Slam Dunk 2017 @ Birmingham NEC, 27th May 2017 – Part 1

Enter Shikari

Before we get to talking bands, I want to spend a little time talking about Slam Dunk Midlands itself, and right away address the elephant in the room. In the shadow of the tragic events in Manchester just a few days prior, there can’t have been many people who hadn’t thought about whether they should reconsider attending a large music event, or any public event for that matter. Fortunately, many thousands of music fans decided to honour their plans to attend the festival and within moments of arriving onsite at the NEC, the armed police presence and the ultra-efficient, professional, yet jovial security did the very best possible job of diffusing any tensions festival-goers may have had.

Slam Dunk Crowd

This is the second year of the Midlands date being hosted at the NEC, and this year it would appear that Slam Dunk organisers implemented everything they learned from last year. Gone were the bottlenecks, gone was the feeling of being herded from stage to stage like cattle, instead the ‘village’ atmosphere previously experienced… was Wolverhampton back! You could meander along Pendigo Way from stage to stage visiting the abundance of food and merch stalls along the way, all the time being entertained by the open-air stages. If I were to be a little picky, my only criticism would be underestimating the size of the Impericon stage for those fans that wanted to experience the heavier end of the festival.

To skip to the end, Slam Dunk Midlands was a huge success; not only from a musical point of view, but also as an incredibly well run event. If you didn’t make it for 2017 make sure you get there for what’s sure to be bigger and better next year!

Right, on to the music.

Fenix TX

Most people didn’t have a choice on their first band of the day, the Fireball Stage was snuggled up next to the snaking wristband exchange queue and although the stage was curtained off, those people that didn’t get to the NEC super early could clearly hear Fenix TX kicking off the day as they were waiting to get into the festival. I can’t really think of a much better way to break people into Slam Dunk than with some upbeat pop-punk.

As I wound my way through the festival site to reach the Jägermeister Stage in time for Crossfaith, I caught a glimpse of Like Pacific playing to a building crowd at the outdoor Monster Energy stage. I didn’t stay long but their down-tempo pop-punk, fronted with heartfelt vocals from frontman Jordan Black seemed to be going down a storm.


Crossfaith never fail to raise a smile. Starting out with a sound check that would rival some sets from the day’s other bands, the crowd standing in the darkened Genting Arena got an idea of what was about to happen. Kento Koie and the other members of the band exploded onto the stage with Xeno, the title track from their 2015 album. It’s not very often that you see massive circle pits and crowd surfing at 2 in the afternoon, but then again, it’s not every day that Crossfaith are in town! Sounding as immense as ever and keeping the crowd entertained with their almost caricature-like personalities, there was nothing not to like.


I couldn’t not check out local Birmingham heroes Shvpes over on the Impericon stage, and by the time I got there they were in full flow. The small courtyard was packed almost to capacity and their pit was a blur of moshers and hard core dancers. I have to give credit to vocalist Griffin Dickinson for calling out those in the crowd responsible for hate moshing, his lambast that those kinds of things had no place at the event and it was ‘all love’ couldn’t have been more fitting. In terms of performance, they smashed it, thick hardcore riffs smashed between tight drumming and brutal dirty vocals all came together brilliantly.


It was a somewhat sombre occasion back over at the Jägermeister stage, with We Are The Ocean playing their Birmingham farewell gig after 10 years as a band.

We Are The Ocean

Opening with ‘Trouble Is Temporary, Time Is Tonic’, the band took the audience on a set spanning their career as well as taking the time to thank Slam Dunk for their support over the years. Cromby’s vocals soared in a room the size of the Genting Arena with tracks such as ‘The Road’ and ‘Machine’ sounding huge. Ending on ‘Nothing Good Has Happened Yet’, the audience sang along knowing full well they may never see it live again. Perhaps the only disappointment was that there was no appearance from previous co vocalist Dan Brown.


From experience WSTR always bring the party and their Slam Dunk 2017 set was no different, their effervescent pop-punk ignited the Monster Stage crowd and gave the security their first real crowd surfer workout of the day. Sounding great and adding genuine laughs through lead singer Sammy Clifford’s deadpan humour, their set hit the mark spot on. Shuffling up the running order from their Slam Dunk 2016 appearance it would appear that these guys continue their trajectory towards bigger and better things.


Arguably one of (if not the) heaviest bands on the bill this year were Southampton’s Bury Tomorrow. After a bit of a wait due to some technical problems, they smashed straight into Man On Fire, their melodic hardcore sound nearly tore the roof off the Genting Arena and ignited the waiting crowd.

Bury Tomorrow

In typical Bury Tomorrow style Dani Winter-Bates and Jason Cameron flowed between dirty and clean vocals seamlessly, while the rest of the band ripped into their driving riffs and brutal breakdowns. Dani letting the crowd know that he wanted to see 1000 surfers over the barrier for their third track, Lionheart had absolutely the desired effect. I’m not sure whether or not the crowd reached 1000, but they certainly gave it their best shot. I’ve never seen a Bury Tomorrow set that I wasn’t impressed with and this one was no different.

Bury Tomorrow

Part two of our Slam Dunk 2017 coverage is on the way!


Reviewers: Steve Kilmister and Dan Earl

Photographer: Steve Kilmister

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