Back in March I was flicking through my copy of Kerrang! and when I reached the Kommunity section I noticed that next week’s prize would be a pair of tickets to Slam Dunk Festival. On the previous page I had checked out the line-up and after spotting a few of my favourite bands I thought I might as well go for it, even if I were to get featured it would be cool. I emailed Kerrang! over a doodle I had done a couple of days before, inspired by their cover featuring Oli Sykes. For a couple of days I hadn’t heard anything and thought maybe my email hadn’t been seen. However, as I was walking through town I thought I would grab the latest copy. As soon as I opened the magazine I saw my photo. And my name. And the word “WINNER.” I started shaking and as I went to pay at the counter I handed the cashier the change and said, “I’ve just found out I’ve won tickets to a festival.”
“Oh, right,” she replied. The woman didn’t care. But, I did.
Weeks later and I am now suffering from a severe case of the post gig blues after a hella busy couple of days.
For those who don’t know Slam Dunk takes place over three days across the North, South and Midlands with a full day line up of a variety of bands which perform across multiple stages. I had a choice of location and the Midlands was the easy choice with the venue being at the NEC Birmingham.
After a crazy couple of weeks the 28th May snook up on us and before we knew it it was time to pile into the car and head to Birmingham. We checked into our hotel, dumped our bags, stuffed our faces quick and headed to the arena. Once we had parked up at the NEC, like sheep we followed fellow gig goers to the main entrance where at the Press List window we were quickly and efficiently given our wristbands and we were in. I couldn’t help but think how easy it was and I felt a little like a celeb.
Slam Dunk gives those attending the festival a chance to check out the lineup and schedule beforehand via their app which also allows you to favourite bands and signings and will notify you 15 minutes before the start of it which is super handy. We gave ourselves some time to grab a drink and go through the schedule to figure out how we were gonna go about the day.
With beers and ciders in hand we made our way to the Jägermeister stage for Knuckle Puck. I liked their sound and chilled towards the back of the crowd sipping my cider, anticipating what I knew was up next.
The festival has a variety of tents selling merch and amongst these tents is the Signing Tent which allows fans to meet bands and get autographs. At 2pm Sleeping With Sirens were up and my inner fan girl was freaking out. Yet, though the Slam Dunk app comes with an App we got a little lost making our way to the tent and by the time we got there the queue was rather long, meaning that I would not be joining that queue. Despite this I crept around to the front of the tent where a small crowd had gathered and here I found a space by the barrier and watched as other fans met the members of Sleeping With Sirens. At one point there was a lull and as Kellin Quinn looked up at me, a metre or so away, I waved awkwardly and he waved back smiling, “hi”. I ran to my boyfriend who was stood waiting at the mental fencing behind us, “Oh my God he waved at me!” I reclaimed my spot at the barrier and reverted back to my composed self…
I couldn’t tell here if Kellin was just posing for a selfie or in desperate need of a beer.
Back inside we caught the Devil Wears Prada at the Impericon Stage and then headed back over to the Jägermeister stage for State Champs. I knew of both of these bands and had heard some of their tracks before, with each band having a rather different sound from the other.
We stuck around at the Jägermeister stage, well at least my boyfriend and I did, ready for Sleeping With Sirens to come on stage. This was taking me back to 2015 when I first saw Sleeping With Sirens who were touring with Pierce the Veil at the time. If my inner fan girl hadn’t been unleashed already, it was about to be. The lights went down and to an uproar of screams the band walked onstage to open up with We Like it Loud which instantly got people moving- these guys know how to bring the energy. Their set list was filled with songs which would keep fans moving with hits such as Go Go Go, Better off Dead and Congratulations followed by classics like If I’m James Dean, Then You’re Audrey Hepburn, and If You Can’t Hang. The set was ended on a high with Kick Me where with each flash of the lights glimpses of fans basically just going sick could be seen- the best way to end a set.
However, not moments after the band had stepped off the stage it was time to run (in my case literally) back to the Impericon Stage for a band I had really been looking forward to seeing live for the first time- Crown The Empire. By the time we made it over to the stage their set had already begun. It was clear that these guys were here to have fun as they busted out some dance moves with lead vocalist Andrew urging fans to pass him drinks via the mode of crowd surfing. With performances of fan faves such as Hologram, Zero and Machines I was impressed with their set and the energy they brought with.
Soon after it was time for the main act I had been waiting for. A band I have already seen twice- PVRIS. I have done a gig review of the last of PVRIS’ shows we went to (which you can read here) and I think even then I expressed how proud of this band I am. I am also super open about my girl crush on Lynn Gunn. There had been an energy buzzing through the previous sets but with PVRIS the atmosphere was different, there were some hard-core PVRIS fans here, myself included. The band walked onstage like smokey angels bathed in black and white hues and suitably they opened up with Heaven. Throughout the set Lynn took the chance to show fans her versatility, taking the chance to switch between instruments and particularly slaying on the drums alongside band mate Brian and then switching back to guitar where she would jam alongside Alex. The trio performed a range of songs from both their first and second album featuring You and I, Winter, What’s Wrong and of course My House. However, No Mercy was once again the highlight of the set as Lynn made her way into the crowd holding onto fans for support as she showed off her powerful vocals. The notes that girl can hit are enough to cause a standstill. A voice both pure and raw, like a bad ass angel.
After singing my heart out (rather out of pitch according to the vids I caught) and jumping around like crazy, my energy was burning low. This called for another drink and a stroll around the merch stalls before our final band of the day.
I felt so lucky to be given the chance to see Good Charlotte whose songs were anthems for so many, opening up with that particular song, The Anthem. This show took me way back to so many different points in my life as the band performed their classics such as I Just Wanna Live, Girls & Boys and I Don’t Wanna Be In Love (Dance Floor Anthem). The band really connected with the audience, chatting about their music, explaining why they took a break from music and why they started making music again, making us feel like one big family, after all, we were all there for the same reason. Ending the night with Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous was everything I had hoped for and more.
I am so happy and so grateful that my first festival got to be at Slam Dunk. After such a stressful couple of weeks it felt so good to just let loose and go crazy. I actually felt relaxed like I didn’t need to think about anything else other that what band I wanted to see next. I felt like I was part of a community, it didn’t matter if I was dancing around like crazy or fan girling over bands or screaming and shouting because everyone else was too. It was a place for people to come together and just appreciate music and all that comes with it.
The best day thanks to the amazing people at Slam Dunk and Kerrang! Already ready to do it all over again next year!
If anyone else was there it would be cool to know what bands you checked out or what bands you would like to see in future!
Slam Dunk 2018, you were a blast!
Peace and love guys xo