Nozstock: The Hidden Valley [Festival Feature]

September 3, 2011
Nozstock- Oli Montez

Bromyard’s Rowden Paddocks Farm reopened its quintessential grounds after a hard working year of constant organizing, planning, booking, promoting and building for the 13th annual Nozstock Festival; following its ever-growing continual success, year after year.

This year’s Nozstock: The Hidden Valley which took place from the 29th July to the 31st July- kept its rural and local roots by blending the right balance of local and national talent, provided by the family run team behind the event. Together bringing more familiar faces and those from afar, all of which enjoying the memorable experience.
Nozstock prides itself on being a family friendly festival providing a weekend of never ending entertainment from multiple stages- some of which secret; new areas, craft spectaculars, cinema -screening short films, art, homegrown bars and a selection of tasty treats catering the event; all of which set in delightful surroundings.

Throughout the 3 days of live music and entertainment spread across-
• The Main Stage, Orchard Stage. Mixing the best of home grown talent and upcoming artists.

• The Garden Stage which hosted an eclectic mixture of alternative bands and DJs. The stage later became home to a showcase of local talent picked by BBC Hereford and Worcester for their own Introducing take-over.

• The Band Stage; hosting a variety of diverse sounds aimed to inspire.

• The Cubicles – in association with The Jailhouse. The converted cowshed named The Cubicles hosted the best dub-step and Drum N Bass throughout the night.

• The Coppice provided home to Bristol’s trance crown Tribe Of Frog which transformed its environment into a psychedelic den of musical magic.

• Laughing Stock; booked in association with Avalon, Laughing Stock returned to provide round the clock giggles with some of the best breaking acts and a few household names.
These stages were just a named few of the multiple platforms offering vast quantities of non stop performances.

Friday the stages welcomed the likes of regularly praise, featured and cherished local act Zebedy Rays. As well as our very own Aulos. Local acts Skewwhiff and The Saint Tropez Javelin Experience held their own. As well as more known acts such as Sonic Boom Six, Adrian Edmondson + The Bad Shepards, The Stowaways, Dub Mafia, Jim Jones Revue and Toddla T &Mc Serocee.

Saturday welcomed local talent ad previously featured Nicholas Stevenson. A second local appearance from The Anomalies. Fight The Bear and Dubheart also performed alongside more recognized acts such as: CW Stoneking, Jazzsteppa, Foreign Beggars and a nostalgic revival from Spunge. Saturday’s Orchard Stage that night was bought to a heightened finale by headlining renowned act Alabama 3.

The Final day was no thinner in the bill. Acts included Stagecoach, locally loved The Misers and well known legends The Wurzels. One Man Team Dance and Vintage Trouble also took to perform later in the evening.

Nozstock- Oli Montez

A 3 day festival summed up and bought to you through the eyes, thoughts and words of 3 people which attended-
Friday’s Festival Coverage is provided by Circuit Sweet’s Oli, who had the fortunate experience of performing in Aulos on the Garden Stage that day.
Saturday’s Festival Coverage is provide by Circuit Sweet’s Naomi following her first experience of the event.
And Sunday’s Festival Coverage is provided by guest writer Josh Lamdin, a regular Nozstock attendee and half of Aulos who also had the insight of playing live at the event.


 Arriving at Nozstock on an overcast Friday morning I had doubts about the weather but after a polite staff welcome and a swift backstage visit to unload equipment I was free to take a look around. This was my second year attending and performing at the local festival and not much has changed. The atmosphere was electric as with most festivals but to me Nozstock has something about it that just feels so welcoming and accepting. After wondering around the circular site and reminding myself what was where I returned to the Orchard Stage where I was playing in the early afternoon.

Opening the Orchard Stage were “Physics” or as they put it “P H Y S I C S.” To be found through the plethora of other acts with that title. Arriving to the stage seemingly under equipped and disorientated the band sluggishly rolled on with their set lacking original material. In that sense I mean that milking out a festival slot with covers is immoral and unprofessional. If I wanted to hear poor renditions of chart hits I would have gone to a dive bar. Also that Foals happened and we are over it. Stopping to tune your guitar should be a given, even noticing for that matter, and if you would like to incorporate a new instrument maybe practicing with it beforehand would be a good idea.

The day was only on the up from here. After packing down my equipment and loading out I got back in time for my favorite local band – Zebedy Rays. I have definitely seen this band more times than any other on the planet and I sill go every time they are in my neighborhood. Whether it’s Adam Hickman’s mad stage antics – this year he scaled the PA – to Danny Meigh’s “Bass-Face” this band never gets old. After their exhausting set I went for another wander around the site coming across many familiar faces – friends and bands alike returning just in time for Sonic Boom Six.

Zebedy Rays- Oli Montez

Zebedy Rays- Oli Montez

Zebedy Rays- Oli Montez

Still this wasn’t the highlight of my weekend at the Hidden Valley. I always believe the best part of festivals are the parts you don’t go to see and what you discover along the way. 100% Beefcock and the Tits Burster. That’s right. This 2 piece powerhouse shook me to the core with a wall of sound so intense that I don’t think I blinked for the entire set. If I didn’t get to my earplugs in time they would have deafened me but if this was the last thing I ever heard I wouldn’t have been too upset about it. A wave of skilfully manipulated feedback sourced from a bass guitar being cut up with articulate, powerful beats made for a very intense show. Discovering this new band secured my place for next year and hopefully for years to come. Long live Nozstock!     


A first experience within the grounds of the local and loved family based herefordshire festival and instantly I was aware why this is such a cherished event with its own unique amalgamated community.
A short tour of the site highlighted the time and effort gone into creating this momentous weekend; the stages, stalls and all areas of the festival drowning in its quaint and quirky attributions found in each turn.

With non stop activities and live music at your disposal the first live performer on Saturday whose entire set was observed was Jazzsteppa on the Garden Stage.
Born of a Berlin experiment, Jazzsteppa are Gal Bar-Ardon and Gal Moore. Both Jazz musicians with a fascination in the world of sound experimentation and electronic music. The duo are internationally renowned for playing live dubstep with acoustic instruments. They pride themselves on being a surprising boundary-breaking collective. Their set consisted of trombone, Mc, Djing, drums and effects resorting in a large sound from the duo. The pair have a laid back approach to their live performance. Looping the trombone sound throughout and mixed with the modest drum beats it did become very repetitive very quickly. Jazzsteppa are incredibly good at what they do and hauled and hooked a large crowd. But unfortunately for myself at least, their performance failed to give them an edge to make them stand out from acts so similar.

Heading back to the Main Stage ‘Orchard Stage’ C W Stoneking took to the stage.
Prior to his appearance, C W Stoneking had reached audiences afar after recently appearing on Jools Holland. The response to his televised live performance resulted in many festival goers recommending and advising that I must catch the live set, following enlightenment by something that they’d watched just days before. 
A somewhat cold figure took to the stage and I was questioning what was to come from a band all dressed in vintage beige and the front man with a vacant expression, slicked back hair and a bow tie equipped with a banjo.
American born Australian raised blues singer songwriter C W Stoneking is something truly of his own. The owner of King Hokum Records boasts his sound is pure pre-war blues, jazz, 1920s calypso and folklore with something of the phenomenally wise and ancient.
C W Stoneking fuses inspiration, sounds and daunting life stories to create a unique experience and a unique performance.
A refreshingly different and stand out set to all those around, his performance and timid compositions mellowed the festival’s atmosphere into their early evening set. A much slower and less raucous set to the majority of the festivals acts, a fixation with his deliverance ensued a feeling of sentiment.
Playing tracks from his latest album titled “Jungle Blues” which was inspired in part by Stoneking’s experience as a survivor of a shipwreck off Africa’s west coast, the vocals, lyrics and orchestrations throughout provided a chilling edge. Gentle, skiffle and sweeping drumming was accompanied by banjo plucking, hefty double bass, a brass ensemblement, resonating guitars, solo banjo numbers, yodelling and atmospheric changes within their darker compositions. C W Stoneking will transport you back to a time so rare. Captivating and elegant. A beautiful change within the overall line up.

A short trek back to the campsite for a rest and a few beers we waited for an hour or so until we saw a recognized name in the brochure, one to which we had to witness. So back to the Orchard stage a familiar name found in punk band Spunge took their evening set reliving their punk nostalgia hay days. Fusing metal with punk and ska they performed an upbeat set which shot them to attention years ago. A mediocre set which seemed to be just an entertaining purpose and one without professionalism. However the crowds seemed to enjoy the older musicians as they re-embraced their previous careers back on the main stage. Performing past hits and showcasing a few new tracks they had been working on. This band seem to be holding onto their past roots tightly, but a lively set bought in attention and kept the festivals atmosphere buoyant. 

By chance following a questionable band name found in the festivals weekend brochure, we wandered away from the huge crowd congregated in front of the main stage to visit the small out of sight but endearing Band Stand Stage. Here a duo played their late evening set, and by curiosity which led us there the band itself- 100% Beef Cock and The Tit Bursters – gave a pounding, vicious,deep sounding tentative performance gaining themselves 2 new fans having been totally captivated and amazed by such talent.

100% Beef Cock and the Tit Bursters- Oli Montez

Distortion, erratic bass lines and brutally bold and brash drumming submerged in a very deep wall of intensity, feedback and screaming. Left speechless by the duo’s creativity and magnitude, words struggle to apprehend just how blown away from their performance- something so unexpected. The two had just come back from playing at Glastonbury ahead of their performance at Nozstock. The pair have a working alliance within their musicianship which is clearly propelled as a strong and inspirational force. Audiences can clearly see how both woman bounce off one another during their live arrangements.
After being mesmerized and truly impressed by the 2 piece holding down the small band stand stage and an unfortunate crowd size for what they deserve, but never the less a crowd in awe- we had left the sudden silence at the end of their colossal heightened end to their set and walked back to the Main Stage for the Headliners and stage closers of the evening.

Coming in late to their set- Alabama 3 had pulled an incredible sized crowd to their stage finale of the night.
After forming during the height of brit pop in Brixton, the band created genre splitting music, notorious for “acid house gospel country blues”. Their creativity over the years has not gone unnoticed as their most famous for having a remix of “Woke Up This Morning” featured as The Sopranos title music. Their compositions have also been used on Gone in 60 Seconds, Definitely Maybe and The Simpsons. Their reputation precedes them.
These headliners were in fact showstealers. Technobeats with country instruments, samples and throaty raw vocals. The 10 piece band provided one incredibly lively set turning the atmosphere into a fun celebratory manor. Raucous electronic beats and a plethora of tracks ranging throughout their catalogue from 1995-2011, the eclectic collection hyped over an hour and a half with a dutiful encore. A strong performance gave a fitting finish for that stage that evening.


The day started with the BBC Introducing Stage for Hereford & Worcester, staging all the best talent from the local music scene. Zophia and her backing band were the first to open the stage. From what I saw of the BBC stage, Zophia was by far the most professional and talented artist/ band of the early afternoon. Clearly a confident and experienced songwriter and front woman, with a group of very skilled musicians behind her; they preformed a solid set of soulful pop songs with a hint of funk here and there. Although, I would be lying if this was material that excited me.
In terms of originality and flair, there’s nothing new here. Very standard pop writing, at a high level for sure, but nothing that I felt really got me excited about this artist. However the BBC stage seemed to run into some problems, I noticed this when Andy O’ Hare approached the band to ask if they could do another 2 numbers. At this point the second band of the stage should’ve been set up and ready to go, and with Zophia already used up her repertoire the crowd had to listen to another 2 songs that the band had already played.

But about 25 minutes after the second band, “The Fiction” was set to come on, they had finally set up and had finished line checking and were ready to start. However the crowd had to wait a few more before Andrew Marsden appeared to finally introduce them onto the stage.
Described as “Painfully Awesome” in the program for the festival, all I found of “The Fiction” was painful. A group of young musicians, late teens to possibly very early twenties, these guys weren’t the most experienced band, which didn’t just show in their lateness to the stage and the pace of their set up, but unfortunately in their set too. Uninteresting, adolescent alt rock songs with very little to grab the attention other than vocal melodies which simply sounded like they had been tacked on with shallow and bland lyrics.

By this point I’d seen enough of what BBC Hereford & Worcester had to offer and moved on. The next group I watched were on the main stage, a reggae outfit from Leicester named ” By The Rivers”. And I have to admit, my first impressions when I looked upon the group weren’t amazing. Seven skinny white guys who looked like it could’ve been The Kooks playing, but my opinion was turned upon its head. These guys knew what they were doing and had a great set of original, well written, authentic reggae songs. Clearly a group of musicians who have spent a lot of time not only working at their own sound but also appreciating the genre as a whole, performing as well as, and better than musicians I have seen with far more years and far more experience, I was thoroughly impressed.

Nozstock- Oli Montez

After returning back to the campsite, relaxing and breaking open a few much needed beers, we returned to the festival just in time for The Wurzels. Now with the amount of time The Wurzels have been around, they need no introduction whatsoever. But I’d be lying if they were a group I’d spent much time listening to, so I was curious to see them live. Arriving at the main stage it was clear that their reputation heavily preceded them as they had one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. A full set of very classic west county songs that everyone could join in on it seemed largely enjoyed by everyone, clearly no matter how old you get, toilet humor and euphemisms about 2 ft long ‘Marrows’ never get worn out.
Unfortunately Laid Blak had to pull out of the festival but were replaced by hip-hop outfit, The 3 Amigos. They turned out to be very popular on the quiet Sunday evening, with nothing more than 3 microphones, 3 mouths, and a set of turntables, they had a huge crowd moving from the quite small garden stage. I definitely appreciated the old school influence and approach they seemed to take.

But I have to say the highlight of the Sunday, for me personally, was venturing up to the tiny Band Stand Stage, where I saw One Man Team Dance. A 2 piece, mostly instrumental, math rock duo from High Wycombe. With Sam on a very minimal drum kit of hi hat, snare, ride and kick; and Mike on a tiny casio keyboard and a circuit bent toy guitar. The 2 musicians played an awesome set of rhythmically and structurally complex pieces with the occasional joint shouts thrown in, which I really enjoyed. The small crowd they had due to the positioning of the stage were all in awe of the two musicians and they were called back to the stage to perform another 2 short songs, which they insisted everyone gather around, on the stage, behind the, infront and side to side.

Everyone involved with the event should be very proud. Creating something so inviting and welcoming and something to leave many memories.
Looking forward to Nozstock 2012!

Now featured at Altsounds here-

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