Nottingham Rock City, Stealth and Rescue Rooms
Despite the seemingly poor organization this year, Hit The Deck was an overall success for Nottingham. With an eclectic lineup there was something for everything, and that was reflected in the crowd, with a mishmash of genres and styles coming together to support and celebrate music. With 37 acts across 4 stages, it would have been impossible to see everyone, but there were many bands that stood out as particularly exceptional.
Everything about Hundredth is heavy. Heavy, heavy, even the sound check was heavy. Hundredth are a band born for the main stage. The way they move on stage proves that holding a guitar isn’t an excuse not to throw yourself around like a kid at a punk show. This is a band that demands attention, and they get it. People steadily filed in throughout the set, which flew by, proving they could easily play longer and later and wouldn’t have looked out of place amongst the bigger bands on the bill.
Amongst sporadic puffs of smoke A Great Big Pile of Leaves are greeted by a decent sized crowd in the Rock City basement. The band is soft-spoken and humble as they thank the audience for listening to them and proceed to play through a smooth set, bolstered by studio-quality clean vocals and transitions.
It’s clear from the get-go that Hacktivist have acquired a substantial fan base and a great reputation despite having little recorded work. Their entrance is accompanied by dramatic intro music and they are welcomed to the Rock City Main Room by a rapidly growing crowd. Playing well-tried favourites like ‘False Idols’, ‘Niggas in Paris’ (a cover) as well as songs from a promised new album, one thing is clear. This is a band that knows how to work a room.
Tucked away in the depths of Stealth, arguably the darkest venue, Oceans Ate Alaska are playing a set so intensely heavy that the air itself seems to be vibrating. The three-piece persevere despite the crowd being a little on the thin side, playing an overall well received set to a handful of enthusiastic fans.
News of The Swellers last ever tour has spread fast as the Rescue Rooms is packed out before the show even starts. They need no introduction, launching into a set filled with nostalgia, with the crowd singing the chorus’ back to the band. Despite the sense of an impending ending for the five-piece, it’s all smiles tonight as ‘The Swellers’ leave the stage.
To the sound of hundreds of voices chanting Cancer Bats, the band takes the stage. They look right at home against their stage setup of a city with the ‘Cancer Bats’ planet logo splashed across the backdrop. Launching into ‘Arsenic In The Year Of The Snake’, it’s clear that in this moment, the room belongs to them.
Twenty minutes before they’re due to play, the first two rows are full with eager fans. This should tell you a little bit about The Xcerts, who have been quietly building an impressive discography and fan-base. Prior to their appearance they ambitiously promised to play their new record in its entirety, but as they take the stage front man Murray Macleod apologises and says this will not be possible for ‘reasons out of their control’. However, they burn through an impressive set list all the same, with crowd favourites ‘Shaking in the Water’, ‘Pop Song’ and ‘I Don’t care’ from the new album, as well as ever-popular ‘Slackerpop’. The set flies by, a sure sign the band captured the crowd and created a rare moment in which there was only a band, a crowd, and the music.
The excitement in the Rescue Rooms is bordering on hysteria in the build-up to FrnkIero and the cellabration. Despite arriving on stage fifteen minutes late, the band makes up for lost time with a jaw-dropping set. Proudly proclaiming their New Jersey roots, frontman Frank played through some clear crowd favourites, such as ‘She’s the Prettiest Girl at the Party’, ‘Joyriding’ and ‘Weighted’. Signing off with a smooth “’Til we meet again”, FrnkIero and the Cellabration are a band to watch out for.
Accompanied by ‘The Imperial March’ with a twist, Skindred take the stage with all the bravado and enthusiasm they deserve. Wearing a ridiculous coat made of furry St. George’s crosses, frontman Benji Webb launches right into popular ‘Kill the Power’, exceeding all expectations for the show in the first have minutes. “Nottingham Rock City Hit the Deck let me hear you scream!” And scream they do. The crowd erupts, drowning out the band, and it’s chaos and carnage for the rest of the set. Despite this, Benji remains in control, proving Skindred to be one of the best live bands of all time. Promising to play ‘old songs, songs never heard before, and new songs’, Skindred deliver, playing through older favourites like ‘Trouble’ and ‘Nobody’ as well as ‘Proceed With Caution’ from the heavily anticipated new album.
The crowd obey Benji’s every command, to sing, scream, and bounce. With hands raised in the air, Skindred’s set feels like a religious experience, with Benji exclaiming “I wanna see this place explode. Not for Skindred, but for the spirit of rock and roll.”
Skindred end their set with an intensely active rendition of ‘Warning’, as Benji commands everyone to get down on the ground, only to jump up for the start of the final song. The band are in their element, riding the waves of electricity produced between the band and the crowd. Every person in the room, whether they entered a Skindred fan or not, leaves with a sense of being part of something special. Hit the Deck 2015 will be remembered for many reasons, but mostly for what Skindred have created tonight.