Review: Slam Dunk Festival 2019

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Slam Dunk 2019 provided the perfect amount of variance in genres and bands which found you slam-dancing to Knocked Loose then crying to 'Hey There Delilah'.

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One of the first major UK festivals each year is Slam Dunk. What was once a day festival split over three separate days across three different cities has now become a two-day affair with day one being billed in Leeds and the second in Hatfield. From headliners playing in capacity-limited dingy venues and walking down flights of stairs to get from one set to another, Slam Dunk has changed its game plan and now operates in two huge parks allowing for bigger stages, more tents, more bars and more fun.

Not only is Hatfield House (the set for day two of Slammy D) a picturesque, beautiful location, it is also a huge upgrade from the University campus that was used every year up until 2018. The site allowed for bigger stages, bigger crowds and much more fun. It made the festival feel more like a traditional festival rather than just what could be described as an elongated gig. Of course, there were downsides to this – the 1 hour long wait for punters to buy drinks or perhaps the lack of sanitary resupply from 3pm onwards. But overall, it’s a huge improvement.

The day kicked off with Baltimore-moshers Angel Du$t. Their eclectic style of hardcore punk kicked the remnants of sleepy du$t from everybody’s eyelids. The band, comprised of members from Turnstile and Trapped Under Ice, were playing the festival for the first time and definitely kicked it off in style. John Floreani of Trophy Eyes took to the acoustic stage next, a nice, tranquil sanctuary, away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the festival. Despite being arguably most known for being the frontman of Trophy Eyes, Floreani attracted a huge crowd to see him play some of his own songs, his humour and interaction with the crowd (which saw him steal a pint off a guy who decided to take a toilet break during his set) made for a really enjoyable set from the Aussie.

Knocked Loose of Oldham County, Kentucky, were up next on the heavy Impericon Stage. To no surprise, they attracted an almighty crowd. The band walked out and picked up their instruments and before the first string was struck on any guitar, a circle pit about 20ft wide opened up in the centre. I was excited to see KL for a long time and I knew their sets would be chaos. The band created pandemonium with huge tracks like ‘Deadringer’ and newly released single ‘Mistakes Like Fractures’ which saw no break whatsoever in the circle pits and violent moshing. The crowd expanded by every song until it started spewing out of the tent. A short yet very sweaty set came to a close and with no break in-between, it was Blackpool boys Boston Manor on the Main Stage. In what was one of the biggest crowds of the day, Boston Manor tore the Monster Energy Stage apart. With a huge red backdrop and members donning balaclavas, the band treated fans to popular songs like ‘Halo’ and ‘England’s Dreaming’ from their recent album Welcome To The Neighbourhood. Trophy Eyes were up next on the agenda at Slam Dunk 2019. The Aussie pop-punkers made the tiny Marshall Stage seem like the Main Stage and attracted a very respectable crowd to see them. In what was probably my favourite set of the day, fans were treated to favourites like ‘You Can Count On Me’, ‘Chlorine’ and ‘Friday Forever’.

As the evening approached, Illinois-based Real Friends were on the Marshall Stage. Frontman Dan Lambton took time between each song to speak with the adoring Slam Dunk fans who’d come to watch them play, even teasing about an unannounced upcoming UK headliner tour with Grayscale. Huge hit ‘I’ve Given Up On You’ saw every single body in the crowd swaying and singing their hearts out to every lyric. Neck Deep were next on the Monster Energy Stage. This was the set I was most excited for yet found myself a little deflated as the sound was very off for their set. What was just mumble and overly distorted guitars meant that fans could barely hear frontman Ben Barlow singing which meant that it took a few extra seconds for most fans to establish which song was actually being played. In what would usually be a huge credit to the band, the fans were louder than the music which didn’t make for an overly enjoyable set but nonetheless it was still good to hear fragments of songs I loved. Plain White T’s closed the Marshall Stage of Slammy D in an extremely enjoyable and life goal fulfilling set. A band that were perhaps never expected to play a pop-punk/hardcore festival like Slam Dunk managed to completely steal the hearts of all those watching. It felt so nostalgic hearing ‘Hey There Delilah’ played live and the crowd participation makes my hairs on my neck stand to attention even now. The band seemed to be having the time of their lives and so were the crowd. For a festival with bands predominantly playing emotional or angry songs about hometowns, pizza and break ups, it was a pleasant and very welcomed change when watching Plain White T’s.

The day ended with All Time Low,  A tough decision between them or Bullet For My Valentine left me standing at the back for ATL on the Monster Energy Stage. A set filled with pyro, CO2 and lots of classic hits like ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’, ‘Kids In The Dark’ and ‘Weightless’ brought to a close what was a wonderful day in Hatfield. An interesting mix of bands and genres meant that the day was far from boring and meant there was a little something for everyone. I am already excited to see what next year has to offer.

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3rd year Psychology student at UoS. I Hate my degree, love music.

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