage and bounding round the stage, the guitarist doing so in a dress, whilst reeling through fan favourites like the aggressive ‘Colossus’ and ‘Mr. Motivator’. They possessed a similar self righteous anger to Rage Against The Machine in their prime; nakedly political and pissed off at everything but still hopeful. From the primal beat of ‘Grounds’ to the bouncy ‘I’m Scum’ – the atmosphere was electric and the audience had lost none of their pep, with swirling pits and crowdsurfing aplenty. They even managed to squeeze in a singalong to ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ and that god awful Mariah Carey Christmas song (9/10).