22nd-24th July 2016
Nozstock is undeniably one of the highlights of the festival season and this years event was no different as 5000 revellers of all ages descended on Rowden Paddocks in Bromyard for this years event.
In contrast to the usual dire British weather that can happen during the summer festivals, everyone in attendance was blessed by glorious sunshine over the three days, with thankfully only a few minutes of rain over the duration of the event which only added to the laid back but excitable vibe.
With everything from hip hop and grime to psych-trance and ska punk, Nozstock had it covered music wise and fans of comedy, were well catered for too and with everyone here up for a good time this resulted in a celebratory feel and an incredible atmosphere throughout.
With the sun beating down, and after exploring the small but impressive festival site, it was time to take a look at what musical and other delights Nozstock had to offer. First up and playing at The Bandstand was Nottingham songstress Keto whose mesmerising lo fi acoustic folk had the audience entranced. This was the perfect start to the festivities with Keto’s voice coming across like a slightly edgier Laura Marling throughout her set and all the while, the sun was as beating down resulting in a hazy atmosphere that complemented Keto’s voice satisfyingly and it is that voice that marks Keto out as definitely one to watch.
A saunter over to the Garden Stage saw dub and reggae specialists blazing out their trademark dub anthems to an increasingly energetic audience hypnotised by the sound-systems heavyweight rhythms and this afternoon session was enjoyed by the Nozstock masses.
The next act seen were Estrons who brought their raging brand of punky rock n roll to The Orchard Stage in a blistering set that saw their highly energetic songs received warmly by the assembled Nozstockers. Frontwoman Tali Kallstrom was on fine form as she screamed out songs like the catchy Make A Man and Drop and was backed ably by the rest of Estrons in what can only be described as a triumphant performance. Estrons are definitely on the up and with highly enjoyable and impressive performances like this, it’s easy to see why.
Following Estrons were Buster Shuffle and their brand of upbeat ska had more than a fair few people skanking along with them. Over on The Garden Stage, Jenna & The Gs entertained the crowd with a soulful and high spirited set with the star attraction, obviously being frontwoman and drum & bass chanteuse Jenna Gs amazing voice and when she cranked out In Love, her collaboration with Chase & Status, she had the audience in raptures and showed why she has been held in such high regard for over a decade.
After a brief glimpse of the high energy of CC Smugglers and the deft party starting turntablism of Bristols DJ Cheeba (who was rocking a tshirt from Herefords own Beefy Boys no less!), we ventured to the Bullpen and Cubicles where the mixture of jungle, drum & bass, grime and all manner of bass led goodness in between was getting started and where it would continue over the weekend.
Back to the Garden Stage saw the arrival of perennial UK hip hop Dr Syntax and Pete Cannon who had attracted a massive crowd eager to hear the duos humorous take on hip hop and they didn’t disappoint with tunes likes Do What We Wanna Do and Middle Class Problems getting the whole crowd hyped up. A trip to the Bullpen after this was in order to see Hi5ghost and Boofy taking over and cranking out frenetic instrumental grime with reckless abandon until it was time to head back to the Garden Stage to see Goldie who more than lives up to his legendary status and played a career spanning set packed full of tracks from the extensive Metalheadz back catalogue with Be True by Commix being dropped a particular favourite and with a perfect sound throughout and enough bass to take your head off, it’s plain to see why he has been at the top of his game for so many years and continues to do so with finesse. As we left the Garden Stage, Gentlemans Dub Club were finishing rocking the Orchard Stage as we left after Goldies set and the bands mixture of dub, ska and reggae as the perfect ay to finish the first day of Nozstock 2016. A great end to a great first day.
Rising early, a venture into the arena saw Worcester boys Desert Boots starting things off on the Garden Stage and their breezy style of rock was a pleasant enough start for the assembled early birds. A much more raucous start to the day came courtesy of Smokin Durrys, who opened up the Orchard Stage and played a fiery set of bluesy rock n roll that knocked any trace of anyone’s hangover right out the farm! With energy levels set to high, the band tore through their half hour set as if their lives depended on it and it was in turn both exciting and infectious to watch. Another band to keep an eye on for sure.
Following Smokin Durrys was no easy task and not many bands could follow their energy so it was a relief and in keeping with the eclectic nature of Noz that Bristol brothers Foreign Affairs were up next and their laid back folk rock while at odds with the furious rock n roll that had preceded them, was just as passionately played albeit in a calmer way. This was a performance with plenty of soul and captivated the growing Nozstock audience. Birmingham based reggae/ska punkers Lobster follows and as the sun got brighter, their upbeat and fun brand of music got more than a few people dancing and the band even threw in covers of Max Romeos Chase The Devil and Shy FXs Original Nuttah to the crowds delight in a highly energised and entertaining set.
Another change of pace at the Bandstand saw Welsh folk singer Andy Jones play a fiery and stirring set that captivated everyone watching, back at the Orchard Stage The Lounge Kittens were very entertaining with their versions of everyone from AC/DC to Elton John to House Of Pain in a lounge style and this combined with a comical stage presence resulted in a captivating set topped off with a highly entertaining lounge style Prodigy medley.
A detour to the Laughing Stock comedy tent saw absolutely hilarious performances from the riotous and hysterical Phil Kay, the brilliant Tom Parry (with a “guest appearance” from Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics!),the highly entertaining Bob Slayer and the sublime hilarity of Richard Herring all demonstrating the high points of British comedy and compère Jayde Adams in between all these acts was just as funny and this tent demonstrated the humorous side to the Nozstock experience.
Back to the music and seeing Idles play some powerful post punk at the Bandstand was inspiring before New Orleans own Hot 8 Brass Band brought the funk and soul (as well as the brass) to Nozstock with a euphoric performance to an elated crowd. Brassed up versions of classic songs like the Specials Ghost Town and hip hop favourites like What’s My Name and I Got 5 On It went down so well and couldn’t help but put a smile on anyone’s face and their version of Sexual Healing was utterly sublime.
Over on the Garden Stage, Foreign Beggars brought the bass to the masses with a lively display that didn’t see anyone in the crowd stop moving got the duration. Big tracks like Contact were executed to perfection and when DJ Nonames dropped Dub Phizix banger Buffalo Charge, the Beggars and special guest J Man ran wild with it to a typically frenzied reaction in what was a superb conclusion to a great set.
Nozstock has a good reputation at getting some classic hip hop acts at the festival (witness De La Soul at last years event) and they have done it again this year with Orchard Stage headliners, the legendary Jurassic 5 who truly displayed a masterclass in live performance. From the moment the groups two DJs, Cut Chemist and Nu Mark entered the stage and started cutting up beats and scratches, the crowd were enthralled and as the four MCs (Akil, Chali 2na, Marc 7 and Zaakir) bounded onto the Nozstock stage, the crowd responded with rapturous energy. Jurassic 5′s performance was thrilling and entertaining in huge measures and a testament to these six masters of their craft and the detractors who says that live hip hop cannot cut it has definitely never seen a J5 performance before. From the two DJs giant turntable and portable turntable battles that saw Smoke On the Water, Dead Prez anthem Hip Hop and KRS Ones Sound Of Da Police scratched up to evergreen rap cuts like Jayou, Concrete Schoolyard, Quality Control and What’s Golden all delivered with an enthusiasm that you rarely seen stage, Jurassic 5 gave the heaving crowd a lesson in hip hop and one that will live long in Nozstock lore. This was a set that had boundless energy, humour, a special segment for the ladies of Nozstock. another shoutout to Herefords Beefy Boys and above all, timeless hip hop music of the highest calibre from some of the best to ever do it. A phenomenal show and what a way to end the Saturday nights headlining at Nozstock.
After the triumphant J5, we caught a glimpse of Jaguar Skills rocking the Garden Stage with a zealous DJ set that carried on the partying til the early hours and drum & bass don Friction at the Cubicles and both demonstrated the party spirit that Noz has in spades.
Sunday at Nozstock began with The Lasting Days at The Garden Stage whose laid back indie rock was the perfect start to the day for those up early enough to catch them. After this pleasant start, the niceties continued on the Orchard Stage with rock tinged folk from Adam Scriven who wowed the captivated audience with his passion filled songs and the addition of a didgeridoo to his music was a nice touch and gave the songs an added element.
Back at the Garden Stage, Tenz and Natty Speaks dropped every jungle banger you’d ever want to hear to a frenzied reaction and the enthusiasm coming from Natty Speaks as he ran round the stage incessantly was truly infectious.
After this blast of energy Nottinghams Harleighbleu entertained the chilled out audience with her laidback and soulful vibes before UK rapper Mystro with Cut La Vis on the decks brought the energy levels back up with a vibrant set. Back at the Laughing Stock tent and following on from repeat (and just as funny) performances by Phil Kay and Bob Slayer, Germany’s comedy ambassador Henning Wehn took to the stage for a set that was extremely funny as well as heartfelt and thought provoking. A class act.
At the Bullpen, the Sika records showcase was in full effect, a showcase that demonstrated the breadth of talent in the UK at the moment and was topped off with a set from the legendary Klasnekoff that saw classics like Jankrowville and Jamrock Takeover delivered with style.
Rounding off a stunning weekend were the energetic rhythms of The Skints who had more than a fair few people skanking along with them on the Orchard stage before a packed drum & bass takeover over the Garden Stage saw Randall and DJ Marky hype up the delirious crowd with smash after smash. Headlining the Orchard Stage was rock n rock queen Imelda May who didn’t disappoint with her and her bands infectious mixture of charming vocals and rockabilly cool. Feelgood tracks such as Its Good To Be Alive, Hellfire Club and Mayhem brought the Nozstock crowd to its knees and rounded off an amazing three days of fun, music, comedy and more in fine style and closed the curtain on what was an incredible festival
Nozstock is a festival that does things on its terms and has its own unique vibe and I don’t think I’ve been to a festival in over twenty years with such a good natured feel to it, everywhere you looked and everywhere you went, people were simply having a great time and long may this continue. Nozstock 2016 was a very memorable event and I am counting down the days until next years event!
All Images- Kind Permission of Dominique Brinkley
Words: Gavin Brown