For music heads into skating and BMXing, NASS is a quintessential UK festival. Bringing together 30,000+ like-minded people for 4 nights of madness; showcasing the best in current Hip Hop, Reggae, Grime and D&B - it’s hard to draw similarities with any other British festival.
As soon as you enter the gates, you’re met with a stream of 400+ athletes cruising about between stages. This setting is echoed through street art and graffiti covering every visible surface, from buildings to benches. It was also great to see artwork from Bristol’s Upfest, a collaboration of local, highly-talented street artists. NASS does a great job of transforming Shepton Mallet into one big skatepark with a really chilled out, underground vibe.
Arriving late on Friday, we rushed straight to the campsite, set down our stuff and headed out to the Main Stage for Giggs. Feeling like we had missed out on the likes of Lady Leshurr and Yxng Bane earlier on, we were bought straight up to speed with Giggs’ energetic performance. The high-octane crowd was fully engaged, particularly in tracks 187, Peligro and Talkin’ Da Hardest where almost everyone was rapping along to Giggs’ gassed, half-time flow. Next up, Novelist ft Sicaria Sound at The Lock In (introduced last year). Packed to the exit, we slid our way through the gunfingers to the front, feeling Novelist’s energy resonate through the crowd. The collaboration with Sicaria Sound was dead on, their quick mixes and lively selection combined with Novelist’s energetic delivery allowed for a very dynamic set.
After an afternoon watching athletes dominate the Roscomar Skate Container Jam and BMX Wall Ride, we made our way back to the Main Stage, catching the end of The Four Owls. The High Focus rap collective gave a pumped up performance, hyping off each other’s slick delivery in tracks like Life In The Balance and Assassination. The chemistry between the crew (made up of artists Fliptrix, Verb T, BVA and Leaf Dog) was clear from the get-go and matched by the crowd, with pretty much everyone recalling tracks lyric-for-lyric. Things took a more leaned out tone as IAMDDB blessed the stage with style and grace. The love was felt throughout the audience, resulting in IAMMDB surfing about the crowd for an entire song, whilst still giving a seamless performance.
The mellow tone was continued through Loyle Carner’s performance, blending an energetic delivery and jazzy style with a classic boom-bap feel. Carner definitely drew in one of the more diverse crowds, bringing the youngest and oldest together in congruity. Finishing off the evening with the eclectic sounds of Rudimental, we continually found ourselves getting lost in the layers of their performance. Soulful vocals combined with live instrumentation gave off spirited, feel-good vibes that separates Rudimental from the multitude of D&B producers in the scene today.
We spent Sunday morning recovering inside the Pro Park, watching athletes execute tricks we couldn’t imagine attempting. Witnessing the camaraderie between athletes of all ages, genders and ethnicities was great to see; there was no sign of people taking the piss out of others for face-planting more than a sympathetic giggle. We saw nothing but love for athletes winning/losing against each other in the search for a championship title. The community vibe was very apparent with the range of workshops available; from skate and BMX lessons through to DJing courses.
Kojey Radical lead us into our final evening at NASS with a dynamic performance, owning the stage with energy and charisma. His engagement with the audience was unrivalled despite the crowd taking a bit longer than expected to join in on the action. This was quickly catalysed by his responsiveness to the crowd, drawing in people to the stage after shouting “call your mates and tell them to get the f**k down to the main stage right now”. The hype after 97’ was so high Kojey ended up replaying it at the end of the set with equally hard-hitting impact. We finished NASS by enjoying performances from headliners Cypress Hill, as well grime MC, P Money and underground DJ, LUCY.
To round up the weekend, NASS provides a unique blend of art, sport and music that has quickly become an essential festival for bass heads and skaters alike. A logical site layout (with stages all on one side and campsites the other) and a friendly team of staff lead to a seamless experience, one we’ll remember for years to come. If you fancy experiencing a festival in a bit more luxury, definitely check out the glamping options; hot running water and proper toilets makes a massive difference, not to mention a selection of complimentary teas, along with hair straighteners, hair dryers, full-length mirrors and glitter. Safe to say we’ll definitely be returning next year.
Photography by Ellie Ramsden
Words by Kaal Khatri