We’re drawing closer and closer to Slam Dunk Festival 2017 and we couldn’t be more excited. Just a little over a week away, the days feel like an eternity at this point. But with an excess of ridiculous bands of both past and present in a variety of genres, Slam Dunk really isn’t just perfect for a rock fan or a metalhead. It helps, sure. But it’s really got something for everybody.
As such, I’ve gone with a different flavour in the run-up to it. As far back as I can possibly look, we’ve never done an A-Z of any festival before. So I’ll tackle examining Slam Dunk – not just the lineup, but everything that is on offer come the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, and why you should be excited too.
As an update, the North festival has now SOLD OUT.
Let’s get to it…
Don’t be fooled by that daunting 11:00pm finish time – if you want to continue revelling in some [more] alcohol-fuelled debaucheries until you hear birdsong, then the afterparties are for you. It’s a three-day weekend. Make the most of it, eh?
South Coast metalcore mob Bury Tomorrow were announced as very special guests a while back, and they certainly add even more depth to an already promising and enthralling lineup. Boasting a ferocious live show, they still have those catchy harmonies and clean melodies to keep the vibe in full swing.
The festival has given three local bands the opportunity to wow the Slam Dunk faithful. As voted by the public, the bands have competed over the past few weeks to open the Rock Sound Breakout Stage. The winners were crowned last week:
You Know The Drill (Midlands)
Better Days (North)
All That Was Said (South)
A not-at-all guilty pleasure of mine since I was about 17, and who have come leaps and bounds as they ascend the alternative music ladder. New album All These Countless Nights might be a dark horse for best album of the year, and the year’s not even half over. After a run on the road with Dead and Dinosaur Pile-Up, Deaf Havana showed they can still put on a breathtaking live show and this’ll be no different.
Headliners of this year’s festival, but with a twist. They’ll be playing a special 10-year anniversary Take To The Skies setlist; a true landmark for the St. Albans mobsters. If that’s not enough to get folk excited for the fest then nothing else will. The claps to “Sorry, You’re Not A Winner” will be thunderous, as will 100% of the rest of their post-hardcore electronica rock sonances.
Whether it’s bellowing out the chorus to “My Friends Over You” in unison, a throwdown or giving random passers-by a hug, Slam Dunk is the place where friends are made. Plus, it’s a Bank Holiday so we’ll all be in a good mood, surely?
If you look at the history books of Slam Dunk, it’s come a long way since its humble beginnings at Millennium Square in Leeds in 2006. What was once a one-day fest in the North, now offers eight stages stacked full of acts essentially covering much of the UK. It would be fair to say Slam Dunk has blossomed into the most grandiose of pop-punk/ska/rock florets.
Having played host to bands such as Paramore, Fall Out Boy and many more, Slam Dunk definitely has the appeal of a much more enjoyable casa-del-in-laws that you only have to visit once a year. But when you do, it’s like all Christmases at once. We The Kings and Mad Caddies wouldn’t be returning after playing the early Slam Dunk Fests if they didn’t feel somewhat at home here.
A band who went viral with a much-played cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” now find themselves with an epic debut album Lifelines and plenty of international interest. Channelling vicious screams and well-rounded clean vocals over punchy, rhythmic metalcore, I Prevail could be the shark that bites the hardest.
A sponsor of the festival, which means it will be consumed in copious amounts. Will we regret it? Absolutely not!
Elation, heartbreak or raucous laughter, chances are all of them rear their head at some point. Rock music is forever. Rock music makes memories. Revel in it.
Less Than Jake
What would a festival be without some good vibing ska punk? All their best friends may be metalheads, but Less Than Jake really aren’t going to be out of place somewhere they have played do almost a half dozen times, much like they wouldn’t be in Gainesville Rock City. Consider this to be something on the “not to be missed” list.
Memphis May Fire
Rise Records’ Memphis May Fire – the metalcore outfit from deep in the heart of Texas – boost the quota for fans of the heavier spectrum to soak in. New album This Light I Hold has some unrelenting punches and soaring melodic moments, but we expected nothing less from these Dallas guys. They also happen to put on guaranteed live shows that range from awesome to incredibly awesome.
Whilst Slam Dunk hosts some of the old guard, there are plenty of new debuting bands to be on the lookout for. Could that band you’ve never heard before be headlining five years down the line? One way to find out, and you could say “I was there when they rocked Slam Dunk 2017.”
Oceans Ate Alaska
Birmingham mob Oceans Ate Alaska, whose name was inspired by a mega-tsunami that engulfed the North American state, are another band to keep an eye on. With some grotesque vocals, intricate math metal guitar rhythms and melodies and intricate precision, Oceans Ate Alaska is one band you don’t want to sleep on.
Three different venues. Same lineup. So to those of us in and around the respective thirds of the UK, that’s less of a commute. Less harsh on our wallets, too.
With 60+ bands on offer, we’re really spoiled for choice. Like, really spoiled. Not just some of the names I’ve mentioned but also bands like Beartooth, Ice Nine Kills, Crossfaith, Neck Deep and so many more. Just look at that poster and tell me that you aren’t drawn to it like a magnet in a piercing parlour.
Reel Big Fish
Boosting the ska numbers at the festival is Huntington Beach six-piece Reel Big Fish. Saxophones, trumpets and trombones complimenting a punk sound is, always, a great time. Having played Slam Dunk nearly every year, the band will make sure that nobody stops skanking; and who knows what’ll happen if they bust out their cover of “Take On Me” or “Brown Eyed Girl”?
Stray From The Path
Probably one of metal’s most vitriolic and outspoken bands; Long Island outfit Stray From The Path are set to tear Slam Dunk a new rectum. Never ones to shy from lyrical anarchy, frontman Drew York has a presence that is perfect for the emphatic and bone-crunching punch that emanates from the other three guys behind him. This set will not be for the weak, and this is where the pit action will be at its zenith.
Ten Plus Years
Slam Dunk is over a decade old, and it still continues to flourish as one of the most enjoyable and unpredictable festivals in the UK today. It will definitely be kicking off festival season in a big way.
Speaking of unpredictability, do we really know what’s gonna be the best moment of the fest this year? You’ll have to go and find out, won’t you?
From pop punk to ska, metalcore to acoustic sets, Slam Dunk really doesn’t hold back on being something fans of every genre can enjoy. Whilst still respecting its roots as an underground rock festival, it definitely has a very radio-friendly appeal too.
We Are The Ocean
With every year, we discover new bands, and alas, sadly some must say goodbye. Essex rockers We Are The Ocean have announced their farewell tour, and will be gracing Slam Dunk as some of their final shows, paying special tribute to the amazing times they have had. It’s sad to see the band disband but this will be a momentous set chocked full of their old and new bangers.
Did we mention DJs and acoustic acts are still to be announced? Did we mention that there will be indoor and outdoor venues? Did we mention Shikari are playing a 10-year anniversary Take To The Skies setlist?
Most bands on display are very young and fresh to the scene, and it makes me feel very old and depressed thinking about it.
It wouldn’t be Slam Dunk without some rap-pop-punk from Orange County’s best export in Zebrahead, would it? Having seen them several times, and being the first band I ever saw in London, this is something of a throwback, but truthfully I’ve followed their careers since they released Playmate of the Year. Energetic to the max and full to the brim with ragers, Zebrahead will probably outdo themselves once again, as expected.
Slam Dunk Festival takes place from 27th to 29th May 2017.
Doors for the event will be open from 1:00pm and the bands will finish by 11:00pm, with afterparties finishing at 3:00am (all are 18+ and require photo ID). All festival events are 14+.
ALL vendors SOLD OUT
ALL vendors SOLD OUT