LIVE REVIEW: SLAM DUNK 2016 @ THE NEC, BIRMINGHAM

With Slam Dunk well and truly over and the post festival blues have set in, we look at one of the best UK travelling festivals. Bringing numerous bands to our shores and some of the best in the UK music scene, its no wonder that its a massive hit and has continuously grown since its inception.

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Mallory Knox – Photo Credit: Avondale Media

When I first listened to Blood Youth, I must admit – I had my doubts, due to the fact that in such a saturated genre – it wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before. However, being both the first band on my agenda as well as the first time I’d see the hardcore unit live; that all changed when the band blasted on stage and blew my mind. Playing a crushing set-list consisting of songs such as 24/7, Failure and Cold SweatBlood Youth proved to me that they are, without a doubt a band that are going places, and quickly at that. (7.5)

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Four Year Strong – Photo Credit: Avondale Media

One of the bands that I was most excited to see was Sydney’s metalcore giants, Northlane. I’d seen the band twice with previous vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes, once on the Never Say Die! Tour and another when they supported Architects; and considering they’re one of my favourite bands, Fitipaldes was a deadweight in his live performance. On the other hand, new vocalist Marcus Bridge has helped blast Northlane into the stratosphere, helping form the band Northlane were born to be – playing music with an excellent work of musicianship and sound experimentation with an underlying tone. Opening with one of their oldest songs, Dispossession, I knew I had to come out of mosh retirement for that crushing breakdown. Songs like ‘Rot’, the atmospherically biting ‘Leech’ and the tectonic force of ‘Quantum Flux’ sends the room into raptures, and it’s clear to everyone at the Atlas stage that Northlane don’t fuck about when it comes to blowing people’s minds.

This performance left no room for doubt that Northlane are not just one of the best bands of the day, they’re one of the best bands of our generation and keeps listeners on the edge of our seats for exciting new material in the future. (9/10)

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Yellowcard – Photo Credit: Avondale Media

I BRING THE WEATHER WITH ME” roars The Amity Affliction’s Joel Birch which kickstarts undoubtedly the most emotional set of the day. Although I’ve been a fan of The Amity Affliction for many years – it’s fair to say that the themes and structure of their songs haven’t really changed; verses are an open forum for frontman Birch to scream away his demons, while choruses are the soapbox for Ahren Stringer and his clean vocals. This is usually followed by a bridge to a callout “Hey Death, get fucked” etcetera and then breakdown, build up, and back to the chorus – it’s pretty repetitive. However, I Bring The Weather With Me is different – its catchy melodies, screamed lead vocals and thick, melodic riffs pull together to form one cohesive sound that you can tell has been tweaked to near perfection, and it sounds epic live. The rest of the setlist consisted of someone of the band’s most emotional songs: Death’s Hand. Don’t Lean On Me and Open Letter – all of which struck emotions in every member of the crowds heart and mind, reminding us all why Amity are one of the most important bands in modern day music. (8.5/10)

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Of Mice & Men – Photo Credit: Avondale Media

Four Year Strong was one of the highlights of my day, throwing themselves around the stage and proving themselves time and time again as to why they are at the top of their game and are still going with numerous albums with rave reviews. With song such as ‘Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die’‘Manic (ROD)’ on the setlist its one hell of a ride with Alan Day jumping off the stage to scream into the crowd, this is one hell of an energetic set and I never wanted it to end. Finishing up on ‘Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)’ couldn’t have been a better choice, as everyone knew the lyrics and drowned out Dan O’Connor, shouting back the lyrics at him arms aloft, fingers pointing. Four Year Strong go from strength to strength and I can’t see it slowing down any time soon! (9/10)

 

It’s no doubt that Of Mice & Men have been at the top of their genre for quite some time now with release after release being successes and it showed here with a headline spot on the Atlas Stage. Unfortunately I can no longer find joy in watching them, while musically they are spot on and with Austin Carlile at the helm, he has steered them to new heights, but yet I found their performance to be boring and uninspired. (7/10) 

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Of Mice & Men – Photo Credit: Avondale Media

Now for the moment I’d been waiting for all day, the behemoths that are Every Time I Die on the Impericon Stage. They open with the first track from 2009’s New Junk Aesthetic album, Roman Holiday – with guitarist Andy Williams playing the intro in a single light, which made the experience quite harrowing, to say the least. Keith Buckley‘s vocals are formidable, both on record and during live performances, giving that all important energy boost to the heavier songs in their repertoire such as No Son Of Mine, Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space and Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Battery. New song Glitches, a song from the band’s upcoming album sees blistering vocals from Buckley and thundering drums from Daniel Davidson shows how, musically, Every Time I Die are above and beyond most, if not all bands in the alternative scene at the moment as they’ve always been a band that boast the elements which play to the bands strengths.

Every Time I Die have never been one of those bands who have had opportunities handed to them easily, but have worked in order to get themselves to where they are now. Their music, stage presence and music speaks for itself and it is clear that they are more than just a band – they have become an ethos and truly are the best band in the world. (10/10).

This was a once in a lifetime event for myself, as i’m not a huge fan of Panic! At The Disco, I’ve never really found much time to listen to their newer releases and stick to their older releases such as ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ ‘Nine In The Afternoon’, much to my detriment though, as their performance was 100% better than anything I ever could have imagined, with Brendan Urie’s voice being the most talked about point, hitting the highest notes and smashing every song he performed.

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Panic! At The Disco – Photo Credit: Avondale Media

It was the last few songs I enjoyed the most, with the inclusion of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which would have impressed Freddie Mercury and had the whole crowd, young & old on their feet shouting as loud as they could, every single word as if their life depended on it! (10/10)

I wouldn’t be able to think of a better way to finish one of the top UK festivals this year, with an increased capacity in a new venue, no one new what to expect but Ben Ray has done it again, year after year he has created one of the finest most affordable festival and it’s only going to get better!

Written by Jack Simmonds & Sean Shore

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