Words and Photos by Heather Krut | Edited by Lara Rose
Slam Dunk Fest was insanity in the best possible way. For those that don’t know what I’m talking about – let me fill you in.
Slam Dunk Fest has been running for 10 years now, from 2006 to 2016, so it was cause for a big celebration. Packed with roughly 60 bands on 8 stages with doors opening at 12pm and bands ending around 11pm, the stages were broken down into different types of music. We had stages featuring ska, new/upcoming acts, acoustic, pop punk, hardcore, and then the main stage, with some of the larger acts like Panic! At the Disco, New Found Glory, and Mayday Parade.
This three-day festival reached over three different areas, North, Midlands, and South, with after parties for each location. Of the three dates, midlands was the only one not sold out, mainly because it moved to a new venue this year, one that was much larger to accommodate for the enormous crowd..
Leeds (North) was spread out all over the streets around the civic center – giving us an unusual backdrop for a festival. The space was utilized well, with the acoustic stage located in a bar on one of the partially shut down streets and the O2 venue being used for exactly it’s purpose. For Birmingham (Midlands) – it was located at the NEC – which is basically Birmingham’s super huge venue that holds concerts, expos, etc., so it is built for this kind of thing. The location was divided into different sections to break down the stages. Hatfield (South), the last and final day of the venue, was held on a college campus. The really cool thing about this was that they ran a free shuttle bus to and from the closest train station. You didn’t have to shell out money for a taxi or uber, or walk the 2 miles to the venue, allowing you to save your energy for all those bands!
Each venue had their pros and cons but the biggest complaint all around seem to be the queues, meaning attendees missed out on some of the bands they had wanted to see. However, the festival, has already addressed all of this on their facebook, stating they would take all of the positive and negative feedback, including the queues, technical errors, and crowd size concerns, to continually make the festival better.
For a festival, it’s definitely not a bad thing when your biggest problem is that everyone is clamoring to catch Set Your Goals, and Four Year Strong or Of Mice and Men. Sometimes the biggest challenge was deciding who you wanted to see, like when Norma Jean and We Came as Romans played at the same time but on different stages.
Slam Dunk Fest happens every May, so if you are looking to get out of the states for a bit and do some country hopping, I highly suggest it. The Slam Dunk Fest is a great way to meet people, see your favorite bands, hit a killer after party, AND see England!
The bands below are just a taste of some of the bands I ran around shooting. Due to some lighting conditions, I am able to share some of those photos.
Four Year Strong
Miss May I
New Found Glory
Of Mice And Men
Set Your Goals
The Starting Line
We Came As Romans