Nozstock: The Hidden Valley is back for a landmark 20th year! From humble beginnings, it’s gone from being pretty much a garden party to now welcoming 5,000 revellers to the Herefordshire countryside. The family-run event has proved without a doubt that it can stand the test of time, and returning to what can still be described as the quaint, boutique festival for a second year in a row feels like something of a homecoming for DJ Mag.
Officially, we’re here again with our bass-touting Bunker streaming event to co-host a stage with d&b institution Metalheadz — and what a stage it is, with the mighty Randall holding court, dropping booming modern jump-up from the likes of Benny L to a rammed-out cow shed — alongside label manager Ant TC1, the legendary Dillinja, Hospital Records mainstay S.P.Y and local boy-done-good, Amoss.
However, once the ferocious snares of Friday night have finally stopped ringing in our ears, we can’t help but lose ourselves in the rest of the weekend. With this year’s theme being nostalgia, everywhere we go retro games and movies occupy the eye — the Garden stage in particular has had a fabulous makeover, made to look like a huge console, with the likes of classic first-person-shooter, Doom, projected onto panels poking out either side.
The specially brewed Nozstalgia beer is flowing freely, and the locals are as friendly and up-for-it as ever. As always the rolling kicks of psytrance emanate from the Coppice stage (carefully placed slightly away from the rest of the fest) throughout the day and night, while there are daytime dub offerings down at The Elephant’s Grave.
We opt for more drum & bass from the likes of Kings Of The Rollers own Bladerunner, and duo Chase & Status, who delve back into jungle ahead of their new ‘Return II Jungle’ album. The only real disappointment is Grandmaster Flash, who delivers a strangely clunky semi-educational show, and might need to consider changing his name to Grandad Flash after some rather questionable comments about women and kitchens…
The highlight, however, comes as somewhat of a surprise on Saturday afternoon. Attracted purely by the fantastic name, Pengshui — the new rap/metal project from MC Illaman, Submotion Orchestra’s Fatty and Pravvy Prav — tear apart the Garden stage, and on their very first show!
Like a fine wine — though a hearty ale would seem more fitting for this event — Nozstock has only improved with age: the headliners are bigger (figuratively), the stages are bigger (literally), yet the festival’s famous homely atmosphere and handcrafted aesthetic remains. Simply put: it’s a vibe.
Check out a more photos celebrating Nozstock's 20th anniversary below.