Live Review: Hit The Deck Festival – Nottingham – 22/4/2012

Now in its second year, Nottingham’s Hit The Deck Festival once again showcased the best in rock, punk, metal and hardcore with a stellar line-up of established, familiar names and lesser-known, emerging acts. For fans it gives them the opportunity to see their favorite bands but also gives them the chance to discover something new.

In the case of Baby Godzilla and Violet, Hit The Deck is a great opportunity for both bands to make themselves known. Local boys Baby Godzilla start the off in blistering fashion on the intimate Valencourt Apparel Stage (Stealth.) With an aggressive sound dominated by epic heavy riffs and an energetic stage presence, the Nottingham quartet made their mark and set the tone for the rest of what was to come. (SR)

Over at Rock City, Derby’s Violet leave a decent impression with their brand of post-hardcore. Most notably clean vocalist Johnny Nelson steps up the big stage with   a compelling voice, and gives the septet a uniqueness that is especially needed in their chosen genre. A promising band that I’m sure we’ll hear more of this year. (SR)

Playing to a packed out room at Stealth, POLAR have without a doubt stepped up a mark with this performance. For a band playing early on in the day the crowd’s energy didn’t cease, with particular enthusiasm for new single ‘H.E.L.L.’ with moshpits galore, a wall of death and a circle pit as wide as the venue, POLAR lived up to their reputation and produced an unforgettable set. (HG)

Decade took to the stage at Rock City Basement and stunned the crowd with an exceptional performance, playing a strong set of songs from both their debut and self-titled EP’s. Their hit ‘It’s Good To Be A Vampire’ really got the crowd moving with frontman Alex Sears gaining confidence and getting up close and personal with their fans. Ending on latest single ‘Never Enough’ and shouting lyrics “Now I’m taking over the world”, I think the lads could be doing just that. (HG)

Back over on the Valencourt Apparel Stage, Japanese metal band Crossfaith raise a few eyebrows and rallied up the crowd with a non-stop show of electronica-influenced hardcore, a style that most of the crowd eat up throughout the day. (SR)

At the Rescue Rooms, Brighton’s Blackstorm play an admirable set of heavy rock ‘n’ roll with thick, aggressive riffs aplenty. However with a small turnout, you can’t help but feel a little sympathetic towards the quartet. Nevertheless those who were there, were left impressed especially with Karl Middleton’s vocals. (SR)

Up next was Watford’s Spy Catcher and despite a few technical issues, they soldiered through to pull off a tight set made up of a selection of cuts from last year’s ‘Honesty’ record with singles ‘Remember Where You Were When Michael Jackson Died’ and ‘Don’t Like People’ especially receiving a good response. (SR)

The guys in Yashin definitely deserve their spot today on the main Rock City stage, having toured the UK numerous times they have perfected their craft. Playing through songs like ‘Get Loose’, ‘Down but Homeward Bound’ and ‘Stand Up’ really get the crowd moving and singing along. New songs like ‘New Year, Or New York’ and ‘Runaway Train’ sound really heavy and certainly impress the Nottingham crowd. (AW)

Away from the hardcore sounds, pop-rockers We Are The In Crowd produce a feel-good set on the main stage at Rock City filled with hooks and catchy singalongs that receive a great response. Whilst The Dangerous Summer equally please with a warming set made up of the bands more favorable material with the likes of ‘No One’s Gonna Need You More’ and ‘Where I Want To Be’ receiving a strong response. (SR)

Over at The Forum, Imperial Leisure bring some good old ska punk to Hit The Deck. With bright, upbeat numbers like ‘Landlord’s Daughter,’ the London group get the crowd moving along in unison. Whereas local comedy folk punk act, Arse Full of Chips leave spectators both amused and curious, as the quartet sing about what they would do if they were on the X-Factor, Harry Potter being gay and so on, but for some the novelty quickly wears off. (SR)

Playing their show in the main venue of Rock City as part of their UK headline tour, Of Mice & Men were pumped and performed to one of the rowdiest crowds of the festival. Opening up a moshpit almost the size of the venue, the band pleased their fans with some of their most well known hits, including ‘Ben Threw’ and ‘Second & Sebring’. Frontman Austin Carlile spiced up the set by throwing his vest into the crowd, showing just how much heat the room was producing for their overwhelmingly heavy performance. (HG)

Heights are a band that people should definitely check out and quick. Throwing themselves around the Valencourt Apparel stage (Stealth) and swinging up against the speakers near the barrier the guys put everything into their set. Songs from last year’s full release ‘Dead Ends’ sound truly heavy and their heavy set has hopefully helped them pick up a few new fans. (AR)

Across the road at The Forum, Bat Sabbath (Cancer Bats) exceptionally pull of an array of Black Sabbath classics, especially ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Iron Man.’ The Canadian four-piece inject some thick, aggressive hardcore to these metal classics.

While the turnout for The Swellers is somewhat underwhelming but this doesn’t spoil the show for the Michigan group as they played a tight eight-song set, and finished on our rousing high with ‘Fire Away’ and ‘The Best I Ever Had’ being sung loud and proud by those in attendance. (SR)

If you haven’t seen Don Broco before then here’s one piece of advice; buy a ticket to their next show. Their performance today oozes confidence, playing classics ‘Dreamboy’ and ‘Beautiful Morning’ alongside new single ‘Priorities’ with fans singing; “Miss you pumpkin, I miss you babe” in unison. If this wasn’t enough, they even treated the crowd to the very promising ‘Fancy Dress’ off their upcoming album, which if anything proved that the best is yet to come for the Bedford lads. (HG)

Having gained a new bass player and drummer, the Rise To Remain boys are at their first ever Hit The Deck festival appearance. ‘The Serpent’ sounds heavier than normal and gets the pit opening in the small Rescue Rooms venue. Only playing around four or five songs their set closes with ‘Bridges Will Burn’, a perfect mix of heavy yet melodic metal at its best and finishes the bands set off perfectly. (AW)

Philadelphia’s The Wonder Years had the honor of headlining the Big Deal Clothing Stage at Rock City Basement, and it’s no surprised the relatively intimate setting is jammed packed. From the opening moments of ‘Local Man Ruins Everything’ to the end of ‘All My Friends Are In Bar Bands,’ the Basement is a thriving, energetic ball of pop-punk brilliance. With highlights throughout, The Wonder Years delivers one of the highlights of the day. (SR)

Back at the Rescue Rooms, Cancer Bats were playing their 8th show in 2 days and it was clear they weren’t slowing down anytime soon, as their set was bursting with a surprising amount of energy. Mixing up their performance with a variety of songs, including favourite Beastie Boys cover ‘Sabotage’ the Canadian rockers headlined the Rescue Room stage to a full capacity crowd and proved just how passionate they are about their music. A great way to end an remarkable day at Hit The Deck Festival. (HG)

Most people who arrive to watch Zebrahead have no doubt been on their feet for over 18 hours and have no energy and just want to relax and have a drink. But what the band does is get everyone into that ‘afterparty’ mood and make everyone feel happy. Playing through some of their biggest hits like ‘Playmate of the Year’, ‘Postcards from Hell’ and ‘Anthem’ really makes the crowd feel happy and dance along. Playing through a medley of pop covers, it brings a smile onto any tired faces and finish the day’s music leaving everyone smiling and happy. (AW)

Once again Hit The Deck proved to be a success with a stellar and varied line-up which lived up to its potential. 

Words by Sean Reid (SR), Hannah Gillicker (HG) and Aaron Wilson (AW)

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