Friday, 31 October 2008

2000 Trees Festival

Waaay back in July, just before we ran the gauntlet of the music festival in Spain, we went in for a slightly different type of music festival experience. Benicassim involved a lot of ceaseless sunshine, beer by the litre, scantily-clad punters, and big names in music (Morrissey, Siouxsie, Gnarls Barkley, Leonard Cohen, Hot Chip). The 2000 Trees Festival on the other hand... well, there was some sunshine, lots of organic cider, wellington boots and anoraks (the garment, not the people) and a lot of, shall I say, up and comers in the music business.

To be fair, 2000 Trees is a completely different festival (even without the climatic differences betweem Benicassim and Gloucestershire). Firstly, its primary focus is social and environmental responsibility - so there's lots of earnest pleas on the website not to drive (we did, and in a BMW 4WD - but not ours, so don't hate us) and information all over the farm site it's held on about environmental conservation projects and new energy technology (along with the more usual stalls selling candles, leather sandals, herbal mood enhancers etc). Secondly, the lineup is a deliberately lesser known and younger collection of artists. To give you an idea there were about 60 bands on the bill and The Boyfriend, who is a long-time voracious consumer of all types of music media, had heard of exactly one of them.

And then there was the weather, appropriately (this being my blog about living in England and all). About 20% of the day, the main (and only) stage looked pleasantly similar to this:

Then suddenly, with little or no warning, the rain would pound down from gathering clouds, sodden music fans would scurry away from the stage for cover, and it would look more like this:

Which meant that by about midday, the rest of the festival site looked pretty much like this:

But the English were more than used to this, mud being the primary feature of just about everyone of the hundreds of summer musical festivals in the United Kingdom, so everyone seemed to be armed with protective clothing and a sense of humour about it all.

Frankly, we were a bit bored by the end of the day. There's only so many times you can listen to a few bands, go to the bar, browse around the stalls, head back to the camp site for a sit down, and wander back to the stage. We probably could have tried a bit harder - there were organised country walks and things going on - but I think we were more used to the sort of music festival that beats you around the head with new things all day until you can't think straight. But the end of the day came with a gorgeous sunset, which was nice.

It also brought closer the headline act - the one band we'd heard of, Art Brut, who were extremely good despite having to start about half an hour later than scheduled because all the water had shorted out the power supply to the stage. The very entertaing lead singer, Eddie Argos, was forced to come out and juggle things under backup lighting while the problem was fixed. Another artist might have failed to keep the audience on side for so long, but he managed to win everyone over. The poor guy ended up sculling from a winebag thrown to him by the crowd in a desperate attempt to keep the crowd's impatient shouting at a manageable level.

After that we found our way back through the dark fields to our camp site. However, our unfortunate camping companions found that their newly-purchased air mattress had holes in it. They were packed and ready to go at 5am after spending an unpleasant night trying to sleep through our rowdy neighbours inane conversations while battling the steadily deflating mattress. I didn't blame them for wanting to see the back of 2000 Trees.

Maybe it was some sort of karmic punishment for driving a BMW 4WD?

Lots more photos on flickr soon here.

No comments: