It is finally that time of year where festivals start and once again the season starts with a bang at SlamDunk 2017: Midlands. Vulture Hound writer, Ben Adsett describes some of the stand out performances from this years event…
After a swift yet thorough pat down on the way into the vast NEC, Like Pacific are taking the stage with a combination of pop punk and dabs. Dabbing aside they had the audience hooked from start to finish and were definitely a very strong start to a very strong day. Within a short walk Decade start a set which fills the room with a charismatic expansive pop punk sound which blends expansive post hardcore influence into a very accessible package.
With the rapid fire quality of these two acts The Lion and the Wolf offers a reduction in speed but with absolutely no reduction in quality. The acoustic tales of heartbreak are complemented by a stage patter full of charm. As every song develops the audience slowly increases as they gather round to quietly take in one of the country’s best singer songwriters. TLATW is a firm VH favourite and this afternoon’s performance is as good as any, the only negative is it feels too short.
In keeping with the rapid flow of bands the fourth act, Sorority Noise are mid set over on the fourth stage in ninety minutes. It is clear today is a day for getting fit, SN have the audience in awe and keep them there for the three songs that bring the set to a close. The combination of classic early emo, pop sensibilities and 90’s power pop create a unique mixture of complexity and hooks. Their live delivery is strong and it is very clear from this performance just why they are so hotly tipped at the moment.
VH’s new buds WSTR take the stage in a fittingly energetic fashion to create utter chaos from start to finish. They are relentless in throwing in hit after hit while requesting the audience to “wake up!” – it may be early in the day but this festival is now going off. On entering the room to see the Mad Caddies I am greeted by the dulcet tones of MC Lars acting as a compare and hype man for every band – he is doing a sterling job. As he concludes a rap about Moby Dick the Mad Caddies are out and hammering through songs. The pace is important when there is so much gold to get through. The crowd goes wild for what must be the best brass section in ska and the hits just keep on coming. The audience spend the latter stages of the set taking it in turns to dance and provide guest vocals, this has got to be the most fun that will be had at this festival.
Seaway have already hyped the audience into a frenzy by the time the cross site walk happens, the colour coordinated outfits are catchy to the eye and the hooks are catchy to the ears. The Gospel Youth are mind blowing – making it hard to remember what became before or directly after… There is a serious amount of talent within this band from the soaring vocals wrought with emotion to the musicianship behind which switches between delicacy and power in the blink of an eye. This may well be the making of TGY, surrounded by a crowd who were won over within the first few notes they play a set worthy of a headline slot.
Mad Caddies may have walked away with the award for ‘most fun set of the day’, if it wasn’t for The Bronx. This is a set that starts strong and builds into something immeasurable – as lead singer Matt Caughthran enters the crowd midway through it’s clear this set has mayhem written all over it. There are absolutely no negatives here, this is the perfect time for things to get wild and The Bronx are the perfect band to do so. The combination of shout along choruses, hardcore riffs, crushing drums and pure fun make this one of the highlights of SlamDunk and an early runner for the best festival moment of 2017.
Following The Bronx was always going to be a challenge for Neck Deep – they were facing an uphill battle from the moment they took the stage. However, they produced a solid set and had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands for every second. It may have lacked in anything spectacular, but maybe the high from the Gospel Youth and the Bronx was just too unbeatable.