Slam Dunk 2014
By Tom Lebeau Packer


Woah calm down before you start screenshoting this for a Facebook  rant about religion, I’m actually talking about Slam Dunk Festival this month!

Now in it’s 8th year the day long festival seems to only grow from strength to strength each year. With it’s combination of Pop-Punk heavy hitters well known to all along with the smaller bands, with dedicated fan bases, and a handful of bands from the bygone Myspace era of emo it’s easy to see why Slamdunk is the high point of many peoples year.

With headlining acts in the past including Fall Out Boy, Paramore, You Me At Six, Alkaline Trio, Gallows and last years Four Year Strong, All Time Low and Cancer Bats, the Slam Dunk family seem to have an innate ability to feel out the crowd each year and what will appeal most to the masses whilst still keeping diversity within its acts.

Slam Dunk festival isn’t just a day long festival of fun, and partying, it’s also similar to a massive meet up. Thanks to social networking the ‘alternative scene’ has always thrown itself head first when it’s come to meeting people and creating relationships from forums, all the way through to Facebook groups and Slam Dunk gives them the chance to actually meet up face to face, regardless of how regrettable this may be. My own experience of this last year was at the after party when I was having a drink with friends and some tall, pretty pop punk girl came over, hugged me and inform me she followed me on Instagram. The look of pure amazement on my friends faces was worth the ticket price alone.  Apart from the typical band groupies the majority of people there are always friendly and up for swapping either previous Slam Dunk stories or recommendations on bands you must see.

My first Slam Dunk experience was last year and apart from the fact my mates car broke down outside Cambridge and we had to pay £120 for a taxi to get the rest of the way it was utterly worth it. Not only was the weather glorious, which it always seems to be so I think there’s some sort of devil worship going on there, but the fact it’s only a day means you don’t have to stress about carrying a lot of luggage, trying to set up a god forsaken tent or if you can get to it in South,North or Midlands you don’t even have to book a day off work!

My favourite act last year was not from the main stage, it was actually the headlining act at the ‘Keep A Breast Stage’ where I got to see Andrew Mcmahon live. For those of you unaware of who this is he was originally the lead singer of a band called Something Corporate and then his own solo project Jack’s Mannequin. I grew up listening to him in all his incarnations as a teenager but never thought I’d get the chance to see him, not only did he play some of his newest tracks but also some classic Something Corporate songs that he said he’d never play again. I arrived there on time expecting the tent to be fairly empty as All Time Low were rocking out on the main stage and like a herd of wildebeest from Lion King the majority of people had packed that area out, however it was packed and full of the older pop punk fans that had turned up that day, along with a few of the Deaf Havana boys who were having a sing along behind me.  After a day of jumping around to Polar Bear Club in the boiling sun, drinking Black Snakebites and watching my friends fail time and again to chat up girls it was beautiful to be by myself, in cool May night in a tent surrounded by actual adults , not a screaming 15 year old girl in sight, listening to a guy and a piano play the emotional songs that shapped my early teenage years.

At the end of the day that is the main key to the success of this festival, along with the headline acts and the bands about to break out that they put on, there is always some older band or artist from the early days who may not have the biggest following still but has nostalgia on their side which can make the set seem even more poignant. This year that mantle passes to Zebrahead, Motion City Soundtrack and All American Rejects, and whilst I may not have been a fan of AAR most recent work I will be gleefulyl shouting at the top of my lungs to Dirty Little Secret and the mighty Swing Swing.

In short, these days ‘alternative’ is far too small a word for such a large and diverse scene, so many different off shot generes that ’emo’ doesn’t really cover it anymore, but this festival does it’s very best to tick as many of those varied boxes as possibly so grab your friends, beer,vests,skinny jeans and that one friend who always refers to a band as ‘my boys’ even though they only met them one time after a gig and probably did something with the drummer that their mother wouldn’t be proud off and get your asses down to Slam Dunk and give yourself a day to party hard and hopefully avoid heatstroke.

Oh and if they’ve run out of Black Snakebite I’ll have a JD & Coke thanks.

Elite’s Bands Too See This Year at SD:

Motion City Soundtrack : My personal favourite band this year, upbeat nostalgia overload with catchy songs and cultural references. Who else could include Veronica Mars, Will & Grace, Drum & Bass and Autobots in their lyrics and get away with it.

Neck Deep : If you haven’t heard of these guys taking the scene by storm you’re either living under a rock or you’ve been killed by a Lannister

Real Friends: A friend of mine introduced me to these lads a while back, their infectious guitar and sing-a-long chorus’s along with their stage presence makes these guys one to watch

The Ataris : Again with the nostalgia but they were brough in to replace Goldfinger who sadly had to pull out, and instead of just picking a random filler act Slam Dunk have gone and picked a classic catchy Pop Punk band.. if they don’t play ‘In This Diary’ I will Hulk smash everything in my path.