I’m going to put it out there straight away and say that the line-up has been better… But we still saw some great bands put on a show, the sun shone (for some of it) and the beer was flowing, so we can’t complain, can we?
Dean and I went to both Slam Dunk North and Slam Dunk Midlands, this is because we can stay in both locations on a budget and transport is much easier/cheaper. We go to two of the three dates so that we can fit in all the bands we’d like to see because with a decent line-up, there are far more clashes than anyone would want.
I started to list my top three favourite bands at Slam Dunk but I realised there are actually way more, some of which are smaller bands just making their name, and others are bands that I already knew would put on a great show.
Broadside are a fairly new band for me, even though a little bit of Googling has revealed that they formed in 2010, so they aren’t new to this! Not only do I enjoy their music, they put their personality into the show and were truly grateful for the crowd. The vocalist kept thanking us for the applause and aside from being a great live band, they showed their human side which is a bit emotional to see and really makes a performance, in my opinion.
Four Year Strong
Now FYS had two sets, one of which was on the acoustic stage. I’m going to say that I enjoyed both but I preferred the acoustic set. Whilst the main set was energetic, fun and exciting to watch, the acoustic set brought more personality to the stage. There’s something really moving about such a raw and personal set where the artists make comments in between songs more than just “how are we all?” and “the next song is…” We watched FYS acoustic in both Leeds and Birmingham, and whilst the Birmingham set was beautifully played with the electric guitars, the Leeds performance actually topped it for me. The electric guitars weren’t working so it was up to Dan and Alan to think on their feet and play some songs on acoustic guitar that perhaps weren’t as well-rehearsed or planned (even though I personally thought they still sounded ace!)
While a lot of bands bring out the inflatable pineapples/tomatoes/unicorns/rubber rings etc., it’s not every day that a band incorporates that into their comments between songs and tells little anecdotes that really show their human side as well. On this occasion, I’m talking about backing vocalist, Alex Adam. It was fun to watch the band play and also listen to them in between songs just talk amongst themselves, unrehearsed, totally random anecdotes and conversation. It’s the human-edge that really improves a performance for me, by the looks of this!
I had only seen Moose Blood once prior to SDF18 and it turns out that they are even better to watch when you know the words – I suppose that’s true for most live music though! When I first saw them support A Day To Remember, I knew I liked them but listening to them since and then seeing them live, I definitely enjoy their music. There was nothing super personal about the performance, I think it was just comparing this performance to their supporting performance, I really noticed how much I like listening to them and the live performance was no different from a recording. A band who can truly perform their songs and recreate the MP3 sounds, is a band I like to watch.
Me vs Hero
After hearing them discuss that they were no longer a band and that they had reunited specifically for SDF18, I think that’s where the emotion and the personal performance kicked in. The passion that MVH put into their performance, through the words they were singing and the conversation in between songs really did just hit it home to me that this was their last performance – which possibly made me appreciate it more. I had never seen them live before so I feel lucky to have caught them at SDF18, particularly if it was their very last ever performance like they said!
Despite them being super hungover on the Monday in Birmingham, they still managed to put on a brilliant show. Not all bands take the time to thank the security for keeping the crowd and band safe, and take notice of the members of the crew that perhaps don’t get as much recognition. It’s that down to earth feeling and then the energy in the performance that I really enjoy about Zebrahead. They have fun on the stage without defacing their music, or just messing around on stage.
As It Is
Again, a fairly new band for me, although they have been around since 2012. This was the first time I had seen As It Is after hearing them on a Waterparks radio on Spotify, and they really lived up to what I’d hoped. Although they didn’t show too much of their personalities on stage, the passion that went into the performance and hearing some of their catchy tunes live definitely popped them into my favourite performances of this year’s festival.
I don’t even know a lot of their songs apart from 99 Red Balloons and I still love watching them live – that’s a true performance if someone who doesn’t even know the music can enjoy watching them. This band is the same age as me and somehow the vocalist has far more energy! They bring a lot of fun, energetic vibes to the stage, and add something new too. This year they had a crowdsurfing competition between two people in the crowd and gave them each a beer on stage afterwards. With a mixture of the personal aspect of the performance and engagement with the crowd, I think Goldfinger really nailed it with their performance – they have definitely had years of practice!
There you have it, my favourite bands from SDF18. Did you go this year? Which date(s) did you go to? Who were your favourite performances?