REVIEW festival Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

We venture down to Bristol for this year's HIT THE DECK

Growing steadily from year to year, Hit The Deck has become one of the UK’s premiere indoor festivals. With the event’s biggest headliners to date on offer– in the shape of New Jersey titans Brand New – along with an incredibly diverse supporting cast, this year’s festivities looked too tempting to pass up. We ventured down to a surprisingly sunny Bristol for a day of riffs, raging, and getting pretty damn lost, pretty damn often. Here are our entirely scientific and not-even-slightly caffeine-addled recollections.

brand new 1 Photo credit: Bethan Miller
MOSH LIVES It falls to
Memphis May Fire and
The Word Alive to fly the metalcore flag this year. MMF are an experienced lot, and their years on the road shine through in a performance of real polish and potency.  Say what you like about Matty Mullins’ personal views: he’s a consummate frontman.
The Word Alive continue to be a lot stronger in front of an audience than on record, ‘Life Cycles’ fast becoming something of an anthem. By the looks of things, both are having a good merch day too.
The Xcerts’ welcome return from under the radar (
how dare you take time off the road) finds them on excellent form, oldies and slightly less oldies coming across nicely cobweb free. That next record’s going to be something special, mark our words.
Dinosaur Pile-Up can be hit and miss live, but we embrace our chance to catch their millionth line-up in action. That slightly underwhelming ‘Nature Nurture’ material receives an amped up makeover; making for an encouraging showing, and a sharp rejoinder to those who’ve counted them out. You tell em, Matt. They might be approaching elder statesmen status these days, but
Pulled Apart By Horses can still raise hell when the mood takes them. Chaos spreads swiftly on and offstage at the Academy, resulting in smashed guitars, plenty of bruises, and a genuinely frenzied ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’. Still life-affirming stuff. Honourable mentions go to anthemic crowd-pleasers
A Plastic Rose (no doubt on their way to bigger things) and
Kids In Glass Houses, rounding off their career in suitably buoyant style. If this is anything to go by, the future’s in pretty safe hands.
Neck Deep are among the day’s biggest draws, delivering a set of beautifully tuneful mayhem. On record it can be difficult to tell what the fuss is about, but in an environment like this the UK lads come into their own: bodies flying all over the place, frontman Ben Barlow diving into the fray with glee. You can’t deny hooks this massive, that’s for sure. Coming in at the cheesier, more party-oriented end of the spectrum,
Patent Pending raise the roof at Thekla. Listeners over 25 may be left cold by the random blasts of cod hip-hop and occasionally inane lyrics, but it’s hard to dislike a band who’ll happily build a song around Mario samples. Besides, if the kids like it...
...BUT YOU CAN’T BEAT A NORWEGIAN WITH AN OLD ON HIS HEAD It is a truth universally acknowledged that
Kvelertak are a fucking incredible live act, and they sound characteristically enormous tonight. Erlend Hjelvik remains an owl crested maniac at centre stage, while they can’t be rivalled in the sheer volume stakes – revelling in their temporary ‘festival sore thumb’ status. Brand New might win the popularity contest, but they ain’t got shit when it comes to bird-based headgear and grinding black metal riffs. So there.
HARDCORE WILL NEVER DIE, BUT YOU WILL (WHEN SOME IDIOT ELBOWS YOU IN THE FACE) There’s an excellent smorgasbord of punk and hardcore on offer today, from the manic urgency of
Bastions to
Baby Godzilla, and their occasionally deranged, often infectious noise. Intense is not the word.
Palm Reader serve up the kind of barely controlled mayhem we’re here to witness, the cathartic power of their songwriting translating well, and ensuring that the walls are swiftly coated with sweat.
Gnarwolves have turned plenty of heads lately: for good reason. Their shows tend to descend into cheerful pandemonium, and this is no exception: the room packed tight, and the only downside that pesky crowd-control barrier. As far as we can tell, there are no casualties except those who’ve already had a few too many. Additional kudos goes to UK party-starters
Rat Attack, who put on a fun show despite the recent departure of their frontman. Not ideal timing, you might say.
Hawthorne Heights might still be a bit rubbish, but there’s far more sweet emotion on display at this year’s fest. You can’t argue with
Saves The Day live, the emotional turmoil of their music leavened by a strong sense of fun. ‘At Your Funeral’ remains the anthem it always has been (appropriately) and while much of the audience are obviously taking up their places for Brand New, Chris Conley and co are fairly well received. Some of their new material’s pretty strong, actually.
brand new 2 Of course, at the end of the day it’s all about
Brand New. The most anticipated headline performance that this festival’s ever had, their career-spanning, fan-friendly set is everything it was hyped to be. ‘Hysteria’ would be an understatement, the audience greeting –relatively - more recent cuts like ‘At The Bottom’ with as much fervour as ‘Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades’ and ‘The Shower Scene’. Crucially the band never appear to be going through the motions, Jesse Lacey vocally strong and engaging with the audience. It was as if they were making amends for every middling performance and cancellation, the stars aligning for a pitch-perfect display. Certainly one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. All in all, it’s clear that Hit The Deck is fast coming into its own. Here’s to a great year’s revels, and many more to follow.