Saturday 27 May saw the NEC Arena in Birmingham fill out for the annual Slam Dunk Festival. Featuring a huge variety of bands across more than eight giant stages for the entire day. Grabbing a schedule is a definite must for this event to know exactly who to see and where and when they’re playing! With bands varying from giant headliners to much more niche groups, if you’re a fan of any kind of rock music expect to find something to enjoy here.
Despite moving to the NEC from Wolverhampton, queues were still well organised and bag checks were still in operation due to the recent events to help calm people’s nerves. Security’s presence helped remind people of their safety and allowed the atmosphere to flourish.
With a whole day to explore around the huge arena, most of the time we found was spent deciding who to see and moving from stage to stage. Stages and groups varied on their popularity, but the atmosphere across the whole event was constantly exciting and exhilarating. With the big headliners playing last and for bigger sets, the first few hours gave the chance to explore and listen to those lesser heard groups. It was a great chance to hear some new sounds and groups that I otherwise might have missed.
Bands such as Don Broco and Deaf Havana managed to fill out on the main stages and created an intense atmosphere for more casual fans and for those who would like to thrash around more at the front. Returning groups like Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish played strong sets that allowed the final closing groups Enter Shikari and Bowling for Soup to really finish strongly to the packed out crowds.
Overall, it would be impossible to see every group performing in just one day, but this only adds to the appeal of returning each year to see just some of next year’s line-up. With tensions still potentially running high, security made sure to keep people calm. I also think it’s worth giving an important shout out to the fans themselves though, for not letting anything bring them down and for creating a great atmosphere to enjoy and letting them leave the NEC on a massive high until next year. I personally can’t wait until the line-up for next year is announced and I can already start planning my way around the venue again.
Report by Mark Goddard