Twelve More Months To Go
Updated: Feb 3
I’ve been counting down to the second weekend of July for a whole year. More specifically, ever since I packed up my tent and began the long and hungover trek from the camping area to the car park of 2000 Trees festival.
2000 Trees, for me, is the ultimate festival. It feels like someone has browsed through my Spotify playlists and designed a personalised line-up, big enough to have headliners I can be excited about - yet small enough that it still feels like a bit of a mates-fest. Almost every one of my musician friends have played Trees at some point, from the main stage to the late night acoustic stages (my personal highlight of the whole weekend). It’s something special, a place I feel at home, my four days of complete happiness on a farm in Gloucestershire.
2000 Trees released their statement on April 28th stating that the 2020 festival was cancelled. Realistically, we all already knew this by then, but the official confirmation was still crushing. Luckily all tickets for this year will be valid for 2021 and adding another 12 months onto our countdown was something we all eventually, though somewhat reluctantly, accepted.
I have used 2000 Trees as an example here because it has a special place in my heart. I have friends that look forward to it as much as I do, friends who play there every single year, and friends who help organise and work/volunteer at the festival itself. Recently, a group has appeared on Facebook where people have started sharing photos and memories from years gone by. I must admit, it’s emotional.
This year I will be attending Trees virtually. Just like many have been doing with Glastonbury recently, I plan to watch as many recordings of past performances as I can, sitting in the garden and most likely sobbing into a can of Thatchers Gold. I’ve seen plenty of people recreating their favourite festivals over the past couple of months and I can’t wait to see what people are going to do with Trees. How many Mr. Fridge costumes will there be? Who will hold this year’s record for the longest lasting rendition of Rob Lynch’s ‘My Friends And I’? Whose garden will Frank Turner inevitably break into to perform one of his “secret” sets?
Not including 2000 Trees or other festivals, I attended 43 gigs in 2019. I know this because I kept track. This is not something I like to admit, but I have a spreadsheet. As one of the most unorganised and spontaneous people they know, my friends are always surprised that my gig calendar is so well organised - but it’s because it’s the most important thing in the world to me. My entire life is planned around live music. Holidays are timed to coincide with gigs and I spend a lot of time driving or sat on coaches travelling for hours - just for one tiny show in the back room of a dive bar in some small town. Driving through the night or sleeping in my car after a show is something I’m pretty used to.
Life in lockdown has been difficult, to say the least. Live streams are nice, but they’re a temporary fix. I’m craving a live show more than I can put into words. The last big show I went to was one of my favourite bands, The Menzingers, in mid-February. It was the first time I had seen them live and I sang and danced my heart out. I’m still riding on that high almost five months later. I can close my eyes and be back in the pit, screaming the words to my favourite songs at sweaty strangers, arms around each other’s shoulders and carefree euphoric grins on our faces. After the gig we would all disperse and go our separate ways to find the smoking area, the closest tube station or some fried chicken. But, in that brief moment, we are united. People ask why I dedicate my life to live music - it’s that feeling. That moment. When we come together and feed on each other’s happiness, that’s the best feeling in the world.
We know that missing festivals and shows this year is obviously for the best. Seeing the amount of work going into at-home festivals and socially distant virtual gigs, it’s reassuring to know that the industry is working around the pandemic to come up with new ideas to reach audiences online. I live in hope that one day I’ll be able to beat my 2019 live music record, although this may be a little further out of reach than I assumed earlier in the year.
For now, you can find me sitting in the garden, can of cider in hand, feet in the paddling pool and a live streamed gig playing on my laptop. “Here’s to live music”, I say to the dog. He just wishes I was anywhere but in his pool.
2000 Trees, I’ll see you in 12 months and 1 week.