LIVE: Nozstock Festival, Hereford 24-26 July 2015

Within moments of campers arriving and the festival kicking off, Nozstock’s eclecticism was made clear. Stages were christened by the weird and wonderful (though some certainly strayed more towards the former) and by the evening everyone was well and truly welcomed to Nozstock.

It’s rare – with his shoeless approach and songs about narcotics – that Beans On Toast is seemingly amongst the most normal people at a festival. Whilst he appeared almost sensible compared to the Nozstock crowd, he never strayed from his natural wit and was received with delight – despite insulting the majority of festival-goers with a comment about white people with dreadlocks. After the set, in true cavalier ‘Beans on Toast style’, he flogged a couple of t-shirts down by the front of the stage before hopping the barrier and disappearing among the crowds; setting the blurred line between audience and artist that became even more apparent across the weekend.

Although Fuse ODG – and in fact a lot of the weekend’s performers – would have been better suited to a festival laced in glorious sunshine, his lively and upbeat set seemed to momentarily stop the rain on Friday night. With hits like ‘T.I.N.A’ and ‘Azonto’, Fuse reminded everyone that it was, in fact, still Summer and set everyone up for an entire night of dancing like there was no tomorrow.

Tomorrow did arrive however and Saturday kicked off bright and early; Gigslutz #PlayNoz winners Hipicat were the first act to take to the main stage and attracted a surprisingly large and energetic crowd for 11am, with their psych-pop drawing the sun out for the rest of the day.

Saturday continued in high spirits: The Scruff injected the bizarre festival lineup with a dose of indie guitar-pop goodness, accompanied by an unplanned – but very welcome – performance artist, followed by a solid set from South African modern-folk performer Jeremy Loops. You’d never think it, but stick a South African in Herefordshire with a loop pedal, a couple of instruments and a children’s toy and you actually get quite a good reaction!

Over at the Bandstand, the likes of Rozelle and JOLTA continued the indie vibes, each with their own quirky twist (after all, Nozstock isn’t for the mundane), before the evening was truly kicked off by Skinny Lister.

Before headliners and Wu Tang Clan replacement De La Soul took to the stage, it was up to Molotov Jukebox to warm everyone up – and they did a bloody good job of it. Their ‘gypstep’ style left the entire crowd unable to do anything but dance and grin at the lightheartedness of it all. A last minute – but very welcome – addition to the lineup, De La Soul bounced off the audience with the high energy and immense talent they’re famed for, proving why and how, 28 years later, they’re still so well received.

The night continued with the likes of Beardyman, Ed Solo and C@ in the H@, as well as a storming bassline set from Birmingham legend Devilman, leaving everyone well and truly satisfied…until the morning at least.

Whilst most of Sunday was spent trying not to burst with excitement for Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, the wait was made a little less painful by some pretty exciting music. The Black Tamborines (all the way from Falmouth!) brought their garage punk-surf sounds to the festival – a sound, which seemed to be popular amongst everyone including little kids. Unfortunately – although rather hilariously – these kids were still present for Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer’s set, who’s endlessly entertaining ‘chap-hop’ taught them that you will, in fact, get arrested for raping a goat. It also taught them that, whilst at a festival, you may experience a man jump on a speaker and pull his trousers down. Yet the children seemed – mostly – not too traumatised and whilst the same may not be said for Mr. B he powered through with true Gentleman Rhymer grace and continued to make everyone laugh.

Although it’s difficult not to resent Hollie Cook for singing about beaches and sunshine whilst stood in the pouring rain, her reggae sounds and effortless charm made it difficult to be too angry at her. Carrying on the radiant vibes with their reggae-ska-punk mix-up, Will & the People summed up the ecentric nature of Nozstock; fun, quirky and totally original – just like the whole weekend.

Finally it was time for Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. As Martha said herself, singers don’t retire – and if you’ve got the talent, drive and energy of the Reeves sisters, why would you? Playing through a set of Motown classics, and leaving everyone totally danced out, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – as expected – brought the festival to a close on a massive high: and made the rain stop!

Mel Svensen

Melissa Svensen

Melissa Svensen

Melissa, 22. Editor. Student, music journalist, probably talking about Blur or Bowie