Saturday 23rd May seen the start of the bank holiday weekend, with a three day traveling circus thats known as Slam Dunk Festival bringing its fun and lively antics across Leeds, Hertfordshire and Wolverhampton. We went along to Wolverhampton to see what the Slam Dunk team had inshore for us this year. This year it housed seven stages, each of which held a collaboration of six to seven different bands of similar musical output. It was a surreal experience to walk no more than a few metres and be kicked in the face with a completely different genre of music and with Slam Dunk ever expanding this year provided us with a pick of 53 bands to see.
After winning the fresh blood competition against 9 other bands they opened up the Kerrang! Fresh Blood stage at the festival. The band were highly anticipated and had a pretty big turn-out especially for that time of day. They performed well and put the crowd in a fantastic mood for the rest of the day.
had the room at full capacity nearly twenty minutes before their set, Lynn Gunn kick started the Civic Hall’s atmosphere by opening with the debut single St Patrik. The trio from Lowell, Massachusetts blew the roof off with a six song setlist, completing it with a rendition of ‘My House’ featuring You Me At Six front man Josh Franceschi. Lynn Gunn being the Iconic front woman that she is wooed the crowd and it was a huge turnout for the band which was well received by all. Seriously this band are taking over!.
The infamous Neck Deep have recently had a lot of hype after news broke out that their new studio album ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ to due to be released soon. So with that in mind we were excited to see what these boys from Wales would have to offer. After the lads had attended the Kerrang! signing tent they proceeded to play a 35 minute set at Slam Dunk’s main stage, featuring songs from their first EP Rain in July. They also played hits from their first studio album and more recently their brand new single ‘Can’t Kick Up The Roots’ which went down a treat. The pop-punk five piece didn’t stop there and busted out the classic ‘A Part Of Me ‘ which left most of us teary eyed.
Now surprisingly this band had the best sound of the day it was mostly clean and raw, which we would considered this band to be, it was such an unexpected highlight of our day. Stewards had to stop letting people in as the Desperados stage was at full capacity and it’s no wonder, they were so tight for such a large band. Amazing clean vocals, arguably the sharpest sound of the day.
While She Sleeps
The Sheffield five piece smashed out a nine song setlist, which was well doctored if we might add for SlamDunk. Hardcore Sleeps fans were around, displaying flags of honour and affection which for a band that has had very few years, they have gained an army of loyal fans. After releasing their latest album Brainwashed, While She Sleeps have become an ever expanding name, not too big to emphasize their egos as they stuck around the festival to meet the fans.
After seeing front man Dani and Davyd knocking around merch tables meeting the fans, then playing an extensive DJ set on Uprawr stage, we were ecstatic to see what the very special guests BURY TOMORROW had to throw at us at 5pm on the Monster Energy Stage. As soon as they erupted out on stage there were massive circle pits from the get go this being said the band never have and never will settle for anything less. Their set consisted of mostly new material,playing half of their new album ‘RUNES’ as well as classic tracks from previous albums.
After witnessing the huge line for the meet and greet this was a highly anticipated band to see. After such a hype and with them being on the main stage Don Broco didn't live up to my expectation and were the most disappointing band of the day. Overly confident lead singer "Rob Damiani" kept the crowd waiting well into what would have been their 45 minute set. They attracted a boisterous crowd which proved to be to many members of the audience being problematic as it aggravated and distressed what should have been a fairly calm slot of the day. Overall a poor performance.
have just released their latest album "True Brew" which is there first bit of material in over seven years. The four piece from Örebro, Sweden played a set consisting of mainly new material but didn’t fail to deliver absolute classics from their earlier discography "Penguins and Polarbears" with them warming the crowd up to end with arguably the one song everyone came to see "NO CIGAR" a classic most people will remember from the days of playing old school Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. Not only did they entertain with their music but their on stage humour kept the fans in a bright mood. 10/10 for performance.
were without a doubt one of the most hyped up bands of the day to check out and it’s with no surprise with them Headlining the Monster Energy Stage. They played a set combined with old classics such as "Early Grave" and "Follow The Water" amongst a vast collection of their new material from their latest album "Lost Together Lost Forever". Vocalist Sam Carter was insanely grateful for the sheer amount of people that turned up to see their set as it was a slot clash with surrey boys You Me At Six. Always promoting a good message Architects stomped home probably the heaviest set of the day.
You Me At Six
After their performance at Hatfield having to be delayed due to an injured fan, they ended Slam Dunk’s three day weekend with a bang. Stomping out old classics from their first studio album ‘Take Off Your Colours’. Surprisingly the material, which is nearly seven years old got an amazing welcome as they opened with "The Truth Is A Terrible Thing" immediately followed by "Save It For The Bedroom". Josh Franceschi’s five piece galore seemed to take the commitment of headlining the whole festival as something on the chin and boy did they deliver.
We caught up with a few fans who gave their appraisals in a few short words
“IT WAS RAD! Being As An Ocean were surprisingly my favourite pick of the litter. It was my first hard-core festival and it seems like I’ll be coming again next year. It was pretty cool to have loads of my favourite bands playing within a few metres of each other, my legs hurt now but it was so worth it!”
“Gloriously sunny drunk fun, big d and the kids table were f***ing fantastic and While She Sleeps smashed it as always, they never let you down just a lot of likeminded nice people all in one place, a proper friendly atmosphere.”
“Possibly the best line up I’ve ever seen at the festival. Was an absolutely sick day and I wasn’t disappointed with a single band I saw.”
Overall to sum up SLAMDUNK 2015, it was incredible and such a surreal experience. You could meet almost anyone you wanted throughout the day without having to queue for the meet and greets, it seemed the bands just like knocking around to meet fans and even catch other bands sets. The crowd to band relationships were intimate.
There was a huge variety of food and drink and very happy and helpful members of staff to serve it. There were plenty of offers from sponsors such as Desperados and Impericon giving away free goodies. The general atmosphere however was average. Maybe it’s due to the long weekend or the poor weather.
Due to the layout of the venue some of the stages would sound leak from one into the other, you'd be stood in the middle of the Monster Stage and still hear Impericon. The whole sound quality of the festival was below average, too much bass and echo for the size of the venues. It left little room for melodic instruments which had an adverse effect on everyone's performance. Despite this, the crowd seemed happy and the bands even happier.
Overall a good day and we highly recommend it, 2 thumbs up!
Arcticle By Ashley Beresford
Photographs from Sophie Jones