One of Nottingham’s busiest festivals, Hit the Deck, kicked off on Sunday at Rock City. From the start it was clear to see that there were a lot of changes this year; the road wasn’t closed nor dotted with busy food or merch stalls, The Forum was no longer used as a venue, and, worst of all, visitors were now given paper wristbands!
Our first act of the day was (arguably) emo-revival band You Blew It! who kicked off their set with the double header of “Match & Tinder” and “Award of the Year Award” which set the tone nicely. They interspersed each song with some awkward banter and jokes about the new terribly great Fast & Furious 7. They’re a great band with some catchy songs, and it’s nice to see them finally getting some well deserved attention, but it’s a shame that the sound in Rock City Basement was quiet and muddy.
Tim Vantol played second on the Rescue Rooms stage, he was only given a 20 minute set and by the end it was clear everyone in the room would have been more than happy with longer. Joined by his band, Tim managed to get everyone involved and singing along to songs they’d never even heard before. His latest album, If We Go Down, We Will Go Together, is particularly great and those songs lend themselves to a live setting really well.
New up on the Rock City Basement stage were A Great Big Pile of Leaves. Currently on tour with You Blew It! and The Early November, the band announced that this was their first time over in the UK. Their songs are anthemic and catchy, they’ve got great melodies and have a distinctly “summery” sound. They’re bound to be everyone’s favourite band, soon.
Hit the Deck was host to The Swellers on their final tour, and to what was quite clearly the most important set of the festival! Kicking off with “Should”, the band do what they do best; playing their songs fast, not stopping for breaks and managing to get everyone in the crowd singing along. After seeing The Swellers a couple of times on this final tour, it’s even harder to imagine that them splitting up is for the best. “Dirt” and “2009” particularly got huge receptions from the packed out Rescue Rooms, but when they ended on “The Best I Ever Had”, there was a literal surge and the band were almost drowned out. It’s sad to see them go.
Subbing the Basement stage were The Xcerts. They were meant to be playing their new album, There Is Only You, in its entirety, but sadly weren’t given a long enough set. Despite this, they managed to cram about 8 songs from it in, along with a couple from their previous record, including the brilliant “Slackerpop”. The new songs sounded great live, especially the slow and building “Kevin Coster” and the massive “Shaking in the Water”.
The Early November closed out the day for us nicely, filling their hour-long set with hit after hit. Songs from their 2003 seminal release, The Room’s Too Cold, were met with cheers and loud, drunken singalongs. The room wasn’t too full, Skindred and Cancer Bats must have drawn too many people away, but everyone who was there had a good time. Despite the strange start to the festival, and the general lack of punk bands this year, we ended up having a good time. The sets we watched were great and we’ll probably end up going next year, too!