It may have taken 8 months, but I finally recovered from last summer’s PFD (Post-Festival-Devastation). My self prescribed treatment was another festival, and this came in the form of Hit The Deck; taken once a day, for one day, all day, in Bristol, and boy did it do the trick.
This year is HTD’s fourth gathering, and is one of the countries foremost indoor festivals, priding itself on playing host to some of the most energetic and impelling alternative acts around. Having seen the lineup from last year, I had high hopes, very high hopes. This year’s looked good, but there was still plenty to discover. Saw these guys:
The St Pierre Snake Invasion – O2 Academy 2
What better way to start the day than with some Bristolian/Welsh wit and pizzazz? Having seen TSPSI during last summer’s festival season, I was well aware that missing them would be a gargantuan mistake. The title of their EP ‘Everyone’s Entitled To My Opinion’ sums them up far better than I, or anyone else ever could. Voicing his opinions on society with endearing cynicism, and pre-vomit squeals, Damien goes about his business face to face with the crowd. Meanwhile the rest of the band provide an impressively tight backing from the stage, that was never even considered as a suitable platform from which to preach. Embarking on a European tour this summer suggests they are more than the piss-about many might have disregarded them as.
The Xcerts – O2 Academy
Starting immediately after TSPSI downstairs, the modest Scottish three-piece flaunt their atmospheric set with marked professionalism and hair. That hair. Murray Macleod’s embracing guitar, vocal and hair combination deserve better than the subdued crowd that has the pleasure of listening to such stirring sounds in the early afternoon. Two new songs provide further blissful listening, which left me feeling safe and warm, just in time for some metalcore.
Picture courtesy of Sarah Louise Bennett
Cytota – Thekla
Despite us only managing to turn up halfway through the set, Cytota’s burgeoning talent was clear to see, even if the on-stage activity did lack a bit of what would be justifiable confidence. Adept guitar playing and some remarkably vicious growls made for an enthralling show, and given a few more years, I’d wager these guys will be much higher up the bill.
Bastions – The Exchange
Making our way across Bristol to The Exchange, we arrived to hear the crushingly disappointing line “We’ve been Bastions, this is our last song”. After confirming with my girlfriend that that was definitely what they’d just said, but still watching on in hope it wasn’t, they finished and we left disappointed, not at the song – that was great fun – but that we had no idea stage times had changed. If there was some glaringly obvious announcement somewhere that we just didn’t see or hear, then fair enough, but we had no idea at all. Went for whisky.
Gnarwolves – The Fleece
After receiving directions from a grateful seeming traffic warden who was in the middle of begrudgingly ruining someone else’s day, we found The Fleece, which was probably my favourite venue of the day. Containing nothing more than necessary, this venue was perfectly suited to the crowd surfing sweat-soaked shambles that was to follow. Gnarwolves just know what this is all about, having a bloody good time in a room full of people who also just want to have a bloody good time. An almost overwhelmingly energetic atmosphere was only enhanced by the Brighton trio’s shout-able repertoire of snapshot skater-punk, and you find yourself enjoying having the odd arse in your mouth. I’d even go so far as to say, welcoming it, that’s how much fun I had.
Neck Deep – The Fleece
Despite having barely acquainted myself with Neck Deep in the build up to HTD, I was convinced to stay, and the atmosphere about the place well before they even started confirmed I’d made the right decision. I got the impression these guys had no idea just how massive their following is. The place was rammed, not a soul in the building was stood still, and every song was greeted with even more enthusiasm than the last. Ben Barlow was clearly having the time of his life, and the performance was all the more impressive as a result. Having said that, there’s little point me trying to comment on technical aspects of the performance, as I was too preoccupied having a fucking brilliant time getting sweaty.
Memphis May Fire – Thekla
Following a hearty burrito from My Burrito on Broad Quay, we headed to Thekla for a bit of Texan metalcore. The young crowd was treated to some genuinely beautiful coordinated head banging, and secured to Cory Elder’s chin is quite possibly the most powerful beard I have ever seen. Jake Garland’s drumming was a sight to behold, and set the standard for what was an incredibly tight and well rehearsed performance. Despite lacking the atmosphere I experienced at The Fleece earlier in the day, it was still a predictably stellar show.
Picture courtesy of Cara Jade
We then headed to The Exchange in the hope of catching the second half of Brutality Will Prevail‘s set, but once again only caught the last song, though this time we probably should have realised times had changed, so I’ll reserve my annoyance for a more worthwhile time.
Tremendous day, and PFD has been cured, only for the epidemic to return in late September, as it does every bloody year. At least there’s three months of excitement and festival ecstasy to experience first, which is absolutely worth the bleak nine months that follow.