After reeling in the happiness from meeting Matty and Dan from Zebrahead, we headed back to the Fireball stage (we spent most of our day here, to be honest!) to catch Goldfinger’s set. I’ve always loved Goldfinger, even if I never listened to albums in full, or even know the name of their albums. Back in the day, I used to – uh, oh, don’t arrest me – download music of the dreaded LimeWire and burn it onto disks. I first heard them on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater back in the day, and then later stumbled across the song on YouTube that sparked my love for the band. They’re a feel good, lively band, and I’m a sucker for that. Especially in the summer time!
Most of the ska/punk stage is full of jokes – you’ve got Zebrahead, as mentioned previously, Less Than Jake and Bowling For Soup. All bands that are notorious for crackin’ a few jokes and havin’ a good ol’ drink. If I was to say that Goldfinger also had a joke around on stage, I’m sure readers would get tired of me repeating myself. Like I said, we spent most of our time at this stage.
Now, everyone knows that John Fieldmann is a punk, rock, ska, you name it – he’s into a bit of everything and basically loves to work on music. He’s worked hard and has had a massive effect in today’s rock scene, helping produce music for The Used, Good Charlotte and Blink 182 (that’s just to name a few!) and even signed Itch from The King Blues, Blitz Kids and Beartooth. He’s a busy guy, but his passion lies in being the frontman for Goldfinger, and on stage, that passion really does shine. With bassist and vocalist Mike Herrera from MxPx, Story Of The Year guitarist, Phil Sneed and New Found Glory drummer Cyrus Bolooki, Goldfinger couldn’t be further than what it started as. But does that stop them getting the crowd pumped, screaming back each lyric of each song? Nope. They opened with ‘Spokesman,’ a well-known song that would appear on almost every Greatest Hits album that Goldfinger will ever release. But apart from playing classic hits the band previously released, a few days before Slam Dunk kicked off, they announced their upcoming new album and released the track ‘Put The Knife Away,’ and I’ll be totally honest – I never listened to it until I was in the crowd. For a song that had quite literally only been released, the crowd recieved it so well and kept their lively movements. Already knowing the lyrics to scream back, and in all honesty, the fact that the band were having such a good time playing made the crowd have a good time listening. Even the lesser known tracks were recieved well – because even though Goldfinger are an amazing band, it’s also the name and songs such as ‘Superman’ and their cover of ’99 Red Balloons’ are what attracts most people. It was nice seeing the crowds support for everything, and not just the songs they knew. Big up to the guys of Goldfinger! (By the way, they finished with ’99 Red Balloons’ and I’ve never seen such a party. Aweeesome!)
Reel Big Fish were up next on the Fireball stage. A band that changed the way that most people remember A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me,’ and a band that, quite rightly, the closest definition to ska in the modern day in mainstream media. But, being a loving girlfriend and already seeing every band that I wanted to so far, we journeyed across the campus to the Signature stage where Frank Iero andthe Patience were up. Now, Owen knows more about this band than I do. The best I can do is, hey, Frank Iero is that guitarist from My Chemical Romance, right? Besides, they were bringing part of the Reel Big Fish crew on stage for almost every set – Zebrahead, Goldfinger. I could probably get away with saying I saw some of them, at least.
(Video taken by Owen Jeffreys)
Frank Iero andthe Patience isn’t, how can I say this? Isn’t a band I would probably ever listen to outside of a music show. For some reason, the produced records I hear through speakers doesn’t really do anything for me, and most of the time I’ll skip the songs if they show up on my Spotify Daily Mix. But, I have seen Frank Iero andthe Patience twice this year. The first time with Taking Back Sunday and, in that live setting, I love it. He sounds so much better live. He’s energetic, he’s fun and when it’s live and right in front of you, you can feel that energy more than through a pair of speakers. It’s quite spectacular, really. Frank Iero andthe Patience is the first band that I pretty much know zilch from, yet as soon as he plays live, I’d be the first one to dance. It’s fair to say I won’t be buying his records, (he gets enough of Owen’s money!) but I would more than likely buy tickets to any show they do locally to me. I urge everyone, if they see Frank Iero’s name pop up for a local show, go and see them. Go and check them out at a festival because you will not be disappointed. I’ve previously reviewed Frank Iero andthe Patience, and it’s probably a lot similar to what I’m saying here, but Owen caught the full Slam Dunk set on the video below (whilst using my head as a tripod – y’know, team work makes the dream work.)
Now, I had a great time at Frank Iero andthe Patience set, but guess what? Time for Less Than Jake. I cannot tell you, how happy I was to be seeing Less Than Jake again. Seeing them with The Road To Warped Tour a few years a go, and then at the Students Union in Cardiff with Zebrahead (*again*) and Reel Big Fish, (perfect line-up, right?) I was buzzing. Before I went and snapped my femur in half, I was the first person diving into pits, jumping wildly in the crowds and skanking to every song I could. And all those movements were involuntry, it’s just the way LTJ makes you feel. So, the first time after having pins and rods stuck into my leg, I’m standing in the crowd waiting for my favourite band and, it was hardly much different. It was just as exciting, even being quite far at the back. For a band that’s name doesn’t come up all that often, the stage filled up more than it did before. LTJ definitely brought it in, making jokes that we [the crowd] had to pretend to like them so they could prove to their booking agent that they’re enjoyable. Chris DeMakes holding a “douche rag” – as he called it – in his back pocket and consistently making jokes about other bands like Green Day and My Chemical Romance. Also, side note, if you’re a big fan of MCR, LTJ said that they’d be returning in 2018 because they can’t afford their big houses anymore. Fingers crossed it is true, I’d die if I could hear ‘Give ‘Em Hell Kid’ live. But anyway, being older and obviously wanting to write about and experience the music rather than the atmosphere more nowadays (not voluntry, I’d still be pitting if it wasn’t for this gammy leg) but I actually enjoyed them for their talents and their skills. Roger Lima sounds so good live. It’s almost emotional listening to him sing ‘The Science of Selling Yourself Short.’ I probably would have shed a tear if I wasn’t so set on screaming the words as loud as I could so they could hopefully hear me from the back. There is nothing else I can say about LTJ apart from positive things.
This is where my Slam Dunk experience goes a bit awol. I went to the show one-hundred-percent certain about where and who I was going to be seeing. I even circled the bands on our schedule and downloaded the app to be reminded 15 minutes before they were due to start. So, according to my plan, the headliner we were going to be seeing was… Neck Deep! I know, I know, it was the Take To The Skies ten year anniversary – but I had seen Enter Shikari twice before and, well, I hadn’t listened to them in a very long time. What else could I experience at their show? So, there we were, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Neck Deep while the entire crowd sings along to ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ when the music just cuts off and the boys jump on stage. Woo, they’re here! The first song they played was ‘Happy Judgement Day’ that was recently released for their upcoming album ‘The Peace and The Panic.’ It was obvious that they’d be plugging the album, since all their merch was for that album. Still, out of the two new singles, ‘Happy Judgement Day’ is my favourite so, hell yeah! Here’s the truth, I couldn’t get into it. The crowd seemed tired and just, too exhausted to be there. Sure, you could hear the voices, including my own shouting back, but the Monster Energy stage just sounded awful. I’ve heard plenty of things about Neck Deep being terrible live, and I couldn’t even give you an honest opinion because the sound was so unclear that I didn’t even know they were playing ‘Serpents’ until I heard Ben Barlow do his usual shouting thing. It wasn’t as epic as a headliner act should be, and it was a total disappointment. I love the band, I love their music and I listened to them the next day and still loved them. It’s just, for a band that does rely on atmosphere, the fogginess and unclarity of the stage’s sound didn’t help and did no justice. Unfortunately, it wasn’t only myself that decided to switch out.
I stayed for awhile, I was hoping I’d get more into it and enjoy Neck Deep some more, but I never. Shame. So we left to catch a bit of Shikari, since I heard that the show they put on at Birmingham and Leeds was amazing. We got a burger and stood quite far to the side at the back. I was not disappointed. We arrived right at the best time. They played ‘Return To Energiser.’ Not my favourite Shikari song, but regardless, it sounded amazing, it felt amazing. The lights were out of the world and this was the kind of end Slam Dunk needed. I danced. I was so far back where people were sitting and standing. People are tired, blahblahblah. Nope, I was moving with the music, burger in hand, and as SOON as I heard the words “Ladies and Gentlemen” play from the stage, I freaked. I had two bites left of a cheeseburger, and I held onto it with dear life. (I wasn’t willing to throw away any part of a £7 cheeseburger even though it tasted vile.) I was jumping, and for a person who was complaining that her feet hurt, I couldn’t help it. It took me back years to when I loved Shikari. To when I first heard Take To The Skies. When I first fell in love with Jonny Sniper. There’s no words to describe their set – it was by far the best spectacle and I’m just sad that I didn’t manage to catch the whole thing. But what can ya do? All I can hope is to grab tickets to their next show and enjoy everything they have to offer. Being there has definitely made me love Shikari again, though. If not even more than I did when I was younger – I can’t stop listening to them.
We had already seen two headliners, why not catch part of another? After Jonny Sniper was finished and I had heartburn from going nuts whilst still digesting a burger, and then finishing it off after the song had finished, we decided to go catch a bit of the Against Me! set. Again, I’ve only heard the one or two songs and that’s when Owen will play them on guitar. They sound good, but I’ve never gone out of my way to listen to them. I only found out a few days prior about the singer, which is brave and intriguing and I wanted to see what this band were like as well as try and catch Thrash Unreal. That’s the only song I properly know, and even so, I just had to message Owen to make sure I got the name right. Shikari put me in the mood to end Slam Dunk right, so even thought I knew nothing of what they were playing, I was still groovin’ around and enjoying every last minute that I could. Seeing the band, seeing the singer do what she does best despite everything, I was amazed. I was amazed by the bravery that it must take to still put yourself out there like that. Earlier in the day, whilst checking out the merch stands, I noticed there was a book on the Aginst Me! stall titled ‘Tranny’ which I will be picking up as soon as I get the money. I don’t know the music, but being in that environment is enough to make me support them. And listening to a Spotify shuffled playlist of Against Me! is on my agenda.
And that’s it. After Against Me! we caught the end of Shikari with Rou climbing frames and giving Slam Dunk the send off it needed and it was done. Everyone leaving the campus to go back to normal life, and I was already dreading it. It was an emotional day, really. With current events and the fear that a lot of people had going into Slam Dunk – enough fear that people sold their tickets – it was amazing to see just how much the world of music can bring us together. We look out for each other. Someone falls in a pit and we pick them up. Someone isn’t looking so good, we help them out. There were many comments by bands made throughout the day, none of which I can remember enough to recite word for word. But it was the same anectode that I give you now, that music is our last place to come together and enjoy ourselves. And I think that’s what I took away from Slam Dunk the most, that living in fear is only ever going to stop you from living your life. If we stand together, even if it’s just at a festival, we make our world a nicer, safer and happier place – maybe only for a short amount of time. But it’s our place to forget what kind of world is on the outside.
Reflective, huh? I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience – and I’d like to see what you guys thought. Feel free to leave a comment, follow me, leave a like or just go about your life. I’m grateful you’re even here!
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All photos and videos in this article were taken and filmed by Owen Jeffreys, which can be checked out and followed by following these links: Instagram | YouTube