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Relive The Best Moments From Slam Dunk Festival 2019
16 June 2019
Our recap and highlights of this years Slam Dunk Festival, from the Hatfield site.
As the dust settles on another fantastic year of Slam Dunk Festival, read our review of the sets we managed to see and who we loved the most. Who else should we have seen? Let us know!
The rain started to descend as Jeremy, Nick, Clayton, Elliot and Tyler stepped out onto the Dickies stage, but nothing could dampen our spirits as we watched one of the standout performances of the day. Touché Amoré have become a favourite in the hardcore scene over the years of relentless touring and hard work, to firmly place themselves at the top of their game.
Their set was filled with the raw energy and passion that Touché have become renowned for and sparked everything into life immediately with Flowers And You, followed by the haunting beautiful New Halloween. As the rain poured the energy from the crowd seemed to grow with every song as we were treated to all the classics from Parting the Sea, Stage Four and Is Survived By, with our personal favourite Rapture being a highlight.
Touché concluded their mesmerising set, surprising us with the unplanned Honest Sleep from their debut record …To The Beat of a Dead Horse which capped off a stellar performance from a band that thrives off the energy between them and crowd and devoting every ounce of sweat to their performance. We walked away from this one in complete awe of what we had just witnessed, one of those sets that makes you go home and put on the bands discography to relive those songs.
One of the surprise packages for us at Slam Dunk Festival this year was Tigers Jaw. We are huge fans of the band from Scranton, Pennsylvania and had never seen them live before so we were excited by the prospect, and they didn’t disappoint as we were treated to another of our favourite performances from the day.
Having gone through a few line up changes and a hiatus during their time we’re glad that Tigers Jaw persevered with their journey as a band, now lead by Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh, who’s vocals go together better than a 99 flake on a sweltering summers day.
With an 11 song emo-charged set packed with our favourites such as June, Guardian and Hum from self-titled, Belongs To The Dead, Charmer and their latest record, the brilliant spin. Finishing off with Window and its mighty chorus, “When the blood runs thick, be a tourniquet”, this was a performance that had us walking away with big smiles on our faces and the immediate urge to see Tigers Jaw perform live again.
Tiny Moving Parts
It takes an incredibly special guitarist to make you question reality when you see them live. Luckily for us (and the Slam Dunk crowd), Dylan Matthiesen is one such guitarist. Along with his cousins, William and Matthew Chevalier, the Minnesotan natives form Tiny Moving Parts who treated us to a blistering set of their brand of mathy mid-western emo.
Is Dylan really human? That’s the question we were left asking after witnessing the man simultaneously sing, tap without missing a note, and dance around like a man possessed. This incredible multi-tasking coupled with his insane technical ability shouldn’t be humanly possible and it blew us and our minds entirely back. A smile stretched across my cheeks throughout the entirety of their set, such was the infectious passion and energy the band oozed.
Particular highlights for us were ‘For The Sake Of Brevity’, which the band initially released way back in 2011 but re-recorded and re-released at the beginning of this year, and ‘Caution’, the lead single from their latest album ‘Swell’ (2018). This set was the first time we experienced Tiny Moving Parts in the flesh and it left us wanting more, more, more. We can’t wait ‘til they’re back in the UK later this year with Microwave.
Hailing from the hotbed of musical talent that is Atlanta, Georgia, Microwave are a band who’s hard work and all killer, no filler back catalogue of tracks are deserving of much more recognition. Microwave were first brought to our attention when we caught them supporting Boston Manor at the Electric Ballroom back in 2018. Since then, they have become one of our favourite bands thanks to the strength of their albums Stovall and Much Love and tracks such as ‘Vomit’ and ‘Thinking Of You’.
We, and a tent full of anticipating fans, eagerly awaited for the lads to kick off. Playing immediately after the brutal metalcore of Employed To Serve, their undefinable mix of alternative rock, post-hardcore and emo acted as delightful palate cleanser. Particular highlights were ‘But Not Often’ with fans deafeningly singing back the ‘I’ve been wasting all my time’, and set closer Vomit, which has an intense screaming crescendo.
Like Tiny Moving Parts, Microwave left us craving another hit and we can’t wait till they’re back in Dear Albion.
I headed over to the main stage at Slam Dunk South for the first time pretty late in the day, which goes to show the breadth of talent the festival had booked across every stage. Neck Deep were the band performing, making it my second time of seeing the Welsh boys (funnily enough, the first time was at Slam Dunk a couple of years ago). Since that first experience of them 3 or 4 years ago, they have grown in my mind from unknowns to one of the front-runners in the burgeoning Pop Punk Scene . The band attracted an incredible crowd to the main stage, and as a short person, I was fortunate that Slam Dunk provided two massive screens on both sides of the main stage, giving me a clear view of the stage!
Walking onto an impressive mix of Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys are Back in Town’, merging with their own song ‘Motion Sickness’ from their most recent album, ‘The Peace and the Panic’, the band and crowd both seemed to radiate joy, feeding off each others passion. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE were singing every word back at the band, signifying how much they are a major fan favourite in this years lineup. I couldn’t help but join in with the singing, immediately bonding with the people around me. People were crowd surfing, moshing, sitting on shoulders, really testing the security in the front row.
This shared passion possessed lead singer Ben Barlow into running up and down the stage, jumping off the stage into the front row, dancing and simply having what the Festival intended in the first place, fun. Every member of the band really expressed what Pop-Punk is known for; making a gig feel like a party and, with the banter Neck Deep used in between songs, emplored the crowd to not take everything seriously. To me, that really can be therapeutic, you can forget about a lot of things in your personal life for just that single day, and really just enjoy yourself.
Neck Deep really knows how to convey an emotional connection with their fans, shown by the indication of love people have for them, expressed through the amount of people that went over to the Main Stage to see them perform.
This year, Slam Dunk Festival did something very new to their usual structure, announcing that there will be a ‘secret band’ that will be performing on both days of the festival. They gave people very little information on social media, forming a list of guesses that people contributed to. Bands like Breaking Benjamin, Jonas Brothers and Simple Creatures were to name a few, but one recurring name I kept seeing was Busted.
Revealed to me through social media, the pictures and video’s I saw really looked like they put on a show, making my excitement gradually build by the second. The thought that I would again be singing along to classics like ‘Year 3000’ and ‘Crashed the Wedding’, along with a bunch of people, really made my nostalgic energy go through the roof.
Slam Dunk South finally arrived and after seeing a few bands already, it was time for Busted. Before their set had even begun, the crowd was spilling out of the sides of the Key Club tent and should suggest to the festival organizers that Busted could possibly play a larger stage next year (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Just seeing that many people gathered in and around The Key Club Stage showed me the level of excitement people hold for Busted, and the immense influence Busted havbe in the alternative scene at British Pop-Punk festivals like Slam Dunk.
The trio came out to number two hit ‘Air Hostess’, getting the party started early, while ordering the sea of people to jump up and down, which they obeyed. Unfortunately fo me, I was stood firmly outside the tent on the outskirts of the crowd, but I can confirm that everyone was joining in, truly engaging with the acts electric presence.
Since they reformed back in 2015, they released two albums. The first, ‘Night Driver’ was a new direction away from the pop-punk of their earlier albums, incorporating electronic elements with effect laden vocals, whereas their next and latest album, ‘Half Way There’, saw them return to their brand of crowd-pleasing pop rock. During Slam Dunk, they played a mix of all the hits both old and new, much to the crowds delight. Overall, the surprise addition of Busted was relished greatly, making it a huge step for Slam Dunk towards creating a bigger and ,pre prominent festival, and also at the same time, to keep their returning customers excited about future surprises in the upcoming years.
Bullet For My Valentine
Unlike previous years, Slam Dunk had three massive headliners on at the same time; All Time Low, NOFX and Bullet For My Valentine. I felt like I owed my 18 year old self the privilege of witnessing Bullet For My Valentine wreak havoc on the Monster stage and WOW. Opening up with 2017’s ‘Don’t Need You’, it was indisputable that Bullet For My Valentine were a fan favourite. As soon as the lights dimmed, a roar of cheers echoed through the enormous tent, showing exactly why they were a headliner.
Being a fan of the band for a long time, it is safe to say that lead singer Matt Tuck’s voice ages like fine wine. The power he possesses on the studio tracks is multiplied in his live performance, not to discredit the other band members as Jason Bowld’s thunderous drum solo was definitely a sight to witness.
My highlight of the night was ‘Your Betrayal’, it shows just how in tune with each other Bullet For My Valentine have become over their decade long career. The thunderous drum intro, moulding into Michael Paget’s guitar followed by the bass and vocals really showed their chemistry, and how being on the same page makes performing live like clockwork.
Being deep inside the crowd also made me bask in the happiness that everyone possessed during the performance. Wherever I looked, someone was singing out loud, dancing along with their friends, just taking in the moment, and the amazing light show set out also made it feel like a huge party, really defining what Slam Dunk is all about.
Like every year when you leave Slam Dunk Festival, there’s always one artist who you have on repeat that you didn’t before. Bullet For My Valentine are that band for me. It really gives me a sense of joy, revisiting a lot of the older songs, as well as a lot of the new material that I didn’t even know about and was made aware in their Slam Dunk performance. They really are a band that I will always have time for and hopefully, I’ll be able to catch them again in the near future.