Slam Dunk Festival – Review

On its 10th anniversary and of one successful festival after another this one had to be different, it had to be better, bigger. On previous years it was held at the Wolverhampton Civic Halls, but due to the venue being reformed it was the perfect excuse to move the festival to the NEC centre in Birmingham, which is far bigger, it was the perfect choice.

The doors opened at 13:00 and closed at 23:00, leaving more than enough time the more than 40 bands that played, and ranging from punk-pop, to old school reggae and ska to rock and heavy metal there was something there for everyone.

Moose Blood was the first band to play at the main stage with an impressive show that set the bar high for the rest of the day. It was going to be a long day on a venue with no seats, so you might as well be dancing and jumping while waiting for the headliners, Panic! At the Disco on the main stage and Of Mice And Men on the Atlas stage. Moos Blood was followed by Young Guns, who are in tour of support of their newest album Ones and Zeroes and as such performed some songs from that record, without forgetting tunes from their previous records. After seeing how the audience reacted to Mayday Parade it wasn’t hard to tell how much they like their show they seem to disappoint anyone.

One thing I would like to mention before proceeding with the review is that I was surprised at how well insulated each room was, having so many loud bands playing all at once inside the same building wouldn’t seem like a great idea, but it was, each band had its own space to play without bothering the other musicians. The sound quality over was quite good too, they did a good job, specially on the main stage where it’s very easy to either make it too loud to the point where you can’t understand a word coming from the signer’s mouth or make it too quiet to fill the arena. It was just fine. Well done organisers.

Going back to what matters, the music. One of the highlights of the day was to find that Yellowcard played their album Ocean Avenue in full on its 13th anniversary, quite impressive that after that long everyone was still dancing around and signing along. Having a violinist as a band member definitely makes them more unique and stand out a bit more from the other more traditional bands. With the two bands that followed them, Mallory Knox and New Found Glory and only about 30 minutes before each set, it was easy to miss other stages like the Atlas Stage, if you are a metal fan then that’s the place for you. With bands heavy bands like Issues the other band people had been waiting to see that night other than Panic!, Of Mice And Men.

One stage that I personally enjoyed was the Desperado Stage where I discovered how good the ska band from the late 70s The Sound is, I enjoyed so much that new discovery that when I got home I did some research on them only to find out that the lead singer, Ranking Roger, sang with The Police on their 2007 re-union tour as well as having recorded a few songs with singer/bassist Sting.

There’s the Rolling Stones and The Beatles, Elton John and Billy Joel, and more recently The White Stripes and The Black Keys. There has always been two bands that “compete” with each other and P!ATD’s rival (not exactly rival, but you know what I mean) has always been Fall Out Boy, who happened to headline the first edition of Slam Dunk back in 2006 so it makes so much sense that Brendon and co. headline on its tenth anniversary of the festival.

The show started with “Don’t threaten me with a good time”, the perfect choice to get the party started, but what can I say that hasn’t been said about Brendon’s frontman ship and vocal abilities, simply superb and very impressive to say the least. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen didn’t exactly come as a surprise as it has been a regular on their show lately, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, but I’ve got to say that after having heard so many artists cover it I was a bit sceptical, big mistake. He simply does whatever he pleases with his vocal cords, doing perfect justice to that timeless song. Seeing thousands of metal, punk and rock fans singing all together to a 41 year old song is simply amazing. And ending the show with the energetic and hard rocking “Emperor’s New Clothes” was the best choice to end the show, the only song that I missed was one of my personal favourites “Death of a Bachelor”, but I guess it makes sense not to play that song on such a festival.

After 10 years, Panic! At The Disco were the perfect band to end that long day, where many thousands of fans came together to Birmingham to listen to their favourite bands across 7 stages and enjoy a fantastic day out. Which leaves me to ask one question, who will headline next year after such a great edition?

Photos and review courtesy of Elias – https://www.flickr.com/photos/elrumo/

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