LIVE: Slam Dunk Festival 2021

Slam Dunk saw a return to the levels of punk and passion the festival has become famous for. At last their loyal following could let loose.
Posted: 7 September 2021 Words: Hannah Cobb Photos: Bethan Miller

Slam Dunk Festival (south) took place at Hatfield Park once again last weekend, and what a weekend it was. It felt great to be listening to and experiencing live music once more. The crowds were buzzing for an awesome day, and what they got was an epic event filled with fun, sun, and much more than simply music.

Photo: Apertunes

Once the day was underway, Roam and As It Is opened up the Rock Scene Stage, the latter of which played to a vast audience. ‘No Way Out’ set up the crowd to mosh and have a good time, just what everyone needed after all this time without live music. They ended with two tracks, ‘Dial Tones’ a firm favourite with everybody in the crowd, which got everybody dancing and singing the lyrics back to them, also ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ was a good way to close their set.

Punk/ska band Zebrahead were astonishingly excellent on the Punk In Drublic Stage, brimming with energy, inciting circle pits and crowd surfers right from the start of their set. It was an electrifying performance, and the more the band asked, the more they got from the crowd. You could visibly see people crowd surfing to the front, only to get to the front, and then go back to doing the same thing. Over and over.

Photo: Bethan Miller

There was talk the day before on social media about Mcfly being the secret guests on the Right Key Stage - they did not disappoint. Playing to a huge crowd (who clearly discovered the 'secret' early on), they played the hits: the crowd sang ‘Star Girl’ right back at them, then launching into ‘Obviously’ at which point, their set really got into full flow. They also played ‘It’s All About You’, which set people singing and reminiscing to the past Mcfly tracks they still love to this day. It was an uplifting show for a diverse audience, albeit not everyone's cup of tea.

Alkaline Trio took to the Punk In Drublic Stage where the best part of the punk legacy bands played, undoubtedly drawing in the biggest crowd so far. A veteran band akin to former headliners Sum 41 who pulled out used to travel restrictions, they had the punk rock vibe down to a tee. ‘Armageddon’ fired everyone up, offering a new lease of life to the crowd that needed reenergising after a long day in the sun. The last few tracks were just as high energy, with cups aplenty being thrown into the air - at last the audience could let loose. Whilst the band were playing, enter stage left: a paraglider up in the sky, ready to touch down on what might well have been the arena. Thankfully, he was just there for the views, and what an enviable view.

Photo: Apertunes

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, being one of the most celebrated UK bands on the roster were clearly one of the most-watched acts at Slam Dunk this year. On the Punk In Drublic Stage, the masses loved it from the very first track the band played played through their anthemic back catalog things only went up from there. They captivated everyone, particularly with ‘Recovery’ and a brand new track which kept people dancing.

Californian punk legends NOFX served as the festival's main headliner in spirit (with Don Broco replacing Sum 41) and are now inextricably tied to Slam Dunk festival and its loyal following. Fast-paced punk rock riffs and Fat Mike's typical snarl made for a superb ending to a major day of punk. Roll on next year.

Photo: Apertunes

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