Earlier in July, we decided to make the controversial decision to leave Bristol during the Pride Festivities and take a trip down to good ol’ Shepton Mallet to join a rather diverse crowd of athletes and ravers at NASS festival.According to the organisers: ‘No matter if you’re moshing at main stage, raving in The Warehouse or watching our world class skaters, inliners and BMXers killing it in the pro park, there’s not a minute of the day that isn’t going off at NASS’.
Over the last few years NASS has snowballed in to one of the most essential festivals in the UK, but what made me so intrigued by it, was how they have been given the stigma as being a haven for gurned up youths who are there purely for the music, whilst hosting over 400 of the world’s most talented skateboarding and bike athletes.We arrived The Bath and West Showground mid-evening on Friday and the party was most definitely underway. Although NASS doesn’t technically start until the Friday, many people had arrived on Thursday and were already deeply immersed in festival vibes.
We were lucky enough to have blagged our way into athletes’ camping and ‘pitch’ up with Amor T-shirts who were one of the many independent brands that had stalls around the site. Being in my mid-20s, I quickly realised it was somewhere I was closer in the spectrum of age and could chill out and potentially even some shut eye.
the stage was packed and there seemed to be a fair amount of unity in the crowd
We set up camp in record time and headed down to the main stage. Unfortunately, we missed Mouse Outfit which I was pretty gutted about but that pain quickly healed as My Nu Leng and One Man heated up the stage for Andy C. At this point everyone was having great lil’ jam, the stage was packed and there seemed to be a fair amount of unity in the crowd.
The music at the main stage came to an end at 11pm, which is not uncommon at an outside arena. As the crowd filtered out, the families and some more ‘committed’ athletes drifted back to their tents, while the rest of us were drawn towards the pumping bass emitting from the other indoor stages.
Slightly half cut, this is when I started to notice the youngsters I had been advised about. Though I could (slightly judgingly) compare them to zombies hungry for pills and pussy – I thought best to sum up with this rather appropriate facebook post:
Moving swiftly passed that… what followed was pretty epic night. In fact, there were so many big acts clashing that I found myself almost running from stage to stage. First we went to The Warehouse where we celebrated 20 years of Playaz with Hype, Hazard, DJ Hype, Eksman & Daddy Earl. We then hopped over to say hello to local, Bristolian club night Wide Eyes as they programmed a sick line up down at The Hanger, caught the end of Flava D and then realised we had missed Audio, which would have been an intense end to the night.
Before I knew it, the sun was rising and I was sat in camping chair reminiscing about the antics which had occurred just hours earlier
Before I knew it the sun was rising and I was sat in camping chair reminiscing about the antics which had occurred just hours earlier, and the supposed youngsters hadn’t bothered me whatsoever. Let’s be honest, when you’re young you are still getting to grips with your bodies limits. The organisers should be proud that although they in no way condone taking drugs, they aim to provide a safe and fun environment for everyone, and I did feel like there was a helpful eye watching over their young souls.
On Saturday morning, I classically clawed at my hot tent to get out and take my first breath of fresh air. The sky was dull and grey and a sharp wind swept across the site – not ideal when you are about showcase some mind-blowing tricks on a 14ft vert ramp, but surely the pros would be able to cope? Wrong. Matt Hoffman who is considered one of the best vert ramp riders in the history of the sport had to postpone his demo due to the treacherous weather.
Matt Hoffman had to postpone his demo due to the treacherous weather
Across the camp I heard a couple of people loudly mutter: ‘Nass Festival is about sport, if you are only here for the music then go to any of the 100s of other music festivals.’ I can understand that to a point, but at the same time I know far more about music than skating, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying watching talented individuals taking part in raw-sport competitions.
This year, the festival hosted the IBMXFF (International BMX Freestyle Federation) World Championships and, for the first time ever, amateur athletes were also invited to compete – with the top performers qualifying through to the pro competition. Jak Tones took the title for Amateur Park, Jon Kearns won Amateur Vert and Keegan Alves won Amateur Flatland. Not only did 70 challengers battle it out in the Pro Park, but the top three contenders – Aaron Jago, Luke Mcmanus and Cam Barr – will now go on to compete in the Mountain Dew Tour AM Series in Amsterdam.
Street Art also has a place at NASS, and this year the organisers teamed up with the folk at Upfest, who throughout the event transformed the site with everything from huge murals, to live showcases and pre-spayed pieces.
Jurassic 5 still know how to have a real good time
Back to the music, and Saturday welcomed an act that EVERYONE was buzzing about. Regardless of your reason for being at NASS, the entire crowd was in complete agreement that Jurassic 5 were a massive win for the festival. It may be 20 years since the 6-piece, American hip hop group released their first official EP, but the gang still know how to have a real good time. They lived up to all expectations, playing classics like Concrete Schoolyard, What’s Golden, Improvise and Red Hot. Whilst providing a distinctively upbeat, positive brand of hip hop which is unpretentious, infectious and energetic.
The main stage also featured the likes of Big Narstie, Kurupt FM and Mister Fix who all displayed pretty on point performances. Stormzy on the other hand was a bit of a let down. The crowd were eger to get hyped up, so why he decided to ‘to slow things down for a bit’ and cracking out his less than impressive singing voice is still completely beyond me.
Bar a few people chundering outside their tent, it was relatively tame
When the main stage closed, we headed over to The Hanger to continue the hip hop tremor with Leaf Dog & BVA followed by Sika Records RoadBlock Showcase. By the time the music ended, we found ourselves sat in a caravan with some of the gang, including IllInformed who has just produced M.O.P’s latest record. The caravan was located in the other campsite, which we had been warned was overwelmed with hard-raving youngsters, but it was absolutely fine. Bar a few people chundering outside their tent, it was relatively tame and nowhere near on the scale of some of the things I saw at Reading Festival back in the day.
We had to chip off back to Bristol before things kicked off again on Sunday, so missed the end of the sports showcase as well as likes of Redlight , DJ Zinc, Knife Party, Wilkinson, Benton & Distro.
We are not particularly good at sport and are most definitely not still in 6th form… But none of that matters. NASS provides a great party for all, so don’t knock it unless you’ve tried it.