Festival Reviews

Review: Slam Dunk Festival 2018

The South site for Slam Dunk Festival moved this year, settling into its new home at Hatfield Park which is only a short distance from the University of Hertfordshire where it used to be held. This new, bigger ground meant that Slam Dunk operated much like a major festival would, and allowed for even more alternative music fans to attend.  We headed down for the day to get in on the action!

Say Anything
Early on in the day, Say Anything took the Monster Energy Stage. When you want old-school emo lyrics that hit you right in your core, that make you feel that shit in your soul… I’d recommend you go watch a Say Anything set. While keeping true to their nature they gave their audience a warm welcome as they began their set. They kicked off with ‘Belt’ and then ‘Woe’ which are obvious cult classics from their 2004 record, …Is A Real Boy. This is not a band that will apologize for taking anyone down memory lane.

They did not include any tracks from their current record I Don’t Think It Is, taking the executive decision to present the audience with a more nostalgic experience. This could be considered either a good or a bad thing, depending on which way you want to view it. For longtime fans – I can only assume – it wouldn’t be a particularly huge issue as they’ve heard the new releases but the older records are the ones that they primarily connected with, whereas if you are a newer fan and have only the newer releases or you aren’t as familiar with older tracks then the set would maybe feel a little hard to follow. 

Max Bemis, still being an iconic emo frontman, closed their set with ‘Alive With The Glory Of Love’ which had a mass of arms in the air and melody of voices echoing the lyrics back.

Broadside
Broadside played the Signature Brew Stage. The American pop-punk band are in some kind of way a “buzz band” right now. They, however, have become more well-known over the years with every turn that they support and every release that they put out which is why they will no doubt become a staple in the pop-punk scene. They are gradually getting the recognition they deserve alongside a growing fan base.

Their set alongside their genre and this glorious sunny day at Slam Dunk is something that easily can easily correlate with one another. Their way of playing pop-punk really makes the sun feel even better. They have this easy listening, super-sweet vibe to them alongside their catchy lyrics are a band to check out this summer.

What this band is best known for is the track ‘Coffee Talk’, which lead singer Ollie Baxter had written about a coffee date with his girlfriend of four years. ‘Coffee Talk’ had been the closing song for their set. It had been executed with such perfection it had come to now surprise the turnout at the Signature Brew Stage. There had been a clash in terms of set times so not everyone who wanted to see them had been able to see them, but for those who had decided to go had made the right choice.

State Champs
Mid-afternoon, State Champs played the Jägermeister Stage. The delivery of their set had been filled with catchy hooks, immense energy, and charm. They are a band that have very forced their way to the forefront of to pop-punk scene and have only become renown in the last five years which, honestly, they rightfully deserve. You’ll have a hard time trying to find a band in this genre that have become an expert in creating the perfect “sing-along” choruses as adequately as State Champs have in the last five years.

Their set had contained an evenly balanced mix of tracks from both their debut record The Finer Things, sophomore record Around The World and Back and their forthcoming release Living Proof. Their set had only been a mere thirty-five minutes but they made use of that time wisely. Tracks such as ‘All You Are Is History’, ‘Simple Existence’ and ‘Easy Enough’ were the perfect way to give the crowd something to feed off of.

To really kick their set off the ground and get the party started they played ‘Elevated’, and ‘Secrets’. If you are a State Champs fan, you’ll probably be able to notice that this band has flourished and progressed as time has gone on. The singles that have been released thus far from their upcoming record Living Proof have set them up for having THE pop-punk album of the year. State Champs have not made a wrong move, yet.

Sleeping With Sirens
Sleeping with Sirens then took to the Jägermeister Stage, which for some hardcore fans had been somewhat of a flashback for them. It was nothing less of an explosive set from beginning to end. Kellin Quinn, Sleeping With Sirens’ frontman, has not changed one bit since his band first stepped on to the rock scene. It felt like a trip down memory lane; they hit out with tracks like ‘If You Can’t Hang’ (a 2011 oldie) and ‘Congratulations’ (a 2013 classic).

Quinn can captivate an audience like no other and when it came to playing material from their most recent record Gossip – which, in hindsight, didn’t perform as well – the band delivered the two tracks with just as much energy and passion from when the set started even though the record had not been had not been as popular as their prior releases had been.

This had made not even made the slightest ounce of difference to their performance as they are seasoned professionals and know their fans, how to keep them interested and give them a show that they never forget. Their performance at Slam Dunk will certainly not be forgotten.

Crown The Empire
Crown The Empire bounced on to the Impericon Stage with the most unexpected aura. The band are known for their for the creative flair when inciting an audience. The way in which they do it, however, has changed – and not in a bad way. They’ve developed more of a rap-like approach to the way that they perform and connect with the audience. It’s a very “it’s lit” kind of deal, while still being as heavy as older Crown The Empire fans remember. The vibe hasn’t so much as changed as it has evolved, and the members of the band have stayed their true and humble selves. They’re one of those bands that will grow and improve throughout every musical era that they go through.

Taking Back Sunday
Taking Back Sunday took the Monster Stage in the early evening at Slam Dunk. Their set was nothing but sheer perfection; as this penultimate band performed, their frontman Adam Lazzara had been mysterious while working the stage without declaring much until he briefly discussed the hardest time of his life. The track ‘ Better Homes And Gardens’ gave us a softer and more emotional side to Lazzara.

His stage presence gives a show to the audience that is larger than life, and it’s hard for your eyes not to follow him around the stage as his quirky movements are so incredibly endearing that you can’t help but not want to miss a single thing that he does.

He can command you to keep your eyes on him, this had been apparent while he casually waltzed across the stage while performing tracks off of their third studio record Louder Now such as ‘MakeDamnSure’ and ‘Liar (It Takes One To Know One)’. There isn’t one negative thing to say about Taking Back Sunday. They love what they do and that’s what we’ll leave you with.

Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat World were our headliners for the for the Monster Energy Stage. There had been a clash with Good Charlotte, but it wouldn’t stop Jimmy Eat World’s fans rushing over from the Jägermeister Stage to see them and get even just a glimpse of the Arizona band. They have been making music for over twenty years and through this two-decade duration, they have released nine full-length albums which in turn made this easy for them to pick what material they wanted to perform.

Jimmy Eat World are one of the best bands to come out of Mesa, Arizona. While we’re at it, we’ll give you a fun fact: in April of 2016, Apple debuted an advert to promote Apple Music. The ad had featured Taylor Swift lip syncing and dancing to Jimmy Eat World’s ‘The Middle’. This, in turn, had caused a major interest in the band and that very song rose to #32 on the iTunes Top Songs Chart, despite being originally released almost fifteen years earlier.

The song that had opened their set had been ‘Bleed American’, known as ‘Salt Sweat Sugar’ in the U.S. due to the 9/11 attacks that happened not long after the release. Their set had consisted of 19 songs which had all been performed flawlessly from beginning to end. ‘Sweetness’ and ‘Pain’ were tracks that had generated the largest reactions from the audience. A newer release ‘Love Never’ had been the pinnacle of their set. The last song of the set had been ‘The Middle’ which had brought on a frenzy that could be compared to “The Beatles Mania” (just less of a stampede). This had been a perfect end to an incredibly long day. Their set was an emotional rollercoaster in the best possible way.

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