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Slam Dunk Festival 2014


The UK's greatest all day festival was booming for the last day of glorious weather and beer faces. Wolverhampton was the last date of the 3 day bank holiday tour, which included bands from all around the globe to rejoice in pop punk, alternative and metal music.

The day started with heading to the Macbeth stage, where the stage would b in ore to some great ska/punk bands, which was later to be headlined by Less Than Jake. 1:30pm arrived and the stage was greeted by Fandangle, the room enhanced by a good number of fans awaiting the return of a comeback band, one of several on the Macbeth stage during Slam Dunk. All seven bands members appeared on the stage to a roaring crowd who were clearly delighted to see them perform. To start the day, this was delight. The fans were pumped with excitement and beer and it was clear to see that Fandangle were happy with the turnout for the start of the day. Being the first time I have seen Fandangle, I was not disappointed in the slightest. A great start to the Macbeth stage as well as the festival itself.

After a quick exit, I went to catch The First who performed on the Cheer Up stage. Entering the room, it had gathered an audience who looked ready for the set. It wasn't possible to get close to the barrier as fans crowded as closely as possible to the band themselves to experience the full potential of The First. The five piece melodic rock band from Cambridge got the crowd jumping from song number one, and sing-a-longs happened throughout with such songs from their first album 'Swimming With Sharks (2010') such as 'Kicks' and 'Sit Tight,' as well as getting the crowd moving with songs of their most recent album 'Take Courage' which was released in 2013. I have seen The First many times and they have never been disappointed with a performance. From the first time I saw them I was hooked with their catchy choruses, guitar solos and cheeky personalities.

After a short pizza break in true pop punk style, I made my way over to the Atticus stage which hosted a variety of pop punk bands throughout the day. I was about to see the band I had most been looking forward to, A Loss For Words. The Boston four piece started the set off with a boom, with a mixture of new and older tracks, including a cover of 'I want You Back' by The Jackson 5 which got the crowd jumping and beer spilling! This was one of the best performances I had seen of A Loss For Words and you could truly see that they were stoked to be there. It was obvious to see that some people hadn't heard of the band before, but it was clear that everyone left with a smile, inspiration and happiness after seeing the incredible display of A Loss For Words.

Heading the Macbeth stage the atmosphere around the entrance to the stage was ecstatic. I was about to experience Gnarwolves. Gnarwolves have created a lot of hype over the last year due to their raw edgy punk rock vibes, not only have they not released an album as of yet, but they are playing the main stage of Reading Festival. I knew this was going to be something special. As soon as the first song started, the crowd roared and people were stage diving left, right and centre. I'm pretty sure the stage crew didn't expect the amount of bodies flaying towards them from all angles. LetLive's front man, Jason Butler, was seen side stage throughout the full set showing his appreciation for UK punk. Gnarwolves in turn appreciating that he was there to enjoy the vibes. I was so overwhelmed by the dedication of the audience, everyone singing in time and I was so surprised of how many people knew all the lyrics. It was a completely amazing experience.

After feeling overwhelmed by the Gnarwolves experience I took the time to have a wonder around the grounds. I was very interested to see Marmozets who have also caused hype due to their female screaming vocals. The first band of its kind to come out in a while, a mixture between Paramore and Iwrestledabearonce, they have no fear in causing and energetic crowd. Entering the Cheer Up stage, the room was filled with people of all ages, curious to see what was in store. The set started with booming energy with their track 'Why do you hate me?' which has been featured on music channels for months now. The band had created a lot of atmosphere within minutes and the crowd where singing in time with the band. The band itself were so energetic, surprisingly I was a little taken back from their stage presents. The band moved in every direction, with the drummer standing on his kit a few times, and one of the guitarists was swinging his guitar around as if he was in an early Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy. I was not disappointed at all, in fact they blew my expectation right out of the window! I was so happy I got to see them.

So, my day was slowly coming to an end, but I had two more bands which I was eager to check out. The sky was getting slowly darker, drinks were flowing and the atmosphere was buzzing. I made my way over to the Monster Stage where I was about to see LetLive for the first time. The crowd was easily the biggest crowd of the day so far, stretching back into the food stalls, with all eyes focused on the stage. Jason Butler burst onto the stage with his band and threw his vocals across the crowd with 'Banshee' off their most recent album 'The Blackest Beautiful.' The crowd erupted with crowd surfing and throwing down! Jason, as renowned for, was diving all over the stage, so where at one point his mic got stuck in the framework above him on the stage... throughout the next song after many attempts of singing and climbing the stage frame, he got it down with a little tug. My eyes were fixated on the stage, so much movement not only from the band but also the crowd. They were alive! Tracks were switched between their most recent album and 'Fake History' where Jason Butler made a long speech being thankfuul for everyone who has ever supported him, and closing his statment with "if any motherfucker thinks its right to beat women, then you come up here now and I will show you!" To which the song 'Murther' was performed. This was one of my favourite LetLive songs and it was perfect. The band are renowned for their incredible stage performance, chaotic and energetic. I was completely taken in by the whole set and would encourage everyone to see LetLive for themselves.

The sun had set, and lastly I made my way over to the Macbeth stage to see the legendary pop punk band, Less Than Jake. I saw LTJ many times throughout my teen years and always used to get myself pumped up for days on end before their shows. The room was full, full of many ages, who were all ready to be moved by the music. They exploded onto the stage, trumpets galore. I was so impressed with the variations of tracks throughout their 8 studio albums. The quirkiness of the band still lives on even after many years of not seeing the band. Throughout their set, they made a point of getting the crowd involved. Nearing the end of the show they got a male and a female onstage, so that eventually during the song they would be hooked up by LTJ and kiss, after a few fails on the female side, a girl managed to kiss the guy on stage, after a massive roar of applause from the audience.

Overall, Slam Dunk Wolverhampton was a blast. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's easily the best all day festival if you're looking for pop punk, new artists and plenty of pizza. The line up was brilliant, the bands were on top form and the weather was immaculate. Perfecto!

By Emma-Marie Whittenham

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