Slam Dunk has always been a festival to sit on my ‘must go to’ list with each year the festival hitting me hard with a bad case of FOMO (yes, I did just say that). But, to my sheer delight, this year I finally had the chance to discover what I’ve been missing out on all this time. It’s a compact little festival, each stage not far from one another and the stalls of tempting food and merch made any stage switch so much easier. It might not beat the good ol’ camping festival but it does offer a refreshing day of festivities and more than a handful of heavy, punk and alt sets.
For me, the day kicked off at the Rock Sound Break Out Stage that hosted all the bands you should be checking out before they hit the mainstream. We caught You Know The Drill, a five piece who describe their music as ‘OK pop punk’ but I beg to differ. They were the first act to grace that stage yet their audience was firmly roused and their impeccable tunes were enough to show why they had earnt their spot on the stage. A quick trip over to the UPRAWR Stage and there was the treat of something different entirely. Not quite fitting in with the heavy side of things, Lizzy Farrall let rip her incredible voice that went straight into your heart like cupid’s arrow.
Waiting for Crossfaith to don the main stage, it became obvious that the festival hadn’t quite nailed the in-between entertainment as the crowd were left to sit through the crew soundchecking. None of it had been in vain however as the Osaka five-piece rebelled against any musical constraints by bringing their uncontrollable electronic hardcore and even a Prodigy cover. It was Milk Teeth who might take the award for one of my favourite acts of the day though as their wild grungy tracks wormed their way into the crowds ears, never to let go as the band let themselves build up a frenzy on stage.
The Monster Energy Stage was my next stop with WSTR about to don its friendly confines. Even if you aren’t a fan of pop punk, the band are just too fun, too wild and too uncontainable for their spirit to not be contagious to those in hearing distance. But if you are a fan of the heavier stuff, Bury Tomorrow hit up their fans with an unruly set that satisfied every crowd surfer and moshers need. It may have been cut short due to technical issues but they did make up for it by promising to meet everyone at the end of the set. Beartooth followed up and, from the back of the arena, I could see the audience vibrating with the music.Their large mass appeared like a whirlpool, a stormy sea, a mass of waves that you’d only surf if you had enough guts.
I was intrigued by Waterparks on The Key Club Stage. Their name sounded fun but the music didn’t quite live up to it so onto Frank Iero and The Patience it was. Despite the sun, the ex-MCR member descended on the stage in a long Parker, getting ready to flick his hair around as the sun shone down. The audience were wilder than his punchy set with one crowd member even surfing the barrier a dozen times just to force her way back into the centre of the crowd to continue her wild party. Following that it was time for Don Broco. They prowled the stage like the hunters that they are, spitting out their rocked up riffs that are full of sass and volume, leaving you defenceless to their allure whilst on The Fireball Stage, Less Than Jake were showcasing their fun ska punk.
Darkness was closing in which meant it was time for the main acts to flaunt their stuff. As three pretty big bands were clashing, I found myself running between the three top stages to catch a bit of each of their sets. I started off at the main stage for Enter Shikari who were celebrating the tenth anniversary of their infamous ‘Take To The Skies’ debut. Accompanied by an incredible light show, the band were able to encourage more than a few blistering roars from their audience. At the other end of the festival, Bowling For Soup were doing what they did best by dashing through everyone’s favourite BFS tunes while delivering hilarious interludes. It might have been hard contending with the other headliners but these guys were threatened at all. And finally I found myself at Neck Deep where those fun pop punkers proved just why they were headliner The Monster Energy Stage. Despite the dipping temperatures, their crowd refused to be moved away from their meaty sound.