There’s no denying that certain festivals cater to certain kinds of people, and there was never any question about which best represented me. Despite only lasting a day in each location, Slam Dunk is the festival I get most excited for every year, as I know it will turn out a line-up of old heroes and new favourites.
The downside of Slam Dunk matching my music tastes so completely is obvious: I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to bands I’d love to watch. That makes decisions about which acts to see nigh on impossible, especially with so many different genres of alternative talent on display. With that said, here are the Top 5 Acts I will definitely be making time for, and I recommend you do too.
Like it or not, pop-punk is the backbone of any alternative music scene. Punk fans, whether they’re the camo pants and snapback variety or of the pastel hair and ripped jeans persuasion, bring the enthusiasm and dedication that is the lifeblood of any summer festival. Likewise, it is punk bands who bring the happy summer atmosphere that those on the goth and metal end of the spectrum struggle to muster.
So of course, no Slam Dunk would be complete without a little pop-punk goodness, and State Champs are the perfect choice. So earnest that it’s impossible to watch them without smiling, their emotive lyrics and fast-paced tunes mean you can bounce along happily, while the lyrics take you back to that one break-up you had in high school.
Every band has a unique selling point, and Palaye Royale’s is, well, their uniqueness. I mean it, the self-proclaimed fashion-art rock band are doing something that no-one else is. Combining a meticulously-crafted aesthetic with faultless vocals and irresistible melodies, they exist in that grey area between genres that makes them a nightmare to write about but a joy to watch.
They’re a little bit gritty, a little bit glam and, despite their Las Vegas origins, even a little bit Britpop. Best of all, they’ve pulled themselves up by the bootstraps of their winkle-pickers, and you can be sure that their “Soldiers Of The Royal Council” will be turning out en masse to watch them. You should do the same.
Jimmy Eat World
If there’s one thing that Slam Dunk does well, it’s introducing the greats to a whole new generation. This year’s line-up is full of decade-defining bands from back when mixtapes were burned to CD instead of sent over Spotify, including Good Charlotte and Taking Back Sunday.
However, my pick for an essential watch has to be Jimmy Eat World. No alternative kid, no matter what style or subculture they identify with, should ever pass up an opportunity to hear The Middle live for the first time. Not only that, but both Bleed American and Sweetness fit into the “I heard this on Kerrang! years ago but still know every word” category that will have you screaming your lungs out by the end of the night.
Some bands pull you appreciate after stumbling onto their vast and impressive discography, and some you fall head over heels in love with after finding that first, perfectly formed album. Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, an EP handed to you after a gig (do people still do that?) will send you spinning into a brand new fandom. However, it’s rare that a band can pull you in with just two songs.
That’s all that The Faim have available to listen to right now, and yet it’s enough to earn them a solid place on this list. The Australian alt-rockers have released two songs at the time of writing that are fresh, modern, and nothing short of anthemic, while being perfect “drinking overpriced alcohol in the summer” fare. They are going places, and they are not to be missed.
Given that I’ll be attending Slam Dunk North, it seems silly not to recommend a northern band, and it doesn’t get more northern than Twin Atlantic. Twin Atlantic make it onto my must-see list everytime they grace a festival line-up, because they encapsulate exactly what a good festival band should be.
They’re upbeat but emotional, catchy and danceable without being cheesy, and know how to deliver some great mid-set banter. Plus, they’re the kind of band that even if you’ve never actively sought them out, you’ll spend every other song realising you’ve heard it before, which makes them a perfect fit for the friend in your life that you’re inevitably dragging along with you.