Live Reviews

Slam Dunk Festival 2010

Hertfordshire University
29th May, 2010

From its beginnings as a clubnight in Leeds, Slam Dunk as a brand has come quite some way. Always championing the latest pop-punk bands, and pulling in some big names from that world to boot, the festival has been attracting fans of the genre from all over the country for a good few years now. 2010 is the first year to see a southern version of the festival in Hertfordshire, at a university venue fairly similar to the venue that’s been its home for several years in Leeds. Whenever you try new things, there are bound to be some teething problems and this was certainly the case for Slam Dunk South but I shan’t dwell on the negatives as I’m sure the organizers will be plotting to totally overcome these next year.

First on our must-see list were Moneen, who are a sorely under-rated band but actually managed to pull a very respectable crowd of discerning music lovers despite being on so early and playing one of the outdoor stages whilst it was raining. As always, the band give it everything they’ve got and make their way through a number of brilliant tunes from their arsenal of material including the truly excellent ‘Are We Really Happy…’ After this we seek refuge from the rain in the biggest of the rooms at the festival (the Glamour Kills stage) to see some of Every Avenue’s set. Reeling off their own brand of perfectly polished pop-rock, the band have the quite sizeable crowd amassed to see them wrapped around their little fingers and everyone present is thoroughly enjoying what they’re hearing.

The Wonder Years’ set in a rather smaller room next door is almost impossible to experience properly due to the overflowing crowd that’s crammed into the space. There are quite a few people huddling round the entrance to the room who’re unable to really get close but stand and listen nonetheless. The band make the most of the situation with a frenetic and emphatic set that packs plenty of punches when it comes to melody. These guys are ones to watch this year, having just signed to Hopeless Records.

Set Your Goals keep the enthusiastic momentum going with an effervescent performance on the GK stage whilst Crime In Stereo suffer from a slightly smaller crowd on the Relentless stage but actually manage to deliver one of the most stunning sets of the day despite this. Four Year Strong’s turn on the main stage is triumphant, and quite rightly so as everyone seems to be hailing them the ‘saviours of pop-punk’ right now. They’re certainly throwing themselves into the idea of potentially filling that role. However, New Found Glory are the main event and really the kings of early 21st century pop-punk who are not yet ready to be de-throned! There’s no disputing their ability to captivate a crowd with the most perfectly chosen setlist which is always filled with sure-fire hits. There is not one lull as the band barrel through oldies such as ‘Hit or Miss’ alongside stellar new material like ‘Not Without A Fight’ and the hits do not let up all the way through to the ultimate set-closer ‘My Friends Over You’. You can’t really fault them. The only thing is they almost have TOO many good songs these days.

Despite its troubles, Slam Dunk South will undoubtedly be seen as a success by the many attendees who managed to get around the organizational difficulties. Here’s hoping they can make it even better next year!