Ladies and Gentleman, Summer is finally here. (Or as far as you can call it so in the UK).
But to kick off the Festival season is the iconic, award nominated Slam Dunk Festival, which is now in it’s 11th year. It continues to attract a frenzy and plethora of music fanatics together for an intense day of incredible music. Stretched across from the N.E.C Hall 1, Genting Arena and Lakeside, adjacent to Resort World, we were gifted some of the best bands across the globe starred on 8 stages.
For us at the Midlands site, many of us had the “Lord of the Rings”-esque burden of walking to and fro, constantly in a rush to get from point A to point B.
With current social tensions due to the Manchester Arena incident (who we still mourn the loss of and send our thoughts to), the Security & Staff were beyond exceptional. All members were kind, helpful, supportive and ensured the safety of all who accessed the venue, with well executed pat searches, vigilant bag checks and inspections consistently made upon re-entry. This made a more relaxed environment and gave everyone a deeper sense of enjoyment without any anxiety or doubt.
We kicked our afternoon off with the South Wales Melodic Hardcore/Post Rock outfit that is Casey. Who demonstrated why they are currently one of the best live acts you can find as of current. Hot off their heaven and hell tour with Thy Art Is Murder, Miss May I and Being As An Ocean, Casey embody a profound sense of loss, encompassed in a heartfelt, solemn vessel. Their live sound constantly evolving into something more beautiful every time, and they just yank at the heart strings with every note and lyric. Despite playing so early in the day, the turnout was a large dedicated audience of around 150-200 people that screamed back every chorus and verse with passion.
The Impericon Stage housed some more of the heavier acts, including Birmingham’s very own, Oceans Ate Alaska, who recently released their latest single Covert. Nothing can truly prepare you for their sophomore album expected later this year. They destroyed the crowd with crushing technicality and brutal breakdowns, leaving bodies bouncing against the floor of the outdoor car park. The latest addition of their new vocalist has really upped the ante with their stage presence, a really enjoyable set all round.
Boston Manor provided us all with an extremely heartfelt set, injected with frenetic energy. In the leading days up to Slam Dunk have been touring with Casey and you could somewhat see how tired they must have been in the days leading up to this show. But they still gave it everything they had left in the tank. Keeping everyone in the food court entertained, and the notorious ATM queue from dying of boredom. And many of us know that painful 40 minute wait from front to back to clear in order to draw out a mere £20 in order to buy Merch was torture.
We raced over to see Bury Tomorrow on the Jagermeister Stage after cussing under our breath after lining up for the ATM only to bail out. Our mood instantly changed from frustration to being in total bliss as we watched Dani-Winter Bates take centre stage and whip the crowd up into a frenzy. They also blessed us with their heaviest song Sceptres which they haven’t played in a very long time. They ran slightly over their set, and vowed to come meet the fans after they got off the stage, which was an extremely wonderful opportunity. Dan was probably the most down to earth person at that entire event, dedicating an hour of his time to speak to fans, sign CDs, posters and take photos with every single person who surrounded him.
We caught Counterfeit not so long ago, and recognized us instantly from our previous interview. And again, they killed it. The London outfit are still a force to be reckoned with, and like Casey, are set to make an appearance at Reading and Leeds, which should make things even more interesting. The punch of having three guitarists really adds to the growl of Counterfeit‘s sound and makes each song seem more heavier than usual, adding depth and diversity.
Making their first ever UK appearance, Sylar took over the Rocksound stage and got everyone moving. The rap vocals over down-tuned guitars does feel like an Emmure tribute act, but they still possess some organic traits. But it doesn’t change the fact the New Yorker’s know how to put on an intense live show.
Beartooth bite hard. They kicked off the early evening with a huge mosh pit, which involved a few incidents of slipping and sliding over. Comical, somewhat dangerous, but still kinda funny. The main issue is the amount of disrespect the venue had been shown. As someone who has been to the Genting Arena for many shows, the floor was already covered in bottles, cups, water, blood (yes…) and the odd lashing of piss here and there (… I know disgusting), and it really did take from the experience. Your feet constantly sticking to the floor like glue as you jumped along with such energy to some of the heaviest songs on Beartooth‘s setlist, including “Body Bag”.
And though we missed Deaf Havana, I obtained a quote from a drunk slur from a friendly face in the crowd, in which [they] “Are fucking sick!”. It seems the clash of the stages become more severe as the evening went on. It also made us feel somewhat sad as we missed some of the previous years line-ups such as Thy Art is Murder and Northlane. (Bitter)sweet Nostalgia indeed.
And yes, the main headline act Enter Shikari did play the absolute banger that is Sorry You’re Not A Winner, and still continues 10 years on to be as incredible to witness live. Celebrating the tenth anniversary of Take To The Skies, Enter Shikari dazzled the audience with a light show to make anyone’s pupils shrink and hurt as strobe lights flickered and smoke pumped into the air. The set was sweaty, achy and a really politically engaging experience. It was a lot to take in, and being not a huge Enter Shikari fan (queue controversy) it was still wonderful nevertheless. The best surprise was the Oasis cover they provided us with, and despite them adding their own flavour, it stayed somewhat true to the original without it being butchered or altered.
Overall Slam Dunk ’17 was something you didn’t want to miss out on at all, and we cannot wait til next year to do it all over again, but please, throw on some heavy bands again, pretty please?
A long yet incredible day, SDF17 was one hell of a day, with plenty of memorable moments, just a shame the weather was a little cold outside! If you missed out, then we implore you to get your hands on a pair of tickets next year!