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The second annual Hit The Deck Festival, a heavily sponsored all-day indoor festival focused on the genres of metal, rock, emo and hardcore (both post and present), rolled up in Nottingham on a very wet April weekend. But that wasn’t going to dampen anyone’s spirits anytime soon. Held across five stages in five different and very intimate venues, you’d do good to find another event that offers so many amazing bands, both big and small, for such a reasonable price.

Hit The Deck Festival

First off, we checked out The Black and Reds over in the Forum. From Walsall, they comprise of two very talented musicians who together, create a bluesy-rock ‘n roll sound. Think Eagles of Death Metal meet The White Stripes. Check these guys out!

Hit The Deck Festival

Staying in the Forum, next up we caught Imperial Leisure‘s set. Full of energy and catchy ska tunes, they had the Forum finding their two-tone dancing with ease. ‘Landlord’s Daughter’ was the highlight in my opinion. Singer Dennis even sprayed beer over the audience to further add to the party mood!

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A band I’d been anticipated all day was Straight Lines. My fourth time seeing them, and they still kill it live. They definitely need more recognition. Playing a lot of material from debut album ‘Peristence In This Game’, they left a packed Basement very happy indeed.

Hit The Deck Festival

Rise To Remain are the day’s biggest curveball, in the sense that they’re the only real metal band on the line-up compared to the majority being more hardcore. This doesn’t affect matters, however. Frontman Austin Dickinson, son of Iron Maiden singer Bruce, certainly shows why his band are earning their plaudits. Rise to Remain may have only one album under their belt but the powerful and soul grabbing attention that they play their music live is as every bit as excellent as the sound they have created in the studio. Playing most of ‘City of Vultures’ and a few extras which delighted the crowd immensely, their stunning musicianship all round is a crowd-pleaser. Finally, here is a band that could take the genre forward in the next few years.

Hit The Deck Festival

One pleasant surprise throughout the event is the atmosphere. High quantities of cheap alcohol mixed with a largely teenage crowd in a sold-out indoor festival featuring a line-up of aggressive alternative music seems like a recipe for disaster, but the audience is surprisingly passive and appreciative throughout, with no indications of violence or stupidity. Even the various mosh-pits that stir up occasionally seem more harmonious than usual.

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The comically-named Arse Full Of Chips were one of the highlights of the day. It’s hard to imagine what to expect but it may come as no surprise to find out that Arse Full of Chips are indeed a comedy band. Unlike most comedy acts, Arse Full of Chips are actually a full band. Hailing from Nottingham they mix ska and comedy. Think Madness crosses Kunt and the Gang and you have Arse Full of Chips. In fact, not a lot really needs to be said about them. Nothing at all. Reading about them will not do them justice.

Hit The Deck Festival
Hit The Deck Festival

Later on, Bat Sabbath (Cancer Bats doing Black Sabbath covers) offer one of the most anticipated sets, and deliver a blistering set that turns the audience into a frenzy. Opening with the classic ‘Paranoid’, they don’t take their foot off the gas for the seven songs that follow. Running around the stage in a cape and looking like the devil’s reject, frontman Liam Cormier proves once again why he is one of the most respected and energetic frontmen in the business today. He gives it his all each time, and his passion is felt by everyone in the crowd.

Hit The Deck Festival
Hit The Deck Festival

The first time we ventured into the Main Rock City room was to see Lower Than Atlantis. Entering to the audience’s wild screams, they kick-start the set with catchy single ‘If The World Was To End’. Jumping in unison and encouraging carnage before them, the Watford lads make one hell of a first impression with their fast paced punk rock that edges towards fellow Watford legends Gallows. The room shakes as the crowd bounces along to the rhythm, singing back every word that leaves Mike Duce’s mouth at a deafening volume.

The band’s humble appreciation of their loyal fanbase is obvious as each song progresses to the next. Blasting out the energetic ‘Bug ’ with superb intensity, and choosing to end it with an unexpected Foo Fighters parody that’s a fitting tribute. The only way appears to be up for Lower Than Atlantis, and judging by tonight’s show, up is the only way they’ll go.

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Word had spread during the day that While She Sleeps were going to be appearing under the listed name of ‘The Black Youth’. Fresh off the back of the annual Kerrang! Tour, they have built up quite a reputation. Drawing in one of the largest crowds of the day, they burst onto the stage to ‘Trophies’ . The result was a mass of bodies being knocked in all directions from the middle outwards as a wave of hardcore dancers seemed to take over the room. The band seemed overwhelmed at how much of a show the crowd was putting on for them as opposed to the other way round.

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The Sheffield boys played a mixture of tracks, including crowd favourites such as ‘The North Stands for Nothing‘ and ‘Crows‘. As the set progressed, the crowd seemed to become even more energetic, with a large majority of the crowd stepping and screaming along to every word. Much like 90% of the bands on the lineup, these guys are extremely underrated and deserve so much more publicity than they get – it probably won’t be long until they are selling out larger venues in more cities.

KIDS IN GLASS HOUSES
Kids In Glass Houses
Kids In Glass Houses

Main headliners Kids In Glass Houses bring the festival to a close. No strangers to Nottingham after playing the circuit for so long, KIGH look like they’re ready for bigger things. Playing a set spanning songs from all three of their albums, they deliver each song in the same, heartfelt way that we’ve come to love from them. From supporting fellow Welsh rockers Funeral For A Friend and other big bands like Lostprophets, their hard work has paid off and now 3 albums later, they have gathered a massive following that has landed them packing out big venues, such as tonight’s Rock City Main Hall.

Kids In Glass Houses

They played a great set, playing mostly tunes from their two newest albums but not leaving out their biggest hit ‘Give Me What I Want’ from their debut album ‘Smart Casual’. Whilst newer tracks off latest album ‘In Gold Blood’ have a good feel to them, they’re nothing compared to the older material. Tonight, Kids In Glass Houses bring a set full of energy and enthusiasm, packed with chart-ready choruses. They’re more than enough to deliver a fully-satisfying experience. Lostprophets et al, quit looking over your shoulders, Kids In Glass Houses have already overtaken you.

CANCER BATS
Cancer Bats
Cancer Bats
Cancer Bats

Though it may be easy to growl at the ‘alternative commercialism’ present throughout the festival to the extent that each stage is sponsored and be put off by the festivals general reluctance to test any boundaries, Hit The Deck makes the most out of a niche and it provided a day surprisingly free of violence and chaos. I for one, will definitely be back next year!

CAMPUS
Campus
Campus

HTD review by Tom Montgomery
HTD photography by Gobinder Jhitta

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