Slam Dunk Festival produced another banger of a weekend this May Bank Holiday, with a whole bunch of rock, punk and metal bands showing us what they’re made of across the Birmingham, Leeds and Hatfield dates. We were lucky enough to catch some of the weekend’s best performances, so check out the second part of our bumper review to see what we thought of Boston Manor, Bury Tomorrow, Waterparks and more!
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WSTR – Monster Energy Stage
After hearing WSTR’s debut album earlier this year, we’ve been looking forward to this festival set in particular. Live, their enthusiasm bounces through the crowd and anyone looking for good time is certainly in the right place; however, the raw energy of the album is swapped out for clichés, especially the generic faux-American vocal. Perhaps they’ve just got caught up with the other bands on the stage, but we know WSTR have got more originality than this.
BOSTON MANOR – The Key Club Stage
Boisterous, chaotic, riotous. Three words that spring to mind during Boston Manor’s vibrant, punchy set at Slam Dunk Festival. They’re still a young bunch and, sure, a little finesse wouldn’t go amiss, but all the makings are there- passion, confidence, great tunes- and, as the years go on, we could be looking at the UK’s next You Me At Six.
BURY TOMORROW – Jägermeister Stage
Sporting the biggest mosh pit of the day by a mile is a gutsy, hardcore performance from Bury Tomorrow. With a smooth frontman who oozes stage presence, throwing shapes across the stage like it’s going out of fashion, Bury Tomorrow are onto a winner with both old fans and curious onlookers. They’re fearless, and the powerful movement they draw from the crowd just spurs them on to make for a great show.
CUTE IS WHAT WE AIM FOR – Monster Energy Stage
There are a few bands at Slam Dunk playing anniversary sets this year, leaving us itching for nostalgia and with high hopes of hearing our favourite tracks from yesteryear, and one of those bands is Cute Is What We Aim For with their debut album The Same Old Blood Rush With a New Touch. Of all these album shows, they deliver the best of the best. Despite playing decade-old tracks, it still sounds relevant and the band perform with slick, smooth confidence, the end result being a crowd with as much liveliness as ten years ago. Not bad.
COUNTERFEIT. – Impericon Stage
A few technical hiccups give Counterfeit. an unfortunate false start, as this is a band that have everything they need to get a crowd going. It takes them a minute, but the audience eventually get there and, when they do, this band absolutely soar. You can tell this means everything to them; they must live and breathe performing because they do it oh-so naturally, with fierce punk attitude and a shedload of passion. They don’t shy away, even going so far as to perform an entire song in the mosh pit, taking fan interaction to a whole new level. If Counterfeit. continue putting as much effort as they have today, they’ll go very, very far.
GOLDFINGER – Fireball Stage
Goldfinger are a true festival favourite and you just know they’re going to put on a great show no matter what. Of course, this time is no different; they stage dive, crowd surf and “hey-ho” along with their fans, giving it as good as any of the fresh-faced youngsters have done today. We reckon playing two brand new songs on a relatively short festival set probably isn’t necessary, especially for a band who have as many hits as Goldfinger, but we can forgive them these little dips as they totally kill the rest of their performance.
THE MAINE – Monster Energy Stage
Ah, The Maine. Underrated band, overstated fashion sense! As the sun creeps out from the behind the clouds, we soak up the glorious good vibes that come from The Maine’s energetic, charismatic, optimistic performance with absolute joy. Their stage presence is unlike that of any other band- comical, yet stylish. They manage to pull off completely embarrassing a poor kid who definitely didn’t want to be up on that stage, let alone sing along in front of the crowd, with endearing humour and a twinkle in their eye, making us grin from ear to ear. Their upbeat set is a lovely ray of light on this typically grey English day.
WATERPARKS – The Key Club Stage
Playful youth and bubbly excitement fizzes from the stage from the moment Waterparks set foot upon it. Having been bumped up to a bigger stage at Slam Dunk Festival, we expect Waterparks’ fans to turn up and prove exactly why this band deserve the hype they seem to be surrounded with right now- and they do just that. Screams echo, “WE LOVE YOU!”’s ring out, and we even spot a banner or two in honour of this baby-faced trio. Their on-stage banter is a little juvenile, reminding us of All Time Low’s very early days- except with synth. Either way, their crowd reaction is one of the best we see all day.
DEAF HAVANA – Jägermeister Stage
Deaf Havana have had years to hone their craft, perfecting their material until it becomes what we see before us today; strong, solid alt-rock tunes that rumble throughout the arena, a sophisticated, mature performance and excellent musicality to boot. They’re good. They’re really good. But the problem with Deaf Havana at a festival such as this is that, visually, they can’t compare to some of the more intense, animated, sparkling performances that other bands deliver. Close your eyes and Deaf Havana sound flawless; they just aren’t quite as much of a feast for the eyes as they are for the ears.
REEL BIG FISH – Fireball Stage
Drunk? Then come on down to Reel Big Fish! The ska-punk riot begins and ends with a whole field full of dancing, drunken festival-go’ers having an absolute ball to some of the most hilarious moments of Slam Dunk. From ridiculous covers to songs about beer and flipping the bird, Reel Big Fish don’t take themselves seriously and, because of that, we don’t have to either! All we have to do is get into the ska groove and enjoy the feel-good vibes which, it turns out, is bloody good fun!