Hit The Deck Festival

Although April rarely provides many spectacular highlights in the year, there has been a change to the music calendar ever since Hit The Deck Festival began in 2011, as the event continues to provide an annual glimpse into the future bright sparks of the alternative scene alongside some dominant characters all the same.

Opening affairs on the Rock City main stage are Welsh warriors, When We Were Wolves who have gone from strength to strength since touring with recently deceased legends The Blackout last year. Despite playing at a time which sees the majority of Nottingham still tucked up nursing a hangover from Saturday night’s shenanigans, the band power through their set to produce their brand of atmospheric metalcore to greet the loyal early birds who have gathered to see them. Next up on the same stage is one of my personal favourites, and Idiom have every right to be full of energy today, as the band are eagerly awaiting the release of their first full length album. Today, the band show a significant leap towards the heights they aspire to reach, as the powerful and razor-sharp precision in their performance hints at the true potential they have long been searching for.

You Blew it
You Blew it 1

Over in the Basement, You Blew It are delivering the first indie emo set of the day to a bustling room of expectant fans. I’m only able to stay for a few songs, but the general message seems to be that their anthemic chord progressions and desperate energy strikes a chord with their loving audience. Fair play to them, but over at the glamorous setting of Stealth (don’t go near the toilets) the foundations of the intimate venue are being shaken to the core by thunderous alt-rockers Zoax, whose recent reputation as a noteworthy live act is well deserved through their punchy display and front man Adam Carroll’s strange, yet highly humorous stage presence. After a swift return to the Basement, the masters of riff, AKA Bad Sign deliver a set of…you guessed it…PURE RIFFAGE. Their soaring choruses and ferocious guitar tones illuminate their rise as a formidable force on the live circuit and suggest that this band will be dominating the bigger stages in the near future.

Bad SIgn
Bad SIgn 12

I catch a glimpse of Allusondrugs’ set on the main stage, a band that were impressive in the Basement supporting Marmozets last year, but beyond their eccentric flailing movements on stage, their sound doesn’t seem quite as compelling as their reputation suggests.



Down in the Basement though are a truly special outfit, as Tellison battle through technical difficulties to show that their upcoming third album on Alcopop will have been well worth the wait. The likes of “Edith” and “Get On” still sound just as powerful and relevant, but new single “Tact Is Dead” boasts the fuck you attitude to point them towards a gritty tangent we’ll be bound to love. Back to Stealth and Oceans Ate Alaska prove that although their name was forged through their infectious streak across the internet, the band can definitely deliver a live performance to remember. Their exceedingly heavy brand of metalcore swamps the intimate venue as sub drops swell alongside their impossibly tight instrumental precision. They have significantly improved since last visiting here with The Word Alive, so this could only be the beginning for an outfit who are finally earning their stripes in reality.

Oceans Ate Alaska
Oceans Ate Alaska 1

After a pit stop at Spanky Van Dykes for a macaroni cheese and bacon burger (oh yes), my dessert comes in the form of the tasty djent-hop inspired grooves of Hacktivist. Their unorthodox fusion of rap/grime with spine crushing riffs earned them a slot on the main stage of Reading and Leeds last year, but the band still seem perfectly happy to orchestrate chaos on the Rock City main stage. Their one of a kind energy and soaring quality makes them one of the few pioneering bands in the modern metal spectrum, and with a live show to match their brilliance, this band looks set to continue on their path to uncovering a missing link within the boundaries of alternative music. Straight after this, Monuments re-excite my growingly worn out ear drums with their atmospheric brand of metal, as the flawless vocals of Chris Barretto soar over their tireless anthems and silky smooth delivery.


Although there is stronger balance of heaviness on the line-up, it turns out that being the anomaly for the evening can prove to be rewarding. This applies to post-punk laptop rapper MC Lars, whose quirky brand of “lit hop” provides arguably the stand out performance of the day. In a fast paced set featuring a high proportion of his early material, the Stanford graduate also delights the crowd with his latest single “Dragon Blood” and involves his audience in the Edgar Allen-Poe inspired “Mr Raven” and the ska anthem “This Gigantic Robot Kills” where even yours truly made it on stage to skank along to the infectious horn section driven anthem. After moving from one extreme to another, the unfathomable power of While She Sleeps is in full swing on the main stage. The band has suffered some severe setbacks in recent years, but the band has shown the utmost resilience to remain as one of the best talents in metal. Their ferocious, fist pumping anthems provide a real treat towards the tail end of an already exhilarating day.

MC Lars
MC Lars 1

Finishing the night are two headliners; the first of which being Devil Sold His Soul who dominate their performance at Stealth through their ethereal and endlessly euphoric sound. The likes of “Devastator” and ‘Time’ prove that the acclimatisation period for front man Paul Green is well and truly over, as both front man and band look as comfortable as they ever have during their existence. It’s a stunning display and one that bodes well for the next album release by this astonishingly gifted outfit.

Devil Sold His Soul
Devil Sold His Soul 

Now it’s time for the final band of the day (boo) and Skindred march on stage to slay a thundering rendition of ‘Kill” The Power” to a full house on the main stage, sending the ecstatic audience into a frenzy of chaotic energy and throat killing sing-alongs. The dominant figure of Benji Webbe expectantly holds the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout, leading them to scream at the top of their lungs and swirl their clothes for the famous Newport Helicopter during final song ‘Warning’. They are genuinely one of the most exciting live bands in existence, and as the alternative scene starts to take notice of their arena worthy presence, the band will not stop until they reach the heights they deserve.

Skindred 1

It’s been an incredible day, as the tireless work of the DHP family delivers yet another year to savour for this ever growing event. Ultimately, Hit The Deck’s brilliance stems from the insightful line up, close proximity of each venue and a buoyant atmosphere that welcomes all who consider attending. You’d be foolish to miss the next one. Bring on 2016!


Words by George Fullerton
Photos by Ed Smith

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