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Live Review: Slam Dunk Festival – University Of Hertfordshire, Hatfield – 27/05/12

HTF hit up this year’s Slam Dunk festival and in between interviews we were lucky enough to watch some awesome bands perform. We caught Don Broco, Cancer Bats, Gallows and more! Read our epic review inside.

HTF were lucky enough to attend this year’s Slam Dunk Festival South in Hatfield last weekend. We were busy all day with interviews but managed to catch some awesome bands live while we were there. You can read our epic review of the day here below. Until next year!

I Divide – Redbull Bedroom Jam Stage – Reviewer: Chris Hines

Exeter rock band I Divide open this year’s Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage and really set the standard for the day’s events. Having just got through to the Bedroom Jam Final 8, I Divide play as if they’re performing at Wembley. They definitely wake up the early afternoon crowd with a barrage of energy.

Clearly loving every minute of their set, the band run around the stage, off the stage and singer Tom Kavanagh spends most of the time singing his lungs out into the faces of the front row punters. Tracks such as ‘The Arrival’ and ‘This Ship’s Going Down’ really show off the band’s talent for melody. Fans of Young Guns, Deaf Havana and Emarosa will find this band right up your street. If this is how they perform at their first ever festival then think what they will be like in a year’s time. I predict huge things for I Divide. Say hello to your future new favourite band.

Straight Lines – Atticus/Jagermeister Stage – Reviewer: Steph Knight

There could be no better opener for today’s festival main stage than Welsh beauts Straight Lines on the outdoor Atticus/Jagermeister Stage. After the recent release of brand new album ‘Freaks Like Us’ it was inevitable they were going to be one of the best performances of today’s events. The new album is a complete gem, as are the band’s flawless live performances. Not once have we seen this band on a bad day! Their addictive chugging choruses and beautiful vocals from lead vocalist Thomas Jenkins are perfect for the type of tunes these guys produce. The addictive qualities in their music are what enthralls the crowd today as everyone sings along with one of the single releases from the new album, also titled ‘Freaks Like Us’. Even people still queueing to get in the festival are loving it and dancing along.

Everyone watching clearly wants to listen to them play over and over again. You need to love Straight Lines as much as we do: they are bloody brilliant.

Our Time Down Here – Macbeth Stage – Reviewer: Gavin Lloyd

Our Time Down Here have the unenviable task of opening the Macbeth Stage at the early time of 2.30pm. Due to this the band are faced with a room that is still quite sparse in terms of punters. Despite this they launch into their set with a kinetic ball of energy that would ignite the excitement of a mainstage headline set. The band’s set is dominated by the goth-tinged punk of new album ‘Midnight Mass’ and the likes of ‘Precognition’ inspire hands-in-the-air singalong moments for the already initiated and some fixated stares from those less familiar. By the time the band reach the end of their set and singer Will Gould crowd surfs his way from the stage, it feels like a real triumph. Our Time Down Here turn out to be one of Slam Dunk’s best kept secrets delivering one of the day’s surprise highlights.

Save Your Breath – Macbeth Stage – Reviewer: Gavin Lloyd

Following some recent line up changes morale appears to be high in the Save Your Breath camp. The South Wales pop punkers charge into their set, which is greeted by a tirade of enthusiasm from the crowd with an array of mic grabs from the off as everyone scrambles to get their voices heard. Having a set time at around 6pm does wonders for the band as most people in the room are slipping from tipsy to hammered and are willing to run around like loons because of it. The now slippy drink-covered floor leads to more than a few tumbles, but when the band are churning out some of the most infectious choruses this stage sees all day it’s not long until everyone is up and pogoing once more.

Canterbury – Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage – Reviewer: Steph Knight

We reckon it is impossible to dislike this band. The amount of people that are crammed into the tent outside the festival today is nuts; the heat is already ridiculous so being able to handle it while dancing is pretty difficult. People are falling all over the place while they sing along, but it’s worth it because Canterbury bring an overwhelming live performance to the table every single time.

One of the highlights of their set is the extremely uplifting ‘Ready Yet?’, the new single from their upcoming album ‘Heavy In The Day’ (due for release next month). Yet again the Farnham-based rockers produce another festival performance to be proud of, along with an incredible new album that we recommend you go and pre-order right now.


While She Sleeps – Honour Over Glory Stage – Reviewer: Steph Knight

It’s not hard to see how popular this band have become. Performing on one of the festival’s main stages today, Sheffield-based nutters While She Sleeps have packed out the room from wall to wall. This is the busiest the Honour Over Glory Stage has been all day; with the pit already starting to form during the band’s soundcheck, it’s clear that their set is going to be a bit special.

As the band enter the stage to an overwhelming roar, the crowd start to lose their mind. By the sounds of things, the band’s debut album ‘This Is The Six’ is set to be an absolute killer. Every track makes the crowd go insane. Tracks off the band’s EP ‘The North Stands For Nothing‘ make the room utterly explode. While She Sleeps do exactly what they should: excite the crowd so much that they leave shattered and incredibly satisfied.

The Story So Far – Macbeth Stage – Reviewer: Gavin Lloyd

The hype around The Story So Far has been steadily growing for a while now and today is an eye opener to just how popular the band have become. Packing the room wall to wall sees many disgruntled people spilling out of the door desperate to get in. Despite seemingly being another pop punk band dealing with heartache on paper, The Story So Far‘s sound is more intelligent, gutsier and powerful than you may expect. The band create a feel good atmosphere in the room that invokes all the passion of the most intense hardcore gigs. As the band rattle through the likes of ‘Daughter’ and ‘Quicksand’ even those left outside are singing along at a volume that will see them wake up with no voice in the morning. On the back of today’s performance the days of seeing The Story So Far on such small stages are numbered.

Capdown – Vans Off The Wall Stage – Reviewer: Chris Hines

I’m disappointed to say that I have to literally drag people to watch Capdown. Why you ask? Because it seems only people in their late 20s or 30s know them these days and I think it’s about time kids got educated on one of the UK’s most exciting bands. Having been one of the major players in the UK’s ska/punk scene back when it was ‘cool’, Capdown have always been an almighty force with a stage show full of more energy than the Duracell Bunny. Having reformed last year, they are still kicking as much ass as ever and classic tracks such as ‘Ska Wars’ and ‘Cousin Cleotis’ have the crowd flailing around in a skanking/hardcore frenzy from start to finish. Capdown are more than on form and the few I “dragged” along leave converts to the Capdown glory. Get yourself a copy of their debut album ‘Civil Disobedience’ and get educated in awesomeness.

Don Broco – Vans Off The Wall Stage – Reviewer: Steph Knight

Today the extremely talented Don Broco play to a well-deserved packed out crowd on the Vans Off The Wall Stage. The usual Don Broco delights are on display today: the wall of death for ‘Thug Workout’, the oldest song on their setlist today, and ‘the walk’ during their new single ‘Priorities’ (from their upcoming album of the same name, due for release in August). Both tracks are as slick as each other, just like every single time the band go onstage.

After being signed recently to Search and Destroy Records, Don Broco are finally receiving the recognition they deserve. We cannot wait to watch them shine.

Cancer Bats – Honour Over Glory Stage – Reviewer: Steph Knight

HTF have been waiting for this moment all day: the opportunity to get squashed and sweaty as Cancer Bats destroy the crowd in the best way possible. The Canadian hardcore punks have arguably one of the best frontmen in this genre: Liam Cormier puts his heart and soul into every single performance, and Slam Dunk is just another day at the office. He throws himself around onstage and bleeds sweat and emotion from every angle: his vocals are perfection and not once does he hold back.

There are so many amazing tracks that it is impossible to mention every single one. They open with their epic Beastie Boys cover of ‘Sabotage‘ and then go on to slay ‘Hail Destroyer’ and ‘Sorceress’. Tracks off their new album ‘Dead Set On Living’ (‘Bricks And Mortar’, ‘Old Blood’ etc) go down just as well as their classic tracks today, which is an impressive feat seeing as the record is so new.

In HTF’s eyes, Cancer Bats are the performance of the day. They will take a lot of beating.

Gallows – Vans Off The Wall Stage – Reviewer: Gavin Lloyd

It’s no secret that many turning up to watch Gallows today are largely curious. Following last year’s shock departure of iconic frontman Frank Carter, people are waiting with caution to see whether ex-Alexisonfire guitarist Wade McNeil can step up to the plate. MacNeil doesn’t so much step up to the plate as smash it to pieces before getting destructive with any other crockery left hanging around. Perhaps having somewhat of a chip on his shoulder, he proves himself with an intense performance full of fiery determination.

Furthermore, something many have seemingly overlooked is that four fifths of Gallows are the same rabble-rousing hell raisers they’ve always been. The band are just as visceral and exciting as ever with guitarist Laurent ‘Lags’ Barnard regularly diregarding his guitar in favour of jumping in the crowd. Old favourites such as ‘In The Belly Of A Shark’ and ‘London Is The Reason’ seamlessly sit alongside the likes of newer songs ‘True Colours’ and ‘Mondo Chaos’, which sees a guest spot from everyone’s favourite PMA punk Liam Cormier (Cancer Bats). By the time the band reach the chaotic finale of ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’ and the crowd are left chanting for one more song, it is resoundingly obvious that there are still very few bands that can even come close to being in the same league as Gallows.

Reviewers: Steph Knight, Gavin Lloyd and Chris Hines

Photographer: Sarah Seal

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