Festival Preview: Slam Dunk Festival 2019

Slam Dunk Festival 2019

It’s finally here! After months of waiting, the glorious annual gathering known as the Slam Dunk Festival is upon us. Now firmly a late May Bank Holiday tradition, this year’s event looks set to be the biggest and best yet!

For starters, the North leg of the festival is once again moving. From its humble beginnings at Leeds University’s Union to taking over Millenium Square, it’s now following its Southern sisters move (to Hatfield Park last year) and is taking over Temple Newsam Park. And with nine stages and over 60 acts set to play, it’s no surprise that Slam Dunk is once again stacked with talent, to the point where you’re going to have inevitable clashes.

Sure you’ve downloaded the Slam Dunk app, and marked out the bands you have to see. But if you haven’t, Already Heard is here to help. We’ve picked out 20 bands you can’t afford this weekend… even if you have sprint between stages to watch them all!

Preview | Playlist | Info

Photo Credit: David Bean

New Found Glory

New Found Glory are the type of band who would turn up to play an hour-long set of bangers, and even then they won’t have played all your favourites. And at Slam Dunk, they’ll do just that.

Having just released another set of pop-punk set of popcorn-covered movie songs (including ‘Eye of the Tiger’, ‘The Power of Love’ and ‘Let It Go’), NFG have even more songs to choose from. Nevertheless, you could consider them Slam Dunk regulars and know what the people want, and they’re definitely going to deliver.

The Florida four-piece are modern pop-punk legends and they have the songs to back it up. From ‘Understatement’, ‘Dressed To Kill’ to ‘Happy Being Miserable’ to ‘Hit or Miss’, New Found Glory aren’t ones to disappoint. (SR)

Where & When: Monster Energy Stage – 7:05pm


A band with a fan base as loyal as any, Glassjaw have always kept lovers of their music on the edge of their seats. With extensive touring not really on the cards for Daryl Palumbo and company these days, the opportunity to see them live always seems like a must-see moment.

Headlining a stage with the likes of Gallows, Turnstile and Knocked Loose, it may seem like a daunting task for some bands, but with a back catalogue which features tracks like ‘Tip Your Bartender’, ‘Ape Dos Mil’ and ‘Siberian Kiss’ there are some big hits which will surely please the Slam Dunk audience.

There are sometimes questions surrounding what version of Glassjaw will turn up, but one thing is for sure, they will produce a set not to be missed. (TB)

Where & When: Impericon Stage – 7:40pm

Bullet for My Valentine

With no introduction needed, the Welsh metal quartet will no doubt have heads banging when they headline the Jagermeister stage. Over the years Slam Dunk has been able to bring together pop-punk, emo and metal in a way that other festivals haven’t quite been able to pull off.

And on a stage that some might consider heavy with nostalgia with the likes of Silverstein, Atreyu and Story of the Year, Bullet For My Valentine are waving the flag for UK heavy metal at the festival. Even if people’s musical tastes have changed, there is no doubt there will be a crowd full of people screaming along to the words of ‘Tears Don’t Fall’. (TB)

Where & When: Jagermeister Stage – 8:45pm

Photo Credit: Charles Wrzesniewski

The Menzingers

2019 has been a fairly quiet year for Philadelphia quartet The Menzingers, but they have a good reason – they’ve been in the studio recording with Will Yip (again) on what we presume is the follow-up to 2017’s ‘After the Party’ (our Record of the Year for 2017).

With each album release, their credibility and following grows and with a headline slot on the Dickies stage, it’s certainly well deserved. Even with 50 minutes allocated to Greg, Tom, Eric and Joe, we don’t think that we’ll be enough to get our fill of their brand of heartfelt, Americana-soaked punk rock. Nevertheless, it’s sure to go off from the opening chords of ‘After the Party’, all the way through to the rousing sing-alongs that the likes of ‘Burn After Writing’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore’ provide. (SR)

Where and When: Dickies Stage – 8:00pm


Last year was very much the year of Baltimore hardcore band Turnstile. With the release of their much-acclaimed record ‘Time and Space’ along with a whole host of sell-out shows and festival performances, the band are one on the rise. Not showing any signs of slowing down, Turnstile come to Slam Dunk fresh off playing Coachella, with the likes of Ariana Grande.

The quintet always but 110 per cent into their live performances, from the moment they step on stage to the last ringing guitar notes everything is at full throttle. This isn’t a hardcore band like you have known before, this is a celebration of being different, of bucking the trend and having fun.

If you are unfamiliar with the band before the Festival, they will certainly be one of your new favourites leaving. (TB)

Where & When: Impericon Stage – 2:10pm

Photo Credit: Danny DeRusso

Boston Manor

Since their formation in 2013, there has been a steady rise in popularity for Boston Manor. With a strong work ethic, the boys from Blackpool carved a name for themselves in the British music scene and are by all rights now pulling strong crowds at festivals.

Sharing the Monster stage with All Time Low, New Found Glory and Neck Deep is a place that the five-piece will feel comfortable with as their 2018 album ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’ really propelled them to the next level.

With songs ‘Halo’ and ‘Bad Machine’ looking set to get a big reaction, this year Boston Manor could be one to keep an eye on at Slam Dunk. (TB)

Where & When: Monster Energy Stage – 1:25pm

Trophy Eyes

Ever since releasing their acclaimed third album, ‘The American Dream’, last summer. We’ve not seen much of Newcastle, New South Wales’ Trophy Eyes on these shores. Nevertheless, they’re going to be making up for it when they return to Slam Dunk.

Although ‘The American Dream’ took a more considered and personal lyrical approach, due to John Floreani’s honest songwriting, it still had plenty of anthemic quality as album highlights ‘Friday Forever’ and ‘You Can Count On Me’ showed. Their spot on the Marshall stage is sure to combine ‘The American Dream’ standouts with old favourites from ‘Chemical Miracle’, making for a glorious, energetic mid-afternoon slot. Oh, and if you want to hear a bit more of Floreani sincere words, he’ll be opening the acoustic stage, previewing his upcoming solo album. (SR)

Where and When: Marshall Stage – 2:00pm

Real Friends

Since emerging out of Illinois, it could be said Real Friends have never quite to rivalled the momentum their early EP’s handed them. Thankfully that all changed with last year’s ‘Composure’ LP. Even though it’s somewhat gone under the radar, it’s a juggernaut of emotional pop-rock with hooks aplenty.

Since its release last summer, it’s taken the quintet throughout North America, and more recently, over to South America. Yet, we’ve yet to hear infectious cuts such as ‘Me First’, ‘From The Outside’ and ‘Get By’ in the UK. Nevertheless, with a slot on the Marshall stage alongside the likes of Seaway, Trophy Eyes and A Loss For Words, the quintet will feel right at home. And for those who have been following them since those early EP’s, recent setlists have included stellar pop-punk bangers ‘Anchors Down’ and ‘Floorboards’. (SR)

Where and When: Marshall Stage – 4:40pm

Photo by Shawn Brackbill

The Get Up Kids

Considered by some as one of the most influential emo bands ever, The Get Up Kids make their much long and overdue Slam Dunk debut later this month. Currently playing career-spanning sets across Europe, 40 minutes on the Dickies stage is just enough time for the quintet to treat fans to a dose of heartfelt emo-rock.

With their recently released album, ‘Problems’, serving up songs such as ‘The Problem Is Me’ and ‘Lou Barlow’, laced with a familiar poppy awareness, they’re sure to feel right at home alongside longtime fan favourites, ‘Action & Action’, ‘Don’t Hate Me’, and ‘Ten Minutes’. Also, depending on how many beers deep you’re in, ‘I’ll Catch You’ might just bring a tear or two. (SR)

Where and When: Dickies Stage – 5:20pm

Less Than Jake
Photo Credit: Jodiphotography

Less Than Jake

If you’re looking for a carefree, adrenaline-fuelled day out, then the Punk in Drubic stage is where you want to be. Headlined by skate punk legends NOFX, it’s also going to be home to Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Millencolin, The Interrupters, and potentially, the party band of the weekend – Less Than Jake.

Although they’re no strangers to the Slam Dunk Fest, you know what to expect from Gainesville’s favourite ska-punk sons; guaranteed fun and then some. With a plethora of anthemic songs to pick from, Less Than Jake know how to bring a crowd together. So grab your friends (and make new ones) and be prepared to belt out ‘The Ghost of You and Me’, ‘All My Best Friends are Metalheads’, and ‘Look What Happened’ in unison, and soak up a thoroughly entertaining band. (SR)

Where & When: Punk in Drubic Stage – 6:10pm

Knocked Loose

If you are into heavy music and are unaware of Knocked Loose, then you must have been living under a rock. The band from Oldham County have forged their way to being one of, if not the go-to hardcore band for festivals in the UK and further afield.

Their blend of aggression and groove-led riffs is a formula that hasn’t transcended just the hardcore genre and has appealed to a wider alternative music audience. Following the success of their record, ‘Laugh Tracks’ the band have been touring relentlessly and their live performances have become a thing of legend.

Now, having shared new music for the first time since the full-length in the form of single ‘Mistakes Like Fractures’, the buzz around the band is bigger than ever. Slam Dunk expect carnage as you have never seen before. (TB)

Where & When: Impericon Stage – 1:00pm

Photo Credit: Larry Wentworth


After a 15+ year career, some bands prefer to leave the past where it belongs and look forward. That’s not the case for Ontario’s Silverstein.

They’ll be returning to Slam Dunk for the first time in ten years, and having just released ‘Redux’, a collection of re-recorded favourites, they’re sure to turn back the clock. Since emerging out of Canada, the post-hardcore band have become a refined, crisper act with Shane Told’s cathartic words becoming ever-present.

As part of Impericon stage alongside Bullet For My Valentine and Atreyu, Silverstein are certain to deliver a mid-afternoon blast of heavy nostalgia with plenty of ferociousness and passion. (SR)

Where & When: Jagermeister Stage – 4:10 pm


With big atmospheric sounds and dreamy guitar tones, Wallflower may represent a more relaxed vibe compared to some of the high energy bands playing this year’s festival. However, that is not to their detriment, their emo/post-hardcore sound offers up the perfect opportunity for big sing-a-longs and chances to bang your head.

With songs ‘Lilith’ and ‘Mas Eu Quero Mais’ offering up beautiful melodies and reverb guitars, on a bigger stage Wallflower‘s sound will sound huge. So get along to the Key Club Stage and enjoy a good sing song with the boys from London. (TB)

Where & When: Key Club Stage (Right) – 12:45pm

Kublai Khan

Possibly one of the heaviest bands to play Slam Dunk this year, Kublai Khan bring the beatdowns to the Key Club Stage. Playing a slower, down-tuned brand of metalcore, the band from Sherman, Texas will most certainly get some mosh pits going at the festival. The band say what they want and are very vocal about what they stand form, with lyrics touching upon the subject of racism, human rights and police brutality.

Despite their aggressive nature, there are grooves to Kublai Khan’s music and it is this blend of catchy guitar patterns and passion that will bring something fresh and heavy to the Slam Dunk stage. (TB)

Where & When: Key Club Stage (Left) – 12:15pm


One of the most exciting bands in alternative music right now, Pagan has flipped the script on what to expect when it comes to heavy music. The four-piece from Melbourne, Australia grabbed the music worlds attention with last year’s ‘Black Wash’. Mixing pop sensibilities with a heavy music attitude, Pagan has managed to tap into a wide-ranging fan base.

The self-proclaimed late-night Death Disco providers, Pagan has no regards for rules and regulations and do things on their own terms. And that is exactly why they fit the Slam Dunk billing, a dash of this, a splash of that and you have a Pagan live show. (TB)

Where & When: Key Club Stage (Left) – 4:15pm

Press To MECO

Like many UK bands, Press To MECO have been slogging it out on the underground for years, yet that hard work is now starting to pay off. Last year’s stellar second LP, ‘Here’s To The Fatigue’, received plenty of praise, and rightly so. Maintaining their now almost trademark three-man harmonies, the Crawley trio honed in on their positives; infectious hooks wrapped around by dynamic riffs and a textured rhyme section.

Having done the rounds of numerous UK festivals, Slam Dunk is considerably new, if not bigger, territory for Press to MECO. Yet, with bold, urgent songs such as ‘Familiar Ground’, ‘If All Your Parts Don’t Make a Whole’ and ‘Here’s To The Fatigue’ in their arsenal, they’re sure to gain a few new fans over the weekend. (SR)

Where and When: Key Club Stage (Left) – 2:15pm

The Bombpops

Even if it did take nearly a decade after their formation to release their debut record, the wait was definitely worth it. San Diego’s The Bombpops bring a brand of pop-punk which is based around storytelling. Even though heavily influenced by bands like Green Day, Pennywise and Bad Religion, it is co-vocalists Poli van Dam and Jen Razavi that gives the group a different edge.

The balance between the serious and the lighthearted is what makes The Bombpops music so infectious and will have the Slam Dunk crowd leaving the Punk in Drublic stage with big smiles on their faces. (TB)

Where & When: Punk in Drublic Stage – 11:55am

Lizzy Farrall

The singer-songwriter brings an honest approach to living life through her music. Starting off with just her acoustic guitar, Lizzy Farrall has now utilised the full band experience for her live shows and it brings an added layer to her heartfelt songs.

Not one to shy away from what her songs mean, Farrall interacts with her audience by tell her story of how she got to where she is through music. Songs such as ‘Broken Toy’, ‘Better With’ and recent single ‘Barbados’ will be the gems in Farrall’s arsenal as she blends pop elements with her emotive driven style of songwriting. (TB)

Where & When: Acoustic Stage – 2:25pm

Cruel Hand

Playing an eclectic blend of styles, Cruel Hand has always been a band which has been hard to pin down in the hardcore world. With influences from Cro-Mags, early Metallica, and Madball, Cruel Hand offer up a lot of energy and a lot of aggression.

In a time when hardcore’s popularity is on the rise, Cruel Hand are one of the originators of a current generation who may get somewhat overlooked. But with songs like ‘Dead Weight’, ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Lock and Key’ will showcase the traditions of where Cruel Hand and the hardcore sound comes from. (TB)

Where & When: Key Club Stage (Right) – 11:45am


It’s been almost three years since Atlanta, Georgia’s Microwave gained our attention with their second album – ‘Much Love’. Yet, during that time they’ve become quite accustomed to visiting the UK, having supported Boston Manor and Creeper on two separate runs.

With a relatively high spot on the Key Club Right stage, the quartet’s sonic blend of hardcore, emo, and indie rock is complemented by (fairly) straightforward and favourable hooks, just like the riveting ‘Lighterless’ and ‘Drown’. They also have a tendency to brilliantly rein things in as ‘Whimper’ showed. Whereas ‘Vomit’ is an urgent and explosive slice of pure rock goodness. And who knows, you might even hear some new material? (SR)

Where and When: Key Club Stage (Right) – 5:45pm


Follow us on Spotify for more playlists.


Slam Dunk Festival North
Slam Dunk Festival South

25th Slam Dunk Festival North – Temple Newsam Park, Leeds
26th Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park, Hatfield

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Words by Sêan Reid (SR) and Tim Birkbeck (TB). Featured photo credit: Ben Bentley.


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