10 bands you can't miss at Hit The Deck

There’ll be over 35 bands appearing at a handful of venues across Bristol and Nottingham during this weekend’s Hit The Deck festival. But unless you’re made of glitter, you can’t be everywhere at once – so here’s our guide to 10 of the best.

SKINDRED Whether it’s at festivals, club shows or arenas, Skindred have been owning stages worldwide for over a decade now. With an array of unstoppable anthems (Pressure, Rat Race, Warning, Kill The Power) in their arsenal, and the not-so-secret weapon of the ‘Newport Helicopter’ ready to be deployed at any given time, frontman Benji Webbe and the boys have never, ever failed to bring the ruckus when they get live on stage and their headline set at Hit The Deck 2015 will be no exception.

**WHILE SHE SLEEPS **Following in the footsteps of fellow South Yorkshire band Bring Me The Horizon, While She Sleeps are leading the charge in the new breed of UK metal. And if you like your metal heavy, it doesn’t come much more volatile and devastating than this Northern five-piece, particularly in the live setting; brawling hardcore elements combine with crushing metal riffs and vocalist Loz Taylor’s emotionally and politically-charged lyrics to create an atmosphere of brutal but life-affirming unity. We’ll see you in the pit!

CANCER BATS Few bands have had more of an influence on rock music than Black Sabbath and Black Flag, and Toronto’s Cancer Bats channel the best of both into their flammable cocktail of metal, punk and hardcore. Their latest Ross Robinson-produced album Searching For Zero might have alienated those who lean more towards the Hail Destroyer end of the spectrum, whilst hardcore fans have revelled in its raw looseness and low-end production, but personally we love both sides of the Bats equally. And the best thing about seeing them play live – other than seeing Cancer Bats be bloody brilliant live – is that you get to hear both sides in all their disruptive splendour.

HACKTIVIST Considering they don’t even have a full-length album to their name, Hacktivist have one hell of a following. That’s solely down to the reputation they’ve built on the live circuit over the last few years. From major festival performances to support slots with everyone from Enter Shikari to Korn, the rap metal band from Buckinghamshire (there aren’t many of those knocking about) are not only fantastic live, they’re also a genuinely fresh and subversive alternative to many of the more generic rock and metal bands around at the moment. If you’re someone who goes to festivals to discover the future sounds of tomorrow then Hacktivist is the band for you. Their innovative mix of grime, djent, hip-hop and metal with leave you truly electrified.

FRNKIERO ANDTHE CELLABRATION As much as it might pain hardcore fans to admit it, My Chemical Romance were a band raised on punk rock, and this guitarist was the punkest of the bunch. After the New Jersey arena rockers called it a day back in 2013, Iero went about recording his debut solo album .stomachaches. under the moniker frnkiero andthe celebration, which came out last summer. The result was a delightfully ramshackle record of disjointed and enthralling emotion, and if you haven’t had the chance to hear these songs played live yet, we strongly recommend you fight the queues to see him revisit his roots at this year’s Hit The Deck.

ROLO TOMASSI It’s hard to believe Rolo Tomassi have been around for a decade. It’s even harder to believe since putting out their debut album Hysterics they haven’t become bigger. They’ve released four critically acclaimed and quite frankly excellent albums, and cemented a reputation for being one of the most incendiary and consistently engaging live acts in the UK. Perhaps the idea of mixing grindcore, prog, acid-jazz, screamo, experimental rock, and whatever else they feel like throwing in is too much for some people to digest. Their music certainly isn’t for everyone. And it’s definitely impossible to classify. But that’s what makes them so special.

THE XCERTS We witnessed sing-alongs of epic proportions at The Xcerts recent headline show at London’s Borderline venue. The Brighton-based three-piece looked well-primed and ready to take Hit The Deck by storm. Even if you don’t know every single word to all their songs – as those in attendance did – you’ll have the basics down by the end of their set because they’re just about the catchiest post-Pixies alternative rock tunes you’re likely to hear, anywhere. Slackerpop. Shaking In The Water. Pop Song. I Don’t Care. Familiarise yourself with these, then go and lose your voice to The Xcerts along with everyone else.

THE SWELLERS Long before King 810’s murder ballads were drawing attention to the crime-ridden city of Flint, Michigan, pop-punkers The Swellers put the city on the map with their altogether lighter, upbeat brand of indie rock. Sadly, as King 810’s star ascends The Swellers have decided to call it quits and this run of shows are to be their last. All the more reason, then, to get down and show them your support whether you’re a longtime fan or simply worshipped them from afar.

**MC LARS The self-proclaimed originator of “post-punk laptop rap”, the artist formerly known as Andrew Robert Neilsen has toured with everyone from Snoop Dogg to Bowling For Soup. This weekend will see him bring his unique brand of party music to Hit The Deck for his second UK appearance in as many years. If you’re yet to get down with the Vans Warped Tour legend, we suggest you take a break from all that moshing and simply enjoy the comedy stylings of the most idiosyncratic and entertaining act on the bill. **

THE THOMAS NICHOLAS BAND The UK alternative scene has been invaded by American college culture over the last few years. So fill up your red plastic cup of whatever they drink in frat movies, and go see someone who’s really lived it (on screen at least) as actor Thomas Nicholas – Kevin Myers from _American Pie _– returns to Hit The Deck for the second year in a row. This year, he’s bringing his full band, so you’ll be able to experience his infectious indie rock songs the way they were meant to be heard. Just remember when you’re asking him for a selfie that his name’s not actually Kevin. It’s Thomas. Got that? Good.

For more Hit The Deck information and tickets, click here.

DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.