The Land That Noz Forgot… Nozstock 2014 Delivers Delights In Abundance
Nozstock festival is one of the smaller, more intimate festivals which packs a punch when it comes to showcasing the best of old and new.
This was to be my first “Nozstock, The Hidden Valley” festival and the line-up had me intrigued. With headliners including Fun Lovin Criminals, Roots Manuva and The Heavy there was certainly a mixture for all attending and that was just on the main “Orchard” stage.
Delve a little deeper and you’ll find Andy C & M.C. GQ taking over proceedings in the “Cubicles” along with the likes of Grime MC “Devilman” and his crew performing in the “Bullepen”, adeptly named as it’s literally a bullpen. Luckily "The Cubicles" do not benefit from quite the same literalisms.
So after a 3 hour journey through weather reminiscent of a biblical event and half expecting to see Noah and his Ark over taking us on the M40 we arrived at the site. The festival site is small as the festival attracts around 5,000 people, which makes for a very intimate environment for enjoying the bands with the added benefit that you don’t feel you’re on top of your fellow attendees.
Having completed a reccy of the stages, sampling a few West-Country Ciders and making a rough plan of attack for the evening we made our way to watch Molotov Jukebox on the main Orchard stage. What a performance!
It's more than likely you're already familiar with the group, but if you're not and I had to make any comparisons to similar bands I would probably go with a blend between Gogol Bordello and the Levellers. A mixture of fiddle and beats. However this description does not do them justice. They were brilliant.
Due to the festival's size, the crowd is incredibly close to the stage and when 1,000 or so fans get together right in front of the band the atmosphere gets intensified to a phenomenal level. Molotov Jukebox fed off this energy and in response delivered song after song of up-tempo delights that continued to mesmerize and engage the audience.
Natalia Tena’s vocals are sublime and the bands “Gypstep” sound was perfect for the setting of Nozstock (as I think they would be for any festival). A superb choice for a Saturday headliner. Our only disappointment was that they had to finish.
So as we strayed into the wee small hours we set out on our next mission, to check out Devilman, a Grime MC. I’m not going to lie, Grime is not on my preferred choice when it comes to listening material however I was with a friend who raved about Devilman’s musings and he convinced me that we should check him out. So off to the Bullpen (AKA a cowshed) we went.
The following hour could not have been more different to the previous. In amongst around 300 Grime fans, there I was bopping along to the slick lyrics of Devilman and his entourage. Now just to make this very clear although Grime isn’t really my cup of tea (you can probably see why with comments like that) the set was relentless.
The MC’s wordsmith skills were hypnotic and although it sounded like he was speaking another language I couldn’t help but be lulled into an appreciation of the skill and technical genius that goes into honing a talent such as this. Even when the man himself proclaimed to be f*cked, his delivery was something to admire.
After an hour or so of slick lyrics, it was off to the Cublicles for Andy C’s takeover. Having never really been into the Rave scene, this was another “out of my comfort zone” experience. Unlike the positively polite Grime audience, everyone in mutual appreciation of the MC’s skills, the Andy C crowd was a very different proposition. It was bedlam!
While walking towards the entrance a wave of steam, lights and people was pulsating. It was an incredible scene and one we tried to navigate only to find that Cider was not a suitable way of preparing. It became very apparent that we weren’t going to make it too far in and so we had to listen to the mixing skills of Andy C from afar. There must have been north of 1’000 people in the shed and it was one big mosh-pit.
The next morning we ventured down to watch the winners of the Subba-Cultcha #playnozstock competition; Red Room Therapy. The sun was out and the mode was very relaxed.
I’ve always thought it’s a tricky ask to get the crowd going early on the Sunday afternoon during a festival weekend. Hangovers are in full bloom, everyone’s had about 2 hours sleep, so getting the crowd going can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Especially with the smaller festivals.
Not so for RRT. The chaps from Wales came on and kicked off with the song that won them the competition, “All In The Mind”, an upbeat indie rock track which woke everyone up and made everyone pay attention.
Osh and the guys seem to be older than there years suggest as they were able to lift the crowd and command a stage presence which is testament to how well they were received. Good work guys!
So how would I summarize the Nozstock experience? As a small festival it’s incredibly intimate, the welcome is second to none and the line-up was a real mixture of young and old, which is exactly how the festival set-up should be right? As I was reminded just before entering my first Grime session... attending festivals is all about experiencing new music, something Subba-Cultcha wholly embraces.