Broadening Horizons – How Slam Dunk is appealing to more fans than ever.

Slam Dunk has long been seen as a predominantly pop-punk festival. Although they have often featured a smattering of heavier or more abrasive bands, much of the higher reaches of the festival bills have been dominated by relatively inoffensive bands. In the last two years we have seen a rise in truly interesting aggressive music with the likes of Employed To Serve winning Kerrang!’s album of the year award last year and groups such as Code Orange making a splash on the global stage with a Grammy nomination. As Slam Dunk has manoeuvred to keep pace with this scene change, so has it looked to widen it’s vision to further encompass a generation of fans who gazed longingly over The Pond at Vans Warped Tour in the late 1990s.

The Impericon stage is headlined by legendary post-hardcore band Glassjaw, a band that are not just heavier, but more challenging than what you might expect, and it is clear that the horizons of this festival are changing. People that would previously have turned their nose up at the thought of Slam Dunk can now see a stage dedicated to aggressive and difficult music. And it’s not just confined to the Impericon Stage, as acts like the above mentioned Employed To Serve and Australian death disco crew Pagan take their positions on the Key Club Stage.

Elsewhere, as well as delving deeper into punk and hardcore, there is also a stage dedicated almost exclusively to modern metalcore, headlined by Bullet For My Valentine.  While having seemingly had it’s heyday nearly a decade ago, metalcore is a genre that refuses to lay down and die, and bands like Wage War and The World Alive, who both released their debut albums after that purple patch, continue to wave the banner for the genre.

Beyond just getting heavier, it also appears to be appealing to a wider age range; the Punk In Drublic stage might as well have a sign on it that says “Over 30s welcome too”. And that’s not to do any disservice to NOFX or Bad Religion, or to any of their fans. These are legendary bands that deserve a spot on any bill, but they and the other bands on this stage will surely draw in an older crowd than previous editions of the festival.

When festivals expand in this way and try and bring in a larger and a more varied crowd, they tend to attract criticism from the core of fans that have been attending year in year out, (just ask the organisers of Bloodstock Festival) but one could hardly accuse Slam Dunk of abandoning their roots and they still continue to have a backbone of pop punk and softer rock music. They have truly adapted and can now surely be seen as the premier smaller alternative festival in United Kingdom.

Tom Butterworth

May 23, 2019

Hi, I'm Tom Butterworth. Born and raised in Northampton, resident in Liverpool for six years now. I've been obsessive about music for over ten years. My favourite bands include Nightwish, Death, Letlive, Slipknot,, The Menzingers, Gojira, Opeth and Pink Floyd among others. \m/


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