Live Review: Nozstock The Hidden Valley

Secret sets, dusty days and inspired music programming; Nozstock 2016, (5,000 people at most) impressed. Passionate people poured over the production, their time well spent planning interesting, effective yet simple sets. Enough happened, but it was never overwhelming. Every performer communicated their appreciation for the atmosphere and most decided to stay. At few festivals would you find the headline act strolling the trodden paths, soaking up the atmosphere, snapping shots and sharing nods with approving fans. Commendation to the ‘things’ that are near impossible to place, yet complete. That being said, here are the ‘things’ that I liked the best.

The Garden stage held many wonders; new music, sound system, sofas. Its banked side and short length provided a semi-enclosed space music can so wonderfully fill. Normanton Street were the first act I encountered. This four-piece who reside in Brighton set the bench mark high. The bass line from the guitars came through your chest hard. Their characters quirky and powerful but each individual; northern accents streaming through authentic bars from the boys, whilst Phoebe, the lead, blasted the mic with ease.

Shanty showed us some funky, UK reggae – and another incredible vocalist hitting notes and tones previously unknown, a perfect dub accompaniment to the intense sun on our backs. Anchorsong; one talented man, a drum machine and a keyboard, tapping out tracks on the spot got us out of our seats and in awe. In the darkness Foreign Beggars filled the garden, a mass of people lined the bank and beyond. With resounding bass, the sound system got put through its paces and somehow came out unscathed. Then when you thought it couldn’t go any lower DJ Nonames created a new vibration, sending the energy flying and the crowd insane.

Nozstock The Hidden Valley 2016 - Rave - 1 - credit Liam Furneaux

The Bullpen. This was a stage where, outwardly anything went. No rules or set lists, just bucket hats and bars spat. Even through red eyes and blurred vision, a code was prevalent and the boys performing pulled it off. Impromptu improvisation from Tenchoo who made rhymes from Buxton and Evian bottles, blew our minds. The barn that became the Bullpen was home for every hip-hop head, anytime of the day entertainment was guaranteed. This quote pretty much sums it up; “We might get cut off so we’re going to squeeze as many in as we can” – cheeky boys pushing their luck as far as they can manage!

The wide mouthed, main stage was the perfect dimension for the Saturday headliners, many in their numbers; Hot 8 Brass Band and Jurassic 5 spread across the stage like smoke over water. Hot 8 played an enchanting set in the Hidden Valley, their horns, hearts and harmonies channelling that Sexual Healing as the evening light caught the orchard and settled into night. After a long wait for the famous six, the lyrics that stick were “Taking four MC’s and make them sound like one”, so tight and clean in their delivery, appreciated even more so in the flesh. Rehearsed to perfection and an absolute pleasure to witness; Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark on the desks too, no slip ups, only slipmats.

Nozstock The Hidden Valley 2016 - logo and finale - credit Clare LeachThe Sunday send off was spectacular too, a cohort of fire performers lit up an enormous Egyptian eye which had laid undetected over the weekend. The fire lead us to an area which had also passed us by, the psytrance den, pretty in its UV glow, but monotonous in its beats. There were things to be discovered at Nozstock and a for many it was a perfect feat. For me, however there could have been less at 160bpm and a little more at 110.

Photos: Clare Leach & Liam Furneaux

Words: Holly Hollister

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