With live music festivals being on hold, back in the early days of lockdown we did a Q&A with Andy Rea, co-founder and organiser of 2000 Trees Festival, about what it takes to set up and run an award winning event.
How did ‘Trees’ first come about?
“Some friends and I were at a major mainstream music festival, that we had been going to for years, and were getting frustrated with it. You were crammed in and treated like children, the security was nasty, food was terrible, drinks were generic, and the atmosphere just wasn’t great. I even felt they were struggling with the line- up. It just felt like they did not care and that showed in the way we were treated. We felt it was the right time to start a festival that put the fans first. We were music fans, so it was one of those campfire conversations that escalated into weekly meetings and planning, and from that ‘2000 Trees’ was born.”
How did you manage to find a decent site?
“We picked Gloucestershire as there weren’t any events that were doing anything similar to what we wanted. I wrote a letter and sent it to 150 farmers, pitching our idea, thinking people might jump at the chance. We had 8 replies some of which were just saying no. Then we found Upcote Farm. We were delighted with the site and it has been our home from the start. Since then we have been amazed how generous the family that live there have been, with their time, enthusiasm, and support for us. It’s been wonderful!”
What’s the worst thing that’s happened at Trees…
“Undoubtably the weather. Most years we’ve been lucky and had fantastic weather. But one year which I’m trying to erase from my memory, it was just awful. It meant everything needed more time to make right and needed to have a lot more energy to do so. We were just so exhausted by it!
…and the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Going back to the first year, even though it was the most rewarding, we were slightly under prepared for the task ahead. We had a barn at the top where we were preparing artwork and building things. We then realised we had no way of transferring stuff onto site. We just hadn’t thought about that. If it hadn’t been for the generosity of the farm lending us their tractors there would have been many tasks we wouldn’t have been able to do.”
What the most bizarre request you’ve had from an artist?
“One asked for a private marquee and dining table with chairs, solid crockery and condiments for 12 people. There was a point where we thought about offering this, but then we said to them ‘here are your food trailer vouchers, off you go’. A lot of the artists we book want nice food and we’ve had odd requests but that was my most memorable.
Best band at Trees?
“In terms of an individual performance there are too many. But in terms of their relationship with the festival, their profile and what they have done, I would pick Frank Turner. He headlined the first year and has done numerous times since. He’s brought such a mix each time. He is a fantastic supporter and has said its his favourite UK festival. To have that relationship with an artist is very special and rare
What has been the best moment of running 2000 Trees?
“It sounds cheesy but every year there’s so many, the atmosphere and the vibe at Trees Is so special. Everyone goes away having had a good time and you take credit for putting those things together. It’s being able to spend time with your friends (6 organisers) and family, friends and volunteers that come along for the event. Seeing everyone having a good time and receiving emails from people and volunteers of how much they enjoyed the event.
My special moment was one year when the crowd barrier wasn’t great, I ended up having to go onto mainstage by the pit barrier with my best friend. We watched the whole of the Frank Turner set from there. We looked at each other and thought ‘this is great!”