[Kealie Mardell & Shelby Loasby]
Slam Dunk Festival made a triumphant return to The Forum Hertfordshire, living up to its promise to be bigger and better than ever before. Seven stages spanned across the site, including the Forum Auditorium, The Attic, and three outdoor stages.
After a successful day at Leeds, Slam Dunk made its way to Hatfield on Sunday 24th May, before taking to Wolverhampton to finish off its Bank Holiday weekend tour.
Slam Dunk South was the first site to sell out, for both the day festival and highly anticipated after party. With tickets in hands, fans were queuing on site over three hours before the gates opened in an attempt to guarantee prime spots at the front of the stage.
Our team from Trident Media were lucky enough to gain coverage of the event, and we’re proud to present our top 12 bands of the day. It would be impossible to rate these in an order of preference, so we’ve gone with the order they performed!
1) The Color Morale
Kicking things off on the Monster stage, located in the outside piazza, we had American hardcore-rockers; The Color Morale. Setting the tone for the stage early on, they opened up a worthy circle pit to ‘Prey for Me’ along with other hits from their fourth album Hold On Pain Ends. They closed their set with ‘Strange Comfort’ from their 2013 release Know Hope. Slam Dunk is their final UK performance before taking to mainland Europe with Scream Your Name and Ash is a Robot.
Sticking with the Monster stage special guests Beartooth took to the stage and drew in an impressive crowd with their metalcore prowess. Going all out in spite of their early set time it was easy to see where the allegiances of the Slam Dunk fans lie. Beartooth have been touring with fellow Slam Dunk-ers The Color Moral and Dead Harts, and will soon be making their Download Festival debut.
3) Deez Nuts
We can truthfully say that the name of this band drew us to the Impericon stage (located within the refectory). Alongside the newcomers there were clearly plenty of devoted fans in the crowd, judging from the eager screams singing back to the band. Whilst not the heaviest set of the day, Deez Nuts managed to get some movement going and put on a performance that could definitely convince you to go looking for more Nuts.
Slam Dunk is one of the few festivals that promise a mix of rock, metal, punk and ska, which might seem like an interesting combination, but they did just this with the Desperados stage in the Forum Auditorium. Boasting headliners Reel Big Fish and other ska-punk stars, we headed inside for 7-piece British ska band Lightyear. While the most memorable part of their performance is probably the hand-drawn penis flashing across the backdrop, they also proved that ska is still going strong and got in an endearing shout out to the singer’s mum who was seen dancing away at the back of the crowd.
5) Fort Hope
Heading into The Attic for the Fresh Blood stage, we caught Hertfordshire’s own Fort Hope. If it wasn’t for their recognisable tunes you might not have known it was them, as one fan accurately pointed out “we can’t see sh*t”. Darkness aside, Fort Hope delivered a selection of tracks from their new EP and older hits like 2014’s ‘The Rapture’, which saw frontman Jon Gaskin making his way into the crowd. Taking a slower tone, they brought the room to standstill, as Gaskin proclaimed “this song is about when the sun doesn’t shine” leading into single ‘Tears’. Get more from Fort Hope with their self titled EP out now on LAB Records.
6) Bury Tomorrow
Back outside for the Monster stage we witnessed Bury Tomorrow representing the British metal scene and tearing apart the piazza with a fan-favourite Wall of Death. They played a range of songs from their backlog including ‘Lionheart’ and ‘Sceptres’ from their 2012 album The Union of Crowns alongside newer releases from Runes.
Bringing in some Japanese electro-metal we saw another packed stage for Crossfaith. Staying true to the lyrics of ‘Jägerbomb’ they showed us how it’s done, drinking straight from the bottle before climbing into the crowd for an incredibly energetic performance. This is a definitely live show not to be missed if you ever get the chance.
Pop-punkers hailing from Orange County, California, Zebrahead took to the Desperados stage for another high energy performance. With an outstanding 10 studio albums to date there was an exciting mix for old and new fans alike. Posting on Facebook after the set, they said: “Slam Dunk South!! Holy crap you guys were crazy! Beyond happy with these shows! UK you are bringing the party!!!”
9) Baby Godzilla
Welcomed back with open arms to The Attic, were the four-piece hardcore metal band from Nottingham; Baby Godzilla. They have described their music as ‘general extreme noise’ and this was definitely the case for Slam Dunk. They put on one of the most entertaining sets of the festival and spent more time in the crowd and pits than on the actual stage. Climbing over security, people, tables and the bar, the band took over the Fresh Blood stage and performed crowd favourites such as, ‘Powerboat Disaster’ and ‘The Three Legged Race’. Their chaotic, energetic and talented performance was a must-see, and luckily they are making appearances up and down the country throughout the summer so don’t miss out!
10) While She Sleeps
Taking to the Monster stage with some more British metalcore, While She Sleeps drew some of the biggest pits and an outstanding amount of crowdsurfing, from both the fans and the band themselves. If you didn’t get enough from their intense set, their second full-length album Brainwashed is out now. In honour of Slam Dunk they’ve also announced a huge sale on their online merch store, so if you’re looking for some While She Sleeps attire now is your chance.
Taking to the Impericon stage again, we had the Gallows who delivered crowd favourites including ‘In the Belly of a Shark’ and ‘Orchestra of Wolves’. While they didn’t draw the biggest crowds, they delivered a high energy performance and the lesser numbers didn’t stop the crowd from moving and screaming along with Wade MacNeil, who took over lead vocals in 2011.
As the sun went down and the lights came up, headlining the Monster stage were Brighton’s metalcore giants Architects. Frontman Sam Carter seemed truly honoured by their spot and the crowds they drew, delivering a captivating performance. Thier set included some older numbers as well as more recent hits ‘Naysayer’ and ‘Broken Cross’ from their 2014 album Lost Forever // Lost Together. Taking a pause in their set they also wished a happy birthday to bassist Ali Dean, and brought a fan who had joined them from Japan onto the stage for her own birthday wishes. With no discredit to the headliners across the other stages, Architects were an incredible way to end Slam Dunk South on a high.
Don’t forget to let us know your favourite bands from Slam Dunk South on Twitter @TridentMediaUK! Finally, we’d like to say a massive thank you to Slam Dunk for another great year – we look forward to seeing you again in 2016!
All images by Bill Ahmed and Shelby Loasby for Trident Media. You can find more on our Facebook!