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Hit The Deck Festival – Bristol & Nottingham – 19/04/14 & 20/04/14 | Live Review

This years Hit The Deck Festival took place over Easter weekend and HTF went along to both the Bristol and Nottingham shows. Check out what we thought of it here.

Credit: Romina Andrea

Full weekend festivals are beginning to become unattainable to the majority of people with most being over the £200 mark. Therefore day festivals like Hit The Deck are seemingly becoming the way forward. With this years double whammy taking place over Easter weekend (Bristol: Saturday 19th April and Nottingham: Sunday 20th April) it was the perfect excuse to put down those easter eggs and make a day trip to a city. Check out what we thought of the weekend right here.

Adelphia- Rock City Main Hall- Nottingham
Local lads, Adelphia, were given the chance to open up the main stage to all the early birds who were first to arrive. Opening up a festival is never easy: particularly the main stage since your attendance is always reliant on your fans and those who arrive at the festival on time. Nevertheless, with a room at a third of its capacity, Adelphia, supported by an extra man on guitar, arrived and delivered a strong dose of their alt-rock sound. With the extra guitar, it gave vocalist Nicholas the freedom to fill the stage and interact with the crowd. Having heard their recorded music, we felt a little let down that Nicholas didn’t push his vocals as much as he could have, particularly on our personal favourite; ‘Lost at Sea’. All things considered the band did well to open up Hit The Deck 2014. We saw dancing, singing and even some moshing, and we all know too well that being the first band on stage is a difficult task. Top job lads! 3.5/5 GP

The Xcerts- Rock City Main Hall- Nottingham
If like us you love Twin Atlantic and all things Scottish then you should love this band. Scottish born Murray’s voice melts our hearts and it’s a crime we hadn’t seen this band before today! Not known for being the chattiest of bands their half an hour set is crammed full of tracks kicking off with ‘Cool Ethan’ and ‘Scatterbrains’ and including a full new tracks to help show the direction of their upcoming third album. The crowd may not have been jumping around and screaming as much as the band deserve but for 1pm on Easter Sunday it’s a great start. 3.5/5 RW

Wounds- Rescue Rooms- Nottingham
Oozing carnality from start to finish it was hard to see where the band started and their instruments ended, Wounds riling up The Rescue Rooms so early on in the day with their chaotic punk. Deviant riffs and wild rawks from Aidan Coogan swooned the room into a blitz ramping up their set till they were joined with half of Baby Godzilla for ‘Dead Dead Fucking Dead’ in a sea of fists and chants. Leaving Rescue Rooms enraptured Wounds revived a dreary crowd into sabotage. 4/5 AC

Credit: Romina Andrea

Hands Like Houses- O2 Academy 1- Bristol
Being the ‘buzz’ band right now left fans with high expectations as Hands Like Houses took to the stage at Bristol’s Hit The Deck Festival, ahead of their first UK headline tour which kicks off this week. With excellent theatrics and a short but sweet set they certainly didn’t let anyone down, winning newcomers to their music. They drew a crowd that almost filled up the larger room where they played at O2 Academy Bristol, most of which subsequently left once the band had finished up their fantastic performance meaning a majority of the audience was there to be bedazzled by the spectacle that is Hands Like Houses. 4.5/5 MC

Credit: Romina Andrea

Rat Attack – The Thekla- Bristol
With Rat Attack’s vocalist recently leaving the band you would think they would be pretty screwed. Luckily for them, they happen to have a singing, and quite comedic, roadie, Adam Bates, who has stepped up to the plate to brave the crowds and keep things rocking. To be fair, if you were a newcomer to the band I doubt you would even know they had someone standing in; well as long as you ignored the sheets of lyrics on the floor. The band kicked as much ass as ever and with Adam adding in some comedy gold between songs they more than pulled it off. Nothing encourages a crowd to get active more than letting them know you were up at 4am to move house, “If I can move, you can move!”. If you think you have what it takes to sing for the band then drop them a message. I think Adam may have set some comedy standards you may need to live up to now though. 3.5/5 CH

Credit: Romina Andrea

Bastions- Stealth- Nottingham
Since Bastions released ‘Bedfellows: The Forgotten Daughter’ we have been desperate to hear it live and they did not disappoint. From the second they opened bodies stacked up into masses, each raw heaving moment consuming the SABBC stage in a blinding set that pushed the bar out for every band on the line up. 4/5 AC

Credit: Romina Andrea

The Front Bottoms- Rock City Main Room- Nottingham
Ending the UK leg of their tour with Brand New, The Front Bottoms braced Rock City’s Main Stage, beers swaying, the band bringing the crowd that festival feel of summer sun and outdoor stages. Unlike any other band on the bill The Front Bottoms still held the crowd with every word, folky guitars and choruses spreading through a dancing crowd. The short sweet set closing on favourites ‘Twin Size Mattress’ from their latest album ‘Talon Of The Hawk’ and ‘Maps’ as The Front Bottoms signed off in crowd claps and sing-alongs. 3.5/5 AC

Credit: Romina Andrea

Dead Harts- Stealth- Nottingham
The SABBC stage wiped Hit The Deck out through one ruinous band to another, Dead Harts continuing with rugged deviating riffs and wild back breaking drums. Sweeping the room into bestial fits as the band sever through their set, Bax conducting the room in fits and starts through ‘Leech’ and the notable ‘Smoke Wagons’ alighting Stealth into a brawl.  4.5/5 AC

Credit: Romina Andrea

Gnarwolves- Rescue Rooms- Nottingham
Gnarwolves returned to Hit The Deck for a second year in The Rescue Rooms and it is clear why, the band smash through one track to the next, sing alongs flowing all the way the crowd to the back bar straight from ‘History Is Bunk’. Back at the roots of pop punk Gnarwolves leave out all the clique crazes and give us bloody brilliant music and lyrics that make sense. If you aren’t moving or throwing every word back you know you must be broken. 4/5 AC

The Summer Set- Rock City Main Hall- Nottingham
I have always been a fan of this pop-rock quintet. They really bring about the ‘happy-go-lucky’ side of rock; particularly tracks such as ‘Boomerang’ and ‘Jukebox’ which feature from their latest record. This is a band you dance to and if you’re not dancing then why are you there? Vocalist Brian Dales bought his A* dance moves so there is no excuse! With a somewhat short set to the Nottingham, even more so when you consider that they’re just been on a headline tour, it was a task of choosing their best hits to leave their mark on Nottingham’s Rock City. Our personal favourites include, ‘Maybe Tonight’, ‘Boomerang’ and ‘Lightning In a Bottle’ were amongst those on the set list but we are surprised, however to see that the room is not as packed out as we’d have hoped – the only benefit I can see from that is that it makes it easier Jessie Bowen, amongst the most beautiful woman in rock a shot of spotting me! We can all dream, right!? 4/5 GP

The Maine- Thekla- Bristol
Fresh off the Deaf Havana ‘Old Souls’ tour where they performed as main support, as well as rockin’ a handful of headlining dates, The Maine have been a band ‘wow’-ing audiences for years now and proved that their time at Hit The Deck would be no different. The stage at Bristol’s Thekla is a different scene to most gig venues seeing as its a boat, but that didn’t stop the Arizona natives from filling out the room and rocking as hard as they usually do. “Let’s capsize this boat!” vocalist John O’Callaghan announces, before kicking in to the guitar-shredding ‘Growing Up’. It may have been a shorter set than they, and their fans, are accustomed to, but they managed to still impress even in such a bite-size environment. 4/5 MC

Credit: Romina Andrea

Patent Pending- The Forum- Nottingham
I was unfortunate enough to miss these guys when they supported Bowling For Soup on their farewell tour last October. This was a mistake I was not making again. We should warn you all now for all that we am about to say as some may disagree but Patent Pending may be one of the best bands around right now. With hit songs such as ‘Mario’ and ‘Douchebag’, it’s hard to not be bouncing along to Patent Pending’s infectious pop-punk routine – speaking of which, there are even some dance moves to pick up at their set. However, as quickly as you are dancing you can just as easily be turned to tears as Joe talks about losing someone to suicide and delivers an important message to their fans before arms are waving along to ‘One Less Heart To Break’. Although there is the hype around a raw pop-punk revival with Neck Deep, The Story So Far and State Champs to name a few leading the way, its still refreshing to see a band that delivers the lighter, fun side of pop-punk. I could watch this band every day and never be bored! 5/5 GP

Palm Reader- Stealth- Nottingham
Palm Reader waste no time in ranking up flailing limbs, pouring every ounce of energy into their set like it was their last (thankfully it wasn’t). Raging through the crowd saw bodies desperately calling back every word they could over fat blasts and barbarous riffs. Last years ‘Bad Weather’ has clearly paved the way for Palm Reader and with a new album due soon and after getting announced on every festival could you want there is no excuse for them not to rip your ears off. 4/5 AC

Credit: Romina Andrea

Pulled Apart By Horses- Rock City Main Room- Nottingham
If you could squeeze in the main room for Pulled Apart By Horses you were either lucky or insane. Launching from the depths of recording to screech your face and throw wild riffs out Pulled Apart By Horses never hold back. Their barbaric set launched a room wide brawl, exerting everything they had through the iconic ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’ the band were enraptured in jolts and judders, the crowd alike shot back and forth with grooving riffs. Other crowd thrashing inducer ‘V.E.N.O.M’ incited abberant jerks from both the crowd and PABH. This band have certainly been missed, along with tasters of what is to come ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’ closed of their set in unhinged perfection and we left without a concussion miraculosly. 4/5 AC

Neck Deep- Rescue Rooms- Nottingham
What can you say about this band? 5 bored guys from Brighton start a band and the rest is history. Since starting in 2012 they have just gone from strength to strength and are well on their way to being the biggest pop-punk band the UK has produced. Since the release of ‘Wishful Thinking’ the band have toured relentlessly with dates alongside We Are The In Crowd as well as headline tours both sides of the Atlantic and a run label-mates The Wonder Years coming up. So to see them on so early was a bit of a shock. Within 10 minutes or so the room was packed to the brim with pop-punk fanatics chanting along to a set mainly composed of tracks older rather than new, and although at capacity, we can’t help but wish they were given a larger, or perhaps a wider stage since they looked a little cramped up there: The Forum would’ve been more suitable. Nevertheless the band gave a strong performance with vocalist, Ben Barlow, down on his knees to get closer to their fans as they sing along to the likes of ‘Losing Teeth’, ‘Damsel In Distress’ and ‘Silver Lining’. Its pretty exciting to see where they guys will go next. Huge appearances booked this summer at Slam Dunk and Reading Festival can only mean a bigger and brighter future for these pop-punkers!  4.5/5 GP

Credit: Romina Andrea

Kids In The Houses – The Thekla- Bristol
Kids In Glass Houses’ energetic set saw heaps of fans pack into the dim-lit Thekla for what could be one of their last-ever festival appearances. Having announced they would be splitting up in October, it’s clear the band want to go out in style. Front man Aled Phillips was sure to get the atmosphere fired-up with vast amounts of crowd interaction. Not to leave long-term fans disappointed the band played a selection of tracks from across their discography. Obviously crowd pleasers such as ‘Saturday’ and ‘Peace’ got the whole room singing. Although for some fans this may be their last chance seeing the band, it does make you wonder whether it ‘Matters As All’ as Kids In Glass Houses’ dynamic stage presence tonight allowed fans to get lost in the music and their split was nothing but a distant thought. 4/5 EM

William Beckett- O2 Academy 2- Bristol
It’s hard to compare William Beckett’s solo career with his former life as the androgynous lead singer of Chicago band The Academy Is… who toured with the likes of Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco and living legends KISS during their time as a band; Mainly because his new music is worlds apart from the rock scene he used to indulge in. Now only equipped with an acoustic guitar and a Macbook that he claims is his “band in a box”, he seems to have settled down a little – yet he still manages to make every crowd he performs to fall in love with him. His set at O2 Academy2 Bristol was no different, and while the crowd was relatively small there was a huge sense of togetherness what with everyone singing his lyrics back to him. One song, entitled ‘Just You Wait’ which he announced was written for his sister who struggled with issues like depression and self-harm, brought tears and then cheers, as The Summer Set vocalist Brian Logan Dales entered the stage to sing with him. 4.5/5 MC

Credit: Romina Andrea

Baby Godzilla- Stealth- Nottingham
There has been a lot of hype around Baby Godzilla and understandably the venue is rammed by the time the band hit the stage. This was my first time seeing them so live wise they had a lot to live up to. Visually the band are insane and keep everyone in awe. Everything which could be climbed was (alongside plenty which couldn’t be!), instruments were thrown around and bodies did the same. Half the time we didn’t even know where the band were. It takes a lot for a band to be as engaging and keep you focused so intensely but sadly the transition from recorded to live the vocals just don’t seem to cut it. Half of the time there are no vocals at all and the rest of the time there was just a buzzing scream. We could have listened to one half an hour long song or ten 3 minute length songs: we had no idea. We will try and put this down to the pure energy of a home time show and next time we hope for an actual full show. 3.5/5 RW

Hawthorne Heights – The Thekla- Bristol
It was time to get out your inner emo tonight as Hawthorne Heights took to the stage for a set of nostalgia that made you almost want to re-open your MySpace page and start shopping in Hot Topic again. Although not pulling the biggest crowd tonight, the band seemed truly humbled to be gracing the stage and blasted out a flawless, and incredibly tight set. This is a band that have perfected their craft over the years and sounded as good, if not better, than their recordings. With closing track ‘Ohio Is For Lovers’, for those few minutes you almost grew your signature fringe back and changed your MSN name to ‘‘X~ Cut My Wrists And Black My Eyes ~X”. Hawthorne Heights showed how this genre should be done tonight and, as much as emo got stick in the day, they prove why they are still with us. 4/5 CH

The Blackout- O2 Academy 2- Bristol
In recent years it seems like The Blackout have been everywhere, after having performed as smaller festivals such as Merthyr Rock and Slam Dunk, as well as the likes of Reading & Leeds where they performed at the main stage and seemingly won over thousands of festival go-ers. The band had to reschedule last year’s ‘Final Party’ tour to February this year after vocalist Gavin Butler was taken ill, and since then they have been on somewhat of a break from their usually hectic touring schedule. However, the Welsh rockers proved that they are in no way rusty after practically blowing up the tiny stage of the O2 Academy2 Bristol, somewhere so small, you wouldn’t think they would thrive. The size of the crowd may have taken a hit due to conflicting set times with Brand New, but the die hard The Blackout fans showed up to support their heroes who performed a set full of older fan favourites as well as newer tracks that really did start the party. 4/5 MC

Kris Roe – The Thekla – Acoustic Stage- Bristol
Having an acoustic stage in an area where you could probably fit 400-500 people was a weird choice by Hit The Deck, so when The Ataris frontman, Kris Roe, took to the stage to about 50 people, needless to say it looked pretty empty. To the fans though, this didn’t matter one bit. What lacked in people was more than made up for in passion as the crowd became it’s own micro-choir singing along to pretty much the entire set. From the punk rock anthem ‘San Dimas High School Football Rules’ through to a heartfelt message to his daughter in ‘The Saddest Song’, Kris Roe did what he does best and sung his lungs out with a truly passionate performance. When a song translates just as well acoustically as it does in full band form you know it’s quality and every song tonight is just that. Kris Roe is probably one of pop-punks finest song writers and tonight it was a pleasure to have him at Hit The Deck. Now hurry up with the new Ataris album, the world needs it! 5/5 CH

Kvelertak- Rescue Rooms- Nottingham
It’s a horrendous shame that Kvelertak don’t play to a packed out room, but when Brand New are on the stage next door it’s hard to win. But for those lucky enough to make it the band treat us to one of the best sets of the weekend. With a strong fuel of musicians including two bassists (what other band do you know with 2 bassists?!) the heavy hitting music hits the spot. Next time we see this band we’re hoping there will be a heaving room full of fans pumping their fists and smacking into each other in a mosh pit: but tonight was a fantastic introduction to a fantastic band. 4.5/5 RW

Brand New – Rock City Main Room- Nottingham
Ending yet another sold out UK tour saw Brand New as headliners of this years Hit The Deck Festival. As the room filled in the run up to their stage time Rock City’s main all erupted with the speakers in a rendition of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ a perfect way to get to know each other in such a close crowd space. Brand New opened with ‘Welcome To Bangkok before ‘You Won’t Know’ hauntingly creeping nto a subdued passion that clearly immerses the band and the crowd as the track erupts in stunning anguish. Their set goes from one iconic track to the next, ‘Degausser’, ‘The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows’ and ‘Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades’ inciting crowd wide in word for word echoes. It is impossible from any Brand New show to comprehend what an influential band they are, yet after being stood on their feet all day and after seeing amazing bands relentlessly the crowd still gives everything they’ve got, toe to toe with one and other.

Hit The Deck really did pulled everything off perfectly yet again.‘Sink’ rips the crowd and set, distorting the atmosphere into a raw moment, exposing the crowd in wild animations. The quieter moments dug out every emotion you feel when you are laid in bed, Jesse Lacey’s voice seeping through your headphones. ‘The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot’ and ‘Millstone’ hitting harder than ever with every rasp, louder, harder drums and feral guitars. A solo Jesse Lacey for ‘Soco Amaretto Lime’ sees Hit The Deck 2014 close on an incredible simultaneous moment between Brand New and the crowd, a beautiful performance that ranged through all four albums, every song resounding through the crowd till ‘Soco Amaretto Lime’ is left in our hands, Lacey’s guitar left propped on stage in the last moments of Hit The Deck 2014. 5/5 AC

Credit: Romina Andrea

Memphis May Fire- The Forum- Nottingham
It can be hard to stand out in the American rock/hardcore genre or the many sub-genres that are occupied within (for more info, see http://bit.ly/S18hUZ). Fortunately for Memphis May Fire, they happen to be one of the leaders in this category and with their new album, ‘Unconditional’; they’ll carry on leading. With The Forum taking a while to reach its capacity due to Brand New onstage at the same time, the lights drop and one by one the band walk out to kick off with ‘The Sinner’, ‘Alive In The Lights’ and ‘No Ordinary Love’. The dark room and strobe lights mounted across the back wall work well to set a wild atmosphere that only increases in velocity. It only really slows down for ‘Miles Away’. This song always raises the hairs on the back of our neck: it’s a song about distance, love and one so many can relate to; but when it’s performed live you see Matty Mullins genuinely connecting with what he’s singing. For those 4 minutes or so, everything changes and we are singing every word as if it were gospel truth. Memphis May Fire truly are worthy of their success and their headline slot at this year’s Hit The Deck Festival. I still feel there is a lot more to come from this band and I for one am looking forward to seeing them at Download 2014! 5/5 GP

Words by: Chris Hines, Emma Matthews, Madison Convey, Rhian Westbury, Amber Carniege and George Powell

Photos by: Romina Andrea

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