Hit The Deck Festival Review

I’ll tell you, waking up at 7:00 am on a Saturday is no easy task, however the events to follow that day were certainly worth it. On the 20th of April, many of Bristol’s known (and loved) venues – The Fleece, O2 Academy 1 and 2, The Thekla and the Exchange, opened up their doors to hundreds of fans coming from far and wide to see their favourite acts brace their stages for the first ever Bristol date of Hit The Deck Festival. Although each venue was at least a 10-15 minute walk apart, this didn’t dishearten the spirits of the people of Bristol. The sun was shining, the music was blaring and the first ever Hit The Deck turned out to be a complete success.

Looking out of the main exit at the well-known Bristol Temple Meads train station, told us that Bristol was ready. In clusters all around the station there were groups of teenagers wearing their favourite bands shirts discussing their timetable for the day and sharing their excitement. Considering the amount of people walking the streets of Bristol, upon arriving at the wristband exchange at The Thekla the queue wasn’t very long, only taking us 10 minutes to collect our wristbands and head of to the first venue – the O2 Academy.

Heading straight up to the Academy 2 room, the first band of the day, Run From Robots, certainly had the room packed. Even during their closing few tracks many people were still piling into the room. The band took every opportunity possible to interact with the crowd and by the end had managed to attract some head banging from the crowd.

Attention Thieves were next on my schedule with a very short walk down to the main academy. Upon entering the stage the band had gathered a small crowd of fans screaming as they entered the stage. Playing the biggest room of the day must have been a task, considering they only had 30 minutes to prove themselves to the crowd waiting for the acts later in the day. I feel that they had done their fans proud.

Mallory Knox were next playing after Attention Thieves on the main stage at the Academy, and boy did they play a great set. Playing tracks from their newest record Signals, the vocalist Mikey Chapman encouraged the crowd to sing along. By the end of their set he wasn’t afraid to get up close and personal with the crowd, jumping from the stage and onto the barrier for the final song before thanking everyone and heading off stage.

Again, sticking with the O2 Academy just for now, when Sonic Boom Six took to the stage the crowd immediately starting jumping up and down proving to us that Sonic Boom Six have a very loving fan base. Although I had to miss the last couple of songs from their set due to other press duties, I could still hear the chorus being sung back to the five pieces on stage even after walking out of the room.

Attack Attack! were up next, playing their first UK festival since the band line-up changed. The drummer of the band told us “we don’t quite know what to expect. We’d be happy if we had any fans at these shows. We are really unsure about what to expect from the crowd.” Being the first person to head out on the stage, the screams that came from the fans at the front row certainly put a smile on Wetzel’s face. Opening up with the well-known “Stick Stickly” was wise; this helped create some movement in the pit. Although there were technical difficulties with microphones, this didn’t put a downer on their sprits.

After some more press, I headed back into the academy to catch some of Never Shout Never, the crowd reaction for the band was incredible. Chris’s good looks, talent and confidence certainly helped him gather a good fan base, with around 3.5 million “likes” on Facebook, it was almost guaranteed that there would be countless numbers of fans singing along to some of the bands most popular tracks. With cheeky winks and smiles from Chris to members of the crowd near the front, girls came out of the venue talking about how their idol noticed them – it is clear that this band is something to look out for in the future.

Leaving the academy for the first and only time, I headed over to The Fleece to watch the newest and possibly one of the best Scottish metal bands, Bleed From Within. The overall stage presence was incredible, the band made the task of playing amazing tracks and getting involved with crowd, look like second nature. Vocalist Scott Kennedy was no stranger to the crowd. With climbing on top of speakers and onto the bar worktops, he had done his best to get the crowd involved; producing easily the biggest (and most brutal) pit of the day.

The final band on my schedule was on after Bleed From Within. With this being their last ever shows in the UK, there was no doubt that I wouldn’t be hanging around to catch Bleeding Through. This was a fitting headline to what had been mainly a metal and grunge festival. Not making a huge entrance, the band hung out on stage whilst sound checking to chat to some eagerly waiting fans. As the opening notes of the first song began, vocalist Mike Tyson stood up looking like he was ready to do someone harm, dressed in nothing but muscles and shorts, tore into the first number shaking his head violently whilst mouthing words and flexing his muscles giving the crowd a chance to scream into the sound system gaining smiles from other band members. Their performance was tight and although I had never previously listened to the band before, I found myself nodding my head at the tracks to follow.

Overall, I would give Hit The Deck festival a 9.5/10. It was a very well put together festival and the music was on top form. Catering for many genres, the overall turn out for the festivals first time in Bristol was great and for a very small price of £25. I would suggest checking out the festival next year. Great music, great venues, and reasonable prices, what else could you ask for?

-Louise Mardle

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