Hit The Deck Festival 2014 @ Nottingham Review

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Nottingham’s Hit The Deck indoor festival has grown in size over the past four years, expanding last year to include another day in Bristol and, having bagged emo legends Brand New as this years headliners, 2014 is sure to be the growing festivals biggest and best year yet.

Kicking things off on the Rock City main stage are local boys Adelphia, whose brand of heavy, screamo tinged rock kicks off the day in grand fashion. Considering they’re the first band of the day, they’ve managed to fill the 2500 capacity venue up fairly well, with the main floor nearly full. 6/10

Next up are alt. rock heroes The Xcerts who pull off a perfectly acceptable set today, peppered with massive vocal hooks and great riffs; unfortunately, they’re held back by an all too early set and a crowd still finding their feet first thing in the afternoon. The pace does pick up nearer to the end of the set, with the crowd beginning to sing along to hit songs such as “Shaking In The Water” and “Slackerpop”. 6.5/10

Nearby, a huge queue snakes it’s way around the tiny Dr. Martens shop in Nottingham’s high street. Locals pass by, casting strange looks at the small army amassed outside a closed shoe shop on Easter Sunday. Many of these fans (including myself) have been stood outside the shop for close to an hour, waiting for a unique acoustic set from pop punk rising stars Neck Deep. As the excitement reaches fever pitch, a minuscule war breaks out after someone shouts a tough question: “what do you call them; bread rolls or cobs?!” Once the doors are opened, I was shocked. Fifty plus screaming fans all sat politely in rows, legs crossed like they were in primary school. Once everything kicked off, Ben Barlow and Co. delivered. Big time. The set was close to entirely crowd picked, filled with tunes spanning each of Neck Deep’s three releases and Barlow’s voice sounded miles better live than on record, especially on stand-out song “Crushing Grief.” 8.5/10

Rock Sins had the privilege of chatting to Neck Deep’s Ben Barlow; see here for that short interview.

Over at The Forum, People On Vacation are preparing to play a storming set of pop rock goodness. The crowd are finally warming up and when the band cover The Bitch Song – “a really great song by a really great band” – lead singer Jaret Reddick’s other little known band, Bowling For Soup, the place goes off. It is sad that the cover song gets the best reaction of a superb set from the crowd, but that’s how things are. Of course, you don’t just go to a Jaret Reddick gig for the music, and People On Vacation’s inter song banter is the best of the day, with a childish highlight being “I didn’t realise that was a fog machine. I thought some guy was just farting!” 7/10

The Summer Set’s particular brand of sugar sweet pop rock strikes a chord in Nottingham, with Rock City’s main stage nearly at capacity. It would go amiss not to mention just how well The Summer Set play to their target audience; they’re essentially a really good boyband. They’re certainly not much heavier than One Direction, and each song seems to be about love and heartbreak; but god damn are they catchy tunes, with “Chelsea” being a particular highlight. Frontman Brian Dales keeps the audience in the palm of his hand throughout their set, oozing charm, bravado and sex appeal like Elvis born again. One to watch; the charts might just await The Summer Set if they play their cards right. 7/10

Patent Pending are one of those bands who are good on record, but absolutely incredible in the live arena. Within the first thirty seconds of opening song “Shake Weights and Moving Crates” co vocalist Joe Ragosta has already stagedived twice, and their eight song set goes on to include synchronised dancing, getting the entire crowd to jump for coins during “Hey Mario” and the “Olympic Sport” of Crowd Swimming, where each of the co vocalists don a pair of swimming goggles, walk to the end of the venue and entrust the crowd to return them to the stage. Highlights of the set include a mosh pit inducing cover of Andrew WK’s Party Hard and two separate pirate themed songs, complete with pirate hook hand gestures. Tonight, Patent Pending just aren’t content until the entire crowd is dancing. If you get a chance, see this band live. You won’t regret it. 10/10

Rock Sins had the privilege of chatting to Patent Pending’s Joe Ragosta; check back with us very soon to read that interview.

What can be said about Baby Godzilla that has not already been said? They’re less band and more a visceral force of nature, an example of a punk rock show done perfectly. Tonight, Stealth is rammed full for this home-town show; including a guy in full Spiderman costume, complete with mask. Despite the energetic crowd, you can’t take your eyes off the band tonight. Within seconds, an amplifier is thrown into the crowd, swiftly followed by a guitar and several members of the band. Eventually their set simply becomes a whirling mass of limbs and instruments and it begins to feel like a genuinely unsafe environment; especially once guitarist Jonny Hall begins to treat the roof like a set of monkey bars. All three members of the band not anchored behind a drum kit end up in the crowd at various points, and by the end of the set almost all of the strings on their guitars are broken. 9/10

Fate has been cruel to Kids In Glass Houses. In another reality, they might be the ones who stormed Wembley Arena late last year, but instead we are here, with the Welsh rockers embarking on their final stretch of festival dates before their farewell tour later in the year. Aled Phillips and co. perform remarkably, smashing each and every one of Kids In Glass Houses mega hits into pieces before a capacity Forum like a band in their prime. Often, when a band is due to break up, questions arise about the reason for their split. The only question being asked tonight is “Do you have to leave?” 8/10

Round the corner, The Blackout are about to destroy Rock City’s Basement. Despite tough competition from their fellow Welshmen, the small room is very nearly full for the famous rockers. Performing a setlist that is essentially a ‘best of The Blackout’, every song had the entire room bouncing, but none more so than fan favourite “Children of the Night”. Co vocalists Sean Smith and Gavin Butler bounce around the room like madmen, with Smith wandering over to the bar and being rewarded with free beer, before noticing a nearby pole and deciding to give the audience a lapdance. With heavy hitters like “Save Ourselves” The Blackout manage to start mosh pits that take over the entire floor and get everyone jumping, even those previously sat on the benches to the sides. 10/10

Rock Sins had the privilege of chatting to Sean Smith from The Blackout, that interview will be available here very soon.

Brutality Will Prevail are held back by a somewhat small crowd, with even vocalist Louis Gauthier admitting that “even [I] would rather be seeing Brand New”. This doesn’t hinder the Cardiff quintet for long though, as they smash their way through a brutal setlist comprised of deathcore classics. Only the songs from their newest album Suspension Of Consciousness go down at all limply, demonstrating the profoundly mixed reaction it garnered from fans. All the odds were stacked against Brutality Will Prevail tonight, but they managed to come through admirably. 7/10

Although we only managed to catch the second half of Brand New’s performance, if the first half was anything like the stunning finale, Nottingham received a set of startling emo classics, performed perfectly. Watching the crowd, one sees an odd mix of elated expressions and mournful tears, which essentially sums up Brand New. 8/10

Hit The Deck 2014 was an absolute treat, and yet another sign of the power of local festivals. The sense of community at Hit The Deck is nearly unparalleled, with communities both geographical and musical mingling with a tongue in cheek outlook. Bring on festival season! 10/10.

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