Slam Dunk Festival Herts University, Hatfield

Slam Dunk Festival Herts University, Hatfield
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary with a bang, Slam Dunk has become one of the UK’s main pop punk and post hardcore music festivals. Boasting a huge array of bands from different genres it’s at this festival you can see anything from Anti Flag and We Are the Ocean to Less Than Jake and The Skints.

I check out the first act of the day to grace The Atticus stage, American four piece The Dangerous summer. Although this stage is relatively quiet, in fact the whole festival is at the moment; they come on and give it their all. They deliver a fast paced, energetic performance shaking the tiny room with their pop punk anthems, a definite positive start to my day.

I just manage to catch a glimpse of post hardcore band Shadows Chasing Ghosts performance on the Honour over Glory stage and although everybody on this stage today will have to compete with the DJ who is playing relatively close by, it proves to be no problem for this band. Their thrashing riffs prompt small moshpits and echo throughout the whole tent providing an excellent atmosphere for all around.
I also had time to check out the Punktastic acoustic stage, a very intimate side room to a bustling bar and quaintly resembles the small comedy and jazz venues often seen in movies. This venue was sadly overlooked a lot of the time, but had some great guests such as HelloGoodbye dropping in for an acoustic sessions during the day.

I rush to the Jagermeister main stage with a flush of excitement to see The Skints. After listening to various members of the crowd on the way to the stage, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding this bands performance and it’s obvious to see why. It’s as soon as the sound of the reggae-esque beats kick in that the first signs of ‘ska skanking’ appear amongst the crowd. The heads are nodding back and forth and as lead singer Marcia starts bringing out every instrument imaginable through the performance, just to mix things up, nobody can help themselves in doing a little dance and I’m beginning to think this wont be the first time today I see a little bit of the ‘ska skanking’. An incredible performance, perfect for warming up a main stage that is going to be full of ska and pop punk bands throughout the day, and to top it all off the weather is lovely too.

Shortly afterwards, I follow a fairly big crowd to the Kerrang! Introducing Stage to catch The King Blues’ set in the tiny Attic room. Not only are The King Blues special guests to the festival, they’re also an incredibly well known band to be playing such a small stage and as soon as I arrive it’s obvious just how popular they really are. This stage is literally so small, it’s operating on a strictly one in one out basis and the queue sloping down the stairs is steadily growing because of this. By the time I finally squeeze into the packed room, their 3.20pm slot has been and gone, and after what seems like quite a long sound check The King Blues finally appear. The atmosphere is electric in the room as they rip through their set with boundless energy. The crowd clap and sing when prompted by lead singer Itch, even though he really doesn’t need to do so, because everyone here is getting into the swing of things. The ‘ska skank’ is aptly making an appearance again and we’re treated to new song ‘Head butt’. However its hits like ‘My Boulder’ and ‘I Got Love’ that are inevitably the crowd pleasers, an absolutely incredible performance, with the only downside being that the crowd outside couldn’t all get in to enjoy the atmosphere with everyone else.

So, it’s time to head back to the Jagermeister stage to check out Anti Flag. Taking into consideration some of the other acts to grace this stage to today, Anti Flag are certainly of a different genre all together. It’s not even a song into their set before things start to go wrong as it seems the speakers and amps may have blown, leaving just the sound of the drummer beating away to the set list. It does not deter the huge crowd though, as they sing word for word to every song played with their arms happily in the air. It’s a good 15 minutes into their set before the problems are solved, but they deliver a high octane performance and it’s clear they’re in awe of how well the crowd have handled the situation. Although the short set they did perform was entertaining, it’s just slightly disappointing they couldn’t play the whole set as planned.

Due to Attack! Attack! being unable to play, Me vs. Hero take their place on the Macbeth stage and they can certainly fill their shoes. Although they play to a small crowd, they put their all into the performance and the crowd love it. Watching it from the balcony above, I can see the moshpits in full swing and a sight I’ve seen a few times already today- three guys dressed as beer bottles. Inevitably they catch the eye of the lead singer and are chosen out to play a very important part in the stage show- being at the bottom of the human pyramid. I’m a real convert to this band after seeing their performance and the crowd reaction, an enjoyable performance from start to finish.

Unfortunately, I only get to catch 15 minutes of Reel Big fish’s set on the Jagermeister stage. Although the mics are quiet for the first song, they carry on with it until the sound techs do their thing. They entertain the massive crowd with a freestyle saxophone set, prompting the ‘ska skank’ to reappear again. Although I only caught 15minutes, it was the best set of the day for me, the perfect band to be playing this festival and brightening up everybody’s day.

An excellent festival for lovers of pop punk, ska and hardcore music alike. If you do anything next summer, make sure you get yourselves down to one of the days atleast.

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