Gig Review

Slam Dunk Midlands 2013
Wolverhampton Civic
27th May 2013

The sun is shining in Wolverhampton today, and that’s great as we’ve got Slam Dunk to go too and with 2 outdoor stages we need all the sun possible. The queues have already formed as thousands of rock, emo, pop punk and ska fans wait eagerly for the gates to open. At one they let the crowds into the festival site so they can get ready for a long day of fun, and the majority head indoors to catch the first band.

Photo Of Heart In Hand © Copyright Robert LawrenceSo the first band Jude and myself catch at Slam Dunk is Heart in Hand (2.5/5), a UK melodic hardcore band, honestly it's not the most electrifying start to the day. It's pretty much by the numbers, the vocalist fancies himself as Frank from Pure Love in his Gallows era, not nearly as exciting though. (RL)

Next up is first band on the Wulfrun stage, American scene (3/5), nothing exciting here, it's very middle of the road rock I don't think a single punter here is a fan, I'm guessing they're here for the other bands on later as everyone is standing still void of emotion towards the band, the band are alright and would have been perfect in 1995 but far from special today. (RL)

Photo Of The Summer Set © Copyright James DalyThe Summer Set (3.5/5) kick things off in the main room which is bustling, no doubt allot of the people are here to get there place ready for the headline act All Time Low, but as they’ve got a long wait ahead of them. It’s good that the first band are in the same vein, very poppy and upbeat. They play lots of catchy songs and end with the cheesy but loveable, Chelsea, The Summer Set kick things off with a bang, let’s hope the rest of the day continues like this. (JD)

Photo Of Gnarwolves © Copyright Robert LawrenceGnarwolves (3/5) are next up on the Vans stage, they're a fun pop punk band and have drawn a bit of a crowd down one of the side streets where the stage is located, they are quite interactive with the crowd which are responding in kind, at times the sound is very bass heavy, so it comes across at times as a mess of sound with vocals, bu the crowd seem to love it. (RL)

Transit (3/5) are next up on the Wulfrun stage, they are a US emo band, it's surprisingly catch easy to listen to stuff but it really lacks a punch in the sound and attitude it needs more umph, other than that its alright music. (RL)

Photo Of Tonight Alive © Copyright  James DalyTonight Alive (2.5/5) have travelled all the way from Australia for these gigs, and I think all those miles and all the gigs around the UK have took it out of them, they play a nice enough set but the sound isn't really suited to this size of venue, Jenna's vocals are a little lacklustre and the songs lack any real power. There are good points though, they move about the stage with great prowess, and the fans in this heaving room really dig them, so it could just be me missing their appeal. (JD)

Photo Of MC Lars © Copyright Robert LawrenceNext up on the vans stage, is MC Lars (4/5) , I haven't seen this laptop rap guy in quite a few years, he's as lively and funny as ever, turning the super mario brothers theme into a rap song, he raps very much tongue in cheap and his mid song banter is quite amusing too, getting some fans on stage to skank will endear him further to his fans here today. (RL)

The Story So Far (3/5) are next up on the Wulfrun stage, they are a US pop punk band, they're quite lively, with the liveliest crowd I've seen so far today, not a bad band by any means but feels very familiar, but one of the better pop punk bands on offer today playing a very lively set that keeps the crowd energised from start to finish, so much so that I only get to shoot 1 song in the pit. (RL)

Photo Of Mallory Knox © Copyright James DalyMallroy Knox (4/5) burst onto the stage like they own it with all the power and attitude of a veteran band. They may have only been going a few years but they've worked hard to be as good as they are and it really, shows. The crowd sing along and mosh like maniacs especially to the “woe ohs” of death rattle. This band are up the way up and definitely deserve their place, on the main stage. (JD)

Photo Of We Are The Ocean © Copyright Robert LawrenceWe Are The Ocean (5/5) take to the main stage situated in the Civic Hall around 4:45pm, opening with 'Let It All Go' the room erupts! As expected, the fans are tightly packed in and really giving it some welly with the jumping and singing along, even with slightly slower paced, 'What It Feels Like'.

We Are The Ocean have been a band I've been meaning to catch live for a while, and I am 100% not disappointed today, they play a good mix of old and newer tracks and keep the crowd engaged at all times. Last but one track is the awesome 'Waiting Room' and once again the room erupts with huge energy. One of the best performances and atmospheres so far today. (JO)

Photo Of Spunge © Copyright James Daly[Spunge] (4/5)
are playing outside on the Vans Stage and are trying their best to brighten up the rain that’s just started. They play plenty of classic songs including Roots and Kicking Pigeons that get the whole outdoors jumping. They also throw in some nice banter between songs like; “if there’s one thing you take away from today, it’s that we are not dead” and “we don't have merch, as we couldn't be bothered to bring any, so if you want Spunge on your shirt, then find a mate with a pen”. They brighten the whole mood of the festival and the weather also agrees as the sun comes out towards the end of their set. (JD)

Photo Of Fireworks © Copyright Robert LawrenceFireworks (2.5/5), a pop punk band from the US are on the Wulfrun stage now, they have a bit of a following in the crowd, one thing that strikes me about this band is that a lot of their songs seem to build and build then don't go any where they just sing with a whimper and their stage presence only seems half arsed, not from the singer but from the rest of the band, maybe it's just tiredness I don't know, but its not a very convincing performance (RL)

Photo Of Sleeping With Sirens © Copyright James DalySleeping With Sirens (2.5/5) are on the main stage, and have the room waiting in anticipation to see one of the hottest bands around at the moment. Unfortunately there not as good as all the hype. They blast onto the stage jumping and twisting around, whilst singer Kellin Quinn screams down the mic. The sound is impressive, but the vocals are lacking but this doesn’t matter to the crowd as they lap it all up, including Quinns sickening intro to ‘A Trophy Fathers Trophy Son’ where he tells everyone how this is for all the people with deadbeat dads and for all the people who have to bring up their siblings, whilst yes it is rather heartfelt, it feels rather tacky at a festival especially when all the people here are basically agreeing and slating their own families who probably bought them a ticket to be here. They do play a decent set, but it really doesn’t stand out from the rest. (JD)

Photo Of Me Vs Hero © Copyright Robert LawrenceMe Vs Hero (3/5) are up next on the Vans stage, they're giving me a much needed lively shot in the arm, it's more pop punk tasticness, the die hard fans are at the front singing arms up in the air, but it peters out after a few rows of sparce crowd members. Their sound is lively and their on stage show is just as alive, and they get the crowd singing along, it seems that some of the crowd has disappeared as its feeling less crowded than it has been. (RL)

Photo Of Allister © Copyright Robert LawrenceAllister (4/5) are bringing a dowse of pop punk to the Macbeth Stage, by playing their iconic album Last Stop Suburbia in full. Although they’ve been back together since 2010 they haven’t been back to the uk since 2006, but the way they’re playing today it’s like they’ve never left. They’re on fire and play through this timeless album with a great amount of energy and they sound great. They get this bustling room bouncing and send them away feeling all warm and full of that lovely nostalgia. We hope they come back with a tour that includes other albums soon. (JD)

Photo Of Yashin © Copyright James DalyYashin (4.5/5) are playing on a stage that is only just about big enough to hold them, over at the Tiger Stage. The room is to capacity and we think it’s an odd choice that they’re playing this stage but when they kick into their set by playing ‘New Year Or New York’ it’s clear why, they love this intimate atmosphere as they get up close and personal with the audience. They play a stonking set and sound amazing, with the two singers making great harmonies whilst at the same time commanding the crowd to circle pit and have a great time. By the end of the set they’ve climbed on top of amps and have got the entire room hot and sweaty. (JD)

Photo Of Kids In Glass Houses © Copyright Robert LawrenceKids in Glass Houses (3.5/5) are the next band up on the main Civic stage today, slinging their particular brand of pop punkyness at this youthful crowd. They're a pretty decent live band and one of the better bands on this stage this afternoon I was expecting them to be higher up on the bill, they're a lively bunch and the crowd are just as lively as they blast through their set with ease, which seems to fly by without much interruption (RL)

Photo Of The Wonder Years © Copyright James DalyThe Wonder Years (4.5/5) are already in full swing as I fight my way into the Wulfrun Hall. They’re playing their newest song ‘Passing Through a Screen Door’ from their latest album ‘The Greatest Generation’ and everyone is getting into it. They play a great set that includes songs from all 3 of their albums, and even though singer Dan Campbell’s voice is going this doesn’t detract from the sound as the rest of the band all have mics and the audience helps by singing every word. They take the audience through up and downs as they sing about being disillusioned in your twenty’s, which bursts into an explosion of emotions as they play ‘The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves’ and the whole room chants “I came here looking for a fight!”. The Wonder Years show everyone on this bill how it’s done, and we can only hope they’ll be back later in the year with a tour of their own. (JD)

Photo Of Deaf Havana © Copyright Robert LawrenceDeaf Havana (4/5) are up next and it's a much needed change in Genre as pop punk is starting to wear a tad thin on my ears. A bit of alt rock is really a relief, and they deliver, it's still a tad radio friendly in places, they open with a cover of 'Let Me Entertain You' to get the crowd really into their set early on, and they keep the crowd engaged this would be a hard thing if they weren't such a good band, they have the time to take their set up and down a notch, which is good to give you a break from the fast and singular pace of the day. It's a really good set from a really good band (RL)

Photo Of Teh Skints © Copyright James DalyThe Skints (3.5/5) are bringing their unique form of Dub, Ska, and Reggae to the outside Vans Stage. They sound awesome and play songs such as Ratatat and Rise Up which get the moderate sized group that’s gathered all chilled out and mellowed. As well as sounding great they also look wonderful as the lighting hits the stage with blasts of greens and blues that make the band shine in the lowering natural light. They wrap up their set with Culture Vulture that has everyone begging for more. (JD)

Photo Of The Early November © Copyright Robert LawrenceMy last review of the day comes from The Early November (3/5). After getting my ears refreshed its back to listening to more radio friendly pop punk, I have to say that this band is again run of the mill, nothing really genre breaking apart from the odd bit of heaviness every now and again, and its not surprising as the second biggest stage hardly has anyone here to watch them, it's a quarter full if that, average at best. (RL)

Photo Of All Time Low © Copyright Robert LawrenceAll Time Low (4.5/5) are headlining the main stage, and have a jam packed room to play in front of. The girls that got their early to get a place at the front, remain in their majority ready to raise the roof with their screams and chants of All Time Low! The Baltimore four take to the stage and blast away with 2 hit songs, ‘Lost In Stereo’ and ‘Damned If I Do Ya’ which has the whole room singing along and rocking out. They do their normal bit of entertaining everyone with their witty if not dirty one liners, as well as jumping around the stage and placing Bra’s that the girls through onto their microphones. They continue their pop punk infused show with songs like ‘Neverland’, ‘Stella’. ‘Pillowtalk’,’Time Bomb’, ‘Jessy Rae’ before ending their set with their biggest hits ‘Weightless’ and ‘Dear Maria’. They close the main stage in style and make it clear why they’re the main act on the billing. (JD)

Photo Of Four Year Strong © Copyright Robert LawrenceFour Year Strong (4/5) headline the Macbeth Stage and have a room that’s only half full due to the scheduling of having 5 headline bands play at the same time, which is clearly a shame as they put on a great show by playing songs such as ‘Tonight We Feel Alive’ ‘What The Hell is a Gigawatt?’ and ‘Enemy of the World’. The bearded foursome, sound wicked, the levels make them sound as good as they do recorded and even the security guards can’t help but mosh along to the pop punk goodness. They finish their set with the massive songs ‘It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now’ and ‘Wasting Time’ which sends everyone who stuck around for this treat home happy. (JD)

Photo Of King Prawn © Copyright James DalyKing Prawn (4/5) are fighting a tough battle, being up against 4 other headliners on the bill and to be fair most of the crowd here today probably hadn’t heard of them, as the average age here is probably 15 and the band haven’t played a gig in almost 10 years, but a good sized crowd has gathered to see the bands great comeback! They sound amazing, it’s almost as if they hadn’t been away, the audience lap up their ska/dub/punk vibes and dance into the night as they play songs such as ‘Racist Copper’ ‘Day In Day Out’ and ‘Dominant View’. They end the day on a high and show that there’s allot more to come from them, so if you don’t know who they are, check them out now as Photo Of Punk © Copyright James Dalythey’ll be around for a while to come and are ready to convert newcomers into the world of the mighty King Prawn! (JD)

Overall today has been a huge success, the bands have been amazing, the crowd have all had fun and were up for it, the security have been great(especially the one that gave me a can of monster), and it has been organised to the best level. I sincerely hope they bring it back to the midlands next year as it has been one of the best festivals I’ve ever been too (and I’ve been to allot!).

To see more of Rob Lawrence's photos from the event Click Here
To see more of James Daly's photos from the event Click Here

Review By Robert Lawrence, James Daly And Jude Onions
Photos By Robert Lawrence And James Daly

 Slam Dunk Festival 2013

Wolverhampton Civic
27th May 2013

 Main Stage

All Time Low
Deaf Havana
Kids In Glass Houses
Sleeping With Sirens
We Are The Ocean
Mallory Know
Tonight Alive
The Summer Set

 Macbeth Stage

Four Year Strong
The early November
The Wonder Years
Man Overboard
The Story So Far
The American Scene

  Monster Energy Stage

Pierce The Veil
Memphis May Fire
Woe Is Me
Bury Tomorrow
The Word Alive
Hands Like Houses
Our Last Night
House V Hurricane
Heart In Hand

 Vans Stage

King Prawn
The skints
Streetlight Manifesto
Polar Bear Club
Me VS Hero
MC Lars

 Tiger Stage

Cancer Bats
Senses Fail
Devil Sold His Soul
Blitz Kids
Chunk, No Captain Chunk!
Heroes For Hire
Taking Hayley

 Front Stage

Trolley Snatcha
Pesk & Boca
Tyler Mae
Pesk & Boca
Tommy Conflict

 Keep A Breast Stage

Andrew Mcmahon
Jonny Craig
Gavin Butlet
William Beckett
Ace Enders
Chas Palmer Williams
CLas Of 92
Marc Halls

 Festival Related Links
Slam Dunk Festival Official Website
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?