Photo Credit: James Lomax (Slam Dunk North – 03/06/22)
Slam Dunk Festival is always a great day out, and over the last few years they’ve had it tough, what with Covid and cancellations. They pulled off a magnificent ending to last year’s very short festival season, on their delayed festival in September. This year they found they had some last-minute cancellations yet again including The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Used, Motion City Soundtrack and Spanish Love Songs. But they weren’t going to let that stop them and neither were the legions of fans and ticketholders who were descending on Hatfield on Saturday.
Unfortunately, the gates didn’t open until 11.30am and by the time fans got in and found the stage they were looking for, bands had already started playing. No better luck could be found for those who headed straight to the bars that didn’t accept cash but had technical difficulties meaning they couldn’t process cards. As if all that wasn’t enough it was raining, was the day doomed? Nah, of course not!
The first set we were able to catch was Yours Truly over on the Rock Sound stage. A small crowd of fans had gathered in front of the barriers and more were being added by the second. This band are always a joy to watch as they play with an energy that’s addictive. Vocalist Mikaila Delgado spins around the stage dancing her heart out whilst still hitting all the right notes. The audience of early birds who managed to make it to the festival for doors rejoiced in her obvious glee at being a part of Slam Dunk Festival.
The audience certainly made this Australian band feel very welcome. There were circle pits opening up, and not just during the song Circles. A highlight of the show came early on with latest single Hallucinate which has already become a fan favourite. The only way the song could have been better received is if Josh Franceschi (You Me At Six) was there to sing his part, as he is featured on this track. Delgado explained a new EP would be on the way soon before launching into Lights On and finally High Hopes.
A short set to start the day with, but it certainly highlighted the band’s potential for playing UK festivals in the future. Many festival-goers would like to see them play longer sets further up the bill, in the years to come. They certainly have what it takes. 8/10
Over on the Jägermeister Stage, Silverstein were gearing up to play, and it seemed the sun had come out for them. Slam Dunk Festival marked the first time they had returned to a UK stage since before the pandemic and was expected to be a set to remember. They came out to the sounds of We Will Rock You and then opened up with Bad Habits from their album A Beautiful Place To Drown. Immediately the crowd went crazy dancing, jumping and singing along. Throwing out the new single Bankrupt next, followed by My Heroine, Silverstein made it clear they were not there to mess around.
Shane Told’s vocal quality could be described as beautiful, as always, roaring through the music, and hitting fans hard. The rest of the band were tight and in-sync during the nine songs, both new and old. Highlights included upbeat The Afterglow, Infinite and the recent song Ultraviolet. It should be noted however that there were not really any low moments, these were simply the highest of highlights. The only downside that we could see, was not being treated to any collaboration with Beartooth, even though we knew they were wandering around out there somewhere. 9/10
Back at the Rock Sound Stage, more Australians were waiting in the wings, this time With Confidence were ready to get everyone moving. Moving Boxes to start with, as they belted out the pop-punk track followed up by Archers and Big Cat Judgement Day. Slam Dunk is known as the pop-punk festival and its bands like this with their infectious songs that prove the event worthy of that reputation. The boys delivered one of the best sets of the day. Everything from their hooks to their banter was on point, making them an act not to overlook.
At one point drummer, Joshua Brozzesi got up and came over to the mic on stage right to speak blaspheme. The cursed words in question “I think the North did it better, ” is one way to get a crowd going! Met with boos and jeers as someone on stage said; “Who let the drummer speak?” the band laughingly carried on with the set. They went through a couple more songs before they finished up their set, rather unsurprisingly, with their signature tune Voldemort. This is definitely a band that brings the sunshine with them wherever they go, perfect for festival season. 10/10
The Amity Affliction were next on the agenda, back at the Jägermeister Stage. This transpired to be a set up there in the top tier, akin to that of bands higher-up the bill. They impressed more than just their diehard fans and new fans for that matter. It wouldn’t be surprising if half the crowd were passers-by looking to get dinner at a food truck, who found themselves snared by the brilliance unfolding on stage and decided to stay.
Opening with a triple threat of Like Love, Drag the Lake and Pittsburgh. It seemed they were unstoppable; the crowd were really going all out. However, by the time they got to All Fucked Up a sense of panic filled the air and the band stopped to ask the audience to make a path for medics to get through, someone was in trouble. The set stopped there, rightly so.
After some time had passed and fans had come to terms with the fact, they had probably seen all they were going to of The Amity Affliction, the band returned to the stage. People that had started to leave came rushing back as the set finished with another few songs, the highlight of which was Coffin. 9/10
“We are here to do one thing, and one thing only. And that’s to rip your faces off with high voltage fucking rock and roll,” said Caleb Shomo at one point during his band Beartooth’s set. This was undoubtedly true as it turned out to be one of the day’s best sets. Opening with The Lines the band went straight in for the kill, Shomo literally threw himself into the performance, throughout the set which came complete with flamethrowers and CO2 cannons.
The band jump from song-to-song with massive amounts of energy dripping off of them, like the sweat down Shomo’s bare chest. Playing Devastation, Aggressive, Hatred and Body Bag one after the other gets the crowd hyped up and at one point, they were all head banging in unison. An amazing sight to behold. By the time they got to the song In Between the crowd looked a little drained, the sound of this classic spurred them to shout, scream and sing-along, bringing the energy levels back up.
For the outro to this theatrical set, they chose instrumental The Last Riff which seemed never-ending, alas it did end. And so, this heavier and more performance-led version of Beartooth we had been presented with left the stage. Leaving their fans both seemingly satisfied and dying for more all at once. 10/10
The thing about festivals is that inevitably some sets are going to be better than others, cue 3OH!3 on the Rock Sound Stage. Nostalgia fuelled fans were hyped-up and ready for their trashy heroes to walk out on stage. Already throwing up the 3OH!3 hand signs, they began dancing as soon as the intro for STARSTRUKK came in. Out came Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte wearing all white, like rejects from a Backstreet Boys video. They began singing and dancing across the stage and as much as their loyal fans in the first ten rows were singing and dancing with them, something felt missing.
The anticipation for this set had been high and it, unfortunately, fell short. They made their way through their classics before finishing on the huge hit Don’t Trust Me. It seemed a little as if the act that didn’t care what people thought of them, had now crossed over to not caring too much about what people thought of their performance. It came across a little less trashy, and a little more rubbishy, nothing like the performances of their heyday. 6/10
Normally at a show, everyone stays for the headliners. At a festival where a variety of stages mean fans have choices of who to watch or being on their feet for ten hours may prove too much, even the headliners have to fight to hold a crowd. Sum 41 closed out the Dickies Stage and they made holding a crowd look effortless. It began pre-set with a great moment when the giant devil’s head at the back of the stage was inflating and the crowd started to freak out.
The row of Marshall amps spanning the width of the stage were dripping with blood, and the stages set reminded the crowd of the heavy metal influence in Sum 41’s back catalogue. Also, it begs the question: what does the future of their music hold? Starting with Motivation, The Hell Song and Over My Head (Better Off Dead) the crowd were loving it. They went on to love it for an hour and ten mins, hearing old school hits like Fat Lip and In Too Deep, to newer songs like Out For Blood. They even had a rendition of Queen’s We Will Rock You to enjoy that rivalled the original, well almost.
The real highlight of the set proved to be Deryck Whibley’s vocals they sounded so good it was undeniable that his distinctive voice had not lost a snippet of its charm. Second to that was the pinpoint precision drumming coming from Frank Zummo high up on his platform. The band certainly delivered an excellent ending to an enjoyable day, and the teething problems of that morning were long forgotten.
Written by: Cat Wiltshire
Photo Credit: James Lomax (Slam Dunk North – 03/06/22)
Photo Gallery Featuring – Between You & Me, Meet Me @ The Altar, Hot Milk, Chunk! No Captain Chunk!, Silverstein, KennyHoopla, With Confidence, Knuckle Puck, Mod Sun, The Wonder Years, The Summer Set, Stand Atlantic, The Story So Far, Dropkick Murphys, Neck Deep and Sum 41.