The lead up going into UK's Slam Dunk Weekend had full attention of the greater world of alternative music and culture. Quickly approaching their second decade as one of the premiere, now globally-recognized rock music festivals, the 2023 edition was sold out in advance for both their North and South installments - a landmark moment for the banner.
Featuring the likes of The Offspring, Enter Shikari, Billy Talent, Underoath, Flogging Molly, Yellowcard, Creeper, Maggie Lindemann, Malevolence, We Came As Romans and so many more – the diversity of Slam Dunk reiterated not only the vision the fest's organizers, but resonated with a passionate intersection of fans that commuted from stage to stage - experiencing the full stylistic spectrum of the festival that ranged from metallic hard to pop punk - and so much in between.
An vital component to the growth of the festival also comes with Slam Dunk's strategic alignment with like-minded entities. Broadening their reach as an international destination, Slam Dunk has teamed with Knotfest for a designated stage on the festival footprint that showcased a aggregate of the heavier side of the performance roster. Pairing savvy veterans with sensational prospects, the stage was nothing short of incendiary throughout.
Engaging in what felt like a friendly competition of Can-You-Top-This, the artists that took centerstage under the co-branded Knotfest/Slam Dunk banner, each submitted their entry for highlight of the weekend. Metalcore vets We Came As Romans proved colossal, showcasing the sledgehammer strength with selections from their Darkbloom era.
Hometown heroes Malevolence paused a U.S. tour to skip overseas to show out at Slam Dunk - touring logistics be damned. Unloading a barrage of bangers from Malicious Intent, both sets resonated a victory lap for the band, punctuating what has been a monumental year for the crafty practitioners of musical clobber.
Among the emerging contingent of heavy music's next on deck, Static Dress were explosive as the band began officially commenced their new era on Roadrunner Records. Equipped with a live arsenal from Rough Carpet Disaster, frontman Olly Appleyard was thoroughly commanding as the band flexed a dynamic brand of heft that as energetic as it was enthralling.
The wild card in Birmingham's Heriot deal the Slam Dunk faithful a crushing blow of sludgy, stylized heft, serving up weighty slabs from their universally praised, Profound Mortality. Simply put, Debbie Gough gets down to the business of bulldozing the audience with her brand of performative firepower. Equally dominant, though much more active, Connie Sgarbossa ricocheted across each corner of the stage during SeeYouSpaceCowboy's set - igniting a spark among the crowd that saw the fans move with serious intention.
Leeds' own Higher Power landed a haymaker of a set, showcasing the serious songwriting chops with cuts from 27 Miles Underwater. Flexing a sound that channels nostalgic 90's era aggression, the band's combination of style + substance plus their remaining potential makes for a promising equation.
The familiar favorites shined for their portion of the run of show too with Escape the Fate tapping into their Warped Tour-esque brand of rock revelry edge. Ryan Kirby and the Texas collective of Fit For A King also crushed, presenting the most potent live segments of their latest, The Hell We Create. Merging a knack for technicality with performative conviction, the metalcore mainstays ensured their time at Slam Dunk would be memorable for all the right reasons.
Check the comprehensive photo gallery capturing the action on the Knotfest stage at Slam Dunk below.