Hit The Deck 2014

By Chris Marshman

Hit The Deck usually signals the start of festival season for us here at Punktastic. We chose to hit up Bristol (with a couple of snippets from Lais over in Nottingham.)

Perhaps rather unusually 3/5s of the team were nursing pretty hefty hangovers after DJing at clubnights in both London and Cardiff.

It was nothing a greasy beef brisket sandwich from The Hatchet couldn’t cure but still, things were pretty delicate but y’know it was a beautiful day and we’re not ones for shying away from fun in the sunshine. When in Rome…

Lovely Stowford (in a Thatchers glass, woteva)

Lovely Lovely Stowford

A photo posted by Punktastic (@punktastic) on

However, you don’t wanna read about how we helped our hangovers (“TOP 10 WAYS TO CURE YOUR HANGOVER THAT’LL BLOW YOUR FACE OFF anyone?” so have a read through what we got up to during the day. There’s pictures and all sorts.

First things first, we have to head to the Thekla in order to collect our wristbands, it just so happens that solo acoustic dude Macatier had taken to the stage in what was one of the earliest slots of the day… Unfortunately the Thekla car park is pretty big meaning that when it’s not busy, it’s REALLY not busy. That didn’t stop Macatier though who carried on like a trooper delivering his Rob Lynch style songs to the few who did decide to watch [CHRIS]

It’s the first band of the day for us, and what a way to start. The Academy is already bustling, and people are searching for vantage points on which to catch the day’s carnage. The Xcerts themselves are predominately playing their newer material, with even the appearance of an unreleased track. Closer ‘Slackerpop’ echoes around the venue in a suitably haunting fashion, as the band’s timing allows Macleod’s vocals to take centre stage. [BEN]

and onwards… back to The Hatchet for interviews with Neck Deep and Saves The Day and maybe a Cider… with precautionary water.

Round 2. With precautionary water. LETS GO BRAND NEW.

A photo posted by Chris Marshman (@chrismarshman) on

Then Ben buggered off to go watch some bands.

It’s a bit of an awkward start for the Dinosaur Pile-Up boys, as the band’s brainchild Matt Bigland seemingly battles with his in-ears to find the right pitch for the first two tracks. After giving up on technology part way through ‘White T-Shirt and Jeans’, things really start to look up.

They might not be your typically heavy band, but material from the band’s debut full-length ‘Growing Pains’ still whips the crowd into a frenzy. There’s a confused mix of hardcore kids and stoner rockers in the crowd, but it all leads to one inevitable conclusion. [BEN]

Over in Nottingham! (by way of a time machine… obviously.)

Despite having an early set, the room is packed out from start to finish for Nai Harvest. There’s a lot of hype around the two-piece right now, and they justify that with a set that is intensely raw and energetic. The room lights up with some insane singalongs, and for a band that haven’t been around all that long, they certainly have a lot of avid fans already. The only complaint from some crowd members is that they play a little too much new material, but nevertheless, it’s fantastic, and it’s clear that Nai Harvest have got something truly special. [LAIS]

We embark on the journey back to Bristol towards The Fleece. When we get there, we are met by a wall of bodies as we fight our way through the crowded front door to experience the atmospheric wailings of Seahaven.

It’s immediately clear that the band have found their feet with their new sound. Any criticisms that faced their minimalist stage presence are voided by the simplistic beauty of the music emanating from the stage. It may be a reasonably sunny afternoon outside, but in the dark confines of The Fleece the sound is even more haunting than on record. [BEN]

The Academy in Bristol played host to a pretty brilliant line up as the evening wore on… it’s just gone 5pm and The Front Bottoms take to the stage in the main room of the 02 academy. The band are no strangers to larger rooms thanks to a support slot opening for Brand New on their tour and in all fairness The Front Bottoms take it all in their stride. They’re very good at what they do and primarily focus on a group in the crowd who are going absolutely wild for them. The set ending duo of ‘Maps’ and ‘Twin Sized Mattress’ incite the biggest reaction of the night and they leave the stage with a sense of job well done. [CHRIS]



A photo posted by Punktastic (@punktastic) on

Upstairs in the Academy 2 Save Your Breath were taking to the tiny stage. These South Wales pop punks have never really had an easy time of it, consistently underrated and with a few line up changes over the last couple of years – 2014 marks another crack at the whip for them… so it must be hugely encouraging that the Academy 2 is pretty full today. There are a couple of sound issues, notably the bass being so loud it actively encourages a nosebleed. That being said, the boys from Newport do themselves proud, it could yet properly happen for them. [CHRIS]

By the time Save Your Breath had finished there was a bit of a ruckus occuring in the main room of the Academy and a quick trip to the top floor balcony allows us to catch the final few song from Pulled Apart By Horses… and they sound huge. The band are energetic and impressive, finishing things up by going apeshit with their instruments on stage leaving the crowd suitably impressed. [CHRIS]

and then BACK into the Academy 2 for a bit of William Beckett (Soz about the lack of pictures/tweets here, my phone totally died.)The ex-The Academy Is… front man, comes on stage to what is initially a quarter full Academy 2 but the crowd who were watching Pulled Apart By Horses soon make their presence known by filling out the room respectably. Beckett does his job well and still incites screams of adoration, especially during ‘Just You Wait’ where he brings out the Brian Dale from The Summer Set. Overall, the set is a resounding success. [CHRIS]

Back over with Lais and she went to see a band on a boat. Tonight Kids In Glass Houses are playing Thekla, and there are no shortage of “I’m on a boat” style jokes. But joking aside, this will be the last time Kids In Glass Houses ever play Bristol, and there’s a nostalgic air in the room. Their set is only half an hour long, and the room is at full capacity (with numerous fans waiting outside in the hope they might still get in), so there’s an air of urgency and a chaotic feeling in the crowd of everyone trying to make the most of this band who will soon be gone. The set itself largely consists of older material, and hits like ‘Easy Tiger’ and ‘Give Me What I Want’ go down a storm. Tonight KIGH are on fire, and performances like this are exactly the reason why they’ll be missed so much when they’re gone. [LAIS]

The Blackout are playing Academy 2 tonight, and the intimate size of the venue provides a truly excellent atmosphere. The set begins with upbeat banger ‘Start The Party’, and frontman Sean Smith charges through the crowd until he ends up standing on the bar. It’s a fitting start to one of the most brilliantly energetic performances of the day, and it seems like everybody in the room is fully involved in every single moment. There’s a reason why The Blackout are praised so much for their live performance, and this is exactly it. Brilliant fun. [LAIS]

We head back in our time machine to go catch The Maine and Kevin Nicholas/Matt Kennedy in Nottingham too!

First things first: The Maine are a grossly underrated band. They’re one of these bands who have wildly soulful songs and catchy choruses and everything you could possibly want, but not enough people seem to know about them. Nevertheless, tonight they manage to fill The Forum, which is no easy feat. It’s a big room, and they get everyone warmed up with their Arizona charm. Tonight’s highlight is when they play the fantastic ‘Misery’, but the whole set is fantastically atmospheric. [LAIS]

In case you haven’t realised: Thomas Nicholas is most well known for his role as Kevin in American Pie, but he’s also in a band. Tonight he plays an acoustic set in the Rescue Rooms bar with Matt Kennedy (formerly of The Dangerous Summer). As it’s an acoustic set, there’s a chilled out vibe, and most people in the room are sat down taking it all in. Half of tonight’s crowd are familiar with Thomas Nicholas’ music, and half are there out of American Pie curiosity. The latter are pleasantly surprised, because both musicians are extremely talented and it’s great fun to watch. [LAIS]

Back to Bristol and Saves The Day have been playing main support to Brand New for the last week and a bit of shows and today is no difference, the academy is full but these people are mostly here to see the headliners. That being said, Saves The Day still put in their all and while some may criticize they do a genuinely good job. ‘Cars and Calories’ is still fun and ‘At Your Funeral’ goes down well too. The tracks from their new s/t album get an airing too with ‘Remember’ proving itself to be one of STDs strongest efforts.

We head quickly back to The Hatchet to grab some more time with Chris Conley fresh off stage to perform some acoustic tracks for us. It’s lovely, Chris is lovely, everything is lovely.

Saves The Day in session for us just after they played #hitthefuckingdeck

A video posted by Punktastic (@punktastic) on

As we wait for The Blackout’s onlookers to leave the Academy, the one-in-one-out nature is clearly causing a frenzy. One impatient (read: hammered) fan decides to belt it past security, over the barrier and disappears around the corner. Ten seconds later he’s being dragged out by two angry looking blokes before proclaiming that he “didn’t even make it five metres.”

#hitthefuckingdeck #seeyalater

A video posted by Punktastic (@punktastic) on

Had he made it, he’d be witnessing one hell of a Brand New show. Breaking albums up into chunks, initial rumblings that we might be seeing ‘Daisy’ delivered in full are quickly quashed by ‘The Shower Scene’ and a particularly well-received performance of ‘Sic Transit Gloria…’. Jesse Lacey’s screams are on point, rivalling his clean tones in quality throughout, and the reaction from the audience is nothing short of electric.

As the security guards hide terror behind their eyes, the crowd ebbs and flows likes a violent sea. As mosh pits erupt wherever people can find space, the compacted crowd react with cheers and almost deafening sing-alongs. ‘The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot’ and ‘Mix Tape’ are met with jubilant cheers, before the band breaks into ‘Millstone’ for a ‘Devil and God…’ heavy finish. As the drawn out ‘You Won’t Know’ reverberates around the venue, Brand New have lived up to the hype. For a band that have been labelled a bit hit and miss, tonight is all about the hits.


A photo posted by Chris Marshman (@chrismarshman) on

That’s not IT though, of course we went to see Brand New in Nottingham too, and it was worth it, with the set being shaken up with a pretty special ending.

Tonight sees the end of Hit The Deck, and also the end of Brand New’s UK tour. They’ve made a huge impression on every venue they’ve played to, and Nottingham’s Rock City is no different. Tonight’s set seems to be more hit-heavy than usual, with songs like ‘The Quiet Things No One Ever Knows’ and ‘Sic Transit Gloria’ making the crowd go absolutely wild. The whole room is packed with rabid Brand New fans, and every second is taken in with complete and utter adoration.

The adoration is justified, because Brand New are utterly fantastic live, and the fact that the setlist has changed nearly every night means they keep it interesting for the fans and themselves. The atmosphere in the room is electric, and at many points it seems like the crowd are singing louder than Jesse Lacey himself.

It’s an utterly wonderful end to a fantastic weekend, and the icing on the cake comes in the form of ‘Soco Amaretto Lime’, the best ending anyone could have hoped for. With chants of “You’re just jealous ’cause we’re young and in love”, Brand New exit the stage leaving every person in that crowd with shivers down their spine. Excellent.

Overall, in case you didn’t guess. Hit The Deck was a rousing success. A big thanks to everyone who let us interview their bands or stayed behind while we tried to record some bands. We’ll be back next year but as for now… Groezrock… SUP.