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Review: Slam Dunk Festival 2015, Wolverhampton

Carrie Humphries


Bank holiday Monday, 25th May saw the return of Slam Dunk Festival to its Midland’s home in Wolverhampton. The three day event; which visits Leeds, Hatfield and Wolverhampton each year; has been running for nine years now, and 2015 saw it hosting the biggest and best line up yet!

After queueing for a little while to enter the festival area around the Civic and Wulfrun Hall, I opted to watch Pvris on the main stage as my first act of the day. The US-based trio had the room at full capacity for their set, which was very impressive considering that it was rather early in the day and not everyone had arrived at that point. Although Pvris are still fledglings in the music industry; they served up a tight, polished performance with their own brand of electronic rock, and leading lady Lynn Gunn proved she is an icon in the making with her earth shattering vocals and quirky style.

Following a quick chat to Reel Big Fish front man, Aaron Barrett; the next performance that I caught was some of We Are The Ocean’s set. As someone who has seen the band before and is a big fan of their last album, I was expecting a mind blowing performance from the Essex lads. However, although reasonable, their set just didn’t seem to have the ‘wow’ factor that it usually does. Hopefully they will be back to full gusto when I see them again later this year.

After We Are The Ocean, I grabbed a bite to eat before catching some of Cartel’s set on the Macbeth Stage. Although the band released their debut album Chroma ten years ago, I had not actually heard of them before the festival lineup was announced. The band put on a solid performance, and I’m sure that I’d have loved them when I was a teenager, but I just couldn’t get into their pop-punk stylings today.

Next up, one of my friends talked me into seeing Lower Than Atlantis; a band who I was underwhelmed by at another festival in 2012, and I have not watched live since. I must admit that I feel a little guilty now though, as their performance at Slam Dunk 2015 was in a whole different league. The band stormed the main stage with their catchy songs and lively performance. Three years seem to have allowed the band to evolve into an exciting alternative rock outfit who have a fantastic rapport with their audiences.

As the day went on, decisions about who to watch due to clashes were becoming increasingly more difficult. I wanted to see all of Crossfaith’s set; but to do that, I would have had to cut short Lower Than Atlantis and turn up late for Don Broco. In the end I opted for catching a little of Crossfaith’s set on the Monster stage, sandwiched between the two main stage performances. I absolutely loved the Japanese metalcore act’s lively and brutal set. They are a band who seem to have a split personality; perfectly down to earth in person, but down right crazy and energetic on stage. I will definitely be going to see them when they tour with Skindred across the UK later this year.

After Crossfaith’s ballsy set, I opted for something a little more poppy by watching Don Broco. Just a word of warning… you might get so excited watching them that you lose your belongings. During their set I somehow managed to lose my purse, but fortunately it was returned by a lovely member of the security staff! Some may consider the Don Broco lads as ‘pretty boys’, but judging by the amount of people in the audience that were really going for it during their set, their infectious mix of pop and rock is here to stay; especially with new album Automatic due out in August.

Taking Back Sunday are a band of my teenage years, and I first saw them at Reading Festival in 2004, so I jumped at the chance to reminisce by watching them at Slam Dunk Festival. Playing a set comprising of classic hits and also some of their newer tracks from 2014 album Happiness Is, the band performed to a packed out room, and still seemed to have the same magical spark on stage as they did when I saw them all those years back.

At the end of a fantastic day at Slam Dunk, all I really wanted to do was carry on partying. Luckily the headliners on the Desperados stage; Reel Big Fish; were perfect for those wanting to party! Their colourful, wacky stage presence and upbeat ska punk had everyone in the audience going ballistic, dancing and singing along as a large inflatable shark was thrown around the room. All in all, their set was my highlight of the festival and a perfect end to a superb day. Slam Dunk is a mind blowing one-dayer and I will definitely be making the effort to come back again next year.