Hands up, I admit it; I’ve lived close to Nottingham my whole life and never had the opportunity to go to Hit The Deck. Not surprisingly, then, there were a lot of things that shocked me, and as I went through the day and found more HTD first-timers, I realised I wasn’t alone in my shock.
The most prominent thing that took me by surprise was the fact that even the earliest sets in the smallest rooms had big crowds, including Lacey, first band on and opening The Forum’s stage. It’s probably becoming a well known fact that I never miss an opportunity to see this band live, and I don’t understand why anyone would. As usual, they were met with whoops and cheers from a crowd of two hundred or so, and once again, the line “who said that I’d go quietly?” somehow branded itself into my mind with the feisty enthusiasm every track is delivered with – including new single, Reach Out – making their set a brilliant way to start to open a fantastic day.
With no idea what to expect from any of the bands up after Lacey, a gamble was taken to see Wounds, who were second up on the Rescue Rooms stage. Personally, the set was a little too heavy and the vocals too harsh to be what I’d ideally look for in a band, but you’ve gotta admire the passion they took to the stage with. I think I still have the simple line “dead, dead, fucking dead” imprinted into my mind. What I found most striking what their damn straight-fowardness, as the frontman said at one point, “stop singing songs in an American fucking accent, you are from London”. Despite what came across as a general anger for the world, after a run-in after the set it’s he’s clearly one of the most down-to-earth lead vocalists around at the minute.
Third band of the day (all by two o’clock-ish) comes from Hands Like Houses, taking over Rock City’s main stage. Apparently it’s not too early for a good old mosh pit, as a good segment of the crowd proved, and every pressed body in the audience was there to start the evening’s party early. But then, with a band as (duly)self-assured of their live show as these guys are, it’s not a hug surprise. I think the best phrase to any of Hands Like Houses’ set is “good all-round”.
One of my personal favourite bands at the minute, and consequently one of the least fitting in the line up was The Summer Set; I’d say that you wouldn’t believe the amount of raised eyebrows I got when I said I was going to see their set, but you probably would. It’s a rather renowned fact that they are indisputably solely pop, not “pop-punk” or “pop-rock”, but apparently this news hasn’t yet reach them, as Brian (Dales, vocals) shouts mid-set, “make some noise for you for being here on Easter Sunday, that’s pretty punk rock of you”. The set is completed with quirky and amusing song introductions, thanks to anyone and everyone, and generally having energy oozing from every track. Not at all a disappointment (if you’re into that sort of thing).
One of the best things about Hit The Deck is that throughout the day, all of the venues are packed. One of the worst things about Hit The Deck is that throughout the day, all of the venues are packed, which often results in seeing little of the set, as was the case with Baby Godzilla. The small venue, Stealth, was fit to burst, and for some reason I thought I could take a seat at the back and just collect my thoughts through this show. With a name like “Baby Godzilla” I don’t know why I even considered this as an option, and I’m rather grateful I was a little away from the centre of the room. I didn’t catch much of the set, but I did get to see the equipment appear to be dismantled…it may have been my eyes deceiving me, but I’m pretty sure the microphone stand got stuck to one of the overhead speakers. I don’t know or understand what happened, but I loved it.
This is another hands-up confession – I’ve never been the biggest fan of Kids In Glass Houses. I don’t have anything against them, far from it, I just never really got into them. Perhaps by the time I really heard their music I felt I was a little “too old”, or my music taste had changed away from pop-punk to get passionate about. That, however, doesn’t mean I wasn’t moved by the jam-packed Forum saying goodbye to the band for possibly the final time, and it’s indisputable that the band are excellent live – it was an absolute pleasure to see a band so tight and influential before then called it quits.
I have three words to describe Rock City main hall’s headliners’ set; emotional, unison and bass. The latter of the three would probably be easiest to explain – quite simply, the bass chords, throughout the show, seemed to not only shake the room, but actually seemed to be shaking my bones as I watched. You can interpret that as metaphorical or literal, but it really did feel like there was something more than the room shaking. Brand New are rather well-known for their less-than-upbeat lyrics, but I seriously doubt there was anyone there who was overjoyed to get to see the band live (for me, at least, it was very much a “finally!” situation). Songs such as The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot moved members of the crowd to tears, purely for the pathos it can’t help but evoke. As the original was recorded almost eleven years ago, it’s no surprise that the live performance of it has changed since then, but somehow I was slightly disappointed in the less monotone rendition we were presented with. Call me sentimental, but I was looking forward to the heart wrenching misery. And finally, unison. I think that’s the only way I could describe the crowd’s reflection of the closing track, a solo performance of Soco Amaretto Lime (the final track of Your favourite Weapon, the band’s debut album in 2001). Hearing a couple of thousand people chant the lines “and we’ll never have to listen / to anyone about anything / ‘cause it’s all been done and it’s all been said / we’re the coolest kids and we take what we can get” and end the whole day with the repeated line “you’re just jealous ‘cause we’re young and in love” was beyond moving. It’s was – and although this is perhaps not the best word to describe a gig, albeit the only accurate one here – beautiful. It was “the kind of song that ignites the airwaves. The kind of song that makes people glad to be where they are, with whomever they’re there with.”