A ROUND UP by Craig Harston & Kayleigh Nickson

The UK’s premier punk, ska and emo festival Slam Dunk returned this past weekend with a bang! Following criticisms from 2023’s event; which included queues of over an hour long for food, toilets and car parking, the organisers pulled out all the stops this year to make it a vastly improved experience for all who attended! Shame the weather didn’t get the memo, especially for the North event!

Slam Dunk North (Bella Proudfoot/Northern Exposure)

The Dangerous Summer

The Dangerous Summer opened the Slam Dunk stage to a fairly sizeable turnout for such an early time slot and while their brand of emo isn’t for everyone they got a decent response from those down the front. Lead-singer AJ Perdomo finished the set wandering through an enthusiastic crowd singing along with him to ‘The Permanent Rain‘ (an apt song considering the weather!).

Big D and The Kids Table

Over on the Monster Energy stage, Boston’s Big D And The Kids Table delivered an energetic set with their punk infused ska. Kicking off with ‘LA.X‘ to really get the crowd going, they following this up with several songs from their most popular albums (How It Goes, Strictly Rude and Fluent In Stroll), mixing the more punked up songs (Souped Up Vinyl, My Girlfriend’s On Drugs) with their more laidback ska songs (Shining On, Chin Up, Boy!). They finished strong with ‘Noise Complaint‘, but no one was complaining about the noise after such a great set!

Big D and The Kids Table (Craig Harston)

Mad Caddies

Mad Caddies (Craig Harston)

The sun started to make an appearance during Mad Caddies performance. The Californian ska veterans played a great set, including two songs from this years Arrows Room 117 (Palm Trees And Pines, Baby) plus a 5 song run of pre-2004 songs (Contraband, Monkeys, Road Rash, Weird Beard and Drinking For 11) which pleased new and old fans alike! They even made time for their reggae cover of Green Day’s ‘She’.

The Skints

The sun stuck around for The Skints with the tropical punk band from London Town delivering a typically sunny set of songs. From the super-fast vocals on ‘Rat-A-Tat‘ to the more laidback ‘Lay You Down‘, the punked up ‘Learning To Swim‘ to paying tribute to their roots with a cover of Capdown’s ‘Cousin Cleotis‘, The Skints were one of the highlights of the day!

H20

Over on the Key Club Stage, old school hardcore band H2O pleased the crowd with a great mix of classics (1995, Guilty By Association) and crowd interaction, with frontman Toby Morse spending the majority of his time right in front of the crowd.

The Bouncing Souls

Back at the Monster Energy stage, New Jersey’s The Bouncing Souls kept the party going with a great range of songs from across their career. The rain was absolutely pouring down by this point (and singer Greg Attonito seemed to be dressed like a football manager) but this didn’t prevent the huge crowd from enjoying the likes of Hopeless Romantic, Sing Along Forever, Lean On Sheena, The Ballad Of Johnny X, Ten Stories High, East Coast! Fuck You! And True Believers!

Pennywise

Pennywise (Craig Harston)

Pennywise were up next, opening with the song Pennywise (from the album Pennywise). Similar to The Bouncing Souls, they played a great set from across their career, including Fuck Authority, Society and Living For Today, and of course finishing with the absolute anthem that is Bro Hymn. They also took the time to poke fun at ‘quitters’ NOFX, including a medley of Bob, Kill All The White Man and The Brews!

Goldfinger

Goldfinger

Hitting the stage in their signature suits, California ska punk legends Goldfinger were up next. John Feldmann showed once again why he’s one of the best frontmen in the punk scene, engaging the crowd with his usual banter. Playing all the classics (Here In Your Bedroom, Spokesman, Superman) as well as a few newer songs (Get What I Need, Wallflower) they finished as usual with their cover of Nena’s ’99 Red Balloons’ with accompanying balloons released into the crowd! Another highlight of the day!

The Interupters

The Interrupters

The punk stage headliners this year were The Interrupters, and they proved once again why they’ve risen so quickly within the punk scene! Kicking off with ‘Gave You Everything‘, they got the whole crowd dancing to their classics, including ‘Friend Like Me‘, ‘Title Holder‘, ‘Babylon‘, ‘On A Turntable‘, ‘Take Back The Power‘ and ‘She Got Arrested‘, plus showcasing songs from latest album In The Wild (Kiss The Ground, In The Mirror, Raised By Wolves). Lead-singer Aimee Interrupter bounced around the stage through every song while Kevin Bivona took care of the crowd interaction in between, including paying tribute to their hero, the late Terry Hall.

Waterparks

by Kayleigh Nickson

Over to the KERRANG! stage and Texas band Waterparks are given the honour of closing the legendary magazine line up. The tent was packed out to the point that lead singer, Awsten Knight, asked the crowd if people were there to hide from the rain but they weren’t. They were all there to see them put on an incredible show. Awsten wore his signature stage makeup, a UV reactive green cross on one eye and a red star on the other.

The band had so much energy and engaged with the crowd during the entire set, getting everyone to jump around and create mosh pits while performing some of their songs off their newest album Intellectual Property such as ‘RITUAL‘ and ‘SNEAKING OUT OF HEAVEN‘. They surprised me by performing ‘Blonde‘ and ‘Stupid For You‘, some of their older hits, towards the beginning of the show and treated the crowd to their newest single ‘SOULSUCKER‘ which was only released that day.

I have personally seen Waterparks multiple times in the past and every time they get better. It’s a shame that their performance at Slam Dunk will be the last UK show of the year but hopefully we will get a new tour when their next album ‘Intellectual Property 2: Lost In The Property‘ is released. I’m excited to see what this band has to offer now that they aren’t tied down to a label.

Even with the typically awful British weather, the car park drama and the shuttle queues; you still absolutely rocked!

About The Author