Hit The Deck is a relatively new one-day festival, taking place in both Nottingham and Bristol. This year the lineup looked stronger than ever, with acts like Brand New, Pulled Apart By Horses and Dinosaur Pile-Up catching my eye in particular. And seeing as Bristol’s my hometown I felt it was only right to head down and catch all the action. Below is my pick of the top 5 bands I saw at Hit The Deck:
1. The Gnarwhals
First up were the I don’t give a fuck about anything and I’ll sing about skateboarding and pizza band, The Gnarwhals. Playing to a half empty crowd at The Fleece didn’t seem to phase these guys either, walking on stage wearing Hawaiian t-shirts and drinking Red Stripe at midday – So it’s established pretty quickly that these guys are here to party…
They’re the kind of band you just can’t take seriously, but you get the impression that’s probably the intention. Pop Shuv It I Luv It is a dismal attempt at any sort of tuneful musicality, but somehow they pull it off with a hardcore-swing-spin sound that’s refreshingly lax in such a try-hard industry.
Their lighthearted approach is a perfect warm up for the rest of the day and gives us an excuse to start drinking early on (not that we really needed one) – Cheers lads!
Although this time the Dublin hailing rockers unfortunately didn’t bring along the luck of the Irish with them, as they’re let down by a sound technician who can’t level out his A’s from his B’s.
It’s the most frustrating thing when you can see a band that has so much potential, but the sound is a compromising factor. Having said that, Wounds did well to tackle the issue, diving headlong into a frantic noise of chaos. These guys are worth checking out, but just don’t go and watch them at the Fleece.
3. Dinosaur Pile-Up
Raw guitar drones, awkward lyrics and angsty vocals have helped to create wonderfully organised chaos; presenting Dinosaur Pile-Up as one of the most exciting trios on the rock’n’roll scene right now.
Arizona Waiting is the forceful head banging momentum of attention seeking elation that we’ve been waiting for, with bleach-haired Matt Bigland capturing the audience with explosive waves of guitar thrashing and serrated screams.
As a live band, very few can match up to their perfected state of zombielike choral incisions during aptly named My Rock’n’Roll and White T-Shirt and Jeans, which tauntingly embraces a cut-through repetition that characterise any discomfort. Their ability to completely tear the house down, as well as conducting a slightly geeky approach gives Dinosaur Pile-Up an amiable edge and my standout highlight of the day.
4. Pulled Apart By Horses
Pulled Apart By Horses were always going to be an obvious favourite weren’t they, but with Back To The Fuck Yeah immediately whipping the boisterous crowd into a mosh-pit frenzy, it’s easy to see why these guys ensue complete and utter chaos wherever they go.
For the first time, in a fairly long time, we get to hear some new material and it’s (quite frankly) just completely fucking epic.
Tonight’s definitely given a taste of greater things to come from PABH and boy am I excited for the new album.
5. Brand New
So last up are Brand New, giving us that much needed blast of pop punk power.
Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades is the song that everyone’s been waiting for, which is executed with lead singer Jesse Thomas Lacey screaming into a mass of reminiscent twenty-somethings remembering when 90s pop rock music was just so much fun.
However, there are times when sunshine choruses are sidetracked to favour music far gloomier and introverted than we’d hoped and the hits are strung out, creating a sudden drop in elevated mood.
Although, you just can’t fault the sound, as the precision of each track is delivered with excellence and commitment from a tight-knit team of friends. They’re a group of highly inspiring musicians, it’s just a shame the night ended on a bit of a downer. Next time Brand New would be better off sticking to the uptempo hits.