But we are British; this is what we do!

‘Compromised’ is one way of describing the camping arrangements after the ferocious rainfall at the 2000 Trees site nestled in the green and pleasant land of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds. After Fridays monsoon-like downpour, ‘biblical’, as one steward put it, is another way. But we are British; this is what we do!

See, the ‘Trees’ organisers, they just want you to have a good time and find your new favourite band. The backstory of home-grown festival is the stuff of legend. Six friends, disillusioned by soulless and overpriced modern festies, decided to take the power back. Now, in its 6th year and with an intimate capacity of 4’500 and solid circuit recognition, they’ve got 4 stages and still give the thumbs up to take your own booze on site. See, they really DO want you to have a good time.

Big on new and underground British music, the festival programme reveals a penchant for metal, rock, experimental offerings and modern folk. Nearest town Cheltenham has a thriving local music scene and it’s a coveted spot featuring on this line-up. Main Stage headliners this year included Guillemots, 65daysofstatic, The Futureheads and Hundred Reasons. So, despite the weather’s careless disregard for music fans, and amidst the Edwardian gentleman’s moustaches and sea of denim shorts; the vibe was buoyant. From Rolo Tomassi to Gallows, there were around 100 acts to pick from over the 3 days.

Local post-hardcore quintet Crooks broke Friday in with an impressive set in The Cave (the largest tent on site); melodic, emotive and genuine. ‘You’ve been fucking lovely’ said their young frontman. Well, likewise.

Summery folk up ruled up at The Green House, a tiny tent with bales of hay for seats. ‘I managed to break my heart on this dude again last night, so most of the songs are about him’, confessed Ellie Dussek, starting her acoustic set of often humorous lovelorn ballads. Later, witness the rise of The Computers; a vision in white hailing from Exeter, the high-octane quartet mesh garage punk perfectly with old school rock’n’roll leanings. Frontman Screaming Al bleeds charisma; he’s all dry wit with preacher-esque crowd interaction, impossible energy and great hair. Surely this is the most fun you can have with your clothes on?

Arcane Roots blisteringly impressive, slick Saturday set was nothing short of extraordinary. Beyond eclectic, unassuming singer/guitarist Andrew Groves, lo-key neat beard and collared shirt, owned the stage like he was built for musical domination. From alternative pop-rock to persuasive metal, with a hint of Matt Bellamy amongst a suspected breadth of possible influences, Groves looks born to be a stadium king.

Local boys made good Jim Lockey and The Solemn Sun had the crowd spilling out of The Leaf Lounge on Saturday evening. Lockey, sincere and passionate, writes rousing ‘sing-a-long’ choruses; Frank Turner loves them so much he’s taking them on tour in November. Might need a bigger tent next year, then…

Friendly, varied and built for fun, I’ll be back in 2013. Fingers crossed it’s a dry one.

Words by Kate Blower
Images by Sean Delahay

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