Hit The Deck Festival 2014 | Festival Diary

HTD2014

The passion each member clearly found in their work and the passion mirrored back from the adoring crowd create a live show with an overwhelming intensity like no other.

Last Saturday, Bristol played host to one of the UK’s best alternative indoor festivals, Hit The Deck. Standing strong once again for its fourth year running, the festival took place in four of the city’s top venues – O2 Academy, Thekla, The Fleece and Exchange.

First band of the day were Cytota, a melodic hardcore five-piece from Birmingham, kicking off Hit The Deck aboard Thekla. The last five years have witnessed the band consistently writing and touring, honing their sound and live performance and receiving some great coverage from the likes of Kerrang! and Scuzz. However, it seems that Cytota haven’t reached the high-status profile that they’ve been hoping for, as the crowd that occupied the Thekla that afternoon were anything but enthusiastic, with only four or five people moving in the front row. A bit of a let-down considering the band played an incredible set, featuring their hit single ‘Generation Scared’.

Moving on throughout the afternoon I was able to catch new act People On Vacation. Consisting of singer-songwriter Ryan Hamilton and Bowling for Soup front-man Jaret Reddick, POV are in the UK touring their new material with a full band setup for the first time. Despite hearing an awesome, updated rendition of Bowling For Soup’s ‘The Bitch Song’, POV’s set was somewhat disappointing, especially for two such well-established artists.

Next up was a long walk to the O2 Academy to see Irish rock band A Plastic Rose. Kerrang! Magazine said “A Plastic Rose deserve whole heartedly to be your new favourite band” and they were definitely right. Highlights from the band’s set include ‘All You Know And Love Will Die’, an upbeat emo track with vocals similar to that of recent UK melodic rock bands, and APR’s most recent single, ‘Someone’s Daughter’.

When it comes down to punk rock, it was a brilliant day for Hit The Deck Festival, with shows from Brighton trio Gnarwolves and American indie punks The Front Bottoms, along with an acoustic set from Ataris frontman Kristopher Roe. Unfortunately, the queue for Gnarwolves was enormous and it was impossible to get into the Fleece in time to see them, but from what we could hear outside, and from everyone else raving about their set, the band sounded great. The Front Bottoms, whom I hadn’t given time to until the run-up to the festival, played a brilliantly energetic show with a lively crowd singing back fan favourites like ‘Skeleton’, ‘Maps’ and ‘Flashlight’, and Brian Sella showed off his talents with an acoustic guitar that England’s own Frank Turner would be proud of. A personal favourite was Kristopher Roe’s acoustic show in the Thekla carpark, when we got the chance to hear new editions of memorable Ataris songs ‘In This Diary’ and ‘Your Boyfriend Sucks’.

Kids In Glass Houses were without doubt a massive highlight. Having recently announced their imminent break-up and farewell tour, there was really no question about seeing their show. Thekla was filled with a ridiculous amount of screaming fans, bursting with excitement as Aled Phillips came out onto the stage. Kicking off the show with 2008’s ‘Fisticuffs’, followed by some better known tracks from 2010’s ‘Dirt’, a combined effort of ‘Artbreaker’ parts one and two and last year’s release ‘Peace’, Kids In Glass Houses’ set was one of the best of the weekend. Ending with old favourites ‘Saturday’ and ‘Matters At All’, the show left fans feeling incredibly emotional.

This made sense really, since the final show of the night was brought to us by alternative rock headliners Brand New. With guitarist Brian committing time to his band Saint Hood Reps, the New York five-piece now play live with just four members, but the talent and live atmosphere remains the same as ever. However, due to clashes with Kristopher Roe and an exhaustingly long wait to get into the O2 Academy, I only managed to catch the second half of their set. Entering the venue, the place was packed with what looked like thousands of people hanging on Jesse Lacey’s every vocal – truly remarkable. Effortlessly transitioning from soft, delicate lines to intense, rasping screams and back again, with Vincent Accardi’s backing vocals complimenting Lacey’s perfectly, any show with Brand New is going to be a memorable experience.

Arriving at the beginning of ‘Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don’t’, it was clear from the second I walked in that this is one of those rare bands that sound even better live than on record. Followed later by three tracks from ‘Daisy’, including ‘Sink’, ‘Gasoline’ and ‘At The Bottom’ (despite this usually being referred to as the least popular album among fans), it wasn’t hard to tell that this was the set everyone had been waiting for, with every single member of the crowd passionately screaming along with every word. ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Soco Amaretto Lime’ were the perfect songs to end the day. The passion each member clearly found in their work and the passion mirrored back from the adoring crowd create a live show with an overwhelming intensity like no other.

Hit The Deck festival was without doubt a huge success and  I can’t wait to see next year’s line-up.

Listen to Brand New’s ‘Jesus Christ’ right here: