Gig Review

Hit The Deck Festival 2013
Bristol - Academy, Thekla, The Fleece, The Exchange
20th April 2013

Hit The Deck festival was born in April 2011 when the festival took over Nottingham on the 17th April, now two years on Hit The Deck is celebrating its third year as a festival and for the first time ever the event is a duel sited festival stopping off in Bristol and Nottingham.

When Hit The Deck 2013 was originally announced I was instantly exciting by the line up with the likes of Don Broco, We Are The In Crowd, We Are The Ocean and Army Of Freshman being amongst the first set of bands announced, as the months went by more bands got added to the festivals line up with the likes of Pure Love, Natives, Mallory Knox and many others catching my eye and from this moment I just knew that I had to head down to Bristol on the 20th April to see what Hit The Deck is all about.

We arrived in Bristol around midday and headed straight down to the Thekla to get our wrist bands and when we got there we were greeted with such a smooth and quick process where you got a wrist band to prove you were over 18 to help make the bar staff’s job easier and then you went on to get your festival wrist band, this was done in the matter of seconds being the quickest and most efficient wrist band exchange I have experienced at a festival.

We headed straight down to the Academy and outside there were signs up saying that first band on Black Eye were not playing the festival as they have split up and that the first band on would be Attention Thieves at 1.30pm so we waited around for a bit before heading in to check out Attention Thieves.

Attention Thieves (4/5) are a band who I have heard a lot about over the last couple of years and have even had the pleasure to review their EP ‘Look A Little Closer’ and most recent single ‘Can’t See The Light, the band have been hyped up across the board for their hectic touring schedule and solid live shows and tonight just proved that the hype is justified as Attention Thieves sounded tight as hell from the start and a couple of songs in they managed to turn a stale looking crowd into a happy crowd as front man Alex Green encouraged the crowd to clap and mosh along and at one point even a mini circle pit broke out in the middle of the Academy to the delight of Attention Thieves as they smashed through ‘Can’t See The Light’.

We decided to stay in the Academy 1 and wait for Mallory Knox (5/5) and before we knew it 30minutes had passed by and Mallory Knox were taking to the stage, now Mallory Know are a band I have enjoyed the music of for some time now but have never managed to see them on the live circuit and today I was in for a treat as Mallory Knox opened their set in good fashion with their single ‘Wake Up’ and it certainly lived up to its name and brought the crowd in the Academy to life, as the set progressed Mallory Knox played the likes of ‘Hello’, ‘ Oceans’ and ‘Death Rattle’ with the later of the 3 seeing Mikey Chapman jump off the stage and get closer to the crowd, yet it was the outstanding ‘Lighthouse’ which closed the set and left me wanting more songs from Mallory Knox.

After Mallory Knox we went for a quick walk around Bristol and it was a great experience as the streets were busy with various different things going on and it was also a pleasure to see the likes of We Are The In crowd, Natives and various other bands just walking around the streets of Bristol doing a bit of shopping and mingling with their fans.

We got back to the Academy in time for Sonic Boom Six (5/5) who absolutely blew me away, now I have listened to various different Sonic Boom Six singles and videos on the likes of Kerrang and Scuzz tv but I have never experienced them on the live circuit until now and after the amazing performance they put on today I am kicking myself for not checking them out sooner, the whole 30 minute set was like a big energetic workout for the band especially vocalist Laila Khan who totally owned the stage dancing in a way that looked like she was leading a gym class whilst laying down some killer vocals. Now if you have ever had the pleasure to see Chase And Status live Sonic Boom Six are like the ska-punk version of them as they have the same energy on stage and a similar vibe with the fact that the mix ska, punk, metal, dub step together to create an big in your face catchy sound.

During their 30minute set Sonic Boom Six managed to play about 7 songs with ‘Bang!, Bang!, Bang!, Bang!’, ‘Piggy In The Middle’ pleasing the crowd but it was the likes of ‘Virus’ which had a bit of Limp Bizkit ‘Rollin’ thrown in at the end including the well known dance movements which had the crowd bouncing in the air and also recent single ‘Keep On Believing’ And regular set closer ‘For The Kids Of The Multiculture’ which set the mosh pit alive.

After Sonic Boom Six we headed upstairs to the Academy 2 where Evarose (3/5) had just started their set, now Evarose are all female four piece band from Oxfordshire who have been on the scene for a couple of years now, when we walked into the Academy 2 they were half way through their single ‘Changes’ and straight away I thought the sound wasn’t right and as soon as the song came to an end vocalist Dannika Webber was asking for the sound to be corrected, luckily this happed straight away.

Pretty much for the whole set Evarose played in darkness now I don’t know if this was because the Academy2 has a poor lighting system or because the person on lighting duties chose the lighting but either way Evarose didn’t let it bother them as they went on and played a mixture of songs from their debut EP ‘Creation Divide’ and their most recent EP ‘Elements’, with one of their first ever songs ‘Glass’ gaining a good response from the crowd in the Academy 2.

We headed straight back down to the main Academy next for Attack Attack! (2/5) now I know since they formed back in 2007 Attack Attack! have had a rollercoaster ride and it seems that today they brought that rollercoaster ride to Bristol as from the start they ran into sound problems with new vocalist Phil Druyor’s vocals not coming through loud enough for the first couple of tracks, however this did not stop him storming the stage like a mad man and looking at the size of the man anyone would be a fool to of got in his way.

As the set progressed Phil Druyor spoke to the crowd to say that they have had problems and that a few days ago they didn’t think they would have a full band to play their UK tour but luckily they drafted in some friends to help out, this in a way was good as the fans of the band still managed to see their hero’s hero’s perform the likes of ‘The People’s Elbow’ and ‘Sexual Man Chocolate’ which sounding brutal live, yet the majority of the set sounded poor and there was a lot of waiting around between songs, I just hope that Attack Attack! go away spend time clicking as a band and come back and play the music to the standard they originally wrote it.

Now Hit The Deck was a really well organised festival but there was one big criticism and that was the lack of food stalls, the only one I saw was a Pieminister stand by the Thekla so after Attack Attack! we headed down to the local Weatherspoon to get so much needed food after the best part of 5 hours of live music.

We then headed down to the Thekla to check out Bowling For Soup’s old favourite touring partners Army Of Freshman (4/5), now for anyone who has never been to the Thekla it is easily one of the best music venues in Bristol and it is set on a big cargo ship in the heart of Bristol’s floating harbour, when we walked into the venue Army Of Freshman were already well into their set and were playing to a maximum of 50 people yet they didn’t let this put them off as they performed on stage like they were playing to 1000’s of people as they laid down their poppy-punk sounds.

Next up are Canterbury (4.5/5) a band who formed back in 2005 in Farnham, Surrey who have enjoyed a very successful journey in the music industry including the release of their debut album ‘Thank You’ which saw Canterbury trial a pay what you want method for the album which allowed people to download it for free if they wanted to, since then Canterbury have released album number 2 ‘Heavy In The Day’ and are set to head into the studio to record album number 3 any time now.

It is clear to see that their time as a band has paid off as Canterbury are on top form tonight playing a 45 minute set which featured the likes of ‘Calm Down’, ‘Something Better’, ‘Wrapped In Rainbows’, ‘Heavy In The Day’ and also new song ‘You Are The One’ which gave vocalist James Pipe to talk about their forthcoming untitled third album.

Towards the end of their set James Pipe made a good statement about UK rock music being back alive and kicking and right at the top and he also went on to say that it was down to good bands, good fans and good festivals like Hit The Deck and I personally couldn’t agree more.

After Canterbury there was a long and painful wait for Pure Love, the band that I had been looking forward to the most all day, lucky after headed outside the venue for a bit of air and a drink it was time to head back in for Pure Love.

Pure Love (5/5) took to the stage slightly late and blasted straight into ‘She (Makes The Devil Run Through Me)’ which also happens to be the opening track from their debut album ‘Anthems’ and instrumentally the band sounding solid but Franks vocals sounding slightly broken and different from how they sound on the album however as Frank progressed through the song his voice settled in and he was on top form and within seconds guitarist Jim Carroll jumps into the crowd for a quick crowd surf whilst playing his guitar.

As the set progresses Pure Love cause mayhem with Jim Carroll crowd surfing at every opportunity and when he is not crowd surfing he is climbing on the bar playing his guitar or generally charging through the crowd, whilst Jim is doing this Frank is charging through the crowd like a bull on the loose, he heads to the sound desk and has a word with the staff there, he then progresses onto the bar and try’s to order drinks for the whole crowd but the bar staff are having none of it so Frank heads back to the middle of the venue to continue with ‘The Anthem’.

When ‘Bury My Bones’ opens up the whole venue erupts with everyone jumping up and down with joy and before you know if Jim Carroll and Frank Turner are on a crowd surfing mission again and this time Jim Carroll crowd serfs and manages to get hoisted up to the upper deck of the venue, and Frank follows suit showing that he won’t be out done by his partner in crime Jim Carroll.

The next couple of songs are played with Jim Carroll and Frank Turner in the upper deck of the venue whilst the rest of the band are on stage rocking out, we are treated to new track ‘Hurricane’ which instantly sounds like a classic Pure Love song and moments later ‘Handsome Devil’s Club’ where Frank tells everyone to get their best friend or loved one on their shoulder and within seconds this happens leaving the security looking around with a concerned look on their face.

Towards the end of the set the drummer moved his kit to the middle of the crowd and straight away a circle pit breaks out around the drum kit with Jim Carroll who has just returned to the floor joining the circle pit running around playing his guitar whilst trying to avoid hitting any fans with his guitar, moments later Pure Love blast into their final song ‘Riot Song’ which features Jim Carroll playing guitar with a 12 year old fan sat on his shoulders who also goes on to experience his first ever crowd surf as he his passed over the crowd through the venue.

I first saw Pure Love live when they played Bath Moles back in July 2012 this was their 10th ever show as a band and now they must be in triple figures and it certainly shows as tonight’s set was fantastic and unlike anything I have ever seen before, when you go to a Pure Love show it is best to go expecting the unexpected as tonight’s show proved that just about anything can happen.

As we left the Thekla we could hear many Pure Love fans singing “woaaah ooo woaaah” as they relive ‘Riot Song’ on their walk home.

Overall Hit The Deck 2013 has been an amazing experience, like every festival there were clashes and I missed many bands that I wanted to watch such as The Front Bottoms, We Are The In Crowd, Don Broco, Decade and many others but clashes are never going to be avoided no matter what the festival is especially when you have the choice of 4 venues and 7 stages to visit. In general the festival was organised really well and there were no problems or queues getting into any of the venues which I was expecting.

11 hours of music, 4 venues, 7 stages and nearly 70 bands for £25 you really couldn’t go wrong, Hit The Deck Bristol 2013 was a success and I feel slightly jealous of anyone who is heading to the Nottingham leg of the festival today, here is to Hit The Deck 2014 which I am sure will be even bigger and better.

Review By Trigger

 Hit The Deck Festival

Bristol - Academy, Thekla, The Fleece, The Exchange
20th April 2013

 O2 Academy 1

Don Broco
We Are The In Crowd
Never Shout Never
We Are The Ocean
Attack Attack! (US)
Sonic Boom Six
Mallory Knox
Attention Thieves
Black Eye

 O2 Academy 2

Title Fight
Fearless Vampire Killers
Fort Hope
Run From Robots

  The Fleece

Bleeding Through
Bleed From Within
Feed The Rhino
Rolo Tomassi
Max Raptor

 The Thekla

Pure Love
Army Of Freshmen
The James Cleaver Quintet
Great Cynics
Dingus Khan
The Front Bottoms

 The Thekla Top Deck

Walter Schreifels
Vinnie Caruana
Rob Lynch
Chris Webb
Ellen Cox
Joanna Joyce
Iuean Williams


Heart Of A Coward
Silent Screams
This Or The Apocalypse
Hand Of Mercy
Black Dogs
Dead End Path

 Exchange Stage 2

The Action Plan
Failure To Follow
Jesse Ventura
Ex Machina
Bats About Bats
Syren City

 Festival Related Links
Hit The Deck Festival Official Website
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?