Slam Dunk Festival 2018 – Birmingham NEC

When Slam Dunk formed in 2006 it had a bill of 7 bands at a sole location in Leeds with a small capacity of a few thousand, skip to 12 years on and oh my has it grown! Whether you’re reliving your mid-2000’s singing along to the likes of Taking Back Sunday or throwing yourself into the heart of California in the 90’s with the likes of Reel Big Fish, this festival has really developed into a three-location monster of a day out. What better way to start off the day than with getting your rear end torn open by Brutality Will Prevail on the ever hardcore Impericon Stage.

These guys will lull you in with a crushing bass riff only to tear a hole in the dance floor seconds later with the flailing arms of today’s youth whirling away their troubles in a passionate throwdown. Head on over to the Jagermeister stage and if it isn’t those boys from Massachusetts, Four Year Strong, I’ve always been torn watching these guys

Between singing my heart out and running around in a circle, today was no Exception. If you ever find yourself in need of some sunshine at Slam dunk, make your way on out to the fireball whiskey stage for some sun endorsed Ska/Punk. An honourable mention this year goes out to Save Ferris. After a break from visiting the UK in almost 18 years, you could be mistaken for thinking they would struggle to pull in a crowd, you would be wrong. These legends of the Third Wave had everyone singing, dancing and jogging on the spot from start to finish getting them nice and warmed up, which was nice of them, because the crowd needed it before Capdown arrived. An absolute powerhouse of the Uk Skacore scene has such a cult following the Mohawk and cargo short wearing punks seemed to emerge out of the ground. As soon as the hint of a Saxophone was tooted. Before ending on a classic crowd pleaser ‘Ska Wars’, Lead vocalist Jacob Fielding hinted at this being their last ever show, however, after multiple hiatus announcements, it’s hard to take such a statement serious.

Ah Comeback Kid., It’s hard to not take note of how these guys manage to keep up with today’s alternative scene, they show the crowd they still have what it takes and provide a powerful midday round-up of hardcore pleasantry from this 18-year strong lineup. Keep at it lads!

What would Slam Dunk be without Zebrahead on the lineup? Well, one thing is for sure if these dudes from over the pond aren’t asked to come back and headline next year I would be very surprised. They easily pulled in as many fans as Reel Big Fish and have energy from start to finish, I do have to make a point of saying it would be nice, just for once, if they didn’t finish with ‘Anthem’, mix it up a bit boys no one will mind! Speaking of mixing it up, UK Reggae legend’s The Skints bring their nice time vibes to thefestival, offering their unique blend of dub/reggae/grime and everything in between, including a cheeky taster of a new punk track off their new album yet to be officially announced.

 

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have been consistently growing in their short period of existence, owing mainly to the pre-existing buzz around their namesake frontman, although he appears to have grown more reserved on stage since his early days with Gallows his lion’s roar vocal style cuts through the arena with just as much aggression. Ending with ‘Hate You’ was, as always, an excellent decision in terms of pleasing the crowd, inducing a war cry mentality with everyone in the crowd during the chorus.

Adam Lazzarra of Taking Back Sunday twirls his microphone around his neck and through the air as though it’s the most normal thing in the world, his on-stage antics are noteworthy and his inability to look directly at the crowd for the most part perhaps give an insight into his inner psyche, but we aren’t here to give a psychological report, we are here to experience live music, and that is what these guys from Long Island do best, and consistently. Rocking since the turn of the millennia they have gained a wide audience of young and old, but today brought out the early 2000 emo scene out of the woodwork throwing out the classic ender ‘Make Damn Sure’ had everyone singing like back when getting your phone out at a concert to take a photo was only just beginning to surface.

Every Time I Die finished off the Impericon Stage like no other band of the scene could, you could barely fit in the arena by the time they exploded onto the stage with ‘Roman Holiday’, I think these guys and Comeback Kid are brought to festivals such as Slam Dunk to show these new era kids how it should be done.

The ever so often changing lineup of Reel Big Fish make their grand return to the fireball stage of Slam Dunk to give a beer-fuelled pun-filled punch, plenty of classic sing-alongs with their all famous covers such as ‘Take On Me’, ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, as well as crowd pleasers such as ‘Beer’ and ‘Sell out’. These guys never fail to impress and amuse and more importantly get people dancing, or at least jog on the spot!

Finishing off the day was the love ‘em or hate ‘em Good Charlotte boys, You could criticise them for having hypocrisy amongst their old and newer song lyrics, or you could just stand back with a cold one and belt out the lyrics to lifestyles of the rich & famous without a care in the world,

I will end this by letting you decide yourself which one I did.

WORDS BY WEZ JORDAN

PHOTOS BY ALEX BLABY PHOTOGRAPHY