Slam Dunk Festival – South, Hatfield Park – LIVE REVIEW

Lower Than Atlantis, Slam Dunk South – Hatfield Park, 27.05.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

We’ve been waiting all year long and we’re finally here. Festival Season is upon us, is suspiciously sunny out, and Slam Dunk South 2018 is a go.

For eight years Slam Dunk South’s home has been the campus of Hertfordshire University. The site definitely had its plus points not least of which was the distinct lack of grass, or mud more specifically.

Whilst Hertfordshire Uni’s intimate nature has felt special in previous years it inevitably led to capacity and health and safety issues, so this year the festival relocated to the much roomier Hatfield Park.

Overlapping stage sounds aside, the site change was an improvement and luckily the Bank Holiday weekend was a gloriously sunny one so mud issues were avoided.

In true Slam Dunk style, all seven stages homed their own sub-genre of rock music but the genre lines were certainly much more blurred this year then they have been previously, causing utter clash carnage, so we chose a stage and we stuck to it.

Curating this line up was far from easy with Thursday, Real Friends and Set Your Goals all dropping out soon after their names were added to the poster. But that didn’t mean that the festival was without it’s typically exclusive performances.

The Audition, Slam Dunk South – Hatfield Park, 27.05.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

Chicago’s The Audition have been absent from UK shores for some time, making sporadic appearances online and hinting at new music here and there. Slam Dunk marked their gloriously sassy return to the British stage where they reminded us just how much they’ve been missed.

Frontman Danny Stevens not only gave one of the best vocal performances of the day but did it with the sort of dance moves and hand movements that TSwift could only dream of.

The Audition also appear to be wizards of some form because as they blasted into Make It Rain – it rained.

Creeper, Slam Dunk South – Hatfield Park, 27.05.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

Over on the other main stage Creeper were giving the theatrically perfect set that their huge fan base has come to expect and adore but today keyboardist Hannah Greenwood took to the front of the stage.

As one of a very, very, very small number of women on this year’s Slam Dunk line up, Greenwood was waving the flag for girls everywhere whilst singing a ballad that needs lungs built for belting – Crickets.

Moose Blood, Slam Dunk South – Hatfield Park, 27.05.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

When Slam Dunk, and literally everybody else who has booked them this year, announced that Moose Blood had a place on their line up, the internet was more than a little furious.

Vocalist Eddy Brewerton has been accused of stealing photographs from a woman’s phone and sharing them on the band’s WhatsApp group.

Many, many, Twitter users have expressed their feelings that until that issue is entirely resolved the band should lay dormant. The band have entirely ignored this.

All things considered, it’s an incredibly brave move and one that in the real world looks like it’s paying off for them. As they took to the stage today the crowd exploded into applause of loyalty and support. Their set was a very humble one with minimal crowd interaction and a subdued feel but the fans picked up the energy.

Lower Than Atlantis, Slam Dunk South – Hatfield Park, 27.05.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

That restrained ambience was utterly annihilated when Hertfordshire locals, Lower Than Atlantis, took complete ownership of the stage.

Maybe we’ll never know what’s happened behind the scenes recently, but Lower Than Atlantis are an entirely new band. Their laddish nature is still very much evident but it’s overshadowed by a reckless, pure rock ‘n’ roll, live performance.

Mirroring their recent UK tour, vocalist Mike Duce pounced into the crowd at multiple opportunities, pulled Sleeping With Siren’s Kellin Quinn on stage to chug a beer and cracked up at every single crowd surfer he saw before he finally limped off of the stage.

Once some of the best British acts of our time had shown everybody else how it’s done – the American big boys landed.

Taking Back Sunday, Slam Dunk South – Hatfield Park, 27.05.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

Taking Back Sunday are one of the most iconic bands of the past decade and potentially one of the best choices for Slam Dunk Festival.

Through Cute with the E, MakeDamnSure and A Decade Under The Influence all of the trademark Taking Back Sunday moves were there.

Adam Lazarra still spins that mic chord round his neck and whilst 2002 was a really long time ago he is just as mesmerising as he has always been, now with added tongue-in-cheek sense of humour.

Jimmy Eat World, Slam Dunk South – Hatfield Park, 27.05.2018 Photo Credit: Hayley Smith

Festival headliners should have made a huge impression on the music industry over a long and established career. Nobody fits that criteria better than Jimmy Eat World.

Formed in 1993 Jimmy Eat World have released nine studio albums and influenced countless bands that followed – most of whom are playing this festival today.

Their set was an hour a half journey through their discography showcasing the far reaches of their music. The inspiring, the depressing, the instrumental masterpieces, the lyrical triumphs – they were all there.

Fittingly, their staging was much more restrained than that of Good Charlotte’s who were shooting streamers over on the other main stage. Jimmy Eat World don’t need any of those gimmicks. Their down to earth style has always been one of their selling points.

The piece of art that is Bleed American was front and centre in tonight’s set which opened with the title track and then A Praise Chorus before blasting through 25 years worth of defining records.

Whilst they wrapped up with Sweetness and The Middle the crowd were arguably louder than the band. That’s no surprise. These are two of the most recognisable, iconic, records ever made and everybody here felt supremely lucky to be hearing them live.

Whilst other festivals tend to celebrate a niche, a time, or a specific genre Slam Dunk is, and always will be, the party of the whole scene.

From classic acts to up and coming names, from pop-punk to heavy metal, from comeback sets to whole album play-throughs – Slam Dunk is where Dear Diary moments are made.

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