On the bank holiday weekend with two extra days added in, (thanks Lizzie) we adventured to the land of Hatfield to soak up the atmosphere of Slam Dunk Festival 2022. Scorching sun, drinks flowing and the mecca of pop punk was in full swing. Slam Dunk will always be one of our favourite festivals – never change!
Hot off a flight from Australia the LA punks The Bronx (7.5) step onto the stage for the coveted graveyard shift, walking on to rapturous applause at 1pm in the searing Hatfield sun. They open up with the new track White Shadow into the classic Unholy Hand, giving us a short but perfectly formed set, 10 songs to be exact. It was a fantastic gig considering all their equipment including their clothes had been lost by the airline in the trip over. If you haven’t had chance to check out their new album, go do it now. You won’t be disappointed.
Next up were punk stalwarts Hot Water Music (8.5). Mountain man Chuck Ragan steps forward to the mic to announce his arrival and we couldn’t be happier to hear that gruff tone. Opening up with the 2001 track Flight and a Crash Ragan is bangin’ his head like it owes him money. At Rock Sins we love the new album Feel The Void so when they kicked into the track Take Your Things and Run (a track co-written by newest member and lead singer of The Flatliners – Chris Creswell) it was a sight to behold, seeing new and old fans singing along to the new tracks. A solid performance from the lads in Hot Water Music, it was certainly expected and we are very excited to see them return on their UK tour in October.
Hatfield was also given a taste of California Pennywise (7) brought the party, if you want fast punk, you got it with these veteran Punk legends. The band were in good voice marvelling at the fact that they were over in the UK and actually playing to fans. The crowd interaction is always one of the key parts to a Pennywise show, behind the great songs of course. A Father and young son in the front row (wearing a Napalm Death Tee) were taking part in giving the band the middle finger during the track Fuck Authority… start em young! An unexpected turn in the set was an impromptu cover section, reinventing a soul classic Stand By Me into a Punk rager.
When asking the crowd “do you like Nirvana?” it’s best not to say no to the 6’5 mammoth man that is Fletcher. He tells the crowd, “you don’t like Nirvana? Well you’ll love this!” then rips into a killer cover of Territorial Pissings. If you don’t leave a Pennywise gig drenched in sweat, ears ringing, with a massive smile on your face, you’ve done it wrong!
Arguably one of the most highly anticipated sets of the weekend, (judging from the crowd gathering and the amount of The Interrupters (10) tees we saw walking around the festival) the crowd erupts as the band walk onto stage with a four count starting the fan favourite Take Back The Power the fans screaming back every word… This energy did not change throughout the set, including new track In The Mirror. The anticipation for the new album is intense, the fans want it, the bands want it – we all want it! The band have a maturity, a swagger this time around. They have developed their stage show into a well oiled machine making it a fantastic presentation for new and old fans. It really feels like they are on the cusp of greatness and I believe this new album and tour will push them into the upper echelon of touring acts, certainly within the punk world anyway.
Headlining the Jagermeister stage was Canadian screamo demi-gods Alexisonfire (8.5). A true gathering of the elder emo, the atmosphere and excitement in the air was palpable. With a new album on the horizon and a surprise full-UK tour, Alexis are well and truly and back for good (we hope). In a set filled with hits and a smattering of new songs from the June release Otherness we see a band at the height of their power. Don’t call it a come back, because for many fans they never left, but the newer direction of Stoner rock goes down well with the audience and they are screaming along with George and the band. The climax of the set came with songs including Young Cardinals and Happiness by the Killowatt with a little excerpt from When White Doves Fly by fellow Canadian and legend Prince. Alexisonfire are well and truly back and we could not be happier.
There is a lot to be said about nostalgia and Sum 41 (8.5) bring it in spades. If you grew up around the early 2000’s you would have been bombarded with their hits on TV and radio. I sound like I’m complaining, but I was and still am very happy about that fact. The final headline act of Slam Dunk 2022 saw a mass crowd descend on the Dickies stage to catch the Canadian pop punk legends.
Crowd pleasers came early on in the set with The Hell Song and Over My Head turning the crowd into a frenzy, with a stella production of fire, flash bangs and other ‘ooo, wow” tricks up the band’s sleeve. However, the turning point in the set was when frontman Dereyk Whibley discussed the new album, a double album with a Heave and Hell side. This was met with a roar, the fans have clearly been waiting for new music. But it’s not until In Too Deep kicks in and the crowd goes absolutely nuts, with the whole audience singing along and bouncing around, the guitar solo so memorable that the crowd sing it back to Dave ‘Brown Sound’.
We have gone on about nostalgia, but this band has many hits and they constantly produce the goods album after album. They have honed their craft and know their audience inside and out, similar to Alexisonfire. We don’t want to call this a come back but there is certainly a rebirth of new and old fans getting to experience Sum 41 for the first time. Like a fine wine, the elder states men of pop punk only get better with age.
Check out our Slam Dunk South live photo gallery to see more highlights from the day!