Leaving our brains frazzled and fried, Nozstock Festival sufficiently surpassed all of our expectations. An unforgettable weekend compact with thrills, the boutique event showcased some of the finest musical talents stemming from our shores; a combination of veteran and up-and-coming musicians who each lived up to the occasion magnificently, collaboratively ensuring Nozstock’s most exciting and successful event to date. To help us try to encapsulate the true Nozstock emotive, we’ve spoken with Hip Hop MCs Cracker Jon, Tommy Dockerz and Toast Based Dinners to give you their take on the manic weekend alongside ours. Here’s a rundown of some of our first hand, up close and personal experiences at Nozstock Festival 2014.
Arriving amidst the initial gloom of grey skies, the weather did nothing to dismiss the vibrant anticipation which radiated from the campsite, and things took a brighter turn after ticket-holders hastily set up camp and could then laze through bursts of surprisingly intense sunshine. Once the arena opened its entrances the stages soon began relaying soothing melodies to an expectant crowd dozing upon donated sofas which dotted across the arena.
“Nozstock Festival is always the craziest of the year. I always forget what it looks like until I see the tents on the hills and then remember the Psytrance Forest and Sika Studios Barn, and it brings back a flood of insane memories. The people in that part of the world are generally happier, and it rubs off on you the more you go there. I would advise everyone to go once and I’ll give you an album for free if you ain’t satisfied.”
– Cracker Jon (High Focus Records)
To first host the Cubicles Stage was 18 year old d&b up-and-comer Robey Wan, winner of the 2014 DJNoz competition, who didn’t choke on his chance to shine. Giving his all with a relentlessly rhythmic set of jump-up and liquid classics he attracted a steady stream of people who flocked to the dance floor. Around the corner, the Garden Stage hosted the talented Three Headed Beast, a hip-hop trio who captivated the crowd with melodic instrumentals and enthralling quick-fire lyricism, a passionate performance which fascinated the audience from beginning to end. Taking over back at the Cubicles was Modify Perspective, a liquid-driven producer hailing from Glastonbury, UK who took it two steps further to his predecessor and obliterated the sound system with shattering drops, backed by sinister wordplay from Trafik MC who enthusiastically supported the set. On the neighbouring Bullpen stage the Dirty Dockerz took to the microphones. A duo signed to Blah Records who have been making a viral impression with their verbal bizarrity, they took to the stage drinking buckfast and bringing their cold saggin’ spirit, spitting back-to-back with a clear cut chemistry and generally on point flows which entertained the fan base and put off those who undoubtedly struggled to grasp the essence of their outlandish nature.
“Nozstock is always a pleasure, and one of the dockerz’ favourite festivals to attend. This year we smuggled in a bukky bottle and got viral up on stage with some of this year’s classic releases. Best bit was seeing everyone singing all the words to Dimension X for our set finale. Big up all the people that make Nozstock so unique and homely. Getr!”
– Tommy Dockerz (Blah Records)
Deep into the valley across the other side of the festival site lay the Coppice stage. Under a setting sun families gathered upon the slanted hillside looking upon the incredible enthusiasm of the psytrance ravers entranced by Vagrant Misfit, lead DJ of the infamous Bristol Ninja Hippies free party screw, in the dying embers of a perfect summer evening. Headlining the Garden Stage were East London band The Skints, amassing a huge crowd who were hitching a ride on the congenial reggae vibes, conjuring an infectious pulse of feel-good melodies which echoed enchantingly across the arena. It was Craig Charles however who effectively stole the show. Equipped with nothing but passion for pure funk and soul he relayed classics old and new, enlivening the crowd to no end and frequently interacting with the audience before building up the tempo again and again. An incredible highlight of the weekend. Back at the Bullpen Stage Jman brought a defiant positivity to his euphoric set, filled with a variety of intense d&b, jungle and hip-hop beats to match his incredible lyrical versatility.
Saturday saw The Bluntskins kick off the evening from the Bullpen Stage in a cloud of piff smoke, amassing a small but lively crowd who were captivated by comical rhymes spat with adept skill and backed by razor sharp cuts regularly implemented by Voodoo Black and DJ Cutterz, taking the place of producer Pro P who unfortunately couldn’t make the event as he was “on family duty”. Later on the Garden Stage, The Mouse Outfit brought the funk with a tremendous set relaying classics and rhyming with purpose, displaying quality showmanship and backed by a vivid light show to match. During this time however the crowd levels were peaking over at the Bullpen Stage, where Jack Jetson was joined on stage by his RLD brothers NLP, Flash Harry and Leaf Dog who were wylin’ out in a showcase of Jetson’s debut The Adventures Of Johnny Strange, backed by a variety of uplifting yet rugged boombap beats dropped by DJ Smooth. Tasked with following such a euphoric set, Leaf Dog & BVA MC took point upon stage, dropping classics from the seminal debut’s From A Scarecrow’s Perspective, Be Very Aware and the classic Brothers Of The Stone release. The energy levels became peak as the Brother’s infectious enthusiasm was mimicked by the bustling crowd, captivated by the joyous on-stage chemistry and head-banging beats, effectively joining the cypher and never leaving a bar unsung. An undoubted highlight of the weekend. Roughly an hour later the main stage was packed with anticipation for the weekend headliner Roots Manuva, a UK hip-hop veteran who hails from the illustrious Big Dada Record label. With a confident swagger and incredible passion he led Nozstock on an exhilarating ride through a setlist which varied from all corners of his discography, demanding tremendous respect with his passionate vocals and soulful lyricism in a truly uplifting experience. Deeper into the night Shropshire-based DJ Mr. Jay took over the Laughing Stock marquee, with an energetic coercion of sounds ranging from thumping house to exhilarating electro-swing, causing the crowd to dance in all sorts of crazy shapes before they rushed the stage towards the end of his set.
“My favourite act at noz would have to be Roots Manuva! Been a fan for a long time but this is the first time I got to see him live. Was big!! Aside from that I really enjoyed debuting the new crew Gatecrashers on the TPS set. That’s me, Jack Diggs, Oliver Sudden, Downstroke and Gee Bag. All the acts on the Sika Stage killed it as usual. Chris always puts on a mad line-up for these things! My favourite thing with Noz though is the vibe. No horrible cunts there at all which is a welcome change from the cronx!”
– Toast Based Dinners (TPS Fam – Revorg Records)
The Saturday night antics had plagued my Sunday with illness, so I’ll take the blame for slacking on this one, however there were at least two stand out acts worth mentioning. Bristol based rap extraordinaires Split Prophets blessed the Bullpen Stage with a revitalising energy, engaging with the crowd in an enthralling set which displayed their exemplary flows in an unmatchable display of potentially the freshest UK hip-hop of the weekend. With incredible prowess each artist performed to the livest extent as DJ Badhabitz backed the lyrical heat formidably with his formidable repertoire of exquisite beats. Later on that night Nozstock witnessed the mighty Friction & Linguistics drum n bass duo who took over the Garden Stage with a relentless setlist which amassed an entire field full of people who let loose in a hardcore session of intensely rhythmic basslines alongside a schizophrenic light show to match.
Big ups to all the performers who made the weekend so memorable and of course we wish a massive thank you to the Nosworthy family who staged the festival on their beautiful Heredfordshire farmyard. We can’t wait ‘til next years event to come around. Find out more on their website here and we’ll catch you next year!