A different kind of festival, Slam Dunk tours the country, with the main show gracing three places, and a duo of smaller touring events also happening elsewhere along the way. Known as the biggest touring punk festival in the UK, the event draws notoriety and praise and this year boasted quite a line-up. The acts ranged from headliners All American Rejects to lesser known Modern Baseball to DJ Yoda.
Taking place in Wolverhampton City Centre across seven live stages Slam Dunk ’14 was a sizeable event, with several roads shut off, 45 local and international artists performing, stalls selling the freshest apparel & merchandise and a vast collection of eateries and bars on-site.
The excitement in the air was palpable, with car parks full all over the city, and kids flooding the streets. Immediately after gaining entry audience members rushed to their places at the stages in anticipation of the first bands gracing them.
With so many bands playing, here are named but a few, just the stand outs. The first band up on the main stage was Blitz Kids, who are a young band, but massive up and comers and are supported by the massive and forceful Red Bull Records. With their debut album out earlier this year, and a low billing you would have expected a mellow but intrigued crowd. Instead? The main hall was packed! Easily one of the most popular shows of the entire day. And the crowd were not just bemused by standers- they were fans, seemingly die hard. Everyone was so into the show it seemed to draw people in from outside- a “what am I missing in there?” kind of scenario. The crowd knew the songs, knew the words, and loved the guys. With a cool alternative rock sound Blitz Kids have a wonderful presence on stage, they were a joy to behold. And throughout the day it was difficult not to notice the guys (who were lovely) were there supporting other bands, bobbing their heads along in the audience’s.
The fourth band to hit the ‘Monster Energy’ stage, which was a small high platform outside, were Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! Chunk are a very rare thing, a French punk band. Having fled their homeland of France due to the general lack of interest in rock over there, Chunk now have a solid following in the US and the UK is suitably following along. They came with an energy and a level of fun that before them was lacking, they are rather bipolar with their contrasting fun jokey bounces to their power stance-screamo moments, but it sure keeps them interesting. Their set featured their popular cover of Smash Mouth‘s ‘All Star’ which got the crowd pumping, it’s definitely set to become the track of the summer.
Rather unknown in the UK, American alternative hard-core band Crown The Empire were up straight after Chunk! and music and performance-wise they couldn’t have differed further. CTE are raw power, strength, drama and angst on stage. The six talented and good looking guys equal strength in numbers, and hold a camaraderie that is often missing from modern-day bands, they were a single unit on stage instead of six individuals. With two vocalists it’s hard to know who to watch but each member had their moment in the spotlight. And with an eager crowd eating them up, Crown look to have already build a massive fan base, and it is doubtless that their success can only continue.
The show of the day goes to the northern new comers Marmozets. In the smallest room of the day the show was intimate to say the least. Anyone that was watching keenly would have noticed upon donning their weapons (aka instruments) and before starting their set the band members each exchanged a kiss with front-woman Becca, the band have said that they are a family that have grown up together, (the band members being three MacIntyre siblings and two Bottomley siblings that formed the band at school) and you can see that on stage, they are supportive of each other and enjoy their music and performing. This band have such a unique sound, it’s got the heavy rowdy riffs of any audacious metal outfit, the speedy drums of old school punk and the super hardcore vocals that are purely Becca. Marmozets are gaining momentum, ready to explode. The two popular releases ‘Move, Shake, Hide’ and ‘Why Do You Hate Me’ were unquestionably the stars of the set- aside from the band members themselves, although their set in its entirety was received with open arms by the three hundred and something strong crowd.
Following Marmozets on the Cheer Up (aka Civic Bar) stage were Feed The Rhino: and the name says it all. This band are one collective Rhinoceros, that comes out at you hungry! They are poised and ready to attack. Barely touching the stage through their entire set, vocalist Lee was all over the place, in the middle of the crowd, creating his own one man mosh-pit, clambering on the massive amps, balancing on railings and even stalking the bar! Going in as someone unfamiliar with FDR, and with the madness of the show- to be honest you barely hear the music, but with the intensity of the show staying with you for days after, you go away and listen to their shit and become a fan. I’d pay to see these guys again, and I recommend you do too if you get the chance.
The Penultimate band on the Civic Hall Main Stage was Mallory Knox, with crowds filling the room both downstairs in the public area and upstairs in the band/press area Mallory Knox had hordes of eager fans ready and waiting for their set. With an emotional and chilled sound, MK created an atmosphere of real intimacy in the massive concert hall, and everyone present felt it. Moving, unassuming and natural Mallory Knox were a great addition to the line-up, even though Slam Dunk is a punk festival this alt-rock band were more than welcomed.
So finally head-liner time! And believe it or not, All American Rejects are actually a rock band! With their commercial success and fun videos you may have gone into their set expecting audience participation, smiling faces and a cute performance. But happily, that is not what occurred. Tyler is a front-man, a rocking front-man, able to stand shoulder to shoulder with even the likes of Axl Rose- due to his crazy and kooky performance. At no point however, did he steal all of the attention, as the other musicians are super talented and each of them individually had such an epic presence. Similarly to Mallory Knox, AAR had the private balconies over-flowing with bands who’d played earlier in the day watching and learning from the days head-liners, Tyler throwing up props to a delighted Marmozets for their epic performance. With a set full of sing along favourites, The Rejects were pure fun, energy and delight and they ended the day with a joyful pinache.
All American Rejects
Tottering home in the eerily quiet Wolverhampton early hours, a spectacular was day was had by all. And the obsession and anticipation of next years event begins…