Relentless Energy NASS Festival 2011 review

Overall: 7/10

Relentless NASS, set in a motley collection of warehouses and fields on Bath & West Showground returns with a DnB and dubstep heavy musical line up and a plethora of extreme sports.

Friday’s opening sees a bedraggled but smiling crowd setting up camp in soggy fields and heading over to the Pro Skatepark for practice hours of inline, skateboarding and BMX. Though the music doesn’t start until later in the afternoon, there’s certainly lots to do here, tiny kids are pulling mad back flips on Razor scooters off a ramp that most people would be scared to even run up, the shopping arena is crammed with people fighting over thrown out freebies and an outdoor ‘Street Spot’ with grind rails that practically hang over the edge of the barrier.

The main stage sees DJ Redlight (6/10) draw a modest crowd with a mish-mash of styles and samples including ragga, dnb and something that sounds like Chinatown on ‘The Grid’ a la Tron. Modestep (9/10) are a big fat wakeup slap for anyone not paying attention, and the crowd seems to consist only of teenage girls screaming for ‘Feel Good’. They are hugely entertaining and continue to attract more people in during the set, drawing the crowd into their bouncy energy with samples as diverse as The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and Zombie Nation’s ‘Kernkraft 400’.

One fairly small lad emerges from the writhing darkness with blood pouring down his bright white t-shirt from what looks like an elbow-to-the-nose affliction, unfazed he shouts down his mobile phone: “They’re amazing! They just did Sunlight” as he heads towards the first aid van.

Nero (7/10) start well with punchy bass and an impressive lightshow which begins with flaming pyres altogether too close to the tent roof, but the hour-long set seems to dip in the middle and a lot of people at the back are sitting down. It’s not that they aren’t great, but instead of sampling and remixing, they appear to be just straight out playing huge chunks of music from other bands and DJ’s. It’s the second time today the crowd has heard DJ Fresh’s ‘It’s Gonna Get Louder’ in it’s near entirety.

Sub Focus Live (8/10) are unrivalled in their stage presence, with an enormous Stargate-esque circle of lights around DJ Nick Douwma as he lays down some dirty bass and pauses for effect as the audience catches a breath between jumps.

The Kerrang! Stage sees hardcore band We Are The Ocean (7/10) play to a sizable mob, and Bieber-haired frontman Dan Brown screams out song ‘Confessions’, which goes down well with the fans. As the clock strikes midnight, Dirtyphonics (8/10) annihilate the jam-packed dnb arena with body-shaking reverberating bass and enough electronic bips and beeps to rival Microsoft HQ.

Saturday’s musical offering takes a turn for the humdrum with a hard pushed Maverick Sabre (6/10) playing to an unusually small crowd. Despite the adversity, Maverick manages to hype everyone up and get them chanting “I love dubstep” and singing along to Professor Green collaboration ‘Jungle’ but something just isn’t clicking with the people of NASS.

Ms Dynamite (7/10) draws a much larger crowd but suffers an alternative fate, the dreaded ‘bad sound’ phenomenon. Throughout the short set Ms Dynamite shouts at techies to “turn it up” to no avail.

The enigmatic Labrinth (9/10) took next single ‘Closer’ to an eager crowd before friend and colleague Tinie Tempah (9/10) closed the main stage night with a massive hit parade, thanking fans for a “fantastic night”.

Over on the Kerrang! Stage, Swedish skate-punk veterans Millencolin (8/10) blast nostalgic fans with the entire ‘Pennybridge Pioneers’ album for it’s ten year anniversary, including the massive ‘Fox’ with supporters skateboards being held in high salute. They provide welcome relief to a weekend filled with repetitive beats and basslines with a good old celebratory circle pit, in which two guys in morph suits are attempting what appears to be a do-si-do.

Following on from earlier accidents on the skate parks, like the unfortunate BMX rider who managed to gruesomely dislocate his shoulder one trick in and the unconscious girls being passed over the barrier during Tinie Tempah, the crush and consequent non-admittance to the dnb arena for DJ Fresh’s late night set witnesses police and security having to push back punters and create a lockdown at the doors to the warehouse, where disappointed fans begin throwing objects and causing trouble.

Sunday’s World Cup Skate, Inline and BMX finals showcases some incredible talent and the sickest tricks you could hope to see outside of a Tony Hawk game, with eight out of the top ten Skate positions going to South American riders.

Despite the increasing number of Kate Moss-alikes in their cut-offs and wellies (even though the ENTIRE site is indoors and on tarmac…), this festival has remained largely removed from the average ‘festival culture’ idea, which means it has a distinct ‘feel’ of being true to it’s scene instead of trying to become something that would ruin it.

Relentless NASS 2011 has been a festival of highs and lows, with many people mentioning that “last year was better” but, the unique mix of music and sport, with a genre specific line-up is not to be sniffed at, it’s been a great weekend which could have been made even better with a few small changes.