As a big fan of what Slam Dunk has to offer, I have had the pleasure of enjoying 3 consecutive years in a row, with this years tickets purchased and ready for a 4th!
In 2014 I was fortunate enough to have won a pair of tickets for the show, which influenced my decision to go even more. I take festival and gig going seriously, keeping my mind clear, and taking in the experience of the bands with my eyes and ears to keep the memory with me for the rest of my life. After a 2 hour wait queuing outside, and torturous wait as the bands have already started, it looked to have a very unorganised and messy entry issue. Once finally in, the list of bands I had seen during this year included Caliban, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, Crown The Empire, Zebrahead, Capdown, We Are The In Crowd, The Ataris, LetLive, Less Than Jake and finally, All American Rejects. I had the honour of meeting Tyson Ritter (AAR vocalist) who was just hanging around his merch table for a while, the lads in Zebrahead and Less Than Jake.
2015, the line up looked even better, and felt the need to buy a ticket as I enjoyed the previous year, besides the organisation of entering the gates! Luckily, this year had shown much improvement with tickets and band checks being made in advance of the actual gates being opened, learning from their previous mistakes. Hard to decide which bands to see, I was lucky enough the see some of the bands do special shows around Slam Dunk, which gave me that chance to see other bands clashing. Starting with the main stage, I checked out Set It Off, which was a great festival opener to bring the mood of the sunny day ahead, followed by close friends in Patent Pending, Beartooth for the first time, Zebrahead again (because they get the party started!) the most exciting Japanese band around Crossfaith, the return of Finch, the 2 bands I’d first heard from a certain skating game Millencolin and Goldfinger (who had technical difficulties and hit the stage late) and finally the kings of ska / punk rock, Reel Big Fish. With a round up of the second year, the festival organisation have found their feet, and definitely deserved it’s awards in Best Festival of the Year as I travel back happy from my experience.
Finally, last years Slam Dunk experience also seen me getting through the gates in good time to see all the bands I could possibly fit into a day. Coldrain were the first band I gave a listen to, heard good things about them but never had a chance to check out before in which I am happy I did, they put on an amazing show early in the day. Stuck around at this stage to see The Word Alive also for a first time live before followed by Mayday Parade. Most memorable moment of all Slam Dunk experiences will always be that Yellowcard (RIP *sad face*) played Ocean Avenue in full for the first time ever, I heard songs I’d never get the chance to live. Following that up I ran (literally) over to the indoors stage to see the band I’d waited a decade to see, The Starting Line, as I sing my lungs out to my teenage favourites. Luckily the clashes over the last 2 bands (Four Years Strong & Set Your Goals) announced a show in London the following day which I got tickets for to make my decision a little more easier with the choices of who to see. For a third year running, Zebrahead still know how to entertain (of course I will probably see them again this year!) and checked out Issues briefly, to check out the last half of Cancer Bats, and ending on Every Time I Die.
So, my take on Slam Dunk… Go! You would be a fool not to if you are into this. It’s a one day festival, not a 5 day camping festival, tickets are very reasonably priced for the amount of huge names on the line up, and despite what you or anyone says about the line up being only 1/4 decent, you have several stages to choose between, if anything you will be stuck between clashes all day! I have loved all my Slam Dunk experiences (except for the entry issues in 2014, and the lack of Vegan food for my partner who just eats chips all day) I would recommend this to anyone, and feel sorry for anyone who missed out on Slam Dunk South tickets. Don’t go waiting if you are even slightly interested in the North or Midlands shows, you will regret not going with this killer Ska/Punk stage already in place! I can already see the clashes I will be crying over.