15 bands you can’t miss at this weekend’s 2000trees

Now one of the most essential weekends in UK alternative, 2000trees 2024 has so much more to offer than just headliners The Gaslight Anthem, The Chats and Don Broco. We delve into 15 undercard acts you need to find time for across an action-packed weekend...

15 bands you can’t miss at this weekend’s 2000trees
Sam Law
Jenn Five

If you go down to the woods this weekend, you’re probably going to get rocked. With the second Wednesday – Saturday in July upon us, we can hear the Cotswold hills calling as Cheltenham’s Upcote Farm is taken over by some of the world’s most exciting alt. artists. Having grown from rustic, DIY beginnings into one of the most essential outings in the UK festival calendar, 2000trees feels like both a celebration of the event’s past as ’trees veterans like The XCERTS and Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls rub shoulders with reliable favourites such as Don Broco, Bob Vylan and The Chats, as well as a statement of intent for an even bigger future with the booking of heavyweight festival newcomers Manchester Orchestra and The Gaslight Anthem.

Beyond those obvious must-see sets, there’s a whole galaxy of stars vying for attention. From rising American emo heroes Hot Mulligan and Spanish Love Songs to mind-mangling brutalists Empire State Bastard and Palm Reader (performing their last-ever show) and champions of the cutting-edge of British alternative Cassyette and WARGASM, it’s a list frankly too long to reel off.

Filtering through the clashfinder, instead we thought we’d highlight 15 acts not on hard rotation around this summer’s UK festivals with a point to prove. From the visceral beatdowns of Better Lovers and Heriot to swaying in the shadows with The Mysterines and Zetra and getting the party started with bombastic festival specialists Nova Twins and Hot Milk, there’s something here for everyone. So, come rain or shine, in just a few short days we’ll all be crushing pints (and the fest’s trademark cocktails) at one of the most outrageously enjoyable parties of the year…

Better LoversThe Cave, Thursday

Organiser James Scarlett has already admitted that the agonising head-to-head clash of The Gaslight Anthem and explosive hardcore crew Better Lovers has sparked some of the most heated objection in the history of 2000trees. On paper, there’s not much sonic comparison between the Main Stage-headlining New Jersey giants’ gritty Americana and the rising Buffalo crew’s far more caustic attack. Boasting members of Every Time I Die, Fit For An Autopsy and The Dillinger Escape Plan, though, and still having played only a handful of UK shows ever, Better Lovers are legitimately one of the must-see acts of the weekend. Expect songs like 30 Under 13 and The Flowering to inspire absolute chaos.

Boston ManorThe Axiom, Thursday

When Boston Manor announced upcoming fifth album Sundiver earlier this year, frontman Henry Cox was keen to talk-up the heat-crisped, barbecue-smoked quality of those songs. So what better place to showcase fresh cuts like hazy, lazy latest single HEAT ME UP (‘You heat me up / And you cool me down like I need you to’) than 2000trees’ height-of-summer soiree? Even if they weren’t packing new material, the Lancashire lot are proven festival aces, with pulsing hits Floodlights on the square and I Don’t Like People (& They Don’t Like Me) sure to make a deep impact before fluttering uber-hit Foxglove whips up one of the most emphatic sing-alongs of the weekend.

CLT DRPNEU Stage, Friday

2000trees made its name as a platform for all kinds of guitar bands – jangling indie, punchy alt.rock, strummed folk – to strut their stuff in the English countryside. In recent years, though, it’s expanded to offer a space for cutting edge alternative electro, too. Having already thumped the turf at Upcote Farm in 2022, suggestively-titled Brighton bunch CLT DRP are back for a prominent slot in the Axiom tent on Friday evening. Expect the pulsating sexiness of songs like Nothing Clever, Just Feelings and Until You Showed Me to get everyone revved up for a long, hard thrust into the night.

CrawlersMain Stage, Friday

It’s been a hell of a year for Crawlers already. Following the release of excellent debut album The Mess We Seem To Make – and an accompanying first K! Cover – back in February, the grungy Liverpudlian quartet have landed monster support slots on tour with Mother Mother and Royal Blood. 2000trees will represent their first festival slot proper since the album, so expect Holly Minto and co. to grab Friday afternoon’s massive Main Stage bow with both hands, expanding gorgeous compositions Kiss Me and Come Over (again) to their full potential under open skies and across rural Gloucestershire’s equally beautiful surrounds.

CreeperThe Axiom, Saturday

We’ve already talked about Crawlers, but expect Creeper to steal the show with a feverishly-anticipated Axiom headline on Saturday night. Having performed one of their earliest really high-profile festival sets over in The Cave in 2015 and last appearing for 2022’s dramatic Main Stage showing, 2000trees means a lot to the Southampton ghouls. So the chances are high of seeing something truly special from their outsized showing under the canvas. Not that having dropped arguably the best rock album of the last 12 months wasn’t enough. Sanguivore highlights Cry To Heaven and Teenage Sacrifice were made for singing your teeth into on hot summer nights. A set that’s destined to suck – in the most delicious way possible.

Delilah BonForest Sessions, Saturday

Of all the innovations this year, the addition of ‘Silent Disco’ live sets might just be the most inspired. Defying curfew by broadcasting artists’ performances through the festival’s ubiquitous late-night headphones might feel a little weird and unfamiliar, but there’s no better act to test the format than trailblazing Barnsley singer-songwriter Delilah Bon. A little bit hip-hop, a little bit grunge, a whole lot punk rock, the erstwhile Hands Off Gretel vocalist has an arsenal of bangers – Evil, Hate Filled Female, Finally See Me – and more than enough attitude to steal your breath away. Just make sure you’ve got your ’phones charged for Saturday night!

Hot MilkThe Axiom, Friday

Hot Milk have spectacularly hit their stride over the last couple of years. Having gone from the viral success of being named ‘Dave Grohl’s favourite new band’ to fleshing out their own expansive but rough-edged identity, Han Mee, Jim Shaw and company have the sound and feel of an outfit ready for the long haul. Last summer’s debut full-length A CALL TO THE VOID cemented an already-overflowing catalogue of crowd-pleasing bangers like ALICE COOPER’S POOL HOUSE and PARTY ON MY DEATHBED. And mere days removed from a U.S. mega-tour with blink-182 and Pierce the Veil they’ll be well-oiled and fully-geared to get sweaty in more intimate surrounds back on home turf.

Kid BookieForest Sessions, Saturday

Emerging from south east London, rising metal sensation Kid Bookie might look a little out of place amongst the dense foliage and low-hanging branches of 2000trees’ Forest Sessions arena, but expect the man otherwise known as Tyronne Buddy-Lee Ike Hill to quickly make himself at home. Recent single Love Me When You’re Angry felt like the next step in a more expansive evolution, and it should sit well alongside nu-metal-inflected thumpers Mass Hysteria and All The Same. One of 2024’s most intriguing, um, bookings

Kids In Glass HousesMain Stage, Thursday

Kids In Glass Houses still have it. Unquestionably so. Returning after almost a decade away to storm Slam Dunk in 2023 – before an awesome UK headline run to celebrate 15 years of Smart Casual – the Cardiff pop-rockers have already topped that in 2024 with the announcement of long-awaited fifth album Pink Flamingo and a first taste of that new era: the aptly-titled Theme From Pink Flamingo. ‘It’s been a minute, let me find my place…’ sings frontman Aled Phillips, adrift on waves of breezy synth and guitar. This weekend, on the massive Main Stage, he’ll be made more than welcome…

The MysterinesMain Stage, Saturday

The deeper The Mysterines go, the more fascinating their brand of murky alternative rock. The Liverpool four-piece were already a big deal when 2022 debut Reeling cracked the UK Top 10, but last month’s follow-up Afraid Of Tomorrows confirmed there would be no playing to the masses or resting on their laurels. In songs like The Last Dance and Stray, they plug into the darkest end of garage rock, with a glorious sense of ’90s-style melodrama. They’ll be out in the sun on Saturday afternoon’s Main Stage, but that audience will be swept into a beguiling sonic shadowland.

Nova TwinsMain Stage, Friday

Another band for whom 2000trees represents a relatively intimate stop-off on a well-deserved victory lap, Nova Twins are sure to absolutely crush the Main Stage. Already arguably a match for any of the acts above them on that bill – grandson, Bob Vylan, The Chats – the London duo have smashed mega-fests on both sides of the Atlantic (Hellfest and Tons Of Rock, Sonic Temple and Welcome To Rockville) over the last couple of months and the blend of nu-metal energy and cutting edge attitude about songs like Choose Your Fighter and Cleopatra should ensure one of the most raucous sets of the whole four days. Bow down to the queens.

Static DressMain Stage, Thursday

Static Dress have come a long way in a few short years. Those of us who remember the Leeds collective stepping out in something like their current form at Download Pilot in 2021 could see the raw potential of a complex vision still taking shape, and the brilliance in tracks like clean. and for the attention of… Three years down the line, by comparison, Olli Appleyard and his crew of hypercharged misfits have hit top gear, with newer tracks like Courtney, Just Relax and Push rope from 2022’s Rouge Carpet Disaster a level up, while latest single crying teases an exuberant, almost pop-punky twist at the dawn of their new era. More pressingly, Thursday’s Main Stage performance promises unrivalled passion and high theatre. Do not miss it.

unpeopleThe Cave, Friday

To say that unpeople are on a hot streak right now would be more than an understatement. When Kerrang! were asked to co-curate the Music Venue Trust’s United By Music tour last September, there was no better choice to support the mighty Conjurer than the rising London noisemongers, formed from the remnants of criminally underrated Brit-rockers Press To MECO. Since then, they’ve gotten to open for fucking Metallica in Vienna, and are booked for festivals as varied as the indie-centric Kendal Calling and UK metal Mecca Bloodstock. With MECO having played their final show at last year’s ’trees, veteran attendees might think they know what to expect, but songs like smother and waste are in a whole different realm of imagination-poking colour, skull-smashing heaviness and mind-bending unpredictability. Our kind of (un)people.

VOWERThe Cave, Thursday

Much like unpeople, VOWER are a band built from the fragments of Trees favourites. Featuring members of Black Peaks, Toska and Palm Reader, having only played a couple of shows before this weekend, and releasing debut EP Apricity on 8 July, specifically in time for the festival, Thursday’s set in The Cave will be an early landmark in what promises to be a long journey. Tracks like Shroud and False Rituals already spike and shudder with a compelling combination of post rock, prog metal and post hardcore, but there’s an inescapable feeling that they’re barely scratching the surface. Best to see them live to find out how deep the well of inspiration truly goes.

ZetraNEU Stage, Friday

Spectres have been stirring in the shadows for years now. Dark eyes watching from pallid faces. Siren songs calling to lost souls. In the blackest corners of the UK underground, a name whispered relentlessly amongst the faithful, first with curiosity, then soul-shuddering awe: Zetra. 2024 will be a banner year for the mysterious London pair, with the 10 tracks of their self-titled debut, set to release on September 13, delving deeper into a lore that’s filled with more questions than answers. The live show has always been at the heart of the Zetra experience, of course, and Friday night’s NEU Stage headline should see the dark, dynamic duo pulling a transfixed audience even further beneath the surface of their transfixing blend of alt. and shoegaze, goth and metal.

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