The Hit the Deck Festival once again rolled into Nottingham at the end of April, with the legendary Skindred headlining things. Josh Hall, Tom Woodward-Massey and Geri Patterson were there to catch the best of the days actions – plus keep an eye out for our podcast on the event over at NGDigital where you’ll be able to hear interviews from the day.
First to play were Canadian garage-pop band JPNSGRLS, and boy were they a good act to start the day. From the frontman Charlie’s excellent stage presence, to the catchy, intricate melodies and riffs of guitarist Ollie, the set simply rocked.
With only a 20-minute set, it’s amazing just how much the four-piece stood out for me. Drawing from a wide array of influences (think The Mars Volta with Tame Impala sensibilities and a bit of Black Keys on the side), they were not only a pleasure to watch, but a pleasure to listen to. Playing an incredibly tightly-woven set of songs, full of intensity and gusto, I couldn’t have thought of a better band to kick the day off with.
They’re also super, super nice guys
You Blew It!
Fast and Furious 7… Slayer… Strobe lights… just a few things mentioned during a very entertaining, funny set by Florida indie/emo quintet You Blew It!
Playing to a packed out room, insisting on more strobe lights and smoke on stage, the four-piece delivered a stand-out set, with excellent instrumentation and a diverse sound. Not playing any tracks from their Weezer cover album “You Blue It!” (yep, those boys like their jokes), they delivered a standout set, featuring songs all the way from their 2012 LP debut, to their most recent 2015 3-track EP.
The songs were fluent, the music interesting, and the solos (as the Americans say) blazing, “You Blew It!” seriously impressed me and others alike.
Next up were Belgium four piece Oathbreaker, showcasing their unique blend of hardcore punk, black metal and sludge metal.
The 30 minutes they played were more of a ritualistic experience than a set, with eerie, atmospheric stage lights and front-woman Caro Tanghe cloaked in a long black dress, her hair masking her face, crouching in front of the drum kit amidst the feedback drenched song breaks. The extremely powerful screeching vocals perfectly complimented the breakneck drums, dissonant guitars and body trembling bass riffs with songs consisting mainly from their most recently released album, Eros|Anteros.
The set was over far too soon, being summed up with the last drum hit issuing in a huge strobe light blast followed by pitch blackness, undoubtedly converting many unacquainted cheering crowd members to their music. Their blend of atmosphere and monstrous metal can be compared to their Deathwish label owners Converge, the post-metal of Neurosis and the black metal genre bending of Alcest and Deafheaven, yet with a unique take of underground hardcore.
Allusondrugs are a band from Castleford in West Yorkshire, a neighbouring town to where I live back home away from Nottingham. Quite luckily I’ve had the privilege to support them in local shows with my own band, and have seen them perform many, many times. So when they start breaking through the likes of Kerrang! Magazine, do a supporting tour with Enter Shikari, and release a debut EP to a rapturous reception, I feel nothing but proud for the five-piece.
Anyways their set: it was lovely. Chaotic, ecstatic, a little bit weird, a little bit emotional… it was a lovely mix of all those sounds, feelings and colours. The band were clearly enjoying themselves, with Jason Moules acting as wonderfully-strange as always, bassist Jemalki rocking out like no other, and all the other members simply knocking the shit out of their instruments. They were an absolute joy to watch, and as stage banter occurred, with Jason even making ‘your mum’ comebacks, they were certainly a stand out band from the day.
With diversity heavily involved in their sound, their set moved from one sound to another in a seamless fashion. With standout tracks such as “Am I Weird?” featuring a shoegaze bridge and Deftones inspired ending, and Weezer infused tracks such as “I Should Have Gone To Uni”, the band delivered a set that was memorable, danceable, enjoyable and, put simply, damn good. Well done ar lads.
Monuments are a groove / progressive metal band from London. And they are brutal.
Huge, sludgy, tightly syncopated riffs, growling bass lines, melodic leads and captivating synths and samples made Monuments one of the stand-out metal acts of the day.
Frontman Chris Baretto was absolutely on-point, with fantastic vocal delivery and stage presence- at one point Chris got everyone down on their knees before a brutal breakdown ignited everyone to their feet and a huge pit opened up. They were really standout, and their music (despite it’s heavy, hard-hitting ways) had a lot of intricacies and pop-sensibilities, creating a catchy, yet heavy, performance.
It was then the turn of Cancer Bats, playing one of the most memorable sets of the day.
The crowd went insane as soon as the first notes of opener Arsenic in the Year of The Snake graced the packed Rock City room. Frontman Liam Cormier was as energetic and charismatic as ever, hyping up the crowd with the bands sludge-hardcore-Southern rock hybrid, treating them to songs such as Bricks and Mortor and the bouncy Sabbath-esque Lucifer’s Rocking Chair, as well as lending heavily from their latest album Searching for Zero.
The mosh pits were present throughout the set, with Cormier telling the crowd to start circle pits for one of their heaviest numbers, Sorceress. Spirits remained high throughout, both from the band and the audience, peaking upon the Beastie Boys’ classic cover, Sabotage and climaxing at fan favourite, Hail Destroyer (to which it appeared everyone chanted along with a shortness of breath). Cancer Bats did not fail to disappoint, appearing as not only tightly fitting musicians, but also crowd pleasers, with Liam and drummer Mike high fiving audience members after set closer True Zero was played.
Rolo Tomassi were unlike any band I’ve ever seen before. Their female vocalist, who looked (let’s be honest), pretty cute, would be singing a lovely melody line before screaming incredibly proficiently. Their bassist never looked at his fret-board, whilst constantly nailing every note (it was like he was staring into your soul, quite spooky). They had a keyboard / organ player, and intense, complex guitar and drum parts.
Yet, despite all this, it worked. It really worked. It was quite phenomenal. Their songs reminded me of Protest The Hero crossed with Dillinger Escape Plan crossed with My Bloody Valentine crossed with whatever else seems fit. And yep, it all worked out lovely. Their last song especially was brilliant, creating a huge pit of cheery, sweaty adults, as everyone just broke down to the fantastic, unique musicianship.
I managed to catch Skindred which to be honest I think a lot of people were looking forward to seeing, & I thought sod it I am going to enjoy this set as usually I have either a camera or a bag with me, but this time put my bag away and joined the crowd, and it was so bloody electric, next thing I know I ended up in the mosh pit (rare for me) but bloody loved it, the crowd all kneeling down for the “Newport helicopter” was a pretty amazing thing to see around 300 people all crouching down.