LIVE: Slam Dunk Festival @ City Centre, Wolverhampton (25/05/2015)

Date: May 25th, 2015
Venue: City Centre, Wolverhampton
Website: www.slamdunkmusic.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/slamdunkltd
Twitter: www.twitter.com/slamdunkmusic

When it first began a decade ago, no many would’ve thought at the time that Slam Dunk Festival would be still going stronger than ever for it’s 10 year anniversary. Yet, here we are, celebrating just that across what is now three separate locations across the UK, and a headline slot from British pop-rock favourites You Me At Six to boot. To celebrate in all of the festivities, we headed down to the Midlands date in Wolverhampton and got involved with all of the Slam Dunk fun.


MAIN STAGE:

SET IT OFF – 7/10
Florida pop-punks Set It Off exploded out of nowhere in 2014 with one of the most unexpectedly great albums of the year as their sophomore effort ‘Duality’ stormed into young fans ears across the UK. Main stage slots at festivals like Slam Dunk aren’t unexpected for the band nowadays, and they ease through new tracks ‘Ancient History’ and ‘Bleak December’ with a great reception from the Civic Hall crowd. Frontman Cody Carson struts around the stage in his sexy silver jacket like a true rock star, even pulling off a cover of Ariana Grande’s ‘Problem’, but it’s Panic! At The Disco inspired gospel pop-rock anthem ‘Why Worry?’ that closes the set on a buzzing high. [MH]

PVRIS
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

WE ARE THE OCEAN
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

NECK DEEP
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LOWER THAN ATLANTIS
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

DON BROCO
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

TAKING BACK SUNDAY – 8/10
Delivering a hefty setlist of hits both old and new, Long Islands’ Taking Back Sunday prove worthy of their position of co-headliners. Disappointingly, Adam Lazara’s vocals are not on top form, struggling to emulate the power and grit displayed across records like ‘Happiness Is’ and ‘Louder Now’. This, however, doesn’t compromise the heavy dose of nostalgia inflected onto the audience in the form of ‘Cute Without The E’, ‘Liar’, and ‘MakeDamnSure’. Newer catalogue additions also go down a treat, as the crowd’s shouts and chants fail to cease during more recent offerings ‘Better Homes And Gardens’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother’. [KH]

YOU ME AT SIX
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.


MONSTER ENERGY STAGE:

SHVPES
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THE COLOR MORALE
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

BEARTOOTH – 8/10
Caleb Shomo’s post-Attack Attack! venture Beartooth has seen him outshine anything he did in his previous band by a country mile, as ‘Disgusting’ stands as one of the best debut albums of recent memory. Their Monster Energy Stage set is full of huge genre anthems already, and every one sends the crowd into a frenzy every time an opening riff kicks in. ‘Dead’ is even too much for half the band as they delve into the Wolverhampton street to climb the local trees, leaving Don Broco’s own Simon Delaney to take over guitar duties. ‘Beaten In Lips’ and ‘Body Bag’ leave the place in tatters, and Beartooth continue to cement themselves as a household name. [MH]

THY ART IS MURDER
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

BURY TOMORROW – 5/10
Stepping in last minute for Emmure’s cancellation, Southampton metalcore crew Bury Tomorrow grace the Monster Stage as “Special Guests”, assumingly to explain why the band are filling a lower spot than last year when they headlined the stage. Despite the positive reception to their third album, ‘Runes’, the band haven’t delivered on their early promise, and this performance certainly hasn’t improved since their 2014 showing. Although ‘Lionheart’ and ‘Man On Fire’ both sound relatively sharp, the band need an injection of excitement to get them back on track to start competing with the competition on display today. [MH]

CROSSFAITH – 6/10
Japanese dance-metal crossover kings Crossfaith have surpassed all expectations since their arrival in the UK with their eccentric stage antics and trademark sound. Drinking tune ‘Jägerbomb’ helped expose the band to the public as a funtime party band, but they’ve written some huge melodies to match as ‘Eclipse’ and ‘We Are The Future’ have Wolves eating out of the palms of Kenta Koie. The tempo slows down between the big singles, however, which may signal that Crossfaith need to get to the studio and record a new album before their craze breaks down even more. But there’s nothing that their fan favourite cover of The Prodigy’s ‘Omen’ can’t fix as the stage goes into meltdown for the tribute to the dons of the genre. [MH]

FINCH – 9/10
It’s worryingly quiet for Finch as they take to the stage, and even the draw of opening with ‘New Beginnings’ can’t grab the attention of fringe spectators in the background. Perhaps a testament to the line-up assembled by Slam Dunk for 2015, but it’s a great shame that the festival goers are missing the killer set from the post-hardcore forefathers. Nate Barcalow has an almighty vocal range that sees him screaming through ‘Post Script’ to creeping up the atmosphere on the eerie ‘Play Dead’ and keeping it at full throttle right ’til the end of the set. ‘Ink’ and the classic ‘What It Is To Burn’ end a fantastic combination of old and new songs from Finch who gave it their all to a somewhat disappointing crowd, but let nothing damper their performance one little bit. [MH]

WHILE SHE SLEEPS
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

ARCHITECTS – 8/10
Slam Dunk weekend marks the end of the UK ‘Lost Forever // Lost Together’ album cycle for Architects, and the crowd are anticipating a huge send off to do the record proud. Sam Carter leads the Brighton metalcore titans through a tight performance of the new material, with an impressive stage show to boot with lights and smoke cannons used for their bigger shows. ‘Gravedigger’ is a monster opener that could send cracks through the street, the aggression in ‘Dead Man Talking’ shows how Architects have sprung to the top of the metalcore ladder this last year, and the smiles on their faces shows how much it means to them. The older tracks don’t get ignored completely, as ‘Follow The Water’ and ‘Early Grave’ get a run out that the fans appreciate, and the band even recruit Dan Winter-Bates (of Bury Tomorrow) to assist with the latter to ensure that Wolverhampton is getting its full supply of heavy in the dark hours of Bank Holiday Monday. Nothing in the set beats THAT intro to ‘Broken Cross’, but the finale of ‘These Colours Don’t Run’ is pretty special, leaving the Monster Stage punters happy as can be that a band the size of Architects graced their stage tonight. [MH]


DESPERADOS STAGE:

SURVAY SAYS
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PATENT PENDING
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BIG D & THE KIDS TABLE
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

LIGHTYEAR – 9/10
Every year, Slam Dunk reach into their deep pockets and pull out some of Britain’s finest ska bands for a welcome revival. This year sees Lightyear bring their peculiar, yet greatly missed, nonsense to the stage for one last time (yeah, right). Chas Palmer-Williams has put his solo career on hold for the weekend to mess around with pantomime horses and encourage the crowd to carry out bizarre dream sequences of bears scratching themselves on trees. Sure, it may be difficult to follow what the hell is happening for large portions of the set, but it all adds to the spectacle. The likes of ‘Nuff Cuts’, ‘Data’s Double Chin’ and ‘A Pack Of Dogs’ sound superb, and the Desperados Stage are having the time of their lives. [MH]

MARIACHI EL BRONX
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

ZEBRAHEAD – 9/10
Providing one of the most bizarrely entertaining performances of the day, Zebrahead make it clear that they’ve still got it after 20 years in the game. Tearing into an increasingly long back catalogue, they pull out the hits ‘Anthem’, ‘Falling Apart’, and ‘Rescue Me’. One of the show’s many highlights includes inviting Santa Claus onstage to chug beer along to their infamous ‘Drink Drink’. Vocalist Matty Lewis makes the hilarious claim that security at the past two shows were bored and had nothing to do, which in turn encourages a legion of fans to then surf their way towards the barrier. [KH]

GOLDFINGER
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

MILLENCOLIN
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REEL BIG FISH
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.


MACBETH STAGE:

AS IT IS – 8/10
Up-and-coming pop-punks As Is It are the first to take the Macbeth Stage, crashing in with ‘Speak Soft’ from their recently released debut, ‘Never Happy, Ever After’. The boys are able to pack an engaging half an hour of hits, including ‘Concrete’ and ‘Cheap Shots And Set Backs’, which unite the audience in clapping, singing, and moshing. After vocalist Patty Walters announces that the show coincides with guitarist Andy Westhead’s birthday, he proceeds to take part in the band’s ‘tradition’ of assuming the role of lead vocals for ‘Can’t Save Myself’. [KH]

KNUCKLE PUCK – 5/10
Chicago newcomers Knuckle Puck have been hitting the generic pop-punk scene hard over the last couple of years, and are reaping the rewards of the success of the genre lead by The Story So Far, Neck Deep, etc. Today, the band prove that there’s little to tell them apart from the rest, but circle pits lead to sing-alongs and everyone is kept intrigued enough to stay mildly entertained throughout. ‘Your Back Porch’ and ‘But Why Would You Care?’ demand audience attention more than the rest, but all the material merges into one for the less than obsessed fan. [MH]

ROAM
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

CARTEL
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A LOSS FOR WORDS
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BAYSIDE
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SUCH GOLD – 7/10
Packing brisk blasts of pop-punk energy, Rochester’s Such Gold dominate the then empty Macbeth Stage, bringing an unmissable performance. “I feel like I’m on a roll, and I haven’t taken drugs today” laughs bassist Jon Markson, before delving into more material from the groups recent LP, ‘The New Sidewalk’. Past single ‘Two Year Plan’ sends the crowd into a frenzy, drawing many to the stage and peaking the curiosity of countless others. [KH]

TRANSIT
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

FIREWORKS
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THE WONDER YEARS
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IMPERICON STAGE:

DEAD HARTS
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

BEING AS AN OCEAN – 8/10
Never one to disappoint, California’s Being As An Ocean bring an intense set within the confinement of the Impericon stage. Commencing a mosh pit almost instantaneously, the highly charged outfit are soon to shake things up. Vocalist Joel Quartuccio spends the majority of the set thrown up against the crowd barrier, crashing levels of excitement through the roof. Set highlights include ‘Little Ritchie’, the lead single from their forthcoming self-titled LP, as well as performances of ‘Mediocre Shakespeare’, and ‘This Loneliness Won’t Be The Death Of Me’. [KH]

TRASH TALK
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

DEEZ NUTS
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STICK TO YOUR GUNS
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BANE
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COMEBACK KID – 8/10
Comeback Kid come with no introductions, just reputation, as Slam Dunk knows they can rely on the Canadian hardcore kings to deliver as they always do. Andrew Neufeld has formed into a master frontman since he took over the microphone, and it’s clear from his enthusiasm that latest album ‘Die Knowing’ is proof that the band are as strong as ever. ‘Wasted Arrows’ and ‘Losing Sleep’ have merged into the set over the last year seamlessly, and now sit as Comeback Kid live essentials. ‘Talk Is Cheap’ delivers as fantastically as it always has, but cue ‘Wake The Dead’, featuring Gallows/Alexisonfire hardman Wade MacNeil, for your group chanting finale finish to complete a routinely polished set from the vets. [MH]

H20
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GALLOWS
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THE BRONX
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FRESH BLOOD STAGE:

TRASH BOAT
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WIND SAILS
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AARON WEST & THE ROARING TWENTIES
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ONLY RIVALS
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FORT HOPE
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ROB LYNCH – 7/10
Performing his first set of UK shows with a full band, singer/songwriter Rob Lynch proves that he is definitely one to keep an eye on over the next few years. Pouring out material from debut album ‘All These Nights In Bars Will Somehow Save My Soul’, Lynch captivates his audience with some haunting vocal harmonies and touching personal lyrics. Tearful performances of tracks ‘Widow’ and ‘Whiskey’ elevates emotions to new levels as they’re penned in memory of Lynch’s father. [KH]

THIS WILD LIFE
Unfortunately, we were unable to catch this act’s set.

SEAWAY
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BABY GODZILLA – 8/10
It’s always carnage when Baby Godzilla are involved, and this set was never going to be anything but that. Matt Reynolds is standing behind the bar before long and, despite collisions with half the crowd, stage, and everything in between, still manages to piercingly bellow out the lyrics to ‘Whorepaedo’ without getting pulled by security. The Nottingham band make good use of the scenery and equipment, whether it’s Jonny Hall standing on an amp in the middle of the room or crowd members holding guitars and microphone stands, and can consistently produce hectic shows without significantly injuring themselves. Even if we never get to hear a full-length record from Baby Godzilla, they’ll always be remembered for their insane and brave performances, and the unbelievably brilliant gang chant in ‘Powerboat Disaster’ that has the Fresh Blood Stage screaming at the top of their lungs. [MH]

MOOSE BLOOD – 8/10
Very few bands can claim to have had as successful a 12 months as Moose Blood have. The softly spoken Canterbury lads have rammed the Civic Bar in Wolverhampton out despite rivalling some of the biggest names in alternative music who are playing just metres away. Claims that the band are bringing emo back are spot on as they work their way through hit after hit from ‘I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time’, which somehow managed to produce 11 tracks that could have been released as singles, as proved by the crowd singing every word back at Eddy Brewerton. ‘Swim Down’ and ‘Pups’ go down with Slam Dunk goers so well that the band are speechless, but the reaction to latest single ‘Gum’ is something else as the room erupts with screams and high fives. Moose Blood are still on the up and growing from strength to strength every show, it’s difficult to predict how high they can go, but it’s sure to be on stages bigger than this one, and very, very quickly too. [MH]


Written by Mike Heath (@MikeBeef) and Kieran Harris

Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.

Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.