11th-14th July | Royal Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet
Photos: Alesha Hickmans
Energy. Passion. Effervescence. Within the Venn diagram of drum & bass, street art and extreme sports, these elements can be found rooted firmly in the middle. Playing host to the highest calibre of skaters, BMX riders and skateboarders, NASS Festival is one of the pinnacle dates within the extreme sport calendar as well as the music festival calendar. It took root in the Somerset settings of Shepton Mallet for this year’s highly lively chapter.
Thursday kicked off proceedings in the shape of a silent disco in the 5,000 capacity Hangar stage. We were treated to a mix of drum & bass anthems by AC13, whilst on another channel, garage classics could be heard; inducing a chorus of “I’ll bring you flowers in the pouring rain.” Rudimental’s show was a mixture of drum and bass-infused pop melodies which excited the youthful crowd; especially when high octane song, ‘Waiting All Night’ was dropped.
Kojey Radical performed with an infectious charm that brought a refreshing element to the festival. A mixture of spoken-word and politically-charged lyrics, Radical performed with guile and presence, often coming into the crowd and creating animated mosh pits – much to the delight of his fans. His honest confession of dealing with his mental health problems was heart-warming and was a well-received touch to cap off a rousing performance.
The Good Life stage over at Dulverton Rd played host to a raucous set by Ray Von: a mixture of jump-up drum and bass and bassline, whetting the appetite of the enthused merrymakers.
Over the course of the weekend, the short twenty-one mile distance from Bristol became increasingly noticeable on NASS. At the Rec stage, Bristol’s Firmly Rooted Sound System held a showcase of music, playing a variation of roots, dubstep, hip-hop and jungle. Head honcho, Jake Stewart said it had been the third time they had been to the festival.
I also spoke to a Bristolian lady who was with her three-year-old child, who said it was the little one’s second time there. She spoke fondly of coming there first as a fifteen year old, reminiscing of time when Sika Studios; one of the stages at NASS, was merely an arrangement of palettes. Since then, the Bristol-based collective have gone on to pave the way for the likes of The Four Owls, the hip-hop quartet featuring on the Main Stage this year. As well as Sika’s and Firmly Rooted’s respective own graft and endeavour, NASS has become a home to them and facilitated a growth which has been a cog in their success.
On the back of his performance early on Sunday afternoon, I got the opportunity to speak with Soup, former member of legendary hip-hop group, Jurassic 5. His new persona, Fullee Love, played as part of a soul/funk brainchild named the Fullee Love Collective. Crafted with the expertise of band leader, Ant Henderson, they created a group that has already played at Glastonbury this summer.
They spoke of their transatlantic meeting being instigated through Facebook messages last October and within a four-month period, they had created a project: an assembly of session musicians who weave funk tendencies with rock undertones. Soup spoke fondly of his time at NASS, having come here as part of Jurassic 5 in 2016 albeit with a different musical direction. Ever graceful, in his red and black polka dot suit, he spoke of this project being a portrayal of his ability to be a showman, and what I was treated to that sunny Sunday definitely reinforced that.
Sunday’s proceeding drew to a close on the Main Stage with Latino hip-hop legends, Cypress Hill, returning to the festival after a four-year absence. B Real and Sen Dog’s distinctive flows resonated from the stage as the group performed classics such as ‘Dr Greenthumb’, ‘How Could I Just Kill A Man’ and ‘Hits from the Bong’. The self-proclaimed ‘Funky Bilinguals’ didn’t relent with their infectious antics. The highlight of the performance was when B Real prompted the crowd to get low and slowly, the distinctive horn fanfare of House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ engulfed the crowd, to which they responded by frantically springing up amongst each other. It topped a rousing couple of days of fast-paced, energetic action from many different walks of life.
Listen to ‘Mean That Much’ by Rudimental & Preditah (feat. Morgan) here: