Hit The Deck Festival - Nottingham (Various)
Hit The Deck returns to Nottingham for another day-long celebration of punk, hardcore and savvy alt.rock. With value becoming the defining feature of this particular end of the gig circuit (the recent You Me At Six tour featured three support acts, recession watchers), kudos to this mini festival for filling four city centre venues, and five stages, with almost too many acts. Headaches aplenty for some, you suspect. But hey, more is more and the organisers show as much respect for their young audience as they do for the quality of their product: how much of your hard-earned (cough…) do they trouser for a day of ear-splitting shennanigans? £20.
The main hub is the redoubtable Rock City, where two stages compete for your attention. Elsewhere, Rescue Rooms, Stealth and the Forum split the bill into vaguely like-minded sub-genres. Last minute car hell limits TMF’s movements but venturing out into town gets you an audience with the likes of The Swellers, Cancer Bats, Zebrahead and the peerless Rolo Tomassi. The main Rock City stage plays it with a straighter bat. Yashin's dual vocals and commercial smarts make a mockery of their mid-afternoon slot and the place explodes for ‘Stand Up’. We Are The In Crowd play up a storm: clearly this is the first act on the main stage people have made an effort to come out for and Taylor is all smiles as they bow out to a warm ovation.
Day slips into night. We hit the final furlong and energy levels show no signs of slipping. Lower Than Atlantis enter to a roar. The Southampton four piece are yet to make headlines outside of the scene but the Rock City crowd is ahead of the game. Last year’s World Record album hinted at sharp song craft and an emerging identity. Mike Duce, he of the distinct vocal stylings and sweet melodics, is a cut above your average punk-pop dude but this jury’s still out as to whether LTA is the best vehicle for his talents - Duce’s band mates could still have been bussed in from Emo Sessions Inc. Still, the likes of ‘The Deadliest Catch’ shake the room while making a play for the charts. Recently signing with Island Records tells you all you need to know.
Worthy headliners Kids In Glass Houses close proceedings. Like Lower Than Atlantis, here’s a young act whose aspirations appear to go beyond the confines of the rulebook Kerrang!-isms. Recent third album In Gold Blood blended the expected kick-and-rush with a very unexpected loosening up of their sound, a new-found groove adding colour and maturity. Plus, they’re likeable as hell. Aled Phillips, fresh from giving You Me At Six a run for their money, throws himself at the challenge of firing up a room that might be spent rather than warmed up. He needn’t have worried. Notts goes nuts. They’ll be too big for this bill in a year’s time. In the meantime, take note, indie kids. Here’s a formula that works and is thriving, invigorating this sector of the rock world and offering punters options and value. How about pestering acts and promoters from the alternative/indie end to fire up something similar?