Every July thousands of riders, ravers and revellers descend upon a venue you’d more likely associate with sheep-shearing than drum and bass. This is NASS – a weekend of sun-soaked debauchery, action sports and live music at Royal Bath and West Showground.
With no time to spare on Friday evening we headed for the main stage with bags and tents in hand, unwilling to miss Peckham resident and grime mainstay Giggs showcase his newest album Landlord. Bringing the vibes of South East London to rural Somerset, Giggs kicked off proceedings with a buzz that set the tone for the festival. Next, hip-hop duo Methodman and Redman, formerly of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan and Def Squad, brought a festival together for an hour of old school hip hop straight from the East Coast.
Following their set, ravers rushed in their droves to the Southbank, Hangar and Warehouse indoor stages in a bid to beat the inevitable queues. The three enormous warehouses provided a selection of world-class drum and bass every night until 3am. The early hours of the morning at NASS Festival seemed a somewhat nostalgic nod to the infamous warehouse parties of the early nineties, only for a new wide-eyed and bucket-hat donning generation.
And despite the heavy security presence, curfew and (frankly over-the-top) queueing situation – the atmosphere in those sweaty warehouses would be difficult to replicate. Noisia’s ‘Outer Edges’ concept performance was a highlight – the trio’s cacophonic, yet somehow wonderfully married mix of intricate drum and bass alongside mind-bendingly trippy visuals were something that had to be seen to be believed.
Nass isn’t just about the music however. Skate competitions for pros and amateurs alike allowed festival-goers opportunity to nurse their sore heads by watching others bash theirs. In previous years, extreme sports legends such as Tony Hawk have shredded the vert ramps dotted around the festival – this year was the turn of the forefather of modern BMX – Matt Hoffman – whose range of video games inspired millions of BMX enthusiasts. Watching him in action was certainly one to tick off the bucket list.
The Saturday headline slot was occupied by one of dance music’s biggest names – Pendulum, with their first UK gig in over 6 years. Despite lead singer Robert Swire strangely heralding it their ‘homecoming’ set in his native Australian twang, the performance itself was phenomenal, albeit an epileptic’s nightmare.
Loyle Carner showed us a side to NASS I’d yet to see on Sunday evening. His softly spoken hip-hop served an eloquent backdrop to the sunset, and brought a moment of calm to an otherwise manic weekend. This was, however, short-lived, as before long Kano took to stage to send NASS off for another year. His performance – complete with bass-heavy rhythms, brass band and sing-along lyrics were a fitting swansong for a truly eclectic weekend.
NASS Festival 2017, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, Thursday, July 6 to Sunday, July 9, 2017
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