Slam Dunk Festival 2018 review: festival focus

The glorious alt/pop-punk/emo/metal festival Slam Dunk is coming up on the Jubilee weekend. Check our guide to Slam Dunk 2022 here. We know a festival is about way more than the line-up and logistics, though! So, here’s our Slam Dunk Festival 2018 review to give you a sense of what the fest is really like.

Slam Dunk Festival 2018 review

May 27, 2018 at Hatfield House Park

Slam Dunk is different from the average festival. There’s no messing about with tents because all the music and fun is crammed into one day. In 2018, the same line-up went to three sites: North (Leeds), Midlands (Birmingham) and South (Hatfield).

Slam Dunk festival review: crowds

66 bands performed. We caught 17, including world-class acts like Good Charlotte and Reel Big Fish, scene stalwarts such as Taking Back Sunday and Save Ferris, and rising stars like The Faim and Dream State. Keep reading our Slam Dunk festival 2018 review for the day’s highlights and some killer photos!

Slam Dunk festival 2018 review: clashfinder
Slam Dunk festival 2018 fan with a paper mask of a skull hanging over his shoulders

KNUCKLE PUCK: “Let’s spread the good word. Not about God. FUCK TRUMP!”

Despite being a sweltering day, Knuckle Puck turned the temperature up with their energetic emo-screamo act. They were clearly thrilled with the response they received, taking time to savour the oval (!) pit they incited.

Knucle Puck performing

CAVETOWN: “I’ll be around if anyone wants to hang out”

From the name alone, Cavetown sounded more like a location or a game than an acoustic singer-songwriter. With plaintive songs like Lemon Boy and 10 Feet Tall, he was the outlier of the festival: more The OC soundtrack than Long Beach, Gainesville or New Jersey punk. Since it was so hot and hectic, he found a crowd grateful for the chance to sit in the shade, chill out, and listen.

Cavetown applauding
Slam Dunk festival 2018 crowd sitting down watching Cavetown performing

Four Year Strong were up next, offering an anthemic pop-punk-screamo set.

Four Year Strong

DREAM STATE: “If you’re holding on to any shit inside don’t take it out on anyone else. Let it out here. This is a safe space.”

Dream State were one of the most memorable bands of the festival for us. This was due in large part to singer CJ Gilpin’s energy, passion, and openness. She spent the set running up and down the photo pit and singing on the barrier, when she wasn’t crowd surfing (while still singing)! She spoke honestly and endearingly about mental health issues, addiction and relapse. The crowd responded with energy, support, and an epic circle pit.

The singer of Dream State singing into the camera lens
Tthe singer of Dream State pointing at the audience

Say Anything never let up on the passionate delivery, especially with fan favourites like Six Six Six.

The singer of Say Anything singing passionately with his eyes closed and tongue out

THE FAIM: “We will remember this day forever”

Rising stars The Faim kept the energy up with singalongs for Summer Is A Curse and A Million Stars. Fans were lucky to see them in such a small tent because they’ll surely be festival main stage mainstays soon.

The singer of The Faim spreading his arms wide
The singer of The Faim smiling

Save FerrisMonique Powell put fans half her age to shame with her relentless energy. Then again, many knew the band from back in the day, judging by the rapturous response to their cover of Come On Eileen, 21 years after its release.

The singer of Save Ferris singing passionately
The singing of Save Ferris skanking
A happy fan on stage with Save Ferris

TWIN ATLANTIC: “Getting sunburned, you British mother fuckers? They put the stage over the Scottish people for health and safety!”

Twin Atlantic were probably the least punk and most rock band on the line-up, but they made it work with their energy and banter with the crowd.

The singer of Twin Atlantic yelling into the crowd
Twin Atlantic backing vocalists and musicians

GOLDFINGER: “You’re being shown up by a 39-year-old!”

Damn, he was right! Old school classics like Ska Wars and Cousin Cleotis were interspersed with contemproary political themes and statements. Perhaps not surprising, since their name is short for Capitalist Downfall!

The singer of Capdown playing saxophone
The singer of Capdown singing passionately
The singer of Capdown jumping in the air

State Champs looked out into the crowd before getting into it, loving every damn second. For their part, the fans screamed every word right back at them.

The Singer of State Champs shielding his eyes to look into the crowd
The singer of State Champs raising a clenched fist

Moose Blood better have savoured their time in the spotlight. They went on hiatus in September 2018 after a series of allegations saw them dropped from a prestigious Good Charlotte support slot.

The singer of Moose Blood

ROB LYNCH: “I’m a pessimistic kinda guy and I though there’d be about 10 people so this means a lot to a pathetic emo man.”

Xtra Mile singer-songwriter Rob Lynch is not necessarily known as a punk artist, butit’s clear he loves pop-punk and ska-punk. This is great fucking music” he exclaimed as he listed the bands he was going to see once his set was over! The stage in the woodland clearing was perfect for this engaging performer. Also, his fans were out in force to sing along with Old Friends and Broken Bones. A highlight was new song, Red Lion Square, which he matter-of-factly explained was about depression following the death of his father.

Rob Lynch smiling
Rob Lynch holding a beer
The Slam Dunk festival 2018 crowd singing along with Rob Lynch

FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES: “You will be treated with respect and kindness”

Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes were LOUD and relentless, whipping the crowd into a metalcore frenzy.

Frank Carter crouching down to look at the audience
Frank Carter smiling and wearing only shorts, showing off tattoos all over his body
Frank Carter smiling

It’s a testament to the festival’s scale and stacked line-up that we nearly missed veterans Taking Back Sunday. Still, arriving just in time for Timberwolves at New Jersey was pretty sweet!

Taking Back Sunday on stage

GOLDFINGER: “Fuck Ted Nugent!”

Someone forgot to tell Goldfinger it wasn’t a headline show. The punk royalty never let up, as funny as they were epic and with a non-stop round of cameos from Atreyu, State Champs, The Faim, and Reel Big Fish. Mike Herrera from MxPx and Phillip Sneed from Story of The Year were also there, of course, as they are in the band now!

The singer of Goldfinger yelling into the microphone
The singer of Goldfinger jumping into the air
The singer of Goldfinger and the singer of State Champs
The singer of Goldfinger with his arms around a guest vocalist
The singer of Goldfinger with Mike Herrera

REEL BIG FISH: “Jimmy Eat World is playing right now. I’m just gonna see Jimmy Eat World then I’ll be right back”

Half punk-rock show, half pantomime, Aaron Barrett of Reel Big Fish spent time teasing the crowd about the bands they were missing; disappearing several times as if to catch Jimmy Eat World and Good Charlotte. A band has to be good to keep a jam packed tent’s worth of people away from those veteran acts, Then again, to be fair, there was a heady level of booing when Good Charlotte were mentioned! This crowd was very definitely here for the ska-punk stalwarts, going off for singalongs and skankalongs like Sell Out, Take On Me, and Where Have You Been? Marcia Richards of The Skints joined as a guest vocalist on She Has A Girlfriend Now.

Slam Dunk festival 2018 review: The Singer of Reel Big Fish smiling at the camera
The singer of Goldfinger with Marcia Richards of The Skints

Good Charlotte added the star power and arena rock show vibe, starting out with an explosion of confetti and dramatic steam bursts. Somewhat dividing the festival-goers due to their pop sensibilities and chart success, the band nevertheless attracted a crowd of thousands. The converted were all thrilled to grin and sing along to songs like Lifestyles Of the Rich and Famous, Girls & Boys, and Little Things. The feel-good factor held up all night…well, at least until the fans saw the queues at the train station!! Worth it.

The singer of Good Charlotte
Good Charlotte
Joel Madden, the singer of Good Charlotte
Slam Dunk festival 2018 review: Taking Back Sunday Lunch meno

If you’re amped up about #SDF22 after reminscing about SDF18, you can buy tickets online.

Slam Dunk festival 2018 review: Fan holding up horn hand symbol