Review: Slam Dunk Midlands

Slam Dunk Festival, this year being its 10th birthday, tore apart not 1 but 3 venues last weekend and did so in the biggest, loudest and best fashion. We headed along to the Midlands date for a day of rock and pop punk delights.

First up for us was Young Guns on the main stage, in the recently renovated Genting Arena. Given the early time of their set, the London lads had drawn in a sizeable crowd who were more than ready for us to see them play. Storming through tracks from their three albums the band put on an arena-worthy performance; vocals and guitars were top notch. Set closer ‘I Want Out’ went down impeccably well with every word being shouted back at them. What a way to kick off the day.

Pop punk 

Pop punk was alive and kicking on the Key Club stage. Hit The Lights and As It Is playing back-to-back sets more than cemented this. Hit The Lights provided a fun bounce-along set full of great pop punk tracks. ‘Fucked Up Kids’ and ‘Body Bag’ went down a storm with the crowd and although a little confused about their set list order, the band put on a performance that would have delighted old fans and gained them some new ones.

If Hit The Lights were having fun, then words can’t describe what As It Is were feeling. Heading out on stage to Gwen Stefani’s hit ‘Hollaback Girl’ just about set the mood. Lead singer, and microphone swinger, Patty Walters easily wins the prize for the happiest person of the weekend, putting on a high energy and high jumping performance. ‘Cheap Shots and Set Backs’, ‘Winter’s Weather’ and closing track ‘Dial Tones’ were set highlights. The band definitely had the crowd in the palm of their hand.

The acoustic stage placed at the opposite end of the room to The Key Club Stage provided a perfect soundtrack whilst the stage was being prepped for the next lot of pop punk. Grumble Bee was a particular highlight, each act on the stage brought a little moment of calm and down time to the festival.

A very special set

Yellowcard performing Ocean Avenue in full is something fans have dreamt of, and here it was in reality. The band seemed to have a slight technical issue at the start of their set however this was quickly rectified and in no way dampened the crowd. As the band mentioned during their set, the album’s title track usually falls as their set closer but today took third place on the set list. They wished for a final song reception and that was exactly what they got, though this was exactly the same for every song they performed. It was very clear from the passion and energy in the room that this was a very special set to be witnessing and meant so much to those both off and on stage.

Mallory Knox deserve a shout-out for being one of the most passionate bands of the day. Drawing in one of the biggest crowds of the day, the Cambridge rockers were non-stop from the get-go, playing tracks from both Signals and Asymmetry during their hour-long set. It’s clear that being able to play gigs such as this means so much to the band who said thank you more times than we could count and emphasised the ‘go get them’ vibes of punk and rock over and over. A band we’ll definitely be seeing live again soon.

As good as always

Every angsty twenty-something loved and still loves New Found Glory. Jumping straight into ‘Hit or Miss’ it was great to see the band back on British soil. With a mix of tracks old and new, including ‘All Downhill From Here’, ‘Dressed To Kill’, ‘Vicious Love’ (sadly minus Hayley Williams) and their cover of ‘Kiss Me’, there was something for every NFG fan. Closing with everyone’s favourite screw you song ‘My Friends Over You’, the band had put on one of the best sets of the day. They’re still as great as they’ve always been.

The one many people had been waiting for – Panic! At The Disco. Brendon Urie is undeniably one of the best showmen out there right now, and mixed with an incredible lighting display, their set was hands-down one of the highlights of the weekend. Playing more new than old tracks, though ‘I Write Sins…’ was of course present and correct, the band and each song was met with rapturous applause and delight, every word being sung back. It would be difficult to pick a stand out track, their Queen cover is not one many can pull off but they manage it more than capably. Vocally and musically their set stood out as one of the best live performances we’ve ever seen. What a way to close a festival.

Rock and punk are more than alive and kicking. If Slam Dunk taught us anything, it was that the passion and real hard work that goes into making music is at its most present with this genre, and each band we caught over the day reinforced this to the highest level. Bravo Slam Dunk, same again next time please.

Did you go to Slam Dunk? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!