United Kingdom | 16 July 2010
Anna Hyams gives us the ups and downs from Relentless NASS 2010
If it’s action you want, Relentless NASS 2010 is where to find it. Not what you might expect from a small town just outside of Bath, but this is the place to get your extreme sport fix this summer, playing host to bmx, inline, fmx, the World Cup Skateboard finals and heaps more. Big basslines and dubstep mixed with huge air and sick tricks, NASS is the small festival with the big attitude.
2010 sees a bigger musical line-up than previous years and some of the most death-defying stunts you’re likely to witness outside of a Tony Hawk’s game. With a great site layout and fantastic facilities on top of all that – it’s going to be a hard one to beat. So pop on your stickered Yankees cap, pull your jeans down past your underpants and head to Somerset, yes Somerset, for a wild weekend.
Getting There and Back: 8/10
Dear everyone with a sat-nav coming from the North, please make sure you program it to avoid Bristol. Yes that’s right, through the city centre is not a good plan - you can be stuck for up to an hour and a half - particularly as there is no camping on Thursday night at NASS.
For those traveling by train, the stations are absolutely nowhere near but the lovely people at NASS organized shuttle services between them and the site. If you’re an Eco-friendly type and like to meet new people, car-sharing is for you.
The Site 9/10
Though the site is small, the layout is actually pretty great. Family camping is situated at one end of the arena (nearest to the car parks) and General camping at the other end, meaning that the two are unlikely to nark each other off and there are toilet blocks absolutely everywhere.
The outside entertainment is second to none at NASS, with the highlight being the Goliath ramp that is in use constantly for some incredible jaw-dropping air tricks on boards, skates and bmx.
High praise for the Indoor Arena (Drum and Bass arena), that is kitted out to look like a sketchy warehouse club, with a plethora of black curtains and neon hanging sculptures, lasers and a heavy beat.
Bars in general are pretty good at NASS, no silly ID wristband or tokens rubbish, and located in all of the main rooms. You’re also allowed to drink your own booze in the arena (within reason) so you can avoid doing the general ‘binge at the campsite’ before going back to the arena absolutely hammered.
Not such high praise for the Kerrang Stage - a tiny stage at the back of a warehouse, that is never more than half-full at any time, however the band’s hardcore fans seem to be appreciative of the up-close and personal gig they receive.
More great additions to the outdoor entertainment include The FMX arena, the Dirt course and the Slalom with the indoor Street Course in the centre of the arena, being the main attraction – housing the most incredible set of ramps, boxes and rails for the skaters to absolutely rip apart. With a giant balcony running round 3 sides of the room to give the crowds more space, a spectacular birds-eye view and skate and bmx times running seamlessly into one another, there’s always something to watch.
The one big complaint of the festival? Food. A lot of festivals have been getting tougher on what can be brought in but at NASS, there is a complete ban. No gas, no fuel, no flame. This leave everyone to either survive on Relentless and adrenaline all weekend, or suck it up and pay the ridiculous food prices which were not reduced to reflect the cooking ban whatsoever.
The atmosphere at NASS is hard to call. It seems to be split down the middle, half laid-back skate dudes and families with sporty kids who are there for all the action, and half Henley’s wearing d’n’b fans who’ve only come to get pissed and jump around.
The one time everyone seems to come together is for the final acts on the main stage and there is a distinct lack of the ‘dress-up and look daft’ etiquette of other festivals. No fights though, you’ve just got to watch out for being cracked in the ankles by a wayward skateboard or two.
Music – 6/10
Okay, so the line-up was good but a bit half and half. What other festival can host Bowling For Soup one night and Chase and Status the next? But, it seemed to work out fine with a few seriously good sets from the likes of Plan B and Jaguar Skills, the NASS crowd sure know how to party. On the other hand, having no main stage on the Sunday is a bit of a mistake, meaning the music fans have nothing to do other than crowd the skate areas for the finals which are already packed with sports fans.
Bowling For Soup: 10/10
Who could fail to love BFS? They’re practically your BFF’s. The cheeky chaps from Texas with their ‘get up and jump’ pop-punk, mixed with what can only be described as stand up comedy hit the stage running on Friday night. Amongst classics like ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’ and ‘1985’, BFS tease the crowd with snippets of Chumbawamba’s ‘Tubthumping’ and Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ getting even the most resigned of dubstep fans up and singing like the cast of Glee. Quick warning to parents of sixteen year old girls – BFS now know the legal age of consent in Britain and they love it…
Chase and Status: 9/10
For two unassuming London boys wearing cardigans, Chase and Status definitely know how to spin dubstep to a large audience. Saturday night at NASS saw the main stage tent swamped with writhing ravers all attempting to thrash about shoulder to shoulder, to the dark beats and explosive sounds of C&S drum and bass. With a few milder tracks in the middle to give everyone a chance for air, they proceed to blow the eardrums of the crowd with cameos from Plan B and Tinie Tempah. Chase and Status proved epic at NASS and leave pretty big shoes to fill for next year’s potential headliner.
Plan B: 9/10
An absolute triumph of the weekend is the set from Plan B, with an unexpected soft jazz-funky style for the first half that brings a bit of peace and harmony in the sunshine, only smashing out the real hard rap and controversial lyrics towards the end. Mr. B and cronies turn up in shirts and waistcoats looking very dapper, not the standard attire of British rap artists, but it seems they come to do business and the crowd is blown away.
Jaguar Skills: 9/10
With a remix of Foreigner’s ‘Cold as Ice’, you can’t really go wrong in a room full of drunken revelers. Grade A mixing with 80’s old school hip-hop, well known Sega game clips and some stomping dubstep mean Jaguar Skills have hundreds queuing to get into the Indoor arena on Saturday night.
Young Guns 8/10
Young Guns rock the Kerrang stage on Friday night with a heady mix of tight guitar riffs and melodic lyrics, but despite their killer set they don’t pull much of a crowd due to being on at the same time as Bowling For Soup. Such a shame for a band that really pull out all the stops, but they look like they are having a lot of fun.
This City 6/10
Oops. Slight oversight from the NASS crew… This City are on smack-bang in the middle of the hugely popular Hadouken set, which means that there are no more than five people enjoying the sole attentions of the band. They aren’t bad at all, but have a very sorrowful look about them, and who wouldn’t – playing to a ghost crowd and some bored looking barmen.
The Ghost Of A Thousand 4/10
Completely incomprehensible screaming and wailing. The Ghost Of A Thousand would be much better suited to the likes of a small academy club, not a festival for punk-rock skaters and bass-line enthusiasts. This is one occasion where the label ‘alternative’ has definitely been stretched a bit too wide to accommodate.
The Arusha Accord: 7/10
The Arusha Accord, whilst being a fairly decent new band with an interesting sound (a bit of metal screaming, a bit of jazz, a bit of power band melody) are again, slightly lost in the big Kerrang room on Saturday, with minimal audience due to the main stage hosting Chase and Status. It really must be a bit of a let down for the metal/rock bands to come along and be basically ignored, but The Arusha Accord do their best not to let it faze them.
Though Devlin is an accomplished young man on the scene, he does sound like a boy which is sort of disturbing given some of his lyrical content, it makes your ears double-take. It puts you in mind of a toddler smoking a cigarette and swearing at you. The crowd just aren’t engaged despite a few laughs at some of the rap, and on a sunny afternoon it just wasn’t well suited.
High-pitched and a bit whiny over the top of incomprehensible beats, Ghetts lost a lot of general listeners during this set, even though the fans at the front seem to be having a lovely time. Interesting lyrics, just far too fast to hear much, perhaps Grime is just a little out of the safe zone for most.
Random Events: 10/10
Who doesn’t love free stuff?! Most fests you’re likely to come away with a Jaeger headscarf or an inflatable beach ball. At NASS, you can win mountain bikes, custom kicks, skateboards and DVD’s along with all the usual gubbins of stickers, posters and badges.
In the Trade Village there are hourly give-a-ways with masses of freebies. The Nike iD fairground is queued up all weekend with two events – Hook a Duck, and a Coconut Shy. Prizes up for grabs included Frisbees, hats, towels and best of all: a pair of completely custom trainers. Watching ten year olds hook the winning duck and go off to design their kicks is truly heartbreaking to sneaker-fans, when you know they’re going to grow out of them in six months.
There’s a lot more to see and do at NASS, from giving a Streetboard a try, public ramps and the Athletes lounge, to watching a breakdancer do a flip over three scared girls. As if that wasn’t enough NASS hosts Parkour around the arena, Slacklining and there are even a group of MC’s in the car park beat-boxing around a car that is made up like a tank. Now that’s dedication.
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