It’s not often a festival captures a specific atmosphere, timeframe or niche so perfectly unless it’s accidentally stumbled upon during a time when a scene seems to be naturally growing anyway. But Slam Dunk have put together a great line up for one of their stages this year that will be like a snapshot into one of the most beloved alternative scenes and a golden age for the bands in it. The line up is definitely a nostalgia fuelled one and that’s why we love it, but that doesn’t mean that the bands feel out of place at the festival either, they just fit so perfectly on this specific stage together that it’s created something quite exciting.
The bands chosen for the Fireball Stage are for some the main attraction to the event, capturing a time where Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was the greatest game to invite friends over for, P-Rock still had a channel on Sky and the last time our fringes went up with strong gel before they swept to the side of our faces and then disappeared altogether. The stage even has it’s own host with MC Lars guiding the Pop Punk kids through the entertainment.
Bowling for Soup
Headlining the stage are Pop Punk legends Bowling for Soup, which could have been so different after the
band had initially performed a UK Farewell Tour in 2013 stating that personal and financial issues had meant that touring the UK was not as viable anymore. But after a festival appearance in 2014 the band announced they were coming back to the UK for a tour in 2015 because they missed it so much. The bands “Drunk Enough To Dance” was a huge hit in the British Pop Punk scene with hits such as “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” and “Emily” that joined the already popular lead single “The Bitch Song” from their previous album on the UK alternative music channel playlists. The band enjoyed more success in the UK in the years to follow with “Almost“, “1985” and “High School Never Ends“.
Less Than Jake
One of the pioneers of the Ska Punk scene will be taking to the stage this weekend too with their classic upbeat tunes. “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” is one of the most popular songs played by Pop Punk DJs at Alternative clubs in the UK and always gets the crowd going. Having been released all the way back in 1998 the song still helps gain LTJ fans through the younger generations as well as their classic “The Science of Selling Yourself Short” which was apparently a last minute addition to their 2003 release “Anthem“. The band have always had a special connection with the UK and in particular with the legendary London Astoria in Tottenham Court Road, a now demolished legendary venue that the band felt like they were attending a “home-coming” at whenever they played to their London faithful there. The band released a live album of a live performance at the London venue titled “Live from Astoria” in 2016, 15 years after it had been recorded.
Reel Big Fish
Another big name from the Ska Punk scene to join them is Reel Big Fish. The Californian band also made it big at the tail end of the 90s with their huge hit “Sell Out” . The appeared in the 1998 film BASEketball performing in the stands to hype up the crowd with their song “Beer“. Another huge success for RBF came with their brilliant cover of “Take On Me“, which is one of the best songs to shout out of tune with your buddies as you try not to spill the beer you’ve just paid too much for in the club. The band co-headlined a UK Tour with Less Than Jake in 2014 which saw the two Ska Punk icons team up with Zebrahead just like they will on an even more stacked line up this weekend.
One of my favourites on this years Slam Dunk line up has got to be Zebrahead. They are a band that perfectly blend genres such as Pop Punk with Rap and even hints of a heavier and almost Metal like feel with songs like “Falling Apart“, a song featured on the original WWE Smackdown! vs. Raw video game in 2004 along with another classic of theirs “Alone“. The band does have a more lighthearted side though with Pop Punk classics such as “Anthem” which comes from their first album with Matty Lewis, who brought his own unique style to the band but could still bust out the stuff originally performed by Justin Mauriello such as “Playmate of the Year“, “Hello Tomorrow” and “Rescue Me“. The first of those three is definitely something you will enjoy live if you are a fan of the bands cheeky and fun style. The constant in the band has been Ali Tabatabaee, who has brought a diverse Rap style to the group that blends perfectly with the traditional Pop Punk sound they do so well. This is one band where the two vocalists compliment each other perfectly.
You know when I mentioned Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater? Well this next band will take you back to sitting on your bedroom floor eating too many Skittles and trying to pull off those awesome combos. Goldfinger are most known for their tracks “Superman” which featured on the first THPS and “Spokesman” which featured on THPS4. I can still hear the board scraping and the timer counting down when I hear these songs to this day. The band also released a well known cover of “99 Red Balloons” that really gets a party going, the cover was featured in “Eurotrip” and “Another Teen Movie“, two films that really stick with Pop Punk fans of that generation.
Another Ska Punk band set to take on the Fireball Stage are Mad Caddies. The band’s most popular songs “State of Mind” and “Backyard” come from their 2007 album “Keep It Going” and really capture their reggae influence. The pacing of most Mad Caddies songs are quite different to the other bands that will feature on the Fireball Stage, but the tempo change will not signal a change in quality with songs that send out infectious grooves and heartfelt lyrics. The band that was formed all the way back in 1995 have only got better and better as time has gone on.
One theme throughout this list is the presence of amazing cover songs and The Ataris may have one of the best with an amazing Pop Punk rendition of the 1984 Don Henley classic “The Boys of Summer“. The famed cover came from the bands 2003 album “So Long, Astoria” which also featured successful singles “In This Diary” and “The Saddest Song“. The band also had one of their songs featured on the Spider-Man 2 Soundtrack in 2004 with “The Night The Lights Went Out In NYC“.
We come to our final band on the Fireball Stage this year, Fenix TX. The Texas hailing band are one that put their stamp on the early 2000s Skate culture. Their classic “Threesome” was a success in the UK and is a song that instantly takes many back to the early 2000s when they hear it. Break ups and side projects have meant that the band has had three different spells of performing together, with the most recent starting with their 2009 return. The band originally got recognition after touring with Blink-182 in 1999. The band also had a hit with “All My Fault” which featured Mark Hoppus prominently in the music video.
Slam Dunk Festival 2017 will take place throughout May starting with the 27th in Birmingham at the NEC, 28th in Leeds at the First Direct Arena, and 29th in Hatfield at The Forum, tickets are available for the Midlands event here and the full line up over 8 stages is in the image below.