Limbswingers Are Assholes... A day at Slam Dunk Festival
The Midlands date of Slam Dunk is weird. Four of the seven stages are located on the streets of Wolverhampton – a recipe for disaster, given the large amount of hardcore and metalcore bands.
As It Is are having an outrageously fast rise in popularity, but watching an average pop-punk opening performance, I honestly don’t see why. They’re not bad, but they’re definitely nothing special.
Patent Pending are in reality, a very basic band; there’s really nothing overly complicated about them, but the way they present themselves live wins over the crowd every single time. Joe Ragosta’s infinite charisma fuels crowdsurf races, room-wide circle-pits and synchronised dancing, completely overriding the fact that they were plagued with sound issues at the start of their set – all at 2pm on a Monday. Covers of the Big Bang Theory theme and "Cascada’s Everytime We Touch" went down really, really well, and were the icing on the cake for this set. Patent Pending: Average band, unmatchable execution.
I only caught one Pvris song, but a packed out Main Hall and Lynn Gunn’s massive presence are worth mentioning. With thousands of people wrapped around Lynn’s little finger, 3 minutes was plenty of time to recognise that this band is going places, and soon.
Neck Deep have also had a ridiculous rise in popularity; a band that’s approximately 3 years old, they’ve already been main support to All Time Low at Wembley Stadium. However, in this case, the hype is real. They’re aware that they produce Generic Pop Punk (as stated by their merch), but they do it so well that it’s impossible to fault them. Seconds after Neck Deep hit the main stage, the entire hall becomes a minefield; watch where you tread, should you wish to get out in one piece. Despite the fact that lead singer Ben Barlow looks like a gremlin with absolutely no posture, the band rightfully get arguably the biggest response of the day – it won’t be long before they can do whatever they want.
For those curious about the article's title, please refer to the below video as an example. Limbswingers AKA Hardcore ‘Dancers’ are the people who violently swing their arms, elbows and feet; they’re the people who routinely ruin live alternative music, the people who should be set on fire. Every act at the Impericon stage had a pit of hardcore dancers, making it impossible to get near the stage without risking a broken neck. The Stick To Your Guns set is a great example, when a girl minding her own business got kicked in the face. Worst is the fact that you can’t pay attention to the band because of the necessity of keeping an eye on the flying limbs.
Rapidly losing patience for that shit, we head inside to see Zebrahead tear up the Desperados stage with their infectious, energetic brand of punk rock. Standout moment of the set is when they brought Santa on stage to chug not one, but two beers. Reel Big Fish’s horn section also joined them for a killer version of the band’s song “Anthem”.
Don Broco are the first band of the day that don’t deserve that sub-headline slot on the main stage. They really don’t seem to care, Bobby seems to have lost his ability to sing, and the arrogance makes it all worse. The new material clearly bored everyone there, and the atmosphere in general was just lacking. Even “Thug Workout” got a really poor response compared to what it did two years earlier.
Taking Back Sunday are the second band that don’t deserve their sub-headline slot- they’re easily the worst band of the day. The music was average (at best), and just like Alien Ant Farm two weeks ago, this shocking lead vocal performance makes the entire band look like garbage. Now a token washed-up has-been, Adam Lazzara brings less than nothing to a band that’s on its way out. I would go so far as to say the rest of the band should drop that useless mug and carry on with OR without a replacement, because John Nolan on guitar already provides sufficiently brilliant backing vocals.
Down in the Fresh Blood stage, Seaway are busting out some typical pop-punk tracks, but the lack of stage presence and Ryan’s shyness are a little awkward for so late in the day. That’s fine though, they’ve still got plenty of time to improve, and at least they don’t sound as horrible as the festival’s Sub-headliners.
The kings of chaos and carnage, Baby Godzilla, follow, and the first thought is to try to identify which items are going to be thrown into the pit, which structures are going to be scaled, and where the band are actually going to play. Their creation is just noise – and they know that – but it takes a long time to realise that because the band are just so entertaining (albeit a little dangerous). A very drunk Matt Reynolds dropped his guitar on some poor girl’s head, but apart from that, the casualties seemed relatively contained, and the only other danger came from the microphone wires tangling across the tiny room. Ever-amusing, Baby Godzilla don’t give a fuck, and seem to enjoy what they do more than most, making them one of the highlights of the day.
I swear there’s not a festival lineup I’ve looked at for 2015 that hasn’t had the words “While She Sleeps” plastered across it. Their Slam Dunk set took place outside on the Monster Stage – probably the best stage for a semi-violent mosh in which you don’t have to worry about broken teeth and fractured bones. “This is the Six”, as it always does, fuels mass headbanging, but the true highlight was during Seven Hills, in which a certain guitarist scaled a good 20-30ft up a tree over the crowd (the same tree which had to have security posted at the bottom because people kept ‘treediving’) and played from up there. Luckily for all, he didn’t do a Watsky and suddenly jump down on top of the crowd…
I hadn’t noticed it during Stick To Your Guns or Comeback Kid, but the main problem with the Gallows set (apart from the limbswingers) is that my laptop speakers are louder than the Impericon stage. This could very well be the reason that opening track “Misery” failed to have the same effect as it normally does, though in general, that old Gallows fire seems to have faded. Fair play to Wade MacNeil, he gave it a good go, but the rest of the band looked like they’d rather be at home with their feet up, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they announced a farewell tour sometime before the end of the year. Shame.
The crappy train times meant we could only catch half of You Me At Six’s headline set, but that was more than enough to recognise that the band actually DID deserve their place there. Celebrating a decade of being a band, a lot of material from debut album ‘Take Off Your Colours’ found its way into the set, including openers “The Truth Is A Terrible Thing” followed by “Save It For The Bedroom”.
I’m not even a fan of ‘Take Off Your Colours’ but I have to hand it to Josh Francesci, he’s undoubtedly the best singer of the day, supported by a solid band that makes no mistakes. “No One Does It Better” proves to be a fan favourite, sung aloud by all. The last song for us was “Reckless”, from 2011’s ‘Sinners Never Sleep’. How no-one seems to notice that the intro/guitars is a direct rip-off of The Killers’ “When We Were Young” is absolutely beyond me, but plagiarism aside, “Reckless” was an excellent song to end the day on, showing that You Me At Six have truly earned their position as Slam Dunk Fest Headliners, and one of the biggest Rock bands in the UK today.
To find out more about Slam Dunk festival click here.
Words by Blaine Marshall