10 things we learned at Slam Dunk Festival 2017

Enter Shikari
Enter Shikari (Image credit: Ben Bentley)

Another May Bank Holiday, another Slam Dunk hangover. This weekend we headed to Hatfield for Slam Dunk South to catch some of the best and brightest in alternative music, while doing our best to dodge the imminent downpour. Here’s what we learned from the experience.

Sorority Noise are emo’s best kept secret

“Yuck! Emo!” you’re probably thinking, but we’re not talking about guyliner and black parades, we’re talking about a band coming from the school of Dischord Records and ‘90s Sunny Day Real Estate. Despite playing early in the day, there’s a real event atmosphere here as Cameron Boucher’s earnest and heartfelt vocals resonate with the crowd. It’s honest, passionate and a breath of fresh air in a scene often accused of lacking in genuine artistry. If there’s any justice, you’ll be seeing them on much bigger stages soon.

Milk Teeth are nice

Working shitty jobs by day and playing awesome gigs… also by day, noise-pop grunge revivalists Milk Teeth easily win over the crowd with their real-life tales. They also have a massive sign onstage reading, ‘Be Nice Or Go Away’, and their upcoming EP is called Be Nice. Which is nice.

(Image credit: Ali Horton)

Bury Tomorrow never stop repping

“We are stood as a metal band on the main stage – holy shit!” yells Bury Tomorrow frontman Dani Winter-Bates. The Southampton metalcore crew are no strangers to Slam Dunk, but are by far the heaviest band on this bill, thanking the organisers and proclaiming that our music will never die. There are circle pits.

Mike Judge is the new Matt Groening

A few years ago, bands were using The Simpsons as inspiration for their merch – everywhere you looked there was a Bart, Lisa, Apu or Moleman bootlegged into promoting punk and metal bands. But now, in 2017, it’s Mike Judge’s turn. We spotted Beavis & Butt-Head Puppy shirts, Daria shirts for Milk Teeth and Employed To Serve, and we’re 90% sure we saw someone in a King Of The Hill rip. This is a great thing.

Rob Damiani has a scary face

Amongst the vast oceans of different band tees, there was another must-have item at this year’s Slam Dunk – a cardboard mask of Rob Damiani’s face. Taken from Don Broco’s latest video for Pretty, the frontman’s terrifying hollow-eyed grin could be seen gazing back at you like a serial killer with a sweet jawline.

Caleb + Ken = fire emojis

Beartooth’s defiant, choose-life anthem Body Bag is pretty good. Body Bag with added Ken Koie? Fucking inflammatory. The Crossfaith man lends his growl to Caleb Shomo’s personal lyrics, bouncing around the stage and taking the mosh pit up to Jagerbomb-style heights.

Nostalgia levels have peaked

Whether it’s ‘90s outfits, Goldfinger pulling out hits like Open Your Eyes and Superman, the sound of Capdown playing over a PA between bands, Bowling For Soup refusing to actually retire like they promised, or Shikari celebrating ten years of Take To The Skies, there’s a lot of love for the past today.

(Image credit: Ben Bentley)

John Feldmann is bad at geography

He might have spent years fronting the successful Goldfinger, and penning/producing massive songs for a new generation of bands, but John doesn’t know where he is. “England is my favourite country, and London is my favourite city in the whole world!” he exclaims to a crowd almost 20 miles from the centre of London. Someone get that man an atlas.

You can’t stop the mosh

Despite there being a lack of metal bands at this year’s Slam Dunk, there is no shortage of pit action. From the circle pits at Milk Teeth (yes, really) to the walls of death at Bury Tomorrow, it’s a mash of flesh and sweat wherever you look. Of course, you do need to be careful. We saw one poor guy come out of Stray From The Path with blood gushing from his face… he looked surprisingly happy about the whole thing, though.

Enter Shikari should and could headline bigger festivals

Okay. Enough is enough. Enter Shikari are good enough to headline any festival you put in front of them. Massive shout out to Slam Dunk for booking them and their Take To The Skies celebratory set, but judging on tonight’s set of golden oldies mixed with killer later material, this is the kind of thing bigger stages were built for. For 90 minutes the thousands of people amassed at the main stage are bouncing and singing along with every damn word, as dry ice and a mesmerising laser show blast out into the night sky. This isn’t some hype band who have lucked into a headline position, Shikari have been at it for well over a decade and are still making some of the most interesting, exciting and (more importantly) socially vital music in the UK. They’re heading out on a UK arena tour later this year culminating in Alexandra Palace (where Slipknot played on their last run), so surely a big field isn’t far off in the future? Reading? Leeds? Download? You know it makes sense.

The 10 best Enter Shikari songs as chosen by Rou Reynolds