Sunday, 15 July 2012

2000Trees 2012 Survivors Club.

A deep breath. I need to write this now before I forget or the emotions dull. Be grateful I did not write this upon my arrival home this morning at 1am.. after my brother had helped me out of my shoes.

For those of you who are looking at the above paragraph with a quizzical look that resembles the same one most people have had listening to the new Muse Olympic anthem, last night I played 2000Trees, in my opinion the best festival that the UK has to offer and a must-play for any good British independent act (by its very nature - 2000Trees is an entirely British festival, in the least Daily Mail, Down With Foreigners way possible).

It's no secret that I love this festival, this is my fourth year there on the trot, but a variety of factors combined this year to remind us all why this festival is so good, and why UK festivals in general - not considering the major, largely bullshit corporate affairs - are so special.

Those of you reading this in the UK will have noticed this already, but for the benefit of those of you abroad I'll mention this anyway: it has been pissing it down here like big, regular mournful tears from the sky. It would be childish of me to blame Nick Clegg, but it's his fault entirely. Hold on, dear reader, get past the initial reaction of "but it's Britain, everyone knows it rains in Britain all the time regardless", but I'll have you know that since some bright spark declared in Spring that the UK was in drought conditions, barely a day has passed without some rainshower, or two rainshowers. In the two weeks before 2000Trees it was declared that April to June in the UK had been the wettest since records began over 100 years ago.

Two weeks before 2000Trees, it began raining heavily and regularly.

One week before 2000Trees, it was still raining.

2000Trees is held on a farm.

Five days ago I looked at the weather report and stopped looking for someone to fill my guestlist spot.

It rained on Monday.
And Tuesday.
And Wednesday.

And Thursday, when the gates opened to early birds, it was raining.

And it rained on Friday, which is the day on which I forgot to buy wellies, walking boots, or even a pair of trainers that do not have a hole in the bottom.

On Saturday, when we arrived on site, it took me about 30 minutes of standing in the ice-cold mud in my shoes before I'd realised the mistake.

And then, standing in front of the GreenHouse stage I would be playing later that day, the heavens opened. Again.

But where were the sad faces? Sure, when we pulled up at midday there were some rain-soaked mud-caked ex-festivalgoers busy throwing in the towel to the British summer, but as far as quitting went, that was it. A man in Speedos belly-flopped down what used to be the hill between the main site and the GreenHouse and people still spent (fancy dress) Saturday in video game costumes - lots of Mario/Luigi pairings, many many Lemmings (some with appropriate tools), some Sims, Tetris shapes, Portal cubes, Bombermen.

I'll say this though. As easy as it is to look back and give a big thumbs-up, the staff of this festival should be lauded for even pulling this together. Expensive extra measures, extra security, re-routing walkways and a lot of crossing of fingers are the real reasons that this even went ahead this year - helped I'm sure by the financial damage faced by pulling it. I'm sure there were crisis meetings, and I'm sure some people will disagree with this statement, but I think it was the right call to go ahead. I'm not sure if I'd have shared this sentiment if everyone had gone to see Hundred Reasons instead of making the considerable journey up Mud Hill.. but they did.

And wow, did they. When I saw the clash with the hotly anticipated main stage HR set, my heart sank a little, but I was ready to draw positives. Before I found out about it, I'd spent a little while worrying about how on Earth we were going to fit everyone into the tent when the rains came. The addition of a big clash with the weekend's most hotly-anticipated set in the end ended up a blessing, in my eyes.

And then the people appeared up mud hill.

On Saturday evening, it did not rain.

I wish I'd taken pictures from the stage, it was good to see faces familiar and not so, and the reception, warmth and vocal support for a guy who hasn't toured in 2012 was the most incredible shock and the best surprise. That it was a set chosen by people almost entirely via social media also meant that I knew at least you guys were getting what you actually wanted.

That set in full:

Question Marks
We Are No Longer Twenty-Five
Five Little Secrets
JJ Abrams
Friendly Fire
Oh My Days
Tell Avril Lavigne I Never Wanted To Be Her Stupid Boyfriend Anyway
Engine Driver (Decemberists - with Jay Newton of Quiet Quiet Band)
District Sleeps Alone Tonight (Postal Service)
A Lack of Colo(u)r (Death Cab)*

(*belated apologies to anyone who didn't wish for a second encore. including anyone running the stage. i was persuaded back on by a couple of people it turns out are nothing to do with the festival. oops?)

I'm hoping someone captured at least some of it on video, or in pictures. And when I find some decent pictures of the mud, I may well post them here.

And I don't say this very often, drum beating really isn't my thing, but if you would normally have seen me and instead opted for Hundred Reasons, find someone who was there and ask them if you made the right choice.

Special mentions go to the Xtra Mile crew who were busy there all weekend, to the organisers and staff, to Cadbury Sisters whose set was beautiful, and to Future of the Left, whose set was entirely ugly in the very best way. Also, special thanks to Mr Tom Crook, driver extraordinaire, sales assistant and morale booster, without whom yesterday would have been a very, very different experience altogether.

If you needed an example of British stubbornness in action, 2000Trees this year was the place to be. I can honestly say I have never experienced anything like it, even though secretly I hope I don't have to again anytime soon.

Meanwhile, to anyone who now forms part of the 2000Trees 2012 Survivors Club, do get in touch via the email on my Twitter profile, or via the joy of Facebook messaging. We should do t-shirts, right?