‘Hit the Deck’ festival bring rock ‘n’ roll antics to Nottingham

“Hit the Deck” festival returned for another round of the best in up-and-coming bands in rock, punk and hardcore this year.

It graced the streets of Nottingham on Sunday, April 21st, 2013 with headliners We Are the Ocean, We Are the In Crowd, Never Shout Never and Don Bronco.

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We Are The Ocean bassist Jack Spence performing as part of the festival. Photo: Jess Mason

With over 50 bands performing, it was a hard task catching them all whilst running after some for interviews, which included being stuck in a lift with 10 lads from alternative rock band Dingus Khan. So here’s a taster of the day, plus some of the interview highlights.

Despite a power cut in the Rescue Rooms pushing punk rock, Nissan Micra touring triplet, Great Cynics to the later time of 4pm, post-rock instrumental band Maybeshewill were the first on the agenda.

Although you may feel like your hanging on the edge as you wait for some vocals, the rhythms and melodies this band kicks out makes you realise they don’t need them. Their pure sound forced the crowd to sway in time, but they were the calm before the storm (7/10).

All-girl pop-punk band Evarose played a strong set, encouraging their fans to sing along to their catchy beats. One of the great things about young bands is the pure enjoyment on stage.

Their lead singer, Dannika Webber, bounced across the stage whilst the lead guitarist, Imogen Leslie, strummed her guitar whilst head banging which would keep any rock fan entertained (7/10).

It was then time for some of the big guns to take the stage in the main arena of Rock City; Attack Attack!. The band have split punk rock fans apart with their use of electronica within their metalcore tracks, but the energy let off from their stage presence was overwhelming. They packed a punch with much loved hits Smokahontas and Stick Stickly (7/10).

We Are the Ocean brought things down a peg or two with their own energy, treating their crowd to what lead guitarist Alfie Scully called “all the hits”, and he told no lie. Crowd pleasers “Young Heart”, “Machine”, and “Bleed” played out over the crowd, before finishing on the ever so loved “The Waiting Room” (10/10).

As a headlining act, this was the band’s second appearance at the festival, having previously played two years ago. Scully said: “It’s been pretty cool to see it progress over the years.

“With festivals, you get more people who wouldn’t normally see your band. You get to see a range of different people and there’s a really good atmosphere.”

The Essex lads now look forward to a summer of touring with their album “Go Now and Live”. Scully admitted that they are very proud of the album: “It wasn’t forced. To a degree, it’s very personal as we take pride in what we do.

“We were taken aback by the turn out of the last tour. The amount of people singing along to the songs, you really get a buzz from the crowds reaction.”

The boys will also be recording a few live tracks in May, but what is it that gets the boys ready for their live shows? Scully said: “Jim Bean or Jack Daniels, or down a red bull before a show. You never feel the comedown until you’re off the stage. But it’s never a good idea to eat before you got on!”

America’s best in pop-punk then materialised onto the Rock City Stage. We Are the In Crowd were an easy crowd-pleaser from the start with the tuneful melodies belted out by front woman Taylor Jardine and front man Jordan Eckes, whilst the band poured out some of their hits “Rumour Mill”, “Kiss Me Again” and “Never Be What You Want” (10/10).

This year was also the band’s second appearance at Hit the Deck, but this time as headliners. Jardine exclaimed: “It feels good! I hope the fans didn’t forget about us!”

However, with the band becoming stronger each year with small venues turning into huge crowds, Jardine admitted this is something they miss with one particular show in Boston being the highlight: “There was no barricade and kids were all over the stage and getting pushed into it. It was pretty awesome as you were pretty much on the floor and I was catching the kids.”

But bass player Mike Ferri said there are perks to bigger venues: “I do like big rooms where you can do backflips over each other and play for a ton of people, but I’m feeling soar today so probably no backflips!”

Festivals like Hit the Deck also bring a few nerves for the band. Drummer Rob Chianelli admitted: “The only thing we get nervous about is that you don’t get a sound check.”

Jardine agreed that it was more of a “technical nerve”, but it can sneak up on them without warning: “It happened to me yesterday (in Bristol). I was in a really weird mood and I thought to myself; ‘I’m nervous’.”

He continued: “Nothing triggers it. But, if I had it my way, I would never play in front of anyone I’d met before in my life. It’s cause if my mum is out there, my girlfriend, my friends, they know I’m a loser. Other people don’t know so I can pretend to be the coolest person on stage.”

Meanwhile, Pure Love packed a firmer punch back in the Rescue Rooms, displaying the first signs of real aggression. Ex-Gallows frontman Frank Carter used his talent for obscene language to hype up the crowd, whilst he was being sick on stage due to some sort of flu. Talk about rock n’ roll (8/10).

The show followed accordingly, with lead guitarist Jim Carroll crowd-surfing from the go ahead, head banging and shredding his guitar, whilst fans struggled to support his thrashing body.

Frank Carter then literally made his way into the crowd to grab a vodka and coke from the bar, which obviously sent the crowd into a frenzy of snapping photographs of the tattooed wonder.

It was then that Carter pulled another cat from the bag, moving his drummer and entire kit in toe into the centre of the audience. Fans were then commanded to run at top speed around the drummer as soon as the beat dropped in the next song.

This performance definitely places Pure Love on the spectrum for the most eventful rock n’ roll performance for a relatively small festival like Hit the Deck.

Finally, it was time for the biggest act of the festival. A band that a friend once said had so much swag they are the rock version of the Backstreet Boys; Don Bronco.

Fronted by heartthrob/The Fonz lookalike, Rob Damiani, treated their fans to not only his muscles which bulged from a baby pink polo shirt, but also to the bands unmistakably unique and hard hitting sound (10/10).

Damiani’s image made the words “I miss you Pumpkin, I miss you babe” in hit “Priorities” that so much more believable, leaving the female fans swooning and throwing knickers at the stage, which Rob was chanted into wearing.

Along with this, it’s obvious why this four piece from Bedford has come so far so fast, as they don’t just have good looks but an amazing sound. It catapulted the entire audience into a frenzy of jumping bodies, ending the night on an enormous high along with Damiani making sure he thanked all the bands involved in the day.

This ending proved what these festivals are all about – talented bands coming together to give fans the best in the alternative rock music scene, as well as showing their support for new talent across the spectrum.

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