REVIEW: Slam Dunk Festival – South, Hatfield (29/05/17)

During the build up to this years Slam Dunk Festival the main things we were looking forward to here at Rebellious Noise was the incredibly stacked line up and in particular the Fireball Stage. This stacked stage alone felt like an early 2000s Pop Punk kids dream and had so much to offer, but that was only one stage and as mentioned in our Slam Dunk episode of the Queue & A each stage had it’s own line up poster, which really made each stage feel like an individual festival line up and when you realise they’re all actually one huge event it definitely gave off a “big time” feel to the festival.

As we arrived in Hatfield the atmosphere was already booming, the train journey down there was packed with people wearing band shirts with pure excitement in their faces. We decided to stop off at The Great Northern Pub before heading to the Hatfield Campus of the University of Hertfordshire and subsequently on the way back too, if you’re ever in Hatfield for Slam Dunk and are waiting for that train back or just fancy some pre drinks then be sure to hit up this lovely pub with a nice atmosphere and friendly staff.

As we arrived along college lane and saw the floods of people coming into the campus it really started to get exciting as the warm weather combined with stacked line up made for an exciting atmosphere. The first piece of business was to check out Fenix TX open the Fireball Stage, with a great sound and a kick full of energy the Texas Pop Punk boys got the crowd going.

We spent some time roaming the festival site to check out the food on offer, get our bearings with the other stages and take in the atmosphere whilst filming an episode of the Queue & A. The layout for the stages was actually really well done, with not much of a walk between each of them which was even more impressive when you realised that no sound was leaking in from nearby stages, therefore each area did feel like it’s own concert without an awkward background sound of another stage to hinder the band that you were watching.

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One big thing that you would have noticed within the first minute of walking around the festival site was the ever increasing site of Don Broco frontman Rob Damiani’s face as it was on the heads of many festival goers to re-create scenes form their latest music video ‘Pretty’ in which there is some gruesome face swapping going on. The entire festival was flooded with these masks, which was a clever tool to direct people to the bands music video and also make people feel part of something…something gruesome, but still…something. Don Broco and Enter Shikari were some of the most anticipated acts at this years Slam Dunk Festival, all day we were hearing about both bands and how much people could not wait to see them, especially local boys Enter Shikari who hail from St Albans which is just a 20 minute car ride away.

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The general vibe was a party one, no band embodied this more than Reel Big Fish who it has to be said were probably the highlight of the entire day. Never afraid to poke fun at themselves the band made their set feel special with their own brand of comedy that made them stand out. Reel Big Fish didn’t just speed into the next song each time, but instead spent time talking to the crowd and even playing some covers such as ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘, ‘My Own Worst Enemy‘ and ‘The Impression That I Get‘ and at first insisting that they were their own huge hit songs from the 90s and then when owning up and admitting that they were by other bands but still insisting that they were by Pearl Jam, Bowling for Soup and Less Than Jake. Shortly after the band went into their actual huge hit of the 90s ‘Sell Out‘, which went down very well. The crowd really had a boost of energy when the band were on stage and all around us were groups of friends dancing and having the time of their lives.

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Another highlight from the Fireball Stage was the performance from Goldfinger, who started their set with a great performance of “Spokesman“. The band had high energy which was so intense it couldn’t be contained to just the stage when John Feldmann decided to get in the crowd himself. The band has gone through significant line up changes in recent years and that can sometimes take away from an experience but this touring version of Goldfinger featured a “Supergroup” type line up with Mike Herrera of MxPx on Bass, Philip Sneed of Story of the Year on Guitar and Cyrus Bolooki of New Found Glory on Drums. Feldmann dedicated the song “Superman” to video game lovers in reference to the song featuring on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.

Zebrahead’s vocalist Ali Tabatabee rocked a Manchester United Away shirt with “Manchester” on the back throughout their performance which was a nice touch as a homage to those effected by the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester. With the attack still fresh in people’s heads it was reassuring to see the great presence of police and security on site to keep everyone at bay. The festival goers were in high spirits and didn’t seem bothered by armed police, it felt like a modern day “Blitz Spirit”.

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Back to the Zebrahead performance though, the band put on an amazing show throughout and were constantly engaging the crowd. The band even created a sea of a constant flow of crowd surfers and then during ‘Hello Tomorrow‘ sent an inflatable boat with a man inside to go across the crowd to the sound desk and back (both of which were incredible visuals and featured in our Queue & A video). Zebrahead also brought out Reel Big Fish’s brass section to help them out on their song ‘Anthem‘ which got a huge response including a pretty large circle pit. There was also a period where at least 25 footballs were flying through the air during their set, which also happened during the Goldfinger set, I have no idea where they appeared from though!

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A band that I was interested to see were Cute Is What We Aim For, a band that had experienced so much hype and coverage between 2006-2008 but seemingly disappeared shortly after. Despite that, they were a band that I never really paid much attention to even though plenty of friends had. I really did enjoy their performance on the Monster Energy Stage and it was a refreshing down to earth one that really made me connect with the band, lead singer Shaant Hacikyan explained his gratitude to the fans for not forgetting them having seemingly gone through a difficult period after the bands early success and the turmoil it created. You could tell that this tour really felt like a homecoming for them and their fans, with quite a few special moments in for good measure.

Over on the Jagermeister Stage we saw Japanese Metal heavyweights Crossfaith put on an amazing show as well. There’s a great clip in our feature of the crowd jumping and a girl passing by who starts jumping herself that really demonstrates the infectious energy Crossfaith were bringing to Slam Dunk. The band brought a welcomed harder edge and so many people were bouncing and moshing in the pit throughout their entire set. Plenty of people that we spoke to had said that Crossfaith were a highlight of their time at the festival and it’s really no surprise as the band just leave you with such a lasting impression from their performance.

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Some of the food at Slam Dunk really deserves a shout out too, the pricing was generally decent for festival food and the quality was up there too. I got a tasty pepperoni pizza from the Pizza Bus for just £6.50 and could not stop telling people about it (as the Queue & A special shows)
I also had an “Italian hot dog” which was covered in a rich tomato based sauce and cheese as well as “Italian fries” covered in herbs and cheese in the guest area. I’m not sure if they were available in the main area too but either way, they deserve a shout out!

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Another great thing was the easy access to a cloakroom as too often cloakrooms are far away, poorly staffed or don’t even exist at events. It may be a minor thing for some people but it was really refreshing to have somewhere so easily accessible to drop off our stuff especially as the weather was quite warm and pretty humid. The hot and sticky weather meant that even when it did begin to rain it was fine to wear a T-shirt but when it got too much it was not hard to grab your jacket. Plus, there was a bar right near the cloakroom so it made for a perfect pit stop before heading back to your preferred stage.

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There were plenty of good bands on show in Hatfield but these are just some of our highlights. We would highly recommend going next year if you are a fan of day festivals, it’s a great opportunity to see tons of awesome bands on every stage and with an environment and atmosphere like this one it really is worth putting a day into.

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Reunions, Finales and Debuts all set for Slam Dunk 2017 with latest line up

If you thought the reasons to not miss Slam Dunk Festival 2017 weren’t already piling up then pay attention because it’s about to sway further in that direction. The Slam Dunk crew have announced that joining the already special line up of anniversary performances from Enter Shikari and debut Slam Dunk performances from Bowling For Soup are Essex rockers We Are The Ocean who have played the most Slam Dunk stages in history and will be playing them once more as some of their final ever shows, Deaf Havana have also been added to this years line up and will see their return to the Slam Dunk events for the first time in 4 years.

Frank Iero and the Patience will be performing this year alongside fellow debut ‘Slam Dunkers’  Arizona boys The Maine, Metalcore legends Stray From The Path and US Indie rockers Sorority Noise to really give a fresh mix up to this years extensive and board line up. These announcements come after the organisers recently let festival goers know that Zebrahead will be making their 4th appearance at Slam Dunk, this time on the Fireball UK stage and the huge news that emo legends Madina Lake will be returning to the UK for a reunion tour that includes all three Slam Dunk dates.

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 on sale right now and are available here, be quick though because we can’t see them staying that way for long after these recent line up announcements.

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Bowling for Soup, Don Broco, Reel Big Fish and more announced for Slam Dunk Festival

The team behind Slam Dunk Festival seem to be pulling out all the stops with some big names being added to the line up thick and fast. After already confirming that Enter Shikari will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut album ‘Take to the Skies‘ at this years multi venue event, the festival have now announced that legendary pop punk icons Bowling for Soup have been added to the bill for the first time in Slam Dunk history.

But it doesn’t stop there as organisers have also confirmed Don Broco with their only UK Festival appearance of the year whilst Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish will be back on a Slam Dunk stage for the first time in 6 years. Cute Is What We Aim For and We The Kings are also part of this first wave of announcements.

Slam Dunk Festival 2017 will be a big one and is looking like it may even get bigger with future announcements expected in the new year. The festival 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 on sale from 9am on Friday 11th November here.

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Enter Shikari to headline Slam Dunk Festival

Enter Shikari have today been confirmed as the headliners for Slam Dunk Festival 2017, where they will be celebrating the ten-year anniversary of their landmark debut album Take To The Skies.

The festival will be showing signs of it’s continual growth as it has done in previous years and now in it’s 11th year with bigger venues as the multi locational festival will take place in Birmingham at the NEC on May 27th, Leeds at the First Direct Arena on May 28th, and Hatfield at The Forum on May 29th.

After unveiling their surprise new single Hoodwinker last month, the band said they are starting work on what they say will be a ‘new era’ and their ‘best album yet.’ whilst celebrating their first major breakout album with these special festival dates. The band have DJ’d Slam Dunk twice, and frontman Rou Reynolds said that it will be amazing to finally play it properly.

This is the first time the band are ever playing the festival, and festival director Ben Ray said that he is happy to welcome the band, and that it’s great to have another headliner from the UK, which shows how well British Rock music is doing.

Slam Dunk Festival 2017 is already shaping up to be a big one and certainly one that you do not want to miss, taking place across multiple venues throughout May. Tickets are on sale from 9am on Friday 11th November here.

REVIEW: SLAMDUNK FESTIVAL – NORTH, LEEDS (23/5/15)

This year’s SlamDunk was definitely going to be unforgettable, marking the 10th anniversary of the festival, SlamDunk was determined to make this the biggest and best festival yet. I headed over to Leeds to get involved.

Last year SlamDunk North was held in Leeds University, this year it upgraded to being spread out across the centre of Leeds, main stage was located in Millennium Square with a capacity of 8000 whilst other stages were found in the O2, Leeds Beckett University, carparks and backrooms of bars.

The first thing I headed to was the Neck Deep signing at the Kerrang! tent, I was the first in the queue but I was just the start of a line of hundreds of people. It was the only signing I was able to attend as all the other clashed with different sets I wanted to go to..

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The first band on the main stage was Set It Off and they certainly weren’t short of energy. After recently kicking Austin (Bassist) out of the band I felt like SIO were really trying to prove their success to the crowd, although the crowd was small and quiet it didn’t stop Cody (vocals) from getting them moving. They did an unusual cover of Ariana Grande’s ‘Problem’ and their single Why Worry seemed to be the most well-known song within the crowd.

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Cody jumped off the stage a couple of times to come right up to the barrier, he even managed to walk on top of the crowd for a while (until he fell). Overall it was a nice start to the day and showed how much potential the rest of the day could have.

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After SIO, I made my way to the MacBeth stage where Knuckle Puck were playing, a considerable smaller stage but there was definitely a lot more fans crammed into a small carpark. A lot more people singing back to Knuckle Puck and it felt like SlamDunk was actually kicking off now. Personally No Good made the entire set for me, the way the crowd reacted to this song was different to all the rest and it really got me excited for the rest of the day. Even people at the back started moshing around to it. Neck Deep are close friends of Knuckle Puck and Ben Barlow did guest vocals on Your Back Porch.

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Beartooth started not long after Knuckle Puck ended so I headed over to the o2 Academy, but with a fairly long queue to get in I didn’t think I’d be able to see all their set. Luckily I got in just as they started, after I saw Beartooth on Thursday night in Carlisle (Check out my review of it here) they were definitely one of the bands I most looking forward to seeing- and they didn’t disappoint. With the biggest crowd I’d seen so far and mosh pits starting all over the room they were certainly entertaining the crowd.

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Neck Deep were next on the main stage and I first saw them live at SlamDunk 2014 so I knew I had to see them play the main stage this year. Following the release of their newest single ‘Can’t Kick Up The Roots’ it seemed that many people were hoping to see this live. Neck Deep had the biggest crowd by far and people were singing back louder than ever. When they began playing A Part Of Me the atmosphere changed from being one of the most brutal crowds I’ve experienced to the most relaxed (and even emotional) crowd, people were singing back louder than ever and it was a song that everyone just experiences and appreciates for its simplicity. Laura Whiteside even made an appearance. They never fail to impress a crowd.

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I hung around at the main stage for Lower Than Atlantis. They undoubtedly had a huge following there for them and their set was exciting and really enjoyable to watch. Mike (vocals) took the time out to say that the band really appreciated the amount of support they received after they released their self-titled album as it was a make-or-break point for the future of LTA. The most moving part of the set was when the band left Mike to do Another Sad Song, this was a highlight for me as it is a personal favourite of theirs.

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Moose Blood was held at the smallest stage but it was completely packed out, and totally worth standing around in a room that felt about 100 degrees (not even exaggerating). Moose Blood was guaranteed to be one of the roughest, craziest shows of the day. The set felt more intimate than the others from the day and was definitely one of the most enjoyable. There was no barrier at the stage and it added to the intimacy and Eddy (vocals) even sustained a nose injury after a fan crowdsurfed straight into the mic. Overall Moose Blood are a must-see band and I’m glad I got to see them at SD.

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The last set I went to was The Wonder Years who headlined the MacBeth stage, and it was the best end to one of the best days. The most ‘tame’ crowd by far but by far the best band I saw. Soupy (vocals) was inspiring the crowd throughout the set and they played 15 songs from various albums. They ended the set by announcing they were working on new material and they’d be back soon, I’ll definitely try and head to the next show they do in the UK.

SlamDunk festival is one of the best day-festivals in the UK, the lineup never disappoints and bands from all over the world are attracted. Many of the acts are even friends from touring or writing together so it feels really- connected. I’m already excited for SDF16!

REVIEW: Beartooth – The Brickyard, Carlisle (21/05/15)

In the run up to this year’s Slam Dunk festival, Beartooth headed out across the UK to do a few warmup shows. It’s unusual for a band with any sort of recognition to come to Carlisle so when I found out Beartooth would be headlining it was essential for me to go. Supported by Dead Harts and The Color Morale (both of which are also playing Slam Dunk) it was definitely going to be one of The Brickyard’s most memorable nights.

Kicking off the night was Dead Harts from Sheffield. Although the room was almost empty it didn’t stop them trying their best to get the people who were there going, even if the crowd did seem less than enthusiastic about their set. They took an interesting approach to entertaining the room, Bax (vocals) actually walked into the crowd to sing a few songs in an attempt to encourage mosh pits and circle pits throughout every song. Overall the crowd made it difficult for Dead Harts to put on a proper show but they brought a lot of energy to the stage nonetheless.

As the night progressed the room began to slowly full up, but it was still only about half full by the time The Color Morale hit the stage. There was a much more positive response to their set and it finally seemed like the crowd were getting warmed up. Garret (vocals) made a special effort in between songs to interact with the crowd in an almost inspirational way, demonstrating how music pulls people together and creates communities by asking the people who have been influenced by music to raise their hand – this obviously sparked a positive reaction from the crowd. People seemed to be a lot more engaged to The Color Morale’s set and there seemed to be considerable more people who were singing along. It was definitely a good job they were there to warm the crowd up.

Finally it was Beartooth’s time on the stage, although it was a rather short set and they didn’t include an encore they certainly made the most of the time they had. The gig didn’t sell out but the turnout was still impressive for a metalcore band at The Brickyard. The majority of the songs were off their debut album Disgusting and they started off with ‘Relapsing’ and made their way through some of the most popular songs like ‘The Lines’ and ‘Beaten in Lips’– the energy was electric and the room was taken over by mosh pits- there was even a couple of crowd surfers. What seemed to be the crowd’s favourite song was ‘Body Bag’ which they played last. Crowd participation was also really important to Beartooth and they thanked the crowd for allowing them to do a tour across the UK. It was nice to see a band being appreciated in such a small city in (what seems like) an unknown part of England but it’s also nice being appreciated by the band themselves. There are enough good bands that play at Carlisle and if we’re lucky, other bands might follow in Beartooth’s footsteps. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of Beartooth and they’ll head back this way soon.