We came, we saw, we skanked. As the crowds descended upon Slam Dunk South for another year of punk-filled debauchery, we decided to don our finest Vans and trucker caps and head along with them. Here are the things we learned.
The new Hatfield site is great...
Because we’re filthy Metropolitan elite scum, we opted for Slam Dunk South this year. Not just because it’s closer to Louder HQ, but it’s moved to a fancy new outdoor site – and who doesn’t want to spend a Bank Holiday weekend lounging around outside? And the people behind Slammy D should be applauded for how great the new site is – for a start, it felt like a proper festival, not the gathering at a university it was years previous. The mixing of outdoor stages and marquee tents was like a mini-Download, and they managed to arrange it in such a way there was no bottlenecking or having to clamour through thousands of people to make it to the other side. Great stuff.
...But there are some teething problems
However, because of the hyperconnected digital age we’re now living in, signal was absolute dogshit. This isn’t Slam Dunk’s fault, but it led to a number of angry mutterings amongst fans who couldn’t find their friends. And perhaps even worse, the lack of signal eventually meant the card machines stopped working, and the bars resorted to cash only. As fun as a British queue is, we’d much rather watch some music.
The bars won’t bankrupt you
The good news about the bars though, is that they didn’t absolutely murder your bank balance. Considering it’s a festival with a captive audience and we’re not too far from That London, a fiver for a pint isn’t too shabby.
Loathe are going to be big
Trust us on this one. One of the first bands of the day, Merseyside mosh merchants Loathe channel the bounce of nu-metal and the aggro of hardcore into something uniquely boisterous and infectious. It might be early, but the pitters were out in full force, losing all inhibitions to a band still in their infancy but very much a part of the UK scene after a ton of touring over the past 12 months. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing a lot more of this bunch.
Goldfinger have famous friends
John Feldmann knows everybody. Everybody. So you can bet that when he plays Slam Dunk he’s bringing some mates along for the ride. Not only did Reel Big Fish’s brass section join Goldfinger onstage, but there’s MXPX’s bassist Mike Herrera, and Atreyu’s Brandon Saller on drums – who learnt the parts in just two days, Our phonebook is decidedly less impressive.
Comeback Kid still kill it
Comeback Kid have been going at this hardcore lark for 18 years, but the sheer intensity and aggression blasting out of the Impericon stage is higher than most bands can achieve in a lifetime. Rocketing through a bunch of new material including Absolute and the chest-bursting Somewhere, Somehow, it’s the mosh anthems of Broadcasting, Wake The Dead and Wasted Arrows that send this tent into a spiral of flying fists and crowdsurfers. Punk as fuck.
Creeper deserved better
Although it might feel like the Creeper train has slowed down over the past 12 months, the crowd gathered at the main stage tell a different story. Callous Heart back-patches litter the field, waiting for the new faces of goth-punk to belt out the likes of Misery and Suzanne at the top of their lungs. Unfortunately, the sound was muddier than a the final day of Glastonbury, with all nuance getting lost in the mix. It should have been a knockout win for the band, but they just scraped through on points.
Frank Carter brought the party
If you need someone to get a field of half-cut punks moving, then look no further than Frank Carter & The Rattlenakes. Standing front and centre sporting nothing but a pair of short-shorts and some trainers, the inky-fleshed loudmouth goaded the Hatfield faithful into kicking the living shit out of each other ad nauseum. Pit after pit opened up throughout the bombastic set of Juggernaut, Jackals, Lullaby and a rapturous I Hate You to close. As you’d expect from a festival set of Frank Carter, a giant circle pit around the soundstage is obligatory, but the Slipknot-inspired Jumpthefuckup left some of older contingent confused and annoyed.
Every Time I Die are one of the best bands on the planet
Headlining the Impericon stage are Every Time I Die. That sentence alone should conjure up images of the chaos on display at Slam Dunk, but the Buffalo bruisers had everything turned up to 11 for a formidable greatest hits set. It’s not the busiest crowd, considering they clash with Good Charlotte and Jimmy Eat World, but those of us who like our music a bit heavier are making our voices heard. Hero of the hour Keith Buckley spends as much time in the crowd as he does onstage, with all of Hatfield piling in for mic grabs to We’rewolf, The Coin Has A Say, The New Black and more. There’s just something about watching ETID that raises all positive forces inside your body, removing you from all the negatives surrounding you. We’d watch them every day if we could.
Slam Dunk is not a kids festival
Glance at the line-up and you might assume that Slam Dunk is a festival for the younger fan; those among us who love songs about relationships, pizza and getting wasted. And sure, there’s a lot of that going on, but take a closer look and the Fireball stage is bringing the biggest and (more importantly) most fun names in ska-punk to the UK. Goldfinger, Reel Big Fish, Capdown, Guttermouth, these aren’t household names but they have a strong, dedicated, and older audience that aren’t being catered for at other festivals. To be fair, Jimmy Eat World have been going for 25-odd years, and are almost a legacy band at this point. Wherever you look, there’s a mix of babyfaced pop-punks and old crusties with their mohawks and patch jackets, all enjoying what it means to be punk in any form. What’s better than that?