On 27-29 May 2017, Slam Dunk Festival took place for the eleventh year running. The festival has been growing since 2006 and sees bands play to 40,000+ people over the course of the weekend. The festival moved it’s midlands date to Birmingham’s NEC last year, so we headed down to the first stop of the festival to see what all the fuss is about!
Boasting a total of 8 stages, Slam Dunk is certainly sizeable, for a one-day festival. Spreading over the NEC, the Genting Arena and a variety of outdoor stages, the festival has a lot to offer. On top of this, there was a merchandise village going through the street connecting the arenas, as well as having a variety of food and bars on offer. There was also a signing tent, where fans could meet a select amount of bands.
There was food to cater to all tastes, both inside and outside of the arenas and there was a number of bars which meant queuing time was minimal. The site also had a Jagermeister specific jagerbomb van, which is safe to say had a queue all day. All of this was even before the acts took place, ranging from up and coming artists to some long-standing bands in the rock scene.
One of the first bands on was US band, Too Close To Touch, on the Impericon stage. This was one of the smaller stages of the day but the band pulled a great sized crowd. Lead Vocalist, Keaton Pierce, mentioned that this was the band’s first ever performance in the UK. You wouldn’t have known, looking at the amount of people singing along to every word. Too Close To Touch were so comfortable on stage and after that reaction, they’ll definitely be back to the UK in no time.
The Lion and the Wolf (Tom George) played next, on the Uprawr stage, which was the smallest stage of the day. This stage played host to a number of acoustic solo performances throughout the day, before turning into a DJ stage after 5pm. As an up and coming artist, Tom pulled a decent sized crowd. Not many seemed to know him before the festival but came to check him out, and they all left saying good things about the performance. With the size of the bands playing throughout the rest of the day, it was refreshing to have an acoustic stage and Tom’s performance definitely left a mark on the rest of the day.
It was then time to head inside to the Jagermeister stage, in the Genting Arena, which was later holding host to the headliners. Japanese hardcore/electronic band, Crossfaith, managed to nearly pack out the arena, even so early in the day. Their performance was so full of energy and it’s like each band member puts on their own performance, so you’re drawn to each one individually. A combination of doing shots of Jagermeister on stage and their cover of The Prodigy’s ‘Omen’, amongst other things, led crossfaith to being one of the most energetic and exciting bands of the day.
Next to the Jagermeister stage was We Are The Ocean. The band announced, towards the beginning, that they would be splitting up and their performances at Slam Dunk Festival were their final shows. They packed out the arena, with many fans turning up to see the band one last time. We Are The Ocean played well however they played very few of their earlier songs and focused on their newer music, which was a disappointment for long-standing fans. Their set was mostly basic and they just played through the songs, rarely mentioning it was one of their last performances. Overall, they were unfortunately one of the disappointments of the day.
Picking the mood back up on the Monster stage was Cute Is What We Aim For. The band first mentioned that they have not been to the UK since 2008, so this was a special performance for them. They were celebrating 10 years of their first album, ‘The Same Old Blood Rush With A New Touch’, by playing it in full. The crowd was full of people in their twenties who had grown up with the album, singing every word. The band mentioned that they were still drunk from the night before when they woke up however, they still put on a great show. You wouldn’t have known the band haven’t been to the UK in 10 years, with the reaction they got.
Penultimate act of the night was upbeat, pop-rock band, Don Broco. With the amount of Don Broco t-shirts that were shown throughout the day, it was clear that a lot of the fans had turned up for them, and they did not disappoint. They put on a high-energy performance throughout and the arena was almost like one big singalong. Playing anything from their very first single to their latest single, the band put on a great, varied set. Finishing with their new single, ‘Pretty’, which most of the crowd knew well, it showed how much of an impact Don Broco had on the day and on the rock scene as a whole.
Finally, came headliners, Enter Shikari. The band were playing the one of the final dates as part of their 10 year celebration of debut album, ‘Take To The Skies’. They kicked off with opening track ‘Enter Shikari’ and played through the whole album, adding a few fan favourites like ‘Juggernauts’ and ‘Anaesthetist’ to stir things up in the middle. The set was filled with everything from an energetic performance and a well produced lightshow to speeches of politics and love. Rou Reynolds (lead vocalist) enforced the importance of voting in the upcoming election and they later played a cover of Oasis’ ‘Half The World Away’ as a tribute to the victims of the recent Manchester attacks. Overall, it was an emotional performance and left fans both happy and breathless at the end. It was the perfect end to a great day.