LIVE: Slam Dunk Wales [29/05/2013]

By Tom Aylott

Slam Dunk is genuinely one of the best weekends that the UK has to offer and it’s only recently that it’s expanded so much that parts of the UK that the festival doesn’t usually visit can now get a taste of the action. Tonight, Slam Dunk Wales plays host to a selection of the biggest bands the main festival has to offer.

Things don’t get off to the greatest of starts. The weather is abysmal and the lack of action in the queue from the advertised door time of 5pm threatens to leave a lot of people unhappy. Thankfully we just get in as Fireworks are midway through their set. The crowd are largely subdued (probably due to the soaking they received while trying to get in) but that doesn’t deter the band who are very obviously putting their best into the show. Those in the crowd that are singing along are acknowledged and due to the fact that Fireworks played the bigger room of the two used today, it means they’ve probably gone away having gained a fair few fans. [Chris Marshman]

By the time it was time to go see Man Overboard at the University’s downstairs venue, it soon becomes clear that there could be a slight capacity issue as the day goes on. The notably smaller ‘CF10’ venue was now employing a one in one out system which meant we could only catch the last few songs of Man Overboard. It’s clear to see that the band have been working on their live show, the band are really tight and the vocals are not as sloppy as they usually are. Those who had managed to get into the venue were having a brilliant time and as the set comes to an end with ‘Montrose’, the venue had become a suitably sweaty mess.

Up next were Hands Like Houses who bring a more post hardcore type vibe to tonight’s proceedings. The band bring with them a rabid fanbase and some fairly solid tunes. Overall, Hands Like Houses are tight musically, which is impressive given how technical their songs are and the vocals of frontman Trenton Woodley are a real highlight. It’s unfortunate that the sound for their set seems muddy and quiet and takes away from what really could have been a great set. [Chris Marshman]

It was now time for The Wonder Years to take to the stage in what was becoming a more and more stiflingly hot venue. As soon as the band launch into ‘Passing Through A Screen Door’ the crowd go absolutely wild with waves of crowd surfers and a plethora of finger pointing. It truly is a sight to behold and they crowd never let up once. The heat coming from within the venue did cause somebody to pass out which almost brought a halt to proceedings with the band almost having to leave the stage. Thankfully (after a few jug fulls of water were distributed around the crowd), The Wonder Years were able to continue their set. The last time The Wonder Years played this venue, it was only around half full, this time there was barely any room to move and the atmosphere was all the more incredible for it. [Chris Marshman]

Sub-headlining the Macbeth stage were post hardcore/metalcore funsters, Pierce The Veil who from the very get go have the crowd absolutely in the palm of their hands. The last time Pierce The Veil played Cardiff, it was in a room around the quarter of the size of the one they had packed out today which just goes to show just how quickly they’re gaining popularity. Tracks like ‘Bulletproof Love’ and ‘King For A Day’ sound ginormous and their stage presence is brilliant. Honestly one of the more exciting bands we watched today. [Chris Marshman]

Tonight’s headliners are Four Year Strong who unfortunately contrast heavily with the rest of the day’s pop punk wealth. Four Year Strong put in a seemingly passionless 45 minute display of little more than going through the motions. Their set is peppered with tracks from their earlier output which ultimately seems like nothing more than an attempt to cling to their former glory days as 2009’s pop punk poster boys. [Tom Connick]

Overall, despite some dodgy door times and one unbearably hot room, Slam Dunk Wales is an overwhelming, well attended success. It certainly helps that the line up tonight was mostly incredible and that the bands involved seem fully into it. A brilliant night out.