by Ben Adsett
SlamDunk 2017 is fast approaching. This Bank-Holiday weekend sees the award nominated, multi-location festival hit the North (Leeds), Midlands (Birmingham) and the South (Hatfield), bringing with it the likes of Enter Shikari, Against Me!, Deaf Havana, Milk Teeth, Bear Tooth, The Lion and The Wolf, and The Bronx (read our ‘SlamDunk 2017 – Band’s You Must See’ feature, here).
So to celebrate the return of one of the UK’s most loved Festivals, Ben Adsett looks back over the events 6 year history to share some of his favourite moments…
Creeper on the Fresh Blood Stage, 2016
This was the exact moment that they cemented themselves as more than just a band ‘to watch out for’ – they played to a packed Fresh Blood stage full of ‘Callous Heart’ back patches and singalongs. There are very few bands that can silence a festival crowd on a small stage and hold the audience captivated for a full set, but with a combination of mesmerizing performance and crowd pleasing set list, Creeper were one of the stand out moments of last years festival.
The Return of UK Ska-Punk
It would be a little hyperbolic to suggest that SlamDunk have been responsible for the revival of UK Ska-Punk, but it is safe to say that they have facilitated the return of some much loved acts. Who can forget 2013 and watching King Prawn’s heroic return in the rain or 2014 when Capdown dominated the Civic Hall in Birmingham in 2014. In 2015 Lightyear stole the show with a combination of a greatest hits set list and some trademark stage antics, complete with pantomime horse and a room full of unrivalled laughter. Last year this theme continued with an almost historical feel as The Beat shared the stage with a newer generation in JB Conspiracy and a packed line up. Spunge nailed it last year with the line “All your heroes are grey now” – they might be but it’s wonderful to share an afternoon with them.
Away from the big headliners and break through performances there’s a rich history of beautiful acoustic moments too. In 2014 a youthful Lion and the Wolf blew a small audience away with an unplugged set between two loud stages, his emotive songs somehow audible over the sound of Bear Tooth ripping through a set. In 2015 SlamDunk mainstay Rob Lynch played with a full band and blew an audience away with cuts from his debut release to return alone in 2016 and do the same again. In 2014 Chas Palmer Williams shared a stage with Vinnie Caruana, among others, to create an oasis of calm amongst a packed line up. These quiet moments are made all the more wonderful amongst hectic loud lineups and every year, without fail, provide a welcome moment to catch your breath.
If you have seen Heck play then you have experienced the utter chaos they create – in 2015 (under their old name, Baby Godzilla) they absolutely destroyed the Wulfrun Hall during a set that jumped between quiet acts and an explosion of movement, featuring two out of four band members loose amongst the crowd even before the conclusion of the first song. During the set they covered every inch of the room including a whole song on top of the bar much to the displeasure of the bar staff. Fear is certainly a memorable feeling – and as band members disappeared into the crowd there was a feeling much like Jaws where they would just pop out somewhere to continue the performance.
The Most Dangerous Band In The World On The Most Dangerous Surface In The World.
In 2014 Trash Talk, fresh from destroying stages all over the world, appeared in Wolverhampton, wearing Leicester City shirts on an outside stage between two venues. For thirty minutes they hyped the crowd into a frenzy of flying limbs, circle pits and stage dives on a sloped concrete surface(!). Standing at the back with the Dads there were endless moments of wincing as the audience members slammed into each other. Dangerous.
SlamDunk 2017 is happening this weekend. Visit the SlamDunk Festival website for full lineup and ticket info (note: Monday, May 29th in Hatfield is now sold out).