Size doesn’t matter. It’s how you use it, or so they say. Never has this ethos been more expertly executed than by the organisers of 2000 Trees. With just three large stages, and a scattering of smaller performance areas, there is never a lack of music or good times to be found. For a brilliantly small festival, 2000 Trees delivers on many fronts. After all, it has a decade’s experience under its belt (it’s the festival’s 10th year running). And experience has to count for something, right?

Thursday sees the likes of We Were Promised Jetpacks, The Bronx and special guest (and festival hero) Frank Turner take to the stage. It’s an unfairly good batch of acts to put on a day where many are still tied to their desk (note: this writer here).

The festival line-up is focused on the new and inclined towards the heavy. So, as Friday rolls in, things get interesting as lesser known acts make their mark. Excellently named Trash Boat perform on the Cave stage to a sleepy bunch of revellers. Their pop-punk tendencies show much promise, however, the mixing from the sound engineer leaves much to be desired.

Over at the main stage are Brawlers, a humble bunch of lads who seem genuinely stoked to be there. “Two years ago, we played over there,” lead singer Harry Johns shouts, pointing into the distance. “Now ,we’re over here.” Cue songs about being drunk, taking drugs and being sexy. Towards the end of the set, he encourages the crowd to mingle. It’s a well-meaning cue from the band, even if the tired crowd give a half arsed effort at jumping around in each other’s faces.

Over at the Axiom stage, Aussie band Tired Lions give the crowd a taste of their brand of grungy rock and roll. “Bunch up, so I can take a photo for my mum,” front woman Sophie Hope requests. The crowd willingly obliges, highlighting a totally less awkward way to get people closer to stage. The band play their instruments with as much gusto as they sway their hair (and they all have lovely hair at that). It’s infectious, it’s accessible and it’s fun. Hope spits out her lyrics with seething attitude, giving an overall brilliant live performance.

Leeds grunge rocks Dinosaur Pile Up perform at the Cave. They manage to create such a huge sound for a three-piece effort. Classic hit White T-shirt and Jeans gets the crowd going, and fittingly, two blow up dinosaurs battle it out during the set. Twin Atlantic end things on a continued high, playing their first festival headline slot outside their native Scotland. The set involved a huge riffs, a mass singalong and charming stage work by front man Sam McTrusty.

Saturday sees Heck waking up revellers with their in-your-face style of chaos. Known for their parkour-like stage presence, it’s impressive to see them work the crowds on a main stage at the crack of early afternoon. These boys know what they’re doing as they leap, jump, yelp and shred across the stage. You wonder if the chaos is spontaneous theatrics, or a well-rehearsed routine. Regardless, it’s hugely entertaining, and spectacle elevates their music into something quite immersive.

Back at the Axiom stage, newcomers Black Foxxes draw a decent crowd considering they’re yet to release an album to their name. Their lyricism is poetic, the tunes catchy tunes and the joyfully guitars loud. At the Cave stage, fellow newbies Blood Youth conjure up a different kind of poeticism. Their music is aggressive, lyrics harsher and instrumentation even louder. It’s melodic hardcore that makes you want head-bang and smoke weed at the same time.

As the evening settles in, Black Honey take to the Neu Stage. The band’s lucky stuffed flamingo looks on encouragingly as the Brighton four-piece give us a soundtrack to boogie to. Izzy B Phillips is spell-bounding as her seductive drawl lures the crowd into the band’s world of 60s tinged psychedelia. The tent spills out onto the sides as people shuffle, nod and sway.

The festival closes with Refused, who play an excellent set to an adoring crowd. It’s the last night to party, and people are making the most of it. A gazebo is crowd surfed across the stage. Bodies are crowd surfed left, right and centre. Lead singer Dennis Lyxzen makes the most of the headline opportunity to preach about the power of music. “Music, punk rock. It’s a political outlet. It’s more important than life and death,” he declares. Between jumping around in his dazzling red suit, Lyxzen dedicates Refused Are Fucking Dead to Brexit, criticises the organisers for not having more women on the bill, and brings the festival to a close on a fist-pumping, politically charged and good-vibes only high.

Circle pits, beer swigging and decibel blowing noise are usually more often associated with inner city dive bars. But here, in the rolling Cotswold hills, it works just as fine. Bring on next year.

Words - Jennifer Ho
Photo - Sarah Louise Bennett