NASS Festival 2014 has been a weekend to remember. ilivExtreme has spent the weekend taking in the sights at the UK’s biggest extreme sports and music festival, meeting some amazing bands and athletes along the way. Here’s our Saturday run-through to give you the inside scoop on a music journalists first look into the many faces of NASS Festival. Come back for more exclusive interviews over the next few days.
Even down to the staff’s low cut vest tops, the weekend was styled to appeal to a specific crowd; a crowd that doesn’t find a place in the fields of Glastonbury, or the tipis of Womad. The NASS Festival crowd are hardcore and proud, happy to party without rest, and compete on the ramps after an intense night of drinking and dancing.
You can spend a lot of money on food at a festival, ask anyone. Just getting a bottle of water can set you back £2. My photographer Jen and I have, for the first time, implemented a full proof system for avoiding an empty pocket. We call it ‘The Four P’s’; this consists of:
Salt, sugar, alcohol and a good bit of crunch. You can pocket a penguin to eat on the hoof, chow down on a tube of Pringles during a heavy session, and whack out a bag of wine with ease (always go for a bag- it holds two bottles worth without the glass).
Our Halfords tent, bought the day before, went up with a flash thanks to my idiot savant tent assembly. Despite this, both Jen and I were sure that the security staff at the camp site entrance were laughing at our efforts. Jokes on them, they were sat out in the rain for the entirety of that night, and looked a lot worse off for it in the morning.
After working out our agenda (interviews with Funeral For a Friend and Sonic Boom Six, a couple of visits to the Pro Park, and a browse of everything the festival has to offer) we set off into the festival proper.
The Stall Yard, a great barn filled with decks, trucks, clothing, smoking paraphernalia, and the ever present girl-with-no-clothes-on oversized skate tees, was a great place to infiltrate the festival vibe. Without hesitation I bought a t-shirt with a skull on it, after careful consideration that my peplum blouse would get ruined as the festival progressed.
It was a smooth move, as not 20 minutes later a guy in the crowd knocked half of my cider down my front. In NASS spirit, I wore that shirt with pride for the rest of the day.
We had some fantastic views of the FMX display, featuring three time British champion Jamie Squibb, from the press office. Jamie and the other riders performed some gnarly mid-air tricks propelled from the back of two specially adapted lorries, blanketed in ramps. The roar of their motors filled the office, and they circled around their display area like caged tigers. More pictures coming soon.
We took a breather for a quick cider, and found ourselves in the audience of The Soundwaves Records DJ and MC workshop, where anyone could jump up and take the mic. I grabbed Kieran B after he stumbled away from the decks, and he told me that he and his friend MC Asha had come from Yeoville to find a crowd.
At NASS, the music is just the backdrop to the host of skate, bike and blade competitions that dominate the weekend. As a result, you can’t walk far without meeting a pro skater. We were stopped on the road by pro skateboarder Sam Wrigley, who reached for my cider with bloody knuckles and asked if he could take a swig. It was sweltering, and from his vacant expression, splinted wrist and burnt back I could tell he was suffering.
We went back to his caravan to hear about the competition he’d just walked away from. He’d come fourth, and said he would have been first had he not still been off his face. Jen took some ace pictures of him lounging in the caravan, and we became inspired to write a piece profiling the people of NASS entitled ‘The Faces of NASS’. You’ll be able to find it here in a few days time!
After buying him a cider (what I’m sure is the unspoken rule of hustling impromptu interviews) and rolling some cigarettes, Jen and I got talking to a couple of ‘Festival Vets’ (which they laughed about, but I’m sure didn’t agree with) about their NASS plans.
Mel and Dave, who have been friends for 25 years, were at a festival together for the first time, and had come to see the jewel in the NASS 2014 crown: Cypress Hill. I can say no more, as their full interview will go up with Sam’s, but trust me they were very cool and really know the festival scene.
Hoofing it all day in the blazing July sunshine can take it out of you, especially when you’re carrying a few thousand pounds worth of electrical equipment and a bag of wine, so Jen and I were happy to find Happy Hookahs: a veritable harem palace of red pillows, tiny tables, and big shishas under the embrace of a stretched red canopy. All you need to do is collapse on the floor and a lovely hippy will bring you a cup of speciality tea and a shisha. We went for ‘The Posh Bitch’ shisha, a glorious stawberry and champagne concoction, and got talking to the Hookah’s manager, Sam. You’ll be able to read more about his story in the next instalment!
After an hour or so trying to sober up for our first interview of the day, we made our way over to the press tent. As we walked in, the Senior Account Manager Carly (an awesome lady, who set up all of our interviews for the weekend) got off the phone to Sonic Boom Six’s Laila, announcing that they were ready for interview.
We squeezed ourselves through a number of fences to get backstage where we found the band sat in a circle of plastic chairs, looking knackered. With the noise from The Slammer vibrating up through the plastic chairs, we made our way to the back of their tour van for some peace and quiet.
Laila apologised for their appearance (despite looking very slick with every hair of her quiff in place) and explained that they had just been on one of the festival’s giant fairground rides after eating an ice cream (a rookie mistake) and now all felt like dirt. I said I’d be gentle.
The whole band were so sound; we had a beer in the back of their tour van and spoke for over an hour. There wasn’t a stone left unturned; we found out about their new album, their personal growth, their life ambitions and definitions of happiness. It felt more like a bunch of mates meeting up to talk about life than an interview. You’ll be able to read the whole thing here in the next few days, including exclusive pictures from backstage and on-stage.
Once Laila started getting out her bra for their performance, we took our cue to leave. We’d left the band about 15 minutes to get ready, which wouldn’t leave Laila much time for her pre show rituals (read more about them here).
Our next interview was with Welsh rock vets Funeral For a Friend. These guys have been about for a while, and told us about the good, bad and ugly of being on tour (even about the time that guitarist Kris rescued a couple from an overturned car). Their experience was evident in their tight scheduling; popping in and out of the festival like hardcore guitar wielding ghosts. We flashed through our questions in a record 15 minutes, and left Matt and Kris rinsed of any information. If you’ve ever wondered what song Matt and Kris would choose to play in the event of an apocalypse, tune in again over the next few days.
Jen and I ran like demons (as fast as demons with backpacks can run) over to The Slammer stage to catch our newest mates Sonic Boom Six live. Jen hustled to the front to take some epic press shots, and I finally had a moment to chill and listen to the music. The band premièred some of their new album Operation Boombox. The album includes some epic feel good tunes that tell you to forget about how others see you. I certainty forgot, and danced around our bags like the last drunk (but vigilant) girl on the dance floor, sans heels and gross sex appeal.
The atmosphere in the tent was electric; so much so that we were surprised to find that the heavens had suddenly opened and we still had to get back to the tent. We were camped over in the staff field, which was the festival equivalent of the nice, quiet cul de sac away from the bad part of town. The down side to this luxury was the location- a good 10 minute trudge at the other end of the Festival.
In hindsight, leaving our equipment in the tent was perhaps a bad idea. At the time however, we couldn’t think of anything more terrible than having to lug it around for the rest of the evening. There was only one thing on our mind: Cypress Hill. So, without apologising, here is a terrible crowd shot I took on my phone.
Once we got back into the Festival proper, crowds of people were gathering on the roads, all heading to the main stage. From the outside, the stage looked like any other building on site: a big, concrete cattle shed smelling slightly of chemicals and cow manure (we even found a suspicious puddle of blood). Once we were inside (hustled straight through with our wristbands #pressbitches) the majesty of the venue became evident.
Thousands of people were crushed together like the cattle, but unlike cattle (who i’m sure don’t have much fun in these sheds), the crowd was laughing, smoking and jostling toward the front, where an epic stage dominated. Black canvas flags hung down from scaffolding criss crossing the great, high, corrugated roof, and plumes of smoke were already rising from the crowd.
Cypress Hill offered what they always offer: a crowd pleasing set of their greatest hits, from I Wanna Get High to Insane in the Membrane. They sparked up on stage sending everyone into a frenzy, and pitted the left and right sides of the audience against each other in a loud, echoing slag match.
Although I really enjoyed the set, I couldn’t help but think that Cypress Hill might be relying a bit too much on past successes. To me the experience of seeing them live was diminished by the fact that I’ve listened to their greatest hits a thousand times over. Their voices were great, their presence was electric, but those old classics have become too synonymous with movie soundtracks for me.
Jen and I got to mull this over back at Happy Hookahs for the rest of the evening. We settled down to a couple of cups of tea, watched some great music from Gurnica and Jacobs Gun, and looked back over an epic day. I can totally recommend NASS Festival to any lover of extreme sports or music. The two sides of the Festival compliment each other perfectly, and together they bring a diverse crowd of party animals ready to compete for the most hardcore.
You can read more about NASS Festival 2014 over the next few days, when we’ll be showcasing interviews with Sonic Boom Six and Funeral For a Friend, along with ‘The Faces of NASS’ photo documentary series, and an amazing selection of up-to-the-minute shots. Stay tuned, and peace out you festival nuts. We love you.