Free and Roaming in Nass-Vegas on Saturday:
“My marbles are somewhere in that field”. – A man named Dave.
Once again the summer festival season has hit the ground running and everyone seems to be going mad for it. None more so then the humble Nass festival which is situated in South West England at the prestigious Bath and West Showground’s and yours truly was lucky enough to gain access to report the Simmonds Standard.
NASS is the Nation’s biggest extreme sports festival which boasts the best riders, skaters and music the world has to offer and this year was no exception. With great acts like Public Enemy, Less Than Jake and the birdhouse team including Tony Hawk in the house, this year was expected to be BIG. Alongside the big names were also a massive collection and selection of the UK’s music scene and I was interested to see what they had to offer.
If you’ve ever been to Nass then you know it attracts all sorts of people of all ages with one common goal, to watch the gnarly stunts and to enjoy the diverse genres of music. The festival runs from Friday to Monday and my first visit was on the sunny Saturday with family in toe, keen to get in on the action. We arrived through the gates and instantly I could hear Drum and Bass booming from a small stage just in glimpse and could almost smell the sweat from afar! To get my bearings it was decided to walk around the festival to check out where, what and how. We passed the said Sika stage, the huge main stage and then passed the Slammer tent which is where a lot of the bands I wanted to check out would be playing, it was a cool bazooka circus style tent which held a decent capacity and as I found out on Sunday it provided excellent cover from the rain, well I say excellent apart from leakages on guitarists pedal boards! We passed through the warehouse, which was home to Nass’s excellent indoor skatepark, riddled with ramps, jumps and rails all ready and primed for adrenaline pumped stunts. I caught a little bit of the inline skating whilst inside and saw some dudes pulling some smoothly swift air tricks and some agile grinding work. Just beholding this venue made me appreciate the kind of hard work and commitment that must have gone into building and preparing this festival, it really is kind of a big deal. After traversing through the stalls selling various merchandise we sat down right next to the BMX dirt jump section. The sun was in full flow and there was good vibe music wavering through the air, all energy was positive and flowed right through the veins. We had sat down just in time to catch the qualifiers in action on the dirt jumps and wow they were good, there were massive jumps in the set and the riders had a vertical start to gain enough speed and momentum to clear the doubles. Even just getting clear of the first one would take the average human a huge amount of balls but these dudes make it look so simple, there was backflips, frontflips, triple tailwhip 360’s, superman seat grabs and all sorts of other tricks up their sleeves. It didn’t all go perfectly to plan though, I did see a few pretty big bails but the riders were hardcore eighty four and would get right up to give the crowd a thumbs up to reassure everything was cool.
By the end of the dirt competition it was music time! 14:00pm came and the first band was up in the Slammer, always a tough gig, playing the opening set of the day but Plymouths Patrons stood up to the mark and provided the not so present crowd with their own brand of alt-rock. Having not heard of these guys before today I held no expectations which I find sometimes helps you understand what a bands about. They riffled through a passionate, anthemic and decent thirty minute set. They tried to get the crowd involved as much as possible which was nice.
After hanging around the VIP area, we were drawn back to the Slammer once again to catch where we watched Birmingham based Metal outfit SHVPES (formerly called Cytota) storm through a blistering set, showcasing their loud, energy charged tech-heaviness which would set up the scene for the next hardcore act The One Hundred which are making a name for themselves with their own sound that infuses metal and electronica with some rap/scream vocals. They’re pretty good and I would recommend them to people who like their music heavy and loud! By looking at the line-up I was seeing a trend of of these heavy metal style bands and was wondering where the Punk was! I always kind of placed skating with Punk and was a little disappointed there wasn’t more on offer but thats the way Nass rolled this year.
Next up was the one of the highlights of the weekend which would be skate legend and all round dude Tony Hawk and the birdhouse team ripping it up on the massive vert ramp that was situated close to the main stage. We were lucky enough to get front row action to watch this and everyone was ‘Nass-Hyped’ up. I’ll admit I’m not a skater myself but spent many hours in my youth playing Tony Hawks Pro Skater video games and could appreciate that I was in the presence of a great one. He really rode that vert, even skating with a selfie stick at one point! The crowd cheered each time he ripped it up and this extended to the other skaters too which included a super talented 11 year old and Lizzie Aramanto who was also ripping it up, reppin it for the pro ladies. I felt privileged to have watch this display of high class sports and it I think everyone in the crowd felt the same way.
After chilling in the VIP section with another couple James and Vicky who represented a skating publication we saw it was time for another personal favourite from the weekend. Gentlemans Dub Club were playing the massive main stage and there was a great deal of people in attendance. These festival favourites blend up dub reggae which channels in an easy vibe but also has some banging drops that are guaranteed to get the crowd jumping. I loved hearing the track ‘High Grade’ which went down a treat and really set the tempo for the night.
Next up was the US long running Ska-Punk outfit Less Than Jake which are always a favourite for skankers and punks alike. Having not ever been to one of their shows before I wasn’t sure what their live act is like but having now attended I have mixed emotions. On one hand the music was tight with their happy go lucky skank riffs, leading in to horn infused punk. The sound was pretty good and was enough to get people skanking in the pit which is what its all about. But, on the other hand I found that the stage banter was a bit off. At one point the lead singer singled out someone in the crowd and started to take the piss out of their appearance by saying that the said persons braces made them look goofy. I don’t know if this is something you come to expect from their live act but for me, verbally abusing your fans is not cool. Not that it detracted people from hanging around for the set but I for one took my leave halfway through. This would be the end of my saturday experience of Nass but I hear that all the other acts were caning it for the rest of the night, all night long…
A Wet Sunday:
Having made the conscientious decision not to camp the night because of weather warnings I then returned to the festival in the early afternoon. I am glad I didn’t camp because it was sod ridden on the Sunday but this wasn’t going to dampen Nass’s spirit with lots more acts to come. Due to the rain I decided to set my base camp up in the Slammer tent and would watch as many acts as I could.
The first act I was to check out was Wales’ own Samoans who battled with the leakages in the tent to provide a moody and emotive set. Fair play to the bassist who apologised for the weather and tried to lighten the mood a little bit. The music was melodic and would say that their comparison with the Deftones is fair. Next up would be a group of northern lads called Allusondrugs, who would entertain the crowd with a slice of the Grunge/Alt-Rock action. The set was energetic and well executed with the lead singer providing some funny banter and all musicians proving they can rock out the stage with the some good guitar work and funky bass lines. I think that they were one of the favourite bands I saw in the Slammer over the weekend and would recommend them to fans of grunge and more melodic alternative rock and the singer looks vaguely reminiscent of Kurt Cobain (Sorry!). After more sheltering from the rain it came the turn of hopeless records new signing Roam which played a highly charged, melodic pop punk set. This was refreshing to the see and highly enjoyed seeing the singer bounding across the stage. Their sound is influenced by the newer wave of pop punk that has emerged over recent years and would recommend for fans of The Story So Far and Neck Deep. Milton Keynes act Hacktivist were next to storm the stage and boy did they storm it. They are a metal band that fuse hardcore with a groove metal bassist, guitarist with more strings loaded on his guitar than an octopus, drummer and two separate vocalists. One vocalist has more of a hardcore style and the other has an mc, rap and grime thing going on. I think this set had the biggest attendance so far in the slammer and all the metal heads were moshing like mad to the heavy riffs and the politically charged lyrics. I really enjoyed the set which was laced with brutal intensity.
I then took a little walk to the warehouse to view some of the BMX riders in the skatepark. Some of the stuff I saw was insane. I saw one of the riders attempt a double backflip only to fall flat on his face. He was so close to landing it and all the other riders came to help him up and see if he was ok. This goes to show the spirit of the festival where everyone is looking out for another and will do their best to help.
Another highlight for me were a group that are no strangers to the festival scene and have been around for years, led by Barry Ashworth the mighty Dub Pistols hit the stage with a mix of their new and old material which got the crowd moving and grooving. They even played their classic from the Tony Hawk pro skater ‘Cyclone’ for the occasion. Their music is really brought to life when played live as they play their blend of dub, reggae and good vibes on real instruments and the bass literally was thundering. After getting my groove on the set had ended and another rap, dub act was to follow, Roots Manuva graced the stage and just like the Dub Pistols the sound was very much real and played on instruments. I stayed long enough to hear the classic tune ‘Witness the Fitness’ but left to catch the festival headliners Public Enemy. It was a shame that they were put on at the same time but at least I got to see the Hip-Hops legends storm through tracks like ‘He Got Game’ and ‘Fight the Power’.
This would be my lasting memory of the festival. In this area very much local to myself the creme de la creme of Extreme Sports and Music were tearing it up on my backdoor and I will always rest assured that no matter what happens I know I can take a small trip again next year to Nass fest, where there is indeed something for everyone, whether you are a family or a hardcore raver, you’ll find that the passion and dedication that goes into Nass festival is really something that cements it as one the best festivals to attend in the UK and I recommend you give it a try, you never know you may even find Dave’s marbles rattling around somewhere.