Slam Dunk 2017

Slam Dunk 2017: The Top Picks, Reviewed

Slam Dunk Summary

The festival brought some of the biggest and best names in the alternative music world to Birmingham, Leeds and Hatfield as always this year, but the festival also named a lot of smaller bands across the lineup. Bands including PuppyToo Close To TouchCaseyDecadeLike Pacific and The Gospel Youth all featured across the weekend of day festivals, not to mention bringing out the big guns with Enter Shikari‘s 10 year anniversary celebration of their debut album, Neck DeepTonight Alive and the return of Bowling For Soup. Read on for Musicology’s picks of the weekend’s action!

Puppy (South)

Opening up the Signature Brew stage were Puppy, a band who are no strangers to fairly hefty crowds by now. The ever-growing Creeper had them out on the road through the UK and Europe this March which gained them a significant increase in fanbase size, which clearly showed in the performance this weekend. A half-hour set featuring fan favourites The Great Beyond and Arabella proved to be the winning formula as the crowd expanded hugely throughout to become arguably the biggest crowd of the stage openers. Closing the set with Entombed showed those at Slam Dunk not aware what Puppy are all about how they do things: grunge/metal hybrid tunes that pack a serious punch. [8/10]

Sorority Noise (Midlands)

After the release of their newest album, You’re Not As _____ As You Think, Sorority Noise returned to the UK to bring their brutally honest and heartfelt songs to the Signature Brew stage. Opening with No Halo and Nolsey, the Connecticut four piece wasted no time in making their presence felt with Boucher’s guitar strap breaking mid song, as he threw himself across the stage. Dirty Ickes and Art School Wannabe get the whole crowd bobbing with the occasional finger point. Slowing it down with Car, the crowd get to catch a breather before Your Soft Blood sees the band bring their set to a dramatic end. [9/10]

Milk Teeth (South)

Female-fronted grunge outfit Milk Teeth hit Slam Dunk pretty hard. Equipped with brand new song Owning Your Okayness, this was one of the last opportunities for the group to expand their fanbase before their new EP Be Nice is released in July and they didn’t disappoint. Playing through a set comprised mainly of 2016 debut album Vile Child proved popular with onlookers at the Signature Brew stage and left a resounding intensity of atmosphere when they left the stage. Very promising for a band looking like they’ll shoot for the stars very soon indeed. [8/10]

Boston Manor (Midlands)

Boston Manor have been at the forefront of UK pop punk for the past year now. A set dominant with songs from their debut LP Be Nothing proved the upgrade in stages from the Fresh Blood to the Key Club Stage this year was justifiable. The whole room filled with both old and new fans eager to witness their progression. Single Lead Feet welcomes a constant stream of crowd surfers which didn’t seem to stop throughout their set. Vocalist Henry found himself amongst the crowd along the barrier welcoming the energy. Stop Trying, Be Nothing erupts into a circle pit, stretching the whole area of the room. A set with a continuous amount of crowd energy is brought to a close with crowd favourite Laika. A packed out room and an energy pumped crowd proved that Boston Manor are changing the face of pop punk, they are definitely one to watch. [9/10]

Turnover (Midlands)

The ringing of ambient guitars welcomed Virginia dream pop outfit Turnover to the Signature Brew stage; a more conserved band with slightly less energy than other bands on the line up can often mean less crowd interaction. Opening with Cutting My Fingers Off however saw quite the opposite with vocalist Austin being drowned out by the crowd singing back. Crowd pleasers New Scream and Dizzy on the Comedown was welcomed by this continuation of crowd participation and a steady amount of movement. Closing on Take My Head saw an end to a calm yet well performed set by the dreamy four piece. [8/10]

With Confidence (South)

Aussie pop punkers With Confidence have only been over to the UK to perform a handful of times, but this occasion marked their upgrade from 2016’s Fresh Blood stage to the Key Club stage – a huge size increase. Along with this bigger show came more songs from their 2016 debut album Better Weather which only hit shelves in June 2016 since they last played the festival. Throughout the set, guitarist Luke Rockets made reference to a member of security who was dancing and singing along throughout which sums the set up fantastically: a talented young band with fantastically catchy songs having a lot of fun halfway round the world from home. [8/10]

Counterfeit (South)

Battling against Turnover, With Confidence and Beartooth is not an easy thing to do for any band, espacially one that only released their debut album in mid-March and to be fair the crowd they pulled was by no means small. Not put off by the half-full Impericon stage, the band went absolutely all-out for the crowd who seemed up for anything. The pure showman ability of frontman Jamie Campbell Bower was evident throughout, but was put out on display for all to see when he made his first journey out into the crowd where he stood with his guitar and mic stand in the circle pit, with his brother on his shoulders, also playing. Fantastic confidence on display, this band are sure to go a long way. [10/10]

Beartooth (Midlands)

Beartooth had some big boots to fill after both Crossfaith and Bury Tomorrow played the Jagermeister stage earlier on in the day, but they did not disappoint. Opening with the title track off their latest album Aggressive, the four piece from Ohio ensured that their set was going to be 40 minutes of carnage, and that it was. The Lines saw the entirety of the main stage crowd taking to one knee then erupting as the intro kicks in. The frenzy continued as Always Dead found the entire front of the arena turned into a massive circle pit. Hated drew their short yet energetic set to a close. [8/10]

I Prevail (South)

On their first trip across the Atlantic, I Prevail stopped off at Slam Dunk to crush the Impericon stage with their heavy (yet somewhat generic) metalcore anthems which filled each of the three dates’ venues to capacity with people turned away at the door. The first and final UK play of their version of Blank Space proves predictably popular, yet the highlight of their set without a doubt was the closing track Scars which is the first single from second album Lifelines. Suitably heavy yet melodic, the tracks played caused mayhem to a level beyond anything else during the day. [10/10]

Deaf Havana (North)

The boys in Deaf Havana hit the Jagermeister stage in unglamorous fashion, adorned with Hawaiian shirts. They kicked things off with recent album opener Ashes, Ashes which went down well enough but something seems a little off. Lead singer/guitarist James Veck-Gilodi (complete with darkened sunglasses) admitted to being tired and slightly hungover but this never stopped him from belting out tracks Youth In Retrospect and Speeding Cars with maximum gusto. Fans looking for older tracks didn’t find it here, with the majority of the set consisting of newer material and although the sound on the outdoor stage failed to capture depth of the band’s sound, tracks like Speeding Cars sounded right at home in front of the capacity crowd. Bookending the set with recent album closer Pensacola, 2013, Deaf Havana proved that they can still go even when they don’t really feel like it. [7/10]

Frank Iero and the Patience (South)

Ex-My Chemical Romance man Frank Iero is back in the UK with the latest incarnation of his band after the name change last year. Unsurprisingly energetic upon taking to the stage, the band ripped through their catalogue of alternative-punk anthems to a capitaved audience, taken largely from their second album Parachutes. The highlight of the set was .weighted. played with maximum gusto, with crowds surging at every opportunity. [7/10]

Seaway (Midlands)

Making a return after playing the Fresh Blood stage back in 2015, Ontario feel good pop punk five-piece Seaway were welcomed to a packed-out crowd at the Key Club stage. Best Mistake and Shy Guys warmed up the crowd to a flurry of crowdsurfers as vocalist Ryan took to the barrier to hand the mic to them. Old school fan favourite Sabrina the Teenage Bitch saw the crowd erupt in ecstasy, as it seemed every person wanted to get to the front. Slam allowed the crowd to gather their energy back as Everything Is Cool Man is screamed back at them. With mention of their third album being released at the end of this year, Seaway are proving that feel-good 2000’s pop punk is still alive as ever. [8/10]

Don Broco (South)

Returning to the UK straight from a tour with State ChampsAgainst The Current and With Confidence in the US to play the three remaining shows before finishing their third album this summer, Don Broco arrived ready to play. They crashed through tracks from both of their albums after the crowd got properly involved with single Everybody, causing dancing and singing along with the mass of Rob masks throughout. Finishing up on brand new track Pretty and bringing in With Confidence‘s Josh Brosezzi, frontman Rob Damiani and drummer Matt Donnelly surfed across the crowd to go mad in the pit while the song punched away to the end. Very exciting band at the moment, the third album and November Alexandra Palace headline show look very exciting! [9/10]

Less Than Jake (North)

Inside the First Direct Arena punters willingly give up their place in the beer queue and dash to the arena floor as they hear opening strains of All My Best Friend Are Metalheads. It’s a guaranteed crowd-puller and sees the audience skanking along to their beer-fuelled ska-punk in no time. Less Than Jake roar through stone cold classics Automatic, Last One Out Of Liberty City and Sugar In Your Gas Tank before proclaiming “Any band who tells you their new stuff is better than your old stuff is lying!”. They go ahead and prove their own point as newer tracks PS, Shock The World and the stellar Bomb Drop receive limited response from the nostalgia happy crowd. Closing things up with a double header of Gainesville Rock City and The Ghost Of Me & You however ends the set in riotous fashion, setting the audience up for more old-school pop punk to follow. [8/10]

Enter Shikari (South)

Enter Shikari are no strangers to the Hertfordshire music scene, and celebrating the final show of their 10 year Anniversary of Take To The Skies was incredibly fitting. The crowd chanting welcomed their stage entrance of Enter Shikari with the lyrics “and still we will be here, standing like statues” and the explosive set began. The atmosphere of the crowd felt like a cross between a political protest and a rave with insane circle pits, moshing and chants below the electric green light show that defines Shikari. The pure energy of the band throughout the set was remarkable as they revisited the album with nostalgia, frontman Rou made particular reference to lyrics in the song Juggernauts “the idea of community, will be something displayed in a museum” before launching into an empowering speech about the importance of voting. One thing that’s for certain, the passion of the band and the audience has in no way diminished and will surely grow on the horizon of a new album and UK tour. [8/10] (Words by Brittany Rutt)

Tonight Alive (Midlands)

Tonight Alive entered the Key Club stage opening with Lonely Girl to a good crowd, despite competing with big stage headliners including Enter Shikari and Neck Deep. The band interacted with crowd who sang along as they played iconic songs like Listening. Vocalist Jenna McDougall made a statement speech about what Tonight Alive stands for and the message she encourages at their shows. It was the message of not being bound by societies expectations which was received well by the crowd who cheered and applauded the vocalist. This led nicely into the song Wasting Away which is one of the band’s first songs produced. Before finishing with their latest single World Away, the band announced that after Slam Dunk they would be going back to the studio to start on a new album. Overall, a Tonight Alive show is an experience you definitely come away feeling a little more empowered. [9/10] (Words by Ellie Slym)

Neck Deep (South)

Kicking off with a new single Happy Judgement DayNeck Deep set about on their self-depricating pop punk conquest to rule Slam Dunk 2017, despite them admitting there were better bands the onlookers should be watching during that headliner slot. Contrary to their words, the band pulled out of the bag one of the stronger sets of the day as they played through favourites old and new in the way of What Did You Expect?Tables Turned and new single Where Do We Go When We Go? to the ever-maddening crowd. Finishing up with Can’t Kick Up The Roots brought another successful set to a close, with promises that performances on their huge October headline tour would be bigger and better. [8/10]

Bowling For Soup (North)

Bowling For Soup walked out to the excited screams of a packed out Fireball stage. The hardcore fans were wearing all different variations of Bowling For Soup merch from every tour over the past 10 years. After a brief intro, they kicked the set off with The Bitch Song, with the crowd singing along to every word you knew this was going to be a Slam Dunk set to remember. Their 14-song set packed full of the band’s classics and more well-known songs as well as their lead single Hey Diane taken from their latest album Drunk Dynasty. The band filled their slot with not only their amazing tracks but filled with crowd interaction, jokes and of course BEER! A handful of the crowd seemed disappointed by the amount of joking around between the band and the crowd and voiced their opinions throughout the set. This however didn’t dampen the mood at the Fireball stage, with the band giving it their all and the crowd losing their minds at every song. [8/10]