Kicking off in the midlands, everyone seemed to be in high spirits to welcome back one of their favourite festivals. I’ve only been to Slam Dunk while hosted in Wolverhampton, and I heard mixed things about the change to Birmingham, so I was apprehensive about how it would go down. With 4 hours sleep, a 2.5 hour drive and 10 hours of watching bands to go, it took me a little while to warm up, but once I had memorised the layout, I was beginning to feel at home again.
Originally I wasn’t that ecstatic about the lineup, but when it came to planning what bands I was going to watch this year I was conflicted between clashes and running between stages. The day was cloudy with the sun occasionally making an appearance, but the atmosphere was high and in good spirits. After walking from one side of the NEC to the other, and going through heightened security, we eventually got our wristbands and was welcomed by stalls filled with food, drinks and band merch.
The Impericon stage was one of my favourites, and we pretty much spent the majority of the day travelling between here and the main stage. Kicking off the day for us was Too Close To Touch. They had a great performance and started off the day well. The vocals seemed a bit off and not what I was expecting, but I would probably watch them again.
Next up on the main stage was Crossfaith who kill it every time they get on stage, I honestly never get bored of seeing them. I was torn between the next clash, Ice Nine Kills vs Bury Tomorrow. It would be my 1st time seeing INK and 8th time seeing BT. I ended up deciding to do half and half, as I just couldn’t bring myself to miss a Bury Tomorrow set. Ice Nine Kills put on an awesome show and I was reluctant to leave. When we got to the main stage, Dani Winter-Bates announced they started late from technical difficulties, so it seemed as though we didn’t miss much, but as their set had to finish as scheduled, they decided that all of the members would go to the merch to meet people after.
Once they smashed their short set, we decided to head over to the merch area. Mainly to check out the shirts but to say a cheeky hello too. As people began to gather around Dani, we weren’t really in the mood for trying to meet them, and we’ve met the Winter-Bates brothers many times before. However, once we unexpectedly began talking to Davyd, we got in the mood for speaking to the whole band. My boyfriend began getting them to sign his boob, while I went for the traditional ticket signing, and we spoke to them about things such as how our day was going, future shows and old shows we had seen them at. They were all so welcoming and talking to Jason and Adam (for the first time) was possibly the best part. They engaged in conversation and each member gave every fan the time of day. Sadly Kristan left before he could sign the boob, but we’ll get him next time. Shoutout to the people that let us borrow their pens.
We then caught the end of Beartooth and thanks to beer trips and stage changes we managed to catch my favourite songs by both With Confidence and Waterparks. Next, we headed back to the Impericon stage to see I Prevail and Stray From The Path. Both bands put on an incredible set. I Prevail were one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Slam Dunk, as I’ve been waiting to see them for a long time, and they did not disappoint. This was the second time we had seen Stray From The Path, and they were as equally as insane as the first time. They really got the crowd going and I enjoyed standing back and watching everyone go crazy. Although, it took me a few days to get First World Problem Child out of my head.
After their killer set, we hung around for a while with more beers and chilled out at the Signature Brew stage for a while before getting hyped up and ready for Enter Shikari. The last time I had seen Shikari was in 2015, and they are a band that hold special meaning to me, so I couldn’t wait to see them again. I heard great things about the way they have stepped up their live show, which got me even more excited.
When their set began it was crowded and hard to stand. The crowd was tightly packed and kept moving and as soon as they stormed the stage everyone went wild. It was incredible to hear songs from Take To The Skies and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of an amazing album. With added lights and lasers, impeccable sound and crazy energy, their set definitely blew me away. They also dedicated a cover of Oasis – Half The World Away to the victims of Manchester, which was incredibly moving and had the whole crowd singing along.
I think it’s safe to say that the venue upgrade for the Midlands SlamDunk was definitely a good move. I didn’t have any problems with not being able to watch a band due to high capacity, and the whole place had amazing atmosphere from start to finish. I am itching to go back next year, and the £50 ticket price is definitely worth it. Sadly I didn’t bring back any merch, just my signed ticket and some fond memories.
Until next year SlamDunk.