It was all smiles at this year's Slam Dunk festival and, despite the rain, the Desperados and beer was flowing and the crowds were bouncing non-stop to 2015's incredible line-up. 

Slam Dunk Festival

As more and more bands were announced over the last few months, the anticipation was high and almost every band pulled it off with finesse, proving just why Slam Dunk is one of the country's best rock festivals. 

Opening on the main stage was Set It Off. Despite all the drama that's surrounded the band over the past week with bassist Austin Kerr, the band didn't let it show when they jumped on stage and gave the performance of their life. Opening their set with 'Forever Stuck In Our Youth' and performing their other hits 'Why Worry', 'Ancient History' and more, they certainly kicked things off with a bang.

It's difficult to find bands that sound just as good live as they do on record, but PVRIS definitely raised the bar of live performances with a set that exceeded the expectations of many. Performing hit tracks such as 'Smoke', 'Mirrors', 'Fire' and 'My House' (featuring none other than Josh Francheschi), Lynn Gunn and the rest of the PVRIS crew got the crowd bouncing, while managing to sound crisp and clean. Even those who weren't in the crowd surrounding the main stage and were simply relaxing in the occasional breaks of sunshine were enjoying PVRIS' set. 

Moving over to the Monster Stage, this was to be the most highly anticipated stage of the day. With Shvpes, The Color Morale, Beartooth, Bury Tomorrow, Crossfaith, Architects and more, the Monster Stage was an absolute rampage of screaming, pits, sweaty bodies and the traditional wall of death in Crossfaith's 'Countdown To Hell'. 

Beartooth's set consisted of their 'Disgusting' album (the only criticism of this being we can't wait for some new Beartooth music!). Opening with 'Relapsing' and having Kevin Jordan from This Wild Life join them on stage for 'Body Bag', Beartooth proved to everyone just why they deserve to be where they are now. It was intense and it was furious - and damn right insane.

One criticism of the festival was that some of the acts that were on the Fresh Blood Stage should have been placed on bigger stages. This Wild Life and Moose Blood had fans queuing out the doors trying to squeeze in to the tiny room just to catch a glimpse of them. 

Cartel, Transit and The Wonder Years were standouts on the Macbeth stage this year, with the bands pushing the limits to pull off some of their best shows to date with a mix of old tracks to new. 

Gallows was the standout on the Impericon stage this year, and Zebrahead killed it on the Desperados stage.  The Uprawr DJ stage was an interesting addition to Slam Dunk but they really pulled it off, drawing a good sized crowd with each set - with Tek-One and Jon Mahon really standing out.

Crossfaith and Architects were the highlights of the Monster Stage, both exceeding expectation and creating the best atmospheres of the night. Crossfaith's flawless electronic sounds mixed with metal blew the crowd away particularly with their cover of the Prodigy's 'Omen'. Architects obliterated the Monster Stage with their headline set; with The Xcerts frontman Murray Macleod appearing for 'Youth Is Wasted On The Young' and Bury Tomorrow's Dani Winter-Bates making 'Early Grave' even more furious, it was like an end of an incredible chapter for the band.

Back to the main stage with Don Broco - the band that had performed alongside Bury Tomorrow and Beartooth at the Kerrang! Tour in February this year, and again they made the stage shake with an outstanding performance that couldn't be faulted. Mixing many of their new tracks from their upcoming album 'Automatic' (due for release later this year) as well as performing one of their very first tracks 'Thug Workout', the set was immense, despite being a little conflicting. It is clear they wanted to show off a lot of tracks from their new album, but that might not have been what the crowd wanted.

Headliners You Me At Six ended the night on the main stage and although it was a strange experience having them take us back to the old days with a lot of tracks from their 'Take Off Your Colours' album (as they celebrated Slam Dunk and the band's 10th year) they wrapped up the night with class. The band quickly got help to an injured person and, although this ultimately led to a twenty minute delay of the set and few disgruntled fans, the band came back and smashed it. Finishing the set with 'Bite My Tongue' followed by 'Underdog', the crowd were dancing and singing from the front all the way to the sound desk at the very back of Hutton Lawn. 

Overall, Slam Dunk Festival has pulled off another incredible year. Although there were a few disappointments with While She Sleeps and Neck Deep not being as on point as they usually are with their sets, and a few technical malfunctions which resulted in mics cutting off and levels not always being quite right despite sound checks, we're already counting down the days until Slam Dunk 2016.


Sophie Brannon

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