The annual Hit The Deck festival, held over four venues in the city centre, promised a packed day of punk, rock and metal, and boy did it deliver.

With plenty of Nottingham talent on show, HTD spans all of the top local venues; The Forum, Stealth, Rescue Rooms and of course, the world famous Rock City on Talbot Street. Boasting 100 bands there was something for everyone.

Our first band of the day, local punk influenced rockers Eva Plays Dead, performed in the basement at Rock City. Front-woman Tiggy did a superb job of getting the audience pumped up for the rest of the day. Her haunting vocals and strong stage presence commanded the whole room's attention. With great songs and four supremely talented musicians, they will definitely be going places in rock.

Next we headed upstairs to Rock City's Main Room, to check out Australian band Hands like Houses. Hailing from Canberra, they play melodic punk influenced rock with thought-provoking lyrics and an energetic stage show. The crowd reaction was huge, especially for 2pm on a Sunday afternoon – a fact gratefully noted by their lead vocalist, a charismatic and quite dashing expert on working the microphone.

The festival itself was packed with young and trendy fans, with plenty to catch their eye. Stalls from the scene's top brands such as Atticus Clothing lined Talbot street, with a marquee pitched next to the Black Cherry Lounge selling merchandise from all of the day's bands. The layout was well arranged, allowing fans and bands to mingle and shop in a friendly, stress-free atmosphere.

Having spent some time over at Rock City, it was time to head over to The Forum to see exciting new band People on Vacation. Consisting of singer-songwriter Ryan Hamilton and Bowling for Soup front-man Jaret Reddick, POV are in the UK touring their new material in a full band set-up for the first time. Backed by local boys Michael Richards and Rob Lane (of Teenage Casket Company and Straight to Video fame) Jaret and Ryan's new material went down a storm with the gathered masses. Highlights for me were Lonely Fish (from POV album “The Summer and the Fall”) and an updated rendition of Bowling For Soup's The Bitch Song. Finishing with a gentle cover of Slade's Cum on Feel the Noise, Jaret suggested we stay to watch their touring buddies Patent Pending, and boy, are we glad we did.

Patent Pending turned it up to 11 – no, 12 – with an 8 song half hour set that had The Forum roaring from start to finish, including a “crowd surfing championship” match, male on male intimacy, a guitarist soloing from atop the bar on the opposite side of the room from the stage and a front-man who brings to mind Freddy Mercury when it comes to crowd participation. They have to be seen to be believed. Not usually one for listening to hype, now I've seen them with my own eyes, I have to say it's well deserved.

After a break for dinner, we went back over to Rescue Rooms, where Kris Rowe, lead singer of The Ataris, was preparing for an intimate acoustic set in the bar area. Usually fronting a hard rock band, Kris seemed just at home with nothing but a microphone and a guitar to keep him company. Rowe performed lots of Ataris hits, including a stripped down version of Don Henley's Boys of Summer which was a hit for the band in the early 2000s, on their legendary So Long, Astoria album. I was impressed with Rowe's humility, professing genuine gratitude that so many people had chosen to watch him when there were still bands on in five other rooms. Also impressive was his ability to let the crowd choose the songs he played, rather than relying on a prepared set-list. Kris and the Ataris are working on some more acoustic material to be released this year, which will definitely be worth listening to based on tonight's performance.

As the evening went on, the crowds seemingly began to concentrate into one huge mass. Queues started to form outside Rock City, with doormen frantically checking wristbands. It was head-liner time. This year's head-liners: New York City's Brand New. Brand New have a strong following since their formation in Long Island in 2000, and at Hit The Deck 2014 the were undoubtedly the main draw. Their 90 minute set was peppered with hits and fan favourites such as Gasoline, Millstone, and Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don't. Front-man Jesse Lacey was the latest in a long day of incredible front-people, with the crowd fixated on him and his crew from beginning to end.

As the lights went up, a tired, sweaty, but fulfilled crowd made their way outside into the night air, completely spent but completely satisfied. Hit The Deck 2014 was amazing, and based on the smiles and excited chatter as everyone prepared to make their way home, 2015 will be even better.

Article by Nottingham Confidential / 23rd April 2014


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Hit The Deck - Review