Nozstock 2009: Rated!

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Jamie Skey | 05 August 2009

Overall - 7/10

If it wasn’t for the tight-as-a-duck’s-ass security, whose snappiness spoiled the peaceful, unified atmosphere, and some badly organised site management – festival-goers weren’t able to enter the arena until around 3pm on Friday and Saturday, even though it opened at 12pm - Nozstock would be the best back garden party in the world ever - probably.

Nominated for four UK Festival Awards last year, it really has plenty to offer, and deserves all the accolades it gets. Although the rain comes down by the bucket load, the atmosphere never relents and the spirits never dampen. It seems incredible that there are nine stages on this site, given that it is tightly tucked away in a small crevice in the green bosoms of Herefordshire.

The two main stages (the Orchard and the Garden) are at the heart of the festival, hosting an array of foot stomping delights, whether it be punk, drum n bass, folk, ska or indie. For dance addicts there are the Cubicles and the Coppice, which push a cornucopia of beats and bass and a whole load of incendiary live acts to keep one gurning until the small hours.

The site - 7/10

The site is small and beautiful. Mr. Nozworthy and his co-organisers have clearly gone to great lengths to keep the punters cosy and aesthetically pleased. Plenty of sofas are deployed across the site, colourful flags are festooned across treetops, goblin heads here and there pop up in the dark and down in the Coppice a trippy kaleidoscope of butterflies and flowers are hung to keep the psy-junkies hypnotised.

There are plenty of hippie stalls lavished with winking jewellery, ensuring the festival shopper remains happy. Astonishingly, there is a cheese and port stall and a Scotch egg stand which offers over 40 varieties – vegans included! This year there is the addition of a comedy and cabaret tent, which, compared to many other fests, has some pretty decent stand up acts.

The only problem with the site is that it is placed on the side of a hill; consequently, the place turns into a massive mudslide after the rainfall. Fun for some, but not for others- especially the one or two staggering around on crutches.

Atmosphere - 8/10

Mostly, the atmosphere is jovial and uplifting. Everyone is on some kind of chemical or other. If not, they’ve been enjoying the excellently priced beer or cider at £2.50 a pint. The rush of Nitrous Oxide is the festival’s ubiquitous sound and people slurp down balloons as if there were no tomorrow.

During the day, crusties and anarcho-punks skank to their hearts content to the various rock acts, by night, however, most people are contorting their muddy torsos to the banging beats of psy-trance and drum n bass.

Music - 7/10

Nozstock supplies a whole range of eclectic musical treats, unfortunately any of the bands who perform early on Friday and Saturday play to little or no crowds due to the bad site management. Nevertheless, there is a mixed bag of eclectic treats for all to shake their muddy wellies to. Surprisingly, it is the two acts everyone is waiting for, Andy C and the Buzzcocks, who disappoint the most.


Talons - 7/10

From the back of the Orchard stage field, these noisy Hereford youngsters look as if they’ve just come out of a GCSE tutoring lesson. On closer inspection, they appear even younger. But boy do they make one hell of a progressive noise. Their double violin attack wails from the speakers as the rest of the band blare out raw instrumental post-rock. Scorching stuff.

Zebedy Rays - 6/10

The Zebedy Rays can’t make up their mind if they want to be punk, blues or indie. For all their inconsistencies, they certainly have their hearts in it, especially the lead singer, who sounds like he might have been raised by a pack of hyenas and perhaps fed cigarettes for breakfast.

Weapons Of Sound - 8/10
Weapons Of Sound are musical scavengers. They play a whole junkyard of recycled oddities, from sinks to shopping trolleys and pipes to scaffolding poles. Their musical mash up had the Orchard stage jumping on Saturday evening with their clash of samba and modern dance. Their ‘junk funk’ comes with a clear message- reduce, re-use and recycle!


Buzzcocks - 3/10

Punk is meant to be raw, unpolished and ramshackle, but the Buzzcocks take this DIY ethos to an excruciating level. Peter Shelley and his cohorts are so out of tune it hurts. Maybe it is their age, who knows? But it is impossible to stand through the whole set. ‘Ever Fallen In Love...?’is certainly not worth the wait.

Andy C - 3/10

The drum n bass daddy is well renowned for his blistering, quick mix sets. But tonight in the Cowshed the atmosphere is claustrophobic, the sound system sucks and nobody is up for it. Not even the man himself.

Random events


The Leeds based theatre group wipe the floor with their hilarious ‘granny cleaner’ act. If Dot Cotton had starred in the Rocky Horror Picture Show then this would be the result. They’re as camp as a row of tents, but they provide belly laughs by the bucket-load.

The site Samba band

These guys should be renamed the never-ending samba band. They play all day and most of the evenings to keep the non-admitted (because of bad management) warm.

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wrote on Wednesday 12 August :

I think you must have been watching a different Andy C to the one i was dancing to at Nozstock. I was front and centre and the whole cowshed was rocking to one of the best sets ive ever heard him play. The man himself was having such a good time that he played over his set time by about 20-25 minutes, not something he's do if he wasnt into it i'm sure, and the sound was better than i've heard at Global or Creamfields. With the amount of rain that came down any site would have turned into a muddy mess but the organisers did an excellent job with loads of woodbark to soak it up as much as possible. All in all this was one of the best festivals i've ever been to, bring on the next one :)

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