13 July 2019 (gig)
19 July 2019
Festival season is here and for once it looks like the weather got the memo!
With the sunshine providing the perfect catalyst Music News were delighted to hit the road for Shepton Mallet and see what Nass Festival had to offer for its 2019 edition. Nass Festival was born in 2012 carving out its unique niche by celebrating not only music but also action sports. As a festival it manages to pull of that rarest of tricks, perfectly treading the line between the underground and corporate worlds without ever looking like its “selling out”. Case in point using technology to its advantage with a free Nass app (no paying for a pesky paper programmes) that has all the set times released in advance of the event.
Having previously visited Nass whilst in it’s infancy in 2013 the first thing that stood out was how much it had grown in those 6 years, now offering 14 unique music arena’s for the 30,000 festival revellers.
For me, one of Nass’ best assets are the different activities in the day time. If you are an aspiring DJ or MC there are workshops to help can hone your craft although those spots go VERY quickly! You can check out some incredible tricks and painful falls at numerous action sports locations. It’s really enjoyable taking a break from the madness to see some of the amazing athletic ability on display; everything from skateboard grinding to BMX halfpipes and even some spectacular stunt shows.
Before getting into the musical side of the festival its worth pointing out some of the other welcome additions to the festival.
The range of food & drink has grown significantly, catering for everyone whether vegan, vegetarian or carnivore. Everything is present, from burger vans, premium street food, alcoholic icepoles and even a Domino’s Pizza van. Food highlight is a tie between some amazing curried goat or the gluten free duck salad. My taste buds were delighted by Four Pure Brewing Co being a sponsor, we indulged in some fine craft beers whilst the sun was beaming.
“Glamping” facilities were a welcomed addition for us as we like to have some sleep away from the noise and enjoy creature comforts like hair driers/ straighteners. There’s various different levels available but the pre-pitched bell tent offering complete with blown up air beds comes highly recommended!
Onto the music. Nass is geared towards lovers of dance and ‘urban’ music. If you like Drum & Bass, Hip Hop, Grime, Bassline or Dubstep Nass is definitely for you.
One of the best things about the musical policy is it supports all levels of artists within their retrospective genre’s. It’s possible to check out heavyweight stalwarts like the headliners Cypress Hill on the main stage and then make your way to see the freshest up and coming talent at venues like Fatty’s Yard or Sika Studio’s. Whilst on the subject of Sika Studio’s, as an avid festival goer I must take my hat off to their impressive sound system, never before have I witnessed such clarity and sheer loudness from an open air stage!
Upon arriving on Friday we were lucky to catch the legendary Grandmaster Flash in full flow with an energetic performance that shows just why his career has spanned close to 40 years. Although he’s firmly rooted as a Hip Hop artist, his selection is as eclectic as it comes; hearing him beat juggle and scratch AC/DC’s “Back in Black” was a huge highlight.
As an avid Junglist, my musical motivation for Friday was checking out some of the best artists across all sub genres of Drum & Bass, some great bookings Nass team!
Unglued playing a firing full spectrum set, incorporating blends that shouldn’t work but do to disgusting effect.
LSB dropping things down to deep, dark and moody territory for a Headz style set.
Technimatic playing some luscious liquid.
Crissy Criss showing off his incredible multi deck technicality whilst playing the perfect festival selection AND bringing surprise special guests Mampi Swift and Bassline Smith onto the stage to mix with him.
Last but not least, Turno ended the evening tearing the roof of Southbank stage with the most destructive dubs you will never see released- first time I have seen an artist armed with a VIP of a remix of a remix, only Turno!
For Saturday we expanded the music beyond DnB, checking out many of the mainstage acts, the highlights being;
Eva Lazarus’s showing just why she’s so hot in the urban music world by performing a musical medley that cannot be put into one specific genre.
The raw and unfiltered UK Hip Hop veteran group the Four Owls who’s neck snapping soundbed are the perfect backing for some brutal battle bars.
Akala’s set was a huge highlight of the entire festival. He set was charismatic, filled with classic album material, some of his “Fire in the Booth” free styles and some insanely clever acapella’s. He didn’t even let the technical issues his DJ had stop his set, launching into a three minute acappella whilst the DJ kicked the gremlins out his equipment- the crowd responded by clapping a beat out for him completely unprompted.
Rudimental closed the Saturday stage providing a great mix of their classic and fresher material as the crowd sang along.
As the sun came up on Sunday the musical highlights kept coming. Soulful siren Becky Hill had the mainstage crowd swaying to her sonics and laughing at her jokes as she spoke to the crowd between songs, warning them to be kind if they see her in “a bad way” later.
DJ Blackley showcased just why he’s earned the nickname “The Wizard” within the DnB community performing magical musical mash ups utilising the many decks at his disposal.
Benny L’s set showed a maturity beyond his years and just why he’s been breaking sales records within DnB. Ridiculous reese infused riddims fresh from his studio saddled up to genre defining classics that were released before the 26 year old would have been able to walk.
Headliners Cypress Hill’s legendary stage presence and energy was ever present to close the mainstage. Their performance included all the classics you would want from there 28 year career. Watching them work through the back catalogue of classic really highlights why they maintain relevance since their self-titled debut in 1991; a chameleon like ability to evolve their sounds without compromising the integrity of what Cypress Hill are all about.
With the main stage closed, it was time to check out some more DnB before the festival finished and the two sets I had been most looking forward too. First up was Break, who as expected played a wealth of his own diverse music that refuses to be pigeon holed to one sub-genre. Whether it’s his bass face inducing remix of Dillinja’s “Hardnoize” and one end of the scale or the beautiful musicality and sultry sub low sonics of “Last Goodbye”, it’s near impossible to watch him DJ and not enjoy something within the set.
Finally to finish the festival it was time to see the super group known as Kings Of The Rollers. The tent was literally one in one out (thank God for media passes!) which reaffirms how their popularity at live events has translated to sales and a chart topping debut album. Serum, Voltage and Bladerunner who make up the DJ side of the group were unfortunately a man down as Inja, there master of ceremonies, was unfortunately not there to deliver his trademark hyper active energy. This didn’t stop them from firing filthy frequency after filthy frequency and causing the crowd to go crazy for the entire set.
As Monday reared it’s head, Nass was over but certainly won’t be forgotten. A fantastic festival that comes highly recommended.
Photo credit: Kelly Coombes