‘Trees’ fan Tom Brunsdon has won our competition to write the first ever 2000trees blog. His charm, wit and, well, love of the festival won us over, so he wins a free ticket to next year – our eighth festival. Check out his account of 2000trees fun below and let us know what you think on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Plus check in regularly for the next blog instalment and all our news updates about 2014 – it’s going to be unmissable! – Andy 2000trees
2000trees is not just a festival that happens in a field every July in Gloucestershire. For locals like me, once the silent disco headphones have been switched off and the last dregs of Badger’s Bottom have been poured from the kegs, we don’t just pack up our tents and forget about the festival until next year.
We keep our wristbands on for months and when we see each other in the pub, we nod in recognition that we went to the best festival in the country and it took less than 20 minutes to drive there. When we go to gigs in Cheltenham we dig out our tatty old 2000trees t-shirts that have been washed a thousand times and wear them with pride (even though you can barely make out the names of bands that probably split up several years ago).
When Frank Turner cancelled his headline slot in 2009, he made up for it by playing a show for next to nothing at the Cheltenham Town Hall a few weeks later, organised by the ‘trees’ team. We paid our fivers to get in and were treated to a show that in one breath said: “Sorry” and in the other: “But you know that I’ll be back at 2000trees.” And he has – many times. Watching him tear through ‘Love, Ire & Song’ in the Cave on Thursday night last year proved that 2000trees just keeps on giving you those spine-tingling moments.
At the festival we often make spur of the moment decisions that lead to wonderful new discoveries. I first saw Bristol folk singer Gaz Brookfield on a soggy Saturday morning in 2011 when some people were busy scooping water out of their tents – I’ve watched him play countless times since. In seven years I’ve seen Jim Lockey & the Solemn Sun turn from a gentle, tambourine tapping folk band playing in Rise Records in Cheltenham, to a relentless touring machine ripping up the main stage.
And then there have been those moments that are shared between mates in a field in the way that only happens at a small festival such as this. Like standing awestruck looking up at the stars on the way to the Greenhouse stage or being played to in a gazebo by two blokes who were wandering around with a guitar and a Cajon drum. We never did catch their names, but they knocked out a mean ‘Hit the road Jack’ as we drunkenly shouted along!
I like the way I see my old school friend doing security in front of the main stage every year. I like the way Thrill Collins play in the bar when the sun has gone down. And I like the way I can bring my own beer, a cheap camping chair and pitch up within a stone’s throw of the main stage year on year. I love the fact that it only takes a few minutes to wander between stages.
I love the fact that through the year we are treated to mini-festivals in Cheltenham called Trees on Fire (or some other festival related pun) where we can watch 2000trees bands past, present and future. And I love the fact that we get asked who we’d like to see on each and every stage. One year my wish came true and The Wave Pictures played in the Leaf Lounge – I watched them from the barrier and pretended that they were booked to play just for me.
So, even when the nights draw in and next summer seems a long, long time away, some of the many bands that have played the festival since it started in 2007 will be playing in the Frog & Fiddle. You can say that you saw them at 2000trees first. Throughout the year we pick up flyers and look at posters in Badlands record shop with the date on. So many Friday afternoons are simultaneously booked off work for the same weekend in July that the local economy in Gloucestershire must come to a standstill when 2000trees is on!
And when that weekend in July finally comes around, we pray for sunshine (but buy a new pair of wellies just in case). We bump into the same faces as we pitch our tents in the same spot we have for years, then open a can of cider and watch our mates’ bands come alive on stages in front of hundreds of people. You just don’t get that at bigger festivals. Then finally, before the headline band bashes out their last few chords on Saturday night, we make sure that we buy another t-shirt to add to our collection. After all, for those who love new and underground music and support local bands, 2000trees is for life, not just for a weekend in July.
Tom Brunsdon is aged 29 and from Cheltenham. His favourite bands are Frank Turner, Billy Bragg and The Wave Pictures. He runs a monthly music fanzine, Behind The Scene Gloucestershire: http://behindthesceneglos.tumblr.com