Last week I was lucky enough to be in attendance at NASS 2015 in Somerset near Bristol, England. Particularly over the last few years, NASS has snowballed into an essential UK festival hosting acts of Nas, Sum41, and Cypress Hill’s magnitude, and 2015’s lineup continues to push the festival’s reputation further. Headliners this year include Enter Shikari, Rebel Sound (Chase & Status, Shy FX and David Rodigan) and the legendary Public Enemy, other acts set to appear include High Contrast, Hannah Wants, Wilkinson, DJ EZ and Modestep.
When you arrive at a festival, more often that not, you catch the vibe within a few hours of being there, but with NASS it hits you like a freight train the moment you step off the coach. Within seconds I’d been accused of stealing somebody’s crate of beer and also offered an array of narcotics, multiple times. Of course there’s nothing NASS and its organisers can do about this really, and I’m not criticising, but I wouldn’t be being honest if I didn’t tell you the kind of people that are in abundance at NASS.
NASS has its negatives, like every festival, but in a lot of ways it exceeds any of my expectations. The relatively small shindig is held at the Bath and West Showground which by day is a platform for all things horsey, cowey, racey etc etc etc. What this means is that huge steel cowsheds are still a part of the event, however rather than cordon them off, they’re converted into bass-pumping shacks of noise that scream warehouse rave. It’s a much more exciting experience than a standard striped tent and the utilisation is incredibly noteworthy. I also have to give incredible props to both the lighting and the sound systems, not just on the humble main stage, but each smaller tent and stage also. Particularly during Modestep’s explosive-sound-filled performance and Rebel Sound’s intricately constructed light show.
As mentioned, there are a few glaring errors to NASS. There are no maps, signage, arrows or directions whatsoever. There is no app or any free schedule/timeline/act list to plan your days around. And I also found that staff I sought out to help solve the above were pretty much useless; grunting ‘dunno mate’s or strenuous shakes of the head were an ongoing pattern of their assistance.
As a music website, I’ve talked more about the festival itself and the musical side, but I still have to give a mention to the whole other side to NASS- it’s skating and BMXing. Huge ramps, indoor and outdoor, elaborate competitions, indoor and outdoor, and stalls stocking everything from a fresh independent skateboarding brand, to a puncture repair service, everything is here, and the instilled passion for the sports are an omnipresent element to the weekend.
NASS is a great ‘little’ festival. It definitely has an air of ‘lairy-ness’ about it, and I wouldn’t recommend taking your kids here, but for the right audience, it really is a great niche festival. The lineups continue to improve with each year, and the sports on offer are there to be admired and gawked at. I certainly had a memorable time at NASS, it has areas it can improve on, but it’s definitely got my seal of approval.
+ Great setting
+ Integration of surroundings i.e. cowsheds
+ Dedication to its audience and selling points
+ Excellent sound quality and light shows, despite size
+ More than just a music festival
+ Specifically tailored lineup
– Staff/security often unhelpful
– No app/timeline/planner
– No directions/map/signage