Slam Dunk South Review

By Nariece Sanderson – Head of Radio

Another fantastic year for Slam Dunk Festival South at The Forum, Hatfield; which took place on the 29th May. Here are some of the bands Trident Media managed to catch- complete with star rating. Until next year… keep it heavy.

Our first live performers, Fort Hope (****) provide soaring vocals that ring through the Key Club stage, united with powerful melodies to challenge Arcane Root’s eye watering prog rock. They have solid arena seizing sounds and attract a massive audience, kicking off the festival with a promising start. Decade (****) follow up with light banter and solid brit-pop/rock magic. Cool vibes with a quick retreat to punchy pop-punk, numbers such as ‘Brainfreeze’ rile the audience into a jumping, ecstatic celebration. Vukovi (***) on the Rock Sound Breakout stage literally bring some sparkle to the smaller venue with Janine Shilstone bopping around, snapping selfies and partying hard… but (of no fault of the band’s) their performance misses a deeper bassiness – a powerful force that would propel a good set into a truly great one.

Deaf Havana. Credit: Matt Barson

We Are The Ocean (****) provide an emotional farewell performance displaying the band’s true talents – mingling the evolutionary sounds of their career from chugging indie to metal mingling with Liam Cromby’s clear vocals, particularly gaining a wild response for their more nostalgic hits. Festival organiser Ben Ray heads to the stage to hand over a small silver trophy to a chuffed frontman. Cromby exclaims ‘It’s engraved and everything!’ to celebrate their accolade of most performing bands over the years at the festival. It’s evident that this local band will be sorely missed. Homebound (***) Bring the energy with some raucous pop-punk that shows a band on the rise, while With Confidence (***) play the Key Club Stage with zest and sunny Australian charm. The Maine (****) get the fans going with their excitement and passion. A set filled with chat and fan involvement – a lad called Jamie is summoned on stage to sing live to a wildly adoring audience. It’s all smiles here. Waterparks’ (****) pop-punk hooks go down a treat, attracting fans aplenty and melodies likely to ring in your memory for days. It’s enough to get security nodding their heads to the tunes, something that Awsten Knight isn’t afraid to call out, validly asking ‘Who needs backing dancers when you have security guards?’ He’s not wrong… his statement results in some intense dabbing (sigh) and dance moves from the guys keeping the crowd safe. Waterparks’ set brings out the hilarious unexpected, even including a blindfolded performance from the frontman and lots of chuckles.

Beartooth. Credit: Matt Barson

Beartooth (****) bring out their marvellous combination of metal-core and melody on the Jägermeister main stage, Caleb Shomo commanding the audience with impressive vocals and booming energy. Deaf Havana (****) provide fine flowing vocals with massive riffs, bringing tracks new and old together to create a powerful moment at the mainstage. Amidst their quirky conversations with the audience, this is a band who are truly enjoying their set. A strong musical contrast, Frank Iero and The Patience (****) make messy, scruffy, punk music with a vibrancy that certainly isn’t unfamiliar to the Signature Brew stage. A real eclectic mix of fans get their mosh on to Iero’s raw vocals. His caring yet energetic buzz reconfirms his capabilities of a true bad-ass performer with guts. Yet, Don Broco (*****) steal the festival with a mighty performance. Giving out free masks to promote their anticipated Alexandra Palace gig, oodles of fans sport frontman Rob Damiani’s smiling mug – something he cheerily admits has been slightly disconcerting throughout the day. Nevertheless, the show is a stormer, filled with a controversial meeting of funk and moshing. Bury Tomorrow’s Dan Winter-Bates joins the local lads for their notorious track ‘Thug Workout’, thoroughly opening up the pit for an epic moment of glorious clashing between heavy music and fans. Impeccable musicianship and a truly legitimate performance, the high provided by this set leaves the audience pondering when Don Broco will be headlining the festival themselves.

Don Broco performing at Slam Dunk in Birmingham. Credit: Ali Horton

Madina Lake (****) send music fans onto a high-octane nostalgic journey over at the Impericon Stage. Almost 10 years since their debut LP From Them, Through Us, To You, you wouldn’t believe this band has returned from a five year split. Their set is filled with a refreshing enthusiasm, whipping fans into a frenzy as Nathan Leone bounds across the stage and above the pit. Whilst exhibiting the group’s post-hardcore fluency, Madina Lake aren’t afraid to throw in a few cheeky covers – including Blink-182’s ‘What’s My Age Again?’ This is Slam Dunk Festival after all… Over on the Fireball stage, Bowling For Soup (****) are churning out the hits, pausing every so often for some light banter. Their ‘Phineas and Ferb’ theme song even makes an appearance. Sing-alongs and laughs, crowd surfers in a blow-up boat and impromptu jokes emphasises the entertaining nature of the band as Jaret politely asks Enter Shikari (on the stage nearby) to slightly lower the volume. Needless to say, Enter Shikari (****) aren’t doing too badly themselves in terms of entertaining the crowd, particularly on revisiting their classic album in celebration of a decade of ‘Take to the Skies’. An electrifying lightshow alongside their fiery synth-laden heavy tunes proves their strength as headliners at the festival, whilst vocalist Rou Reynolds climbs the stage. Passionate energy and emotion is what forms Shikari’s performance, and a particularly moving part of their set is prominent in their rendition of Oasis’ ‘Half The World Away’ in tribute to the recent events in Manchester. A riveting, emotional rollercoaster of a set to end a truly epic day of Slam Dunk Festival.

Enter Shikari. Credit: Matt Barson

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Slam Dunk South Review