2000trees 2014: The Definitive TwoBeatsOff Overview

This year, I decided to put a big middle finger up to Reading and Download. I said sayonara to Sonisphere and a big ol’ screw you to Glastonbury. No, this year, I decided to do something a bit smaller and a bit more local. I decided to do something where I didn’t need to camp, where I could just hang about and check out some stuff I’d never heard of before, and where I didn’t need to pay in excess of £200 for the privilege.

This year, I had a bloody nice time at 2000trees.

There were a lot of highlights, so I’m going to give everything nice headings and make it easier for you to dig out the good bits. There were a lot of great bands over the weekend, some gourmet food choices and plenty of glorious sunshine to keep us all going. Beautiful.

The one band you should have seen were…

The Blackout were on absolute top form this weekend. Those lads from Merthyr know how to party, as Sean Smith demonstrated early on by storming into the crown and starting a circle pit around himself. If you’re just a fan of witty stage banter, then The Blackout have you covered – during ‘We Are The Dynamite’, Sean Smith gave a bunch of uncool non-participants the choice of ‘have fun like everyone else or fuck off!’ And there were plenty of other golden moments too. But all in all, The Blackout have a great selection of big rock stompers, all of which came out to play at 2000trees and simply made the festival for me. Great stuff.

The five new bands you’ll love are…

Slaves – this two-piece punk band from Royal Tunbridge Wells are rowdy, abrasive, witty and disgustingly noisy. Entertaining to watch, unbelievable to listen to. Definitely your new favourite band and my top discovery of the weekend.

DZ Deathrays – it’s all about guitars and drums this year and nothing else. DZ Deathrays played a blinding set of scuzzy garage-punk thrashers to finish off the weekend. If you like it loud and proud with extremely catchy riffs, these guys are for you.

Youth Man – these Birmingham punks are equally terrifying and mesmerising. A bit doomy in places, a bit frenetic in others, they’re completely captivating. The music’s stupidly smart, and the live show is bloody mental. We reviewed them a while ago and loved them.

I, The Lion – if you like big Biffy Clyro-esque sounds but with more guitar smashing and lyrics that make even less sense, you’ll love I, The Lion. These Cheltenham locals opened up the Saturday and set the bar incredibly high for everyone else to follow.

Jamie Lenman – can you count Jamie Lenman as a new band? I will anyway. You may not have heard him as a solo project rather than as the former front man of the now-defunct UK titans Reuben. This year, he did a proper hardcore set based on the ‘Muscle’ side of his incredible album Muscle Memory (see our best of 2013 for more) and drew one of the biggest crowds of the festival.

Okay, the other bands you should have seen were…

Gnarwolves, Johnny Foreigner, The Bronx, Blood Red Shoes, Arcane Roots, Tall Ships and The Computers were all pretty good as well. However, special mention goes to Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, who blasted out an amazing set of beats and bars. A massive rave went down on Thursday night, and it was great to finally catch DLS VS SP live!

The one band you’re going to miss are…

The last Kill Chaos set ever happened at 2000trees. Gutting. At least we’ll still have the records, right? PromisesPromises only just came out after all! I only discovered them last year on Jamie Lenman’s first solo tour and I am sad to see them disappear already. Here’s to seeing what happens next…

The most surreal festival moment was…

Seeing Dave McPherson off’ve InMe stroll out onto Jamie Lenman’s set to do a bit of screaming, without actually knowing the words, was a little bit bizarre. I know he was playing this weekend, but InMe were never really a shouty band at all. Kind of weird but mostly wonderful.

The best food stall was…

Props to Wide Awake Café for their delicious iced lattes and veggie burritos! Check them out at a festival near you.

The coolest item of merch was…

Uh, 2000trees sunglasses for a fiver? Yes mate.

Festival Dickhead of the Year Award goes to…

There was a guy who sat down under a tree and pulled out The Diary Of Anne Frank to sit and peruse on Friday afternoon. What a knob.

So, will we be doing 2000trees again? The answer is a great big resounding yes. What a good festival.

Review: Youth Man – Bad Weather [EP]

There are some that would look to pigeon hole this as Grunge Revival. Or something along those lines. However, after long and careful consideration, I think that the some that would say this can fuck off. Because this is, basically, brilliant.

This five-track EP from spiky Birmingham three-piece Youth Man undeniably takes a motherload of inspiration from that whole early nineties American Northwest sound – and, as it’s ballsy as hell female-fronted fare, you can hear the likes of Bikini Kill and the original [sic] Riot Grrrl thing clear as a bell. Opener Heavy Rain specifically owes a lot to Babes In Toyland at their Fontanelle-era peak – but I’m struggling to see why that is remotely a bad thing in an age such as ours where Robin Thicke is allowed to walk free in the streets. Not enough militancy these days, by far. But seriously. This is no throwback. This is a breath of pure fresh air.

Track 2 (Insipid) is a pokey, almost Rockabilly-like smack in the mouth. The last three tracks take the venerable LOUD / quiet / LOUD formula and throw it back with an intricacy and intent – and a dark lyrical intelligence. The girl up front has some serious lungs – her vocals alternately soaring with the guitars, wailing like a righteous banshee and then whispering with the minimalist refrains. It really is a joyous thing to hear a simple guitar/bass/drums combo make such a powerful mass of noise as you’ll find here.

And to dwell on the influences of something this febrile is to miss the whole goddam point. There’s not just Grunge in here anyway, if we’re being picky. As is the fusing nature of all modern “alternative” music, you also get flashes of Dischord (Dag Nasty, Slant 6) and the whole gamut of high end “Post Hardcore” – and other stuff that I can’t quite put my finger on. All of which gives this a look-you-straight-in-the-eye personality that is all of its own. The PR calls this “Afrocore”. I suspect this may be a Radkey reference and I’m not all to keen on the term, but I think it comes close. And who cares what name you stick on this.

Stop reading this drivel. And just buy or download this. Now.

5 out of 5 high fives!