This year’s Slam Dunk Festival, held in Leeds, Birmingham and Hatfield over three days, sees iconic headliners Panic! At The Disco and Of Mice & Men perform for the thousands of pop-punk and punk-rock fans attending the festival’s tenth anniversary. But with over seven stages and a multitude of bands, groups and performers, deciding who to see and when might seem like a horrible task of harsh decisions and prioritising. So I’ve gone and compiled a short list of my recommendations on who to go and see, seek out and enjoy, so you don’t have to make those (probably heart-breaking) decisions. Slam Dunk 2016 looks like it’s going to be a good one – make sure you’re there.
Often considered pop-punk royalty, the Florida-born foursome never fail to charm audiences and excite fans as they jump, skip, and even roll around the stage. The band emerged as part of the second wave of pop-punk near the turn of the century, with many critics now considering them a major pioneer in the genre. Indeed, it’s hard to think of the pop-punk genre without thinking of New Found Glory, who released their eighth studio album, Resurrection, in late 2014.
Resurrection met with a positive reception from both fans and critics alike, praised for its maturity after rhythm guitarist Steve Klein’s departure in 2013. It boasts some of their best songs to date, showing their lengthy career has no promise to fizzle out any time soon. ‘Vicious Love’ in particular is a punk song through and through, with a riff splattered with chugging familiarity and palpitating nostalgia, and it will undoubtedly have crowds up and jumping, skipping, and maybe even rolling around before the stage. The same can be said for songs such as ‘One More Round’ and ‘Persistent’. Utterly and completely, NFG are not ones to be missed.
Young Guns have come a long way since their first EP release, Mirrors, in 2009. In the seven years of their musical career, they’ve released three albums – each received very positively – supported Bring Me The Horizon on their sold out show at London’s Wembley Arena, and have had their single ‘Bones’ reach the number one spot on the Billboard Active Rock charts in 2013. With their recent release of third album Ones and Zeros, it seems the sky’s the limit for the London born five-piece.
The band, often labelled as having a melodic rock style, often surprise audiences with their energetic performances, notably lead singer Gustav Wood who seems to have an unending bundle of punch and fire which propels the band in every show. Even non-fans will be chanting along to ‘Bones’, a song –among many – appearing to have been crafted with specifically live performances, like Slam Dunk, in mind.
The Story So Far
Formed in 2007, the American five-piece have ruled the underground pop-punk movement for several years. Having already performed at major festivals such as Vans Warped Tour UK 2012 and Warped Tour US 2014, as well as having played successfully at Slam Dunk Festival 2013, and having supported major bands such as New Found Glory and A Day To Remember on their various tours, the band are now just breaking into their own.
The band released their third album, self-titled, last May to a positive reception. Full of pop-punk anthems, The Story So Far are perfect for Slam Dunk’s snappy festival vibes
Shikari Sound System DJ Set
Known as the ‘electronic alter-ego’ of the more well-known Enter Shikari, the band consists of the same four members of Enter Shikari but playing, instead of their regular hardcore/alternative rock, live dance sets. Given their debut set was at the prestigious Reading and Leeds festivals, their appeal is undoutable, and the group round up an impressive number of fans at many of their gigs. Given the group is but a side project of Enter Shikari, the dedication the lads put into these sets is impressive -and it pays off. Their DJ sets are always lively and full of spark; definitely one to put on your Slam Dunk to-see list.
Panic! At the Disco
Panic!’s place on the list goes without saying, but their pure talent, vigour and fiery passion makes it hard to exclude them from it. The acclaimed headliners of this year’s Slam Dunk, the band are one of the most well-known, celebrated, and consistently enjoyable groups of recent music history. It will be terrifically hard to miss the Vegas born band, fronted by the ever-charismatic Brendon Urie, who found fame with the hit single ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ in 2005.
Eleven years, five studio albums and over five headlining tours later, the band’s lineup has changed considerably as has the style of music they create. However, their talent and ardour has yet to shift, with their new album Death of a Bachelor, released in January earlier this year, showing just how much they have matured. Anthems like ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Victorious’ are sure to have crowds pumping, as well as their famous emo roots ‘I Write Sins…’, ‘Nine in the Afternoon’ and ‘Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off’. Completely unmissable, if it is at all possible to miss them in the first place.