LIVE: Hit The Deck Festival

By Chris Marshman

Festival season kicked off with the biggest of bangs in April in Nottingham, and Hit The Deck has now seen itself transform into the first big weekender that the UK has to offer by expanding to Bristol. Punktastic was out in force over the weekend.

SATURDAY – Bristol

Great Cynics are one of the fastest rising UK punk bands at the moment, and despite the fact that the Thekla is the darkest place in the entire world, they make it feel summery as fuck. The new tracks sound excellent live, and Giles & Co look set for an excellent summer. [Tom Aylott]

The James Cleaver Quintet have recently changed over bass play, and they still seem to have a vaguely Jimmy sized hole in their stage show. It’s not something that’ll take them long to rectify ahead of their album release, but it certainly isn’t the best ever JCQ set we’ve seen so we’re gonna reserve judgement for the Arcane Roots tour in a few weeks. [Tom Aylott]

Rob Lynch is always near the top of the list of bands/dudes to catch at festival for us, and he’s going from strength to strength at the moment. The top deck of the Thekla is a suitable place for his almost sailor like attire today, and it’s an excellent continuation of the afternoon. [Tom Aylott]

First band we caught on the main stage in Bristol was Never Shout Never.ย The Missouri-based trio are fronted by Christofer Drew, who resembles some sort of bizarre country type clone of Oli Sykes. They are a band who are are hard to describe, but ‘sugary sweet and hideously cheesy’ will probably cover it. There are certainly a lot of teenage girls who appreciate them, but their show fails to ignite Bristol for anybody else. Better luck next time. [Lais MW]

Headlining Bristol’s Academy 2 are Title Fight, who have come all the way from Pennsylvania. They play to a packed out room and as a result incite complete and utter carnage. There are crowdsurfers galore and it’s clear to see that Bristol love them. They deserve every ounce of respect, because tonight they are raw, passionate and full of energy. [Lais MW]

Last but not least are Hit The Deck’s headliners, Don Broco. A year ago, Don Broco were almost exclusively a support band, but now, they are about to headline a set of their biggest shows to date. Many doubted they could pull it off, but tonight they proved every single one of them wrong by putting on an insanely brilliant show. Don Broco are always brilliantly fun live, but tonight they are quite simply glorious. Tonight they prove they can headline festivals, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go on and headline bigger events that this. (Lais MW)


Today sees Hit The Deck go back to its roots in Nottingham, and as usual it’s a complete success. While the Bristol leg of Hit THe Deck suffered from the distance between venues, Nottingham is a victory because of the sheer closeness of the venues and the general atmosphere. Every year it goes from strength to strength, and this year is no different. (Lais MW)

Devil Sold His Soul play in the Forum, and it’s one of vocalist Edward Gibbs’ last shows with them. The atmosphere is electric and the turnout is absolutely incredible. Today could very possibly be one of the best shows Devil Sold His Soul have ever played, but it’s tinged with sadness because the departure of Edward Gibbs will genuinely be the end of an era for the band. The emotion only adds to the clear passion shown onstage: an absolute triumph for all involved. (Lais MW)

Orange County hardcore mob Stick To Your Guns also take to the stage in the Forum, but their set couldn’t be further from the emotional display of Devil Sold His Soul. They are possibly the most positive men that ever walked the earth, and frontman Jesse Barnett does an excellent job as a motivational speaker. They are an unbelievable live band and it’s an absolute joy to watch them bounce around the stage like a ball of energy, with massive tunes and chugging riffs to match. (Lais MW)

Headliners Don Broco somehow manage to trump their incredible show at Bristol last night by packing out Rock City like no Hit The Deck headliner before them. It’s an unbelievable feat, and it’s incredibly heartening to watch a fairly new British rock band’s ascent to festival headliners. The simple fact is that nobody else does what Don Broco do, and whether you love or hate them, it doesn’t matter because they are going to be absolutely massive. (Lais MW)

Overall, Don Broco were the real success story of Hit The Deck 2013. This is a special festival that is giving British bands a chance to make a genuine mark. We’ll be back in 2014 and we expect to see you there. (Lais MW)