LIVE: Hit The Deck Festival @ Nottingham (20/04/2014)

Date: April 20th, 2014
Venue: Various Venues, Northampton


Standing strong once again for what will now be its fourth year running, Hit The Deck Festival has returned for its two locations across a weekend expansion, and have managed to reel in the somewhat elusive Brand New as their main stage headliner this time around. With another five stages spread across Nottingham boasting another rather hefty line-up, it’s going to be another undoubtedly successful year for Hit The Deck Festival.


First band of the day across the whole of the festival site this year comes from local boys Adelphia, who sound very similar to early era You Me At Six. Though they definitely try and get the crowd involved, especially during their cover of ‘A Thousand Miles’ (arguably the highlight of their set), what really lets them down is the vocals. Admittedly, frontman Nicholas Crampton confesses he’s suffering from a sore throat, sadly this unfortunate crutch makes for a painful listen, and the sounddesk making his vocals overpower everything else makes matters worse. [ZR]

They’ve been away for a while, working on album number three, but it’s great to see The Xcerts finally out of hiding again. Though only granted a short 30 minute long set, the band manage to cram a balance of their two albums, including ‘Do You Feel Safe?’ and ‘Scatterbrain’, and even give us a sneak peek into two new songs. Although just a three-piece, The Xcerts sound absolutely massive, especially during set closer, ‘Slackerpop’. Keep an eye on these guys this year. [ZR]

Australian rockers Hands Like Houses have made quite a name for themselves over the UK now since the release of their latest album, ‘Unimagine’, and with a large proportion of the crowd singing along to ‘Antarctica’ and ‘No Parallels’. Frontman Trenton Woodley‘s voice soars throughout the room and axe-men Alexander Pearson and Matt Cooper keep the momentum high through ‘Lion Skin’, a definite set highlight. Clearly, these guys are ready for their headline UK tour. [ZR]

Leeds based grunge revival trio Dinosaur Pile-Up are definitely the more light-hearted and care-free band gracing the main stage so far today, and blitzing through tracks like ‘White T-Shirt And Jeans’ and ‘Traynor’. Frontman Matt Bigland gets the whole room to scream “fuck yeah” for the evening’s headliners Brand New, before going all rock ‘n’ roll on us and throwing himself on the floor during set closer, ‘Nature Nurture’. [ZR]

Ever since the release of their debut album, ‘The Silence In Black And White’, emo rockers Hawthorne Heights have never really obtained that level of success again (at least not over here in the UK). So, ten years on from the release of that record, they’re back to play it in full to celebrate such a milestone anniversary. Sadly, other than the nostalgia aspect, especially for flagship hits ‘Niki FM’ and ‘Ohio Is For Lovers’, there’s very little else to gain from their set. Most of the members look like they’re going through the motions, whereas Micah Carli looks overly enthusiastic and over the top. [ZR]

Definitely sweet and sugary enough to cause several cavities from hearing just one song, The Summer Set are definitely the main stage’s pop band of the day. Frontman Brian Dales has a great voice and, combined with a few dance moves onstage, manages to get the crowd to move along with him during ‘Chelsea’ and ‘Fuck U Over’. Drummer Jess Bowen delivers an impressive performance, especially for being in a pop-rock band, and closing with ‘Lightning In A Bottle’, the band walk away with a mission to entertain accomplished. [ZR]

Folk punks The Front Bottoms are closing off their tour as opening support for Brand New with a final set at Nottingham’s Hit The Deck, and may be the last time they’re on UK shores for a while now. Though definitely unique compared to the other bands playing the main stage today, their janty and drink-beer-along-to-this-whilst-dancing style is definitely fun to get involved with. As such, people do, singing along with frontman Brian Sella during ‘The Beers’ and ‘Twin Size Mattress’. They certainly closed the curtains on their latest visit to the UK well. [ZR]

Another band that have come out of hiding from the depths of the studio making album number three, Leeds rockers Pulled Apart By Horses are definitely a fun band to experience live, if nothing else. Now sporting a waterfall of brown hair from atop his head, Tom Hudson is still the erratic frontman with punk screeches that he has always been, belting out fan favourites ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’ and ‘V.E.N.O.M.’ along with a few cuts from the new album. Though perhaps not as insane as they normally are, consider this merely PABH finding warming up after being away for so long. [ZR]

New Jersey’s Saves The Day are incredibly tight, but all the while they seem a little bit distracted and generally lethargic. Whilst the majority of their material comes from their earlier work, it’s obvious that much of the audience is only present to get a good spot for tonight’s headliners, Brand New. Frontman Chris Conley, however, is right on the mark throughout, and his vocal performance is nothing short of impressive. [JB]

BRAND NEW – 9/10
Proceeding to put almost every band of the day to shame with a lengthy hour and a half set, Brand New are engaging throughout and not a second is wasted. Opening with the ever ominous ‘Welcome To Bangkok’ before going into an incredibly powerful and emotionally-driven rendition of ‘You Won’t Know’, the venue is full of sing alongs, as every word is shouted back at vocalist Jesse Lacey. Their setlist is generally very good, playing fan favourites off each of their records, including ‘Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades’, ‘Seventy Times 7’ and ‘At The Bottom’. With that being said though, some would complain about the omissions of the likes of ‘Sowing Season (Yeah)’ and ‘Limousine (MS Redbridge)’. Still, the unit are incredibly tight throughout, even with the inclusion of a second percussionist, and ‘Soco Amaretto Lime’, with only Lacey onstage, works fantastically as a closer, with everyone singing the final refrain. A cathartic set for everybody present, for sure. [JB]


First up on the Big Deal Clothing stage in the Rock City Basement comes from Derby rock ‘n’ roll/punk rockers, Eva Plays Dead. Frontwoman Tiggy Dockerty certainly has an incredible voice which really sticks them out from the crop of bands who are just as young as them. The guys even get the crowd clapping a rhythm section for a good few minutes, replacing the drums whilst the four-piece get things going. A mention also needs to made to Zach Shannon, for his impressive mohawk. [ZR]

GHOULS – 7/10
Perhaps taking the title of the only band on this year’s line-up equipped with a saxophone and a trombone, Ghouls are definite up-and-comers, and their ska punk tunes gets the first few rows of the crowd skanking along. Ska punk isn’t really a regular occurance at Hit The Deck Festival, this year included, but the London based 5-piece deliver a set that could well change that for all those to come. [ZR]

VUKOVI – 7/10
Glaswegian four-piece Vukovi may only have a small crowd before them, but a few tracks into their set and the numbers certainly start to build, and for good reason. Vocalist Janine Shilstone makes good efforts to try and get more involvement from the rather relunctant crowd, before dancing along in her shiny pants to the likes of ‘Claudia’, a song that Shilstone confesses to be all about “spoilt little rich kids”. Hamish Reilly may also be carrying the most battered and worn out guitar at Hit The Deck this year, supplying the funky chords that fuels the band’s dancey rock. [ZR]

LYGER – 8/10
Alt rockers Lyger are sadly greeted to an almost empty room, which is a terrible shame when they happen to be one of the best bands on the Big Deal Clothing stage this year, along with clearly being the lesser known one too. Sounding like a mix of Nine Black Alps and The Vines, they come equipped with songs that are definitely fitting to grace bigger stages and notable support slots. They’re not really a band who you would air skateboard to though, despite the random guy doing just that mid-set. [ZR]

Irish boys A Plastic Rose follow suit in a similar style to Lyger, and also much like them they carry tunes that are much bigger than the stage they’re playing them on. Guitarists Ian McHugh and Gerry Norman trade vocal duties throughout the set, and at certain moments the band come across as a younger Brand New with their cathartic delivery. Spider-Man on the front row definitely enjoys it, especially their “pop track” ‘This Side Of Winter’, which gets him and many others in the crowd bouncing around. [ZR]

Pop-punk comes back to the Big Deal Clothing stage in the form of Save Your Breath, and the room is starting to really fill out now. The likes of ‘Harrow Road’ and ‘Maps’ gets the sweats dripping thanks to the efforts of the Newport based outfit, and frontman Kristian Richards‘ vocal work is on top form. Definitely an act worthy of rising the ranks with their genre peers Neck Deep and The Story So Far. [ZR]

The Big Deal Clothing stage’s penultimate act and single soloist William Beckett, formerly of The Academy Is… may be a solitary man on the stage, but with the aid of his Apple Mac providing a band as a backing track, it sounds like there’s another four members have got his back. Following his opening track, ‘Compromising Me’, Beckett leave the stage again, asking the crowd to pretend the set hadn’t started yet for him to enter with his intended intro music: Eminem‘s ‘My Name Is’, edited to have Beckett screaming his name where it would originally say “Slim Shady”. A man of talent and humour. [ZR]

Cramming six Welsh guys onto a stage as small as that in the Rock City Basement isn’t logistically reasonable, so it stands to reason that within seconds of set opener ‘I’m A Riot? You’re A Fucking Riot!’ that The Blackout co-vocalists Sean Smith and Gavin Butler would both rather stand on top of the crowd. Smith then proceeds to walk his walk across the bar and through the midst of the crowd for most of the song, before climbing on a pillar in the middle of the room and licking it. The set continues in a rather similar chaotic fashion from here on out, getting pits moving for the likes of ‘The Storm’, ‘We’re Going To Hell… So Bring The Sunblock’ and ‘Children Of The Night’. Once again, despite whether you’re a fan or not, The Blackout affirm themselves as one of the best live acts in British alt rock today. [ZR]


Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

One of the fastest rising bands in the UK emo scene, Sheffield two-piece Nai Harvest are disappointing and straight up boring, no matter how much frontman Ben Thompson moves around. Surprisingly though, they begin their set playing to an absolutely full room, with people peering through the doors of the bar next it. While their set is incredibly tight, courtesy of Lew Currie‘s drumming, many left, perhaps leaving Nottingham with more haters than new fans. [JB]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Everyone’s favourite shouty pop-punk band from Brighton return for a second year on the same stage, and straight from the go singer/bassist Charlie Piper apologises for the barrier. Gnarwolves‘ set is fun as fuck, as they blast through the majority of their material complete with huge singalongs, even treating fans to a new song at the end. The trio are humble and modest throughout, their stage banter is entertaining to say the least and their set is very tight and entertaining. Definitely the best band of the day on The Rescue Rooms stage. [JB]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Arizona’s The Word Alive deliver the goods aplenty, filling up The Rescue Rooms stage nicely. Every song is well-received by the audience, with ‘2012’ bringing in the biggest circle pit of the day. Tracks such as ‘Entirety’ and their latest offering, ‘Play The Victim’, demonstrate the versatility frontman Telle Smith, who easily commands the audience into a frenzy at the drop of a hat. It seems the band leave the venue with new fans and succeed in raising hype for their upcoming third full-length, ‘REAL’. [JB]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.


Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Amsterdam’s The Charm The Fury pack out Stealth, the smallest stage on offer and deliver a thoroughly enjoyable set, bass drops and all. Returning back to Nottingham after a tour with genre giants Heart Of A Coward, their music, whilst being fairly generic metalcore, is very tight. Vocalist Caroline Westendorp is the band’s secret weapon though, as she delivers her lyrics with a commanding and menacing low, similar to that of now ex-Arch Enemy singer, Angela Gossow. [JB]

BASTIONS – 10/10
If there’s one thing that Bastions prove, it’s that they’re one of the most underrated UK hardcore bands right now. The majority of the band’s material comes from their 2012 full-length, ‘Hospital Corners’, and their latest release, ‘Bedfellows: The Forgotten Daughter’, becoming cathartic, visceral and engaging throughout. Opener ‘Augury’ results in pile-ons and mic grabbing, and sets the tone for the rest of the set to come. Definitely one of the best bands of the day in Stealth, if not the whole festival. [JB]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Newly reformed melodic hardcore band More Than Life act as the main support on the Stealth stage and, unfortunately, deliver a sub-par set. No matter how much the band move around onstage, they lack the urgency of the bands earlier in the day and are completely outshined by some of them. A mix of new material in the wake of their new album, ‘What’s Left Of Me’ and older material from the ‘Love Let Me Go’ composes the majority of their set, but sadly with frontman James Matthews‘ ultimately weak performance really lowers the impact of what could’ve been, lacking the angst found in the band’s studio works. [JB]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.


Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

THE MAINE – 8/10
Arizona’s The Maine bring their usual upbeat pop-rock to a fairly large crowd in The Forum, and their performance is absolutely solid, not that you’d think it with the amount of static attendees. The band deliver two tracks off of their last three full-lengths, with set highlights being ‘Run’ and ‘Misery’. Despite all of their great aspects, the band could benefit by moving around a little more and generally having a bit more fun onstage, even if the crowd are almost zombified. [JB]

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.

Sadly, we were unable to catch this set.


Unfortunately, we were unable to catch and review any acts that performed on this stage.

Written by Zach Redrup [ZR] and Jack Boaden [JB]

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