Slam Dunk Festival: the good, the bad & the ugly || Quirks & Queries


The 29th May saw the 2nd installment of the 3 day Slam Dunk event take place in its 2nd venue of the three, the Midlands'. Hosted in the NEC, only a small section of the place was rented out for the event, a few auditorium's, including Birmingham's reknowned Genting Arena, that would see Panic! At The Disco take headliner.
With it being my first time at both the day festival and staying in a hotel, it offered the premise for

The Good:

The venue:  

The Nec and surrounding Pendigo Lake is a prime location for any event really. There's Resort World nearby full of a host of brand names selling holiday clothing as well as a load of outlet stores...and a Costa. At one side of the lake was a small beach of sorts, and the area's really been made the most of, with street bollards in the shape of sweet rock and deckchairs in and around The Pendigo Lake area. The cafe's and restaurants had made the most of it too, offering al fresco seating on the lake veranda.

Memphis May Fire -

Panic - not Brendon Urie's finest performance, but nevertheless it's always good seeing his face. I assumed it was because they'd just done a performance at BBC Radio 1's big weekend that afternoon.

The bands that tried: I noticed a massive difference between the bands that tried to get past the not so great audio and technical quality, and the ones that gave up mid-way through set. 

The Bad:

£9 a round, £4.50 a pint.
- That's all.

A lot of acts looked bored.
Some being exempt, I didn't see many smiles and a lot of them did the same generic show they'd been doing for years. There were some sprinkles and smoke steam but nothing to make the show truly memorable.

The acoustics in the indoor stages were awful.
Nothing had been done to turn them from a convention a performance suitable hall. Echoes and just overly poor quality of the sound coming out made me sad. You know when someone's speaking but you can't hear the words? I don't mind not hearing Sam, that's fine (I joke) but I want to hear the word's the bands are singing over the din of other festival goers passing through the one stage to get to the other.

A prime example is of the 'Atlas' stage, sounding very much like I was listening to it under water throughout, I could only hear the thrum of instruments playing to the point where, in Of Mice & Men's set for example (the few minutes we were there for), the lead singers vocal screams fell dead silent, inaudible over the bass, a contrast to his clearly singing face...more technical problems? 

I know its common place to not have the best audio in a concert, but this was abysmal.

The layout & General lack of organisation - With the midlands Slam Dunk venue being moved to the Birmingham NEC instead of being held in Wolverhampton, you'd of thought a lot of planning would've gone into the event but it felt like they really cut corners in terms of organisation. This really showed through sound problems during acts like 'We Came As Romans.' Passing through one stage to get to another, or trying to get into a band whilst people are rushing past to get to their next stage is a bit offputting. A poor layout and use of space and severe lack of signposts just bought an overall downer on the day.

Too many people:
If you have to queue to get in to a stage, and queue again to re-enter after popping to the loo, or just being refused because of full capacity, then I think maybe, just maybe, there were too many tickets sold. It just doesn't sit right with me that you might not get in to see a band you've paid to see because it might be full - surely that's not right?

And finally...
I've come to the conclusion a day festival isn't for me, nor is it for Sam. 3 day or 5 day festivals offer much more of a community vibe, and it's much less of a rush to see you're favourite three bands as chances are they're spread out. In terms of being indoors, like a concert, it doesn't compare to the intimacy and close nature - the band knows you're they're to see them and I feel it works in motivating a lot of them to do a good show. Alternatively, big festivals like Leeds and Download offer the exposure that sadly, Slam Dunk doesn't have yet, despite it's close relationship with the younger generation.

The hotel? It was basic, but nice enough. The room was the same uniform decor you'd expect to find in a Premier Inn, staff were professional and were straight to the point, without the befriending chit-chat (which I appreciate as I'm not the most social) that you might find in another hotel or B&B. The breakfast was a bit too much in all honest, I'd much prefer a Full English option and another option for a bacon roll - all this spicy beef hash, larger than life bacon rashers and jams in little jars are too fancy. Although it was very tasty and the self-service toast and coffee machines were nice too; if only they'd of had flavoured syrups though.

Did you go to any Slam Dunk this year? If so, what did you make of it?

- Beth (Quirks & Queries)

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