In its ten years of delivering one of the most exciting festivals in the UK alternative and pop punk scene, Slam Dunk didn’t fail to deliver in 2016. Selling out throughout the weekend at Slam Dunk North, Midlands and South and with festivals crumbling all around the UK, Slam Dunk seems to get stronger each year. Bringing a strong line up on 8 different stages, with the likes of Moose Blood, Panic! at The Disco, Issues, Memphis May Fire, New Found Glory, Every Time I Die, Young Guns and heaps more, we take a look at some of our highlights of the weekend and what makes Slam Dunk just so special.
Starting the day with Moose Blood. An emo filled, melodic, heartfelt band who get the crowd going immediately with massive sing-a-longs with songs like Boston and Bukowski starting the day off right. They had the luck of being the first band of the day and being right by the entrance, meaning a huge crowd gathered quickly and they quickly became one of the most enjoyable bands of the day. Filled with emotion and passion, Moose Blood have released two singles off their upcoming sophomore album Blush, due for release in August. It may be one of the most anticipated albums of the year, pulling in big attraction from BBC Radio 1 and it’s easy to see why. As they played Slam Dunk you can feel that something big is going to happen for this band, and with a sellout gig at Koko towards the end of the year, we can expect big things from them in 2016.
Next on the main stage, Young Guns. Whirling through a collection of songs from their back catalogue, they quickly remind us how many strong songs they have. With anthem if sounds and massive choruses, they reel in the crowd and play a flawless set made up of songs such as Bones, Winter Kiss, Weight of The World and Memento Mori. Their later albums reminiscent of HIM mixed with PVRIS goes down a treat amongst the fans at Slam Dunk. Having been quiet for a while Gustav Wood states the band have been writing a new album, due out later in the year, another band to watch in 2016 if their Slam Dunk set is anything to go by.
Later on in the day we are greeted by Hacktivist. A nu-metal, rap/grime fusion, Hacktivist are one of the most interesting bands of the day. With songs like their self-titled track Hacktivist and Elevate they bring a mixture of heavy music with a mixture of singing and rapping with political and relevant lyrics. With elements of Issues and Enter Shikari, this band have their own defining niche sound, a great addition to the line up.
Malory Knox hit up the main stage going through songs such as Shout At The Moon and Beggars, big tunes with big choruses, singer Mikey Chapman does his best to get the crowd involved. Their poppy alternative rock back catalogue goes down a treat and Lighthouse provides one of the most memorable sing-a-longs of the day.
New Found Glory. They are like the daddy’s of Slam Dunk. Having played several times over the years, and being one of the genre defining bands of pop punk, a lot of the bands that have played Slam Dunk over the years owe it all to New Found Glory. They sail through a solid back catalogue of songs and the massive crowd response to songs like Hit or Miss and All Downhill From Here prove that they can still deliver one of the most fun and most loved pop punk shows out of all the bands of that genre.
Next up, Issues. One of my favourite bands of the day, fusing together a mixture of genres, these metalcore/pop/screams/nu-metal geniuses play a stormer of a set, highlighting the massive tunes they have collected in their short time on the scene. Songs like Life Of A Nine and Stingray Affliction from their first record bring the mosh pits and sing-a-longs. Songs from the new record Headspace feature the insane slapping bass skills of Skyler Acord who nails it with the likes of The Realest and COMA. Ending with fan favourite Mad At Myself and Hooligans it’s clear to see that this is a band just getting started but could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and be selling out massive arenas in no time at all. With anthemic choruses with just the right amount of screaming and aggression, this band are a perfect fusion of genres to appeal to mass audiences. Very fun and energetic, it’s exciting to see what is to come from Issues in the future.
Last for the day, the main stage is hit with Brendon Urie’s Panic! At The Disco. Let me start with saying that this was the band I was looking forward to most throughout the day, and although they played a set full of hits, there was something unsettling about the amount of backing track used throughout their set. And I couldn’t help but notice when the backing track wasn’t playing, Brendon’s vocals were not as strong as you are made to believe. Although he can do a belter of a high note, that seems to be his main trick, throwing it randomly in their breaking up the sub-par vocals that surrounded it throughout the verses. Mostly joined by crowd participation and backing tracks in the choruses, these bits sound deceivingly perfect. I don’t want to be overly negative to Panic! As they are truly one of my favourite bands, but there was something about the falseness of this performance that just got to me. Still, saved by songs like Time to Dance and I Write Sins Not Tragedies, these are high energy songs with all the nostalgic fun factor. The new album Death of A Bachelor also has a solid collection of fun songs such as Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time and Crazy = Genius bringing particular highlights to the set. Brendon sails through a collection of songs from the album and the crowd have an absolute fantastic time, including myself. They are so fun and charasmatic, but there’s something so manufactured that just became so apparent during the set which was really unsettling. Still a fantastic entertaining band to watch, with a massive collection of songs that are perfect for a festival like Slam Dunk, just perhaps not the most genuine performance of the weekend.
Overall, once again Slam Dunk has delivered one of the most fun and exciting weekends with a mixture of bands that bring in a community of young rock fans and all its subgenres together. The best of pop punk, post-hardcore, metalcore, pop rock, ska, and so much more. It’s easy to see why Slam Dunk had survived the last 10 years and continues to have sell out weekends. When the line ups are always as diverse and awesome as this, well, here’s to another 10 years!