On Sunday 29th May, Flick of the Finger headed down to Birmingham’s NEC for the Midlands edition of the biggest event of the year for pop-punk/rock music fans. With it being the 10th Anniversary, the festival was proposed to be bigger and better than ever with a new, larger venue and a stellar line up, including headliners such as Panic! at the Disco, Of Mice & Men, New Found Glory and more.
During the 11 hours that I spent at the popular festival, I managed to fit in an impressive number of twelve bands, thanks to the handy clash-finder/map flyer that the festival decided to provide. With seven stages and over 40 acts, there really was something for everyone at Slam Dunk 2016 and this was evident by the huge queues I witnessed upon my arrival. There was a buzz of excitement among all in attendance that did not seem to die in the slightest throughout the day, and who could blame them when the acts that took to the stages just got better and better throughout the day.
My day had a disappointing start, sadly, as I headed to the Atlas Stage to catch Japanese rockers, coldrain. After 25 minutes had passed since the five-piece were due on stage, a member of the Slam Dunk team took to the stage to inform everyone that due to a technical difficulty, that had taken so long to be resolved, coldrain, would not be able to perform (obviously to allow for the rest of the day to run smoothly without delays) – but the best part of this announcement was that the microphone, ironically, cut out when he started to explain why they would not be able to perform – classic!
But onwards and upwards, as the next band due on the Atlas Stage were metalcore band The Word Alive. Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, the five-piece received a huge welcome as they, unexpectedly, opened the second largest stage of the festival – something which they did extremely well. The audience immediately took to the band, and their music, and were involved from start to finish – singing and dancing at every opportunity. Frontman, Telle Smith, had huge amounts of energy that was infectious to all in close proximity and he it was evident that he did really “at home” on the stage, as he exclaimed at one point in the set. They were a truly wonderful start to the day.
Then it was time for me to weave my way through the bottleneck crowds that consumed the corridors to reach the main stage in time for Young Guns to play. Young Guns are a band that I have seen a few times throughout my years of attending pop-punk/rock gigs, as they seemed to support anyone and everyone in their first few years as a band. This obviously paid off though as all members of the band, especially lead vocalist Gustav Wood, exuded confidence and energy – completely owning the stage as they worked their way through their forty-five minute set. The passion and liveliness of the band was evident to all and they seemed to have the audience completely mesmerised. I was extremely impressed with how far they have come, which led to them being one of my highlights of the day for sure.
I then went back, weaving through the crowds, to catch a little bit of Miss May I as they thrashed onto the Atlas stage. These guys were definitely a band for people who like heavier music, and although they weren’t my cup of tea, I had to appreciate them and their passion. I’m not sure how their frontman, Levi Benton, was able to stand by the end of their set as he never stopped moving or head-banging (with considerable force), but this energy and enthusiasm was clearly something that their fans also adopted while watching the metalcore quintet.
Then, the moment I had been waiting for, Mayday Parade stepped out onto the main stage to a packed audience of 6000+. The band lacked their drummer, Jake Bundrick, due to medical reasons (and instead had a replacement) but this didn’t seem to phase the band as they launched into the first song of their set and I was immediately sent back in time to my early teenage years. Mayday Parade, for me, are like an aged-wine, only getting better and better with time. I may be a little biased, but I felt like the entire audience was in the same boat as me, as we all watched the 11-year-old rock/pop-punk band play hit after hit. Lead vocalist, Derek Sanders, looked as happy as could be as they smashed through their set and took a photo of the large crowd that had turned up to watch them, as requested by his daughter apparently. Again, a little biased, but the five-piece were definitely the highlight of the day for me.
The rest of the day consisted of the same kind of thing – running from stage to stage to catch as many bands as possible, and I managed to see Yellowcard (who played popular album Ocean Avenue from start to finish after some minor technical issues), The Amity Affliction, Mallory Knox, Four Year Strong, New Found Glory, Memphis May Fire, Of Mice & Men, and headliners Panic! at the Disco.
Panic! at the Disco were interesting headliners in my opinion, as they have recently become more mainstream which is far from the running theme of genres of the other acts on this year’s line up. However, this meant absolutely nothing as everyone possible seemed to head to the main stage ready to see the popular band take to the main stage. This was their second show of the day, after rushing from BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend to get to Birmingham in time for a short nap before hitting the stage – as frontman Brendon Urie told the crowd. The rock band absolutely smashed their set, performing hit after hit, with the crowd singing along to every single word. The atmosphere was incredible and was definitely a perfect end to an exciting and incredible day. My first time at Slam Dunk festival but it certainly won’t be the last!