Slam Dunk is iconic, with its roots in punk rock it attracts an authentic crowd, both young and old that all share the same deep-rooted passion for music.
We catch Milk Teeth at 12pm. They are first up on the Dickies stage and have already managed to start a pit with infectious punk riffs and lead vocals by Becky Blomfield getting the crowd pumped. ‘Stain’ is defiantly a winner today, with a performance that reminds you why you got into this music in the first place.
We chat with Milk Teeth after their set who tell us about their tour diet, Ollie says: “We eat a lot of hummus, a lot of falafel, bread out of a bag. We always just buy the big baguettes and eat them.” Em:“In Europe they sell huge baguettes for like a euro, we will just get one of them and pound it. But tell you what, it’s very important to eat a balanced diet on tour!”
After that warm up we decide to check out what is going on, on the Key stage and are pleasantly surprised by Wallflower an upcoming indie rock group from South London with intense lyrics and great vocals. We caught up with them after. Andrew says: “I would say you could describe our sound as alt-rock.” Jon: “We are not trying to tell you what to think or force views on anyone, it’s up to interpretation, which gives people room to enjoy it.”
We are then taken aback when BUSTED appear on stage with the much loved classic hit ‘Air Hostess’ blowing the crowd away with a half hour set of throwbacks. They dropped new hits ‘Ship Wrecked In Atlantis’ and ‘Reunion’ into the set too. Scheduled on the line up as Y3K; a very clever acronym curated by the Slam Dunk organisers to surprise the festivalgoers.
Finally hitting up the main stage for the first time that day, we catch some of much loved pop rock from As It Is who have the crowd hooked on every line. They close the set with throwback ‘The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)’ having the hardcore fans close to tears.
We make our way down to the Punk in Drublic stage to find The Interrupters getting the crowd riled up with the infectious ‘She Got Arrested’. This stage is definitely not made for the faint hearted and proves Slam Dunk hasn’t sold out and is still fulfilling all our punk thirst for blood.
Following this we head down to the Impericon stage to catch something more hardcore. The legendary Cancer Bats take to the stage, who are of course bringing there A game from the get go with a smashing intro of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ which follows them ploughing into ‘Brightest Day’ sending the crowd into a frenzy. Things are already very sweaty by their third song ‘Road Sick’ an oldie from the band that has both the crowd and singer Liam Cormier jumping up and down like lunatics.
By the end of their set the crowd are left breathless and the band leave smiling. We catch the man himself Liam Cormier later on and he chats with us about his inspiration behind album six (the surprise album) Liam says: “We really re-assessed what the driving force was within us to want to still be involved in music, what is that drive that we all have to be creative? And how do you recognise that? What events in life shape that? That was the whole thing that I was kind of grappling with.”
We run back to the Key stage catching the tail end of Our Hollow Our Home, who have the tent booming with energy. ‘Wraiths’ a new one by the hardcore group has everyone hot and sweaty burning it up in the pit. If you’ve not listened to them yet you have to check them out. We chat with the band later about their new release Tobias says: “I lost my father to lung cancer in 2016 and the whole album is an amalgamation of learning to deal with that. I documented it by writing the record and the band helped me through that.
A lot of people have said the record has really helped them. Although it is heavy and it is sad, it’s also something positive coming out of something very negative and grief is something everyone will deal with one way or another throughout life. So we want the album to be something that people can pick up and listen to when they feel like they don’t have anything to turn to, which is what music did for me when I was younger.”
Back on the main stage Simple Plan tore it up with an old school set, getting fans off their feet from the get go with ’I’d Do Anything’. All were well warmed up and into the summer groove by ‘Summer Paradise’ with beach balls scattering the skies. Proving Simple Plan still got it!
Back at Dickies we caught HelloGoodbye keeping up the nostalgia. They still have a very unique funky sound and singer Forest Kline was made for the stage. We particularly like their new song ‘S’Only Natural’. And of course we had to stay on for the famous ‘Here In Your Arms’ which sees the crowd flinging arms and legs everywhere and singing their hearts out, bringing a smile to the bands faces.
Another surprising set on the Slam Dunk line up was from Grandson. Who brought a sleek punk/rap/electro infusion. ‘Apologize’ singer Jordan Edward Benjamin has an infectious stage presence getting the crowd kneeling down in anticipation and back to their feet with boundless enthusiasm.
Grandson are one to watch for sure.
New Found Glory are on the Main stage getting everyone riled up with a classic slice of pop punk showing Slam Dunk’s authenticity. The set ends with the whole crowd screaming the words to ‘My Friends Over You’, proving rock is still very much a living thing.
Heading back to Dickies we caught Plain White T’s mid set proving they are back and kickin’ with a varied set of newbies and classics. Of course ‘Our Time Now’ and ‘Hey There Delilah” are still crowd pleasers. The band complains they did not jump on Simple Plan’s beach ball bandwagon! Promising a more outrageous set next time they play.
They still blow the crowd away and close the Dickies stage for the night with a bang!
Bad Religion are keeping the energy up at the Punk In Drublic stage with a long set of pure rock classics, satisfying hardcore fans needs and keeping heads bobbing. ‘Recipe For Hate’ is insane proving the bands legacy and of course their most famous number ‘Infected’ has the crowd wildly head banging and screaming the words back to them.
After their set we are still full of energy and crave some hardcore so we head to the stage for headliners Bullet For My Valentine where fans are packed in anticipating their set chanting “bullet, bullet”. They burst onto the stage with ‘Don’t Need You’ with booming guitars, bundles of energy and a smashbusting vocal from Matt Tuck. They keep this energy up and by ‘Scream, Aim, Fire’ the whole crowd is moving simultaneously and screaming at the top of their lungs, Bullet have defiantly not lost their mojo.
We get our last fill of pop rock from All Time Low. Who show they still got it with a set that has the crowd dancing and singing along to the finish. They comprised the perfect setlist with old classics like ‘Stella’ and ‘A Party Song’ and some newer ones like ‘Everything Is Fine’ and the surprise un-released ‘Getaway Green’. Fans singing along blowed the band away and they kept the energy up by getting fans on stage for ‘Time-Bomb’.
They end the night with a bang for the encore with ‘Lost in Stereo’ and ‘Dear Maria’ keeping us sweaty and smiling.
Over all Slam Dunk 2019 was a major success proving that punk rock is still very much alive and kickin’.
We are already looking forward next year.