Slam Dunk Midlands @ NEC 28 May, 2018

Two days down and one to go; people are arriving in droves to see Slam Dunk’s ultimate performance in the Midlands.

Whether you want unapologetic hardcore rock like The Devil Wears Prada or the noughties nostalgia that Jimmy Eat World has to offer, Slam Dunk is guaranteed to suit a variety tastes. Having this combination works well as the softer rock acts as a buffer for the likes of Brutality Will Prevail for example.

Lead Singer Louis Gauthier looks like a mean Zac Efron, especially when he uses the low guttural vocals to get his lyrics across. It’s safe to say setting off the day by seeing Brutality Will Prevail offers a healthy kick start to your system. “If you don’t know us by now, you sure as f**k do now”, Gauthier says in his demonic voice.

This performance is meant to intimidate, however it was strangely entertaining as all members brought with them an energy which saw Gauthier in particular jumping high into the air.

As December Falls open the Rock Sound Stage and what an opening.  The Crowd are raring to go, the sun is beaming down on us and there are queues waiting to get in the area, it is packed. There are times when the vocals were a little bit shaky but this is clearly nerves for the hungry crowd.

They manage to rock our worlds and fans are rocking away as they belt out Always Set on Letting Go and More to You and the energetic Everything you Say.  There is a lot of energy on stage but little interaction with each other,  for a new act this will develop further.

Creeper deliver a solid set as usual with great eye candy and outfits.  There is an amazing solo with Hannah Greenwood, it is her time to shine as the crowd are extremely receptive to Ian Miles on acoustic guitar.

Dream State also played the Rock Sound Stage with another good performance. Very emotive, engaging tracks that touch nerves with fans, as well as heads.  CJ Surfs atop the crowd as they are bouncing away – definitely a highlight of the day.

Four Year Strong have increased in popularity over the years; their appearance at Download last year was arguably a contributory factor. Monday was a similar affair involving lots of jumping up and down and singing along to the lyrics.
For the second time, it is glaringly obvious that they sound a lot heavier in person compared to some of their recorded music.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have the likes of Lower Than Atlantis which are arguably more enjoyable to listen to in terms of their catchy lyrics. They play Had Enough which is the best song to start the set with as it has more than enough attitude-laden vibes to excite the crowd. They conclude with the popular Here We Go which went down really well. Let me throw a few figures at you; 2 months on the road, 11 years of hard graft to get to this point, never had a number one but they still look like they are having the time of their lives as Mike Duce pays much more than his share of crowd-attention by leaping over the barriers on more than one occasion.

Twin Atlantic never fail to disappoint especially when McTrusty appears with a suit jacket which he later sheds to reveal a flamboyant shirt beneath. The band covered the popular tracks such as Brothers and Sisters and Heart and Soul as well as adding You Are the Devil from their most recent album GLA


Other bands like PVRIS and Frank Carter proved to be a welcoming sight; Carter living up to his name for crowd surfing, but doing a handstand in the crowd just goes above and beyond what is expected of a musician. His on-stage banter – or rather off stage as he spent a lot of time in the crowd than in front of them – is very theatrical.

Frank is not your average performer!  His guitarist comes out to play above the crowds hands and Frank tells us we better look after his as he needs him. Later we see Frank come out into the middle of the floor for fans to mosh around – truly an awesome experience.

Zebra Head, these guys are always down for a party, as you can see, they bring their human beer with them and this is a high energy expressive performance in the same place we saw them a couple of years ago, The sun is shining the crowd is going crazy.

A particular favourite from the day is The Faim. These are so new yet so good.  They have a great image and there is a guy in the crowd who has made a book, I don’t know the story but as Josh Raven belts out the songs the pages are being turned.  To close Josh thanks the lad and tells him it means so much.


They look like a rock band, they sound like a rock band and its quite clear The Faim are already affirming their place in the rock world.  They storm Summer Is a Curse and Saints and Sinner, the crowd go mental!  I am already looking forward to catching them at Download Festival 2018 and EVERYONE should check them out.

Moose Blood, musically and as guys they are fantastic. The crowd are roaring and singing back the lyrics but as a performance I find it static to watch as there is little interaction with fans and they keep tight.  They play well, they sound really good, there is just (for me) a bit of chemistry missing today.

Palaye Royale were a surprise act for me, as I was walking past the Rock Sound Stage for what feel like the 100th time, with no intention of watching them I was drawn in.   As I approach the stage they are dressed eccentrically and Remington Leith is belting out Mr. Doctor and Teenagers.  Liveliest crowd of the day for a fantastic close to this stage.

Remington Leith crawls along the floor to lie on his back as his sings – definitely one to catch (I can’t believe I was going to walk on by).

Over on the Signature Brew stage for As it Is we see more jumping and crowd antics as the crowd all sit on the group.

I caught the end of  Reel Big Fish, for a bit of reggae sound  to finish the night  before catching the close of The Life Styles of the Rich and Famous from Good Charlotte, sounding better than I remember, and of course ending with smoke, fire and huge lighting array.

The street light props project an array of different colours and a backdrop screen slowly ascends to reveal ‘Jimmy Eat World’ printed in white. A lot of effort has been made for the prep but then you soon find out, the band who formed in 1993 follows suit. You’re not far into the performance and you remember just how many amazing songs they’ve written. These include Bleed America as judging by the volume from the crowd, everybody follows Jim Adkins’ cue by singing ‘I’m not crazy cause I take the right pills every day’. But the four piece band know how to tone it down with ‘Hear You Me’ which is a soothing song with moving lyrics. But what a way to end the night than with The Middle which by the way people are jumping up and down, it seems this song along with the band has stood the test of time.

Slam Dunk promised loads for 2018 and delivered in excess – again.

Reviewers: Catherine Verrechia & Chris Bowley

Photographers: Chris Bowley & Adriana Vasile

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