To get you all in the mood for the rock, pop punk, and hardcore extravaganza that is the Slam Dunk Festival, we’ve compiled a playlist of essential songs that we can’t wait to hear this weekend.

You Me At Six – Save It For The Bedroom
Although they dismissed reports they would be performing their debut album (‘Take Off Your Colours’) in full. The main stage headliners have promised they will be devling and they will be paying “homage” to that record. For many, ‘Save It For The Bedroom’ was the bands breakthrough song and still gets a massive a reaction today, and rightly so! (SR)

Taking Back Sunday – Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team
When you have a career that is packed with exceptional songs, it’s not the easiest task to pick just one essential Taking Back Sunday song. However with the “classic” line-up now firmly back in place, it makes perfect sense to choose one of the finest slices of emo rock/post-hardcore ever created – ‘Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team’. (SR)

Lower Than Atlantis – Words Don’t Come Easy
Love them or hate them, Watford’s Lower Than Atlantis know how to serve up their fare share of plucky, melodic rock. ‘Words Don’t Come Easy’ is just that with its swirling guitars, punchy drums and hook-y chorus. (SR)

Pvris – St Patrick
Few songs from Pvris’ stellar debut ‘White Noise’ hit quite as hard or pump up the listener quite as irresistibly as ‘St Patrick’. Expect the first moment of pure pandemonium at the main stage when the chorus to this track drops. (DW)

Neck Deep – Can’t Kick Up The Roots
The rise of the UK’s favourite pop punks Neck Deep is set to continue in the coming months. With album number two (‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’) set to drop in the summer, the Wrexham band recently provided us with this stellar preview. ‘Can’t Kick Up The Roots’ hits all the right pop punk marks with its driving guitars, retrospective lyrics and overall energetic tempo. There’s even handclaps and gang vocals. It’s got us very excited for the album and to see them this weekend. (SR)

Don Broco – You Wanna Know
What a song, what a chorus. What more really needs to be said about the first taste we got of Don Broco post ‘Priorities’. ‘You Wanna Know’ killed it live at Reading and Leeds last festival season and it will do exactly the same at Slam Dunk. (DW)

Architects – Broken Cross
It has certainly been a busy 12 months or so for Brighton’s Architects. Last year’s ‘Lost Forever // Lost Together’ LP has taken the quartet all over the world. At Slam Dunk they will be giving the album one final send off before beginning work on its follow-up. ‘Broken Cross’ is just one of the many highlights the aforementioned record had to offer, and once it drops on the Monster Energy stage expect to see complete and utter carnage. (SR)

While She Sleeps – Our Legacy
Having destroyed everything in their path on their recent UK tour, Sheffield’s While She Sleeps arrive at Slam Dunk with a shitload of momentum. With the critically acclaimed ‘Brainwashed’ in their arsenal, WSS’ stock continues to grow and tracks like ‘Our Legacy’ show just why that is. (SR)

Bury Tomorrow – The Torch
12 months ago we saw Bury Tomorrow celebrate the release of ‘Runes’ as they closed the Monster Energy stage. Now one year on, they’re back to write the final chapter in the ‘Runes’ album cycle. Sure they’ve sneaked on at the expense of Emmure, but when you have songs as powerful and mighty as ‘The Torch’ we’re not going to complain. (SR)

The Wonder Years – Dismantiling Summer
With a new album done and a summer on the Vans Warped Tour set to kick off shortly, it feels good to say The Wonder Years are back! After pretty much stealing the whole weekend in 2013, Philadelphia’s favourite pop punks return to headline the Macbeth stage. With an arsenal of sincere, catchy pop punk songs, Soupy and company have all the makings of being one of highlights of the weekend once again. ‘Dismantiling Summer’ from 2013’s ‘The Greatest Generation’ is a stellar reminder of The Wonder Years’ brilliance. (SR)

Moose Blood – Anyway
We’ve been following Moose Blood ever since they were taking their first baby steps; before they released their first EP, so like proud parents we’re stoked to see them headlining the “Fresh Blood” stage. It’s the final time we’ll get to see the Canterbury quartet before they head to the Vans Warped Tour. Last years ‘I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time to Time’ continues to be discovered by new fans, and ‘Anyway’ shows just why they’re becoming one of the UK’s most beloved underground bands. Plucky emo pop punk at its very best. (SR)

A Loss For Words – Distance (ft Lynn Gunn of Prvis)
Slam Dunk will be the last time to spend time with Massachusetts pop punks before they break up later this year. With their mix of melodic and aggressive pop punk, A Loss For Words have a catalogue of crowd-pleasers. However with Pvris also on the bill, we’re hoping we’ll be treated to an airing of this track, ‘Distance’, from 2013s ‘Before It Caves’. If it happens, it’ll certainly be one of the highlights of the weekend. (SR)

Fireworks – Bed Sores
Last week the Detroit five-piece dropped a bomb by announcing they would be going on hiatus soon. Nevertheless Fireworks will be back at Slam Dunk to deliver their mix of tuneful, mature pop punk. Whilst last years ‘Oh, Common Life’ touched on the subject of the death of vocalist David Mackinder’s father, it is tracks like ‘Bed Sores’ that makes Fireworks shine through. They’re going to be missed once they’re gone, so show the band some love while you can. (SR)

Goldfinger – Here In Your Bedroom
Whilst some may only know John Feldmann for his work with All Time Low, Sleeping With Sirens and several others in the world of rock and pop, others will know him as the frontman for Los Angeles punk veterans Goldfinger. Having pulled out of last years festivities, expect to see Goldfinger back with a bang showing why they’re one of the most beloved ska-infused punk bands of all time. Songs like ‘Here In Your Bedroom’ are certain to have you skaning and moshing at the same time! (SR)

Reel Big Fish – Beer
Without question Reel Big Fish are ska punk legends. Having previously headlined the festival back in 2007 and returning four years later, they’re back once again. You always know what you’re going to get with RBF; end-to-end, harmless brass-infused fun. Just listening to ‘Beer’. We guarantee you’ll be bopping along instantly. (SR)

As It Is – Can’t Save Myself
Like the aforementioned Trash Boat, Brighton’s As It Is are part of a faction of rising UK pop punk bands making waves beyond these shores. Having gatecrashed the UK Top 40 album chart with ‘Never Happy, Ever After’, the quintet are set for a busy summer. They’ll be opening the Macbeth stage and will be bringing their brand of catchy, sincere pop punk with them. ‘Can’t Save Myself’ defines what As It Is are all about. (SR)

Transit – Saturday Sunday
Transit are no strangers to Slam Dunk but having received a mixed response with last years ‘Joyride’, they return with a point to prove. Nevertheless with tracks like ‘The Only One’, they will certainly change peoples opinion. Its heartfelt approach and plucky, summery tempo should be enough to please the Slam Dunk masses. (SR)

Knuckle Puck – No Good
Some have been calling Chicago’s Knuckle Puck as the next big pop punk band. With their debut full-length set to drop this summer, Knuckle Puck return to the UK for Slam Dunk with an arsenal of songs that blend emotional sentiment with thriving musicianship and favourable hooks. Just take a listen to ‘Oak Street’ to see what we mean. (SR)

Trash Boat – Perspective
Having sneaked on to the bill late on, Trash Boat are just one of many up-and-coming pop punk bands making their Slam Dunk debut. Expect to hear a lot from this St Albans group in the coming months. They’ve just dropped their pulsating ‘Brainwork’ EP on Hopeless Records and it’s where you’ll find ‘Perspective’. Three minutes of hook-y, shouty goodness that is bound to get the crowd moving early on the ‘Fresh Blood’ stage. (SR)

Seaway – Your Best Friend
One of the stand out tracks of last year’s ‘All In My Head’ EP, ‘Your Best Friend’ is a song that we’re seriously excited to hear live next weekend. It shows just why Seaway are one of the brightest new international pop-punk acts too. (DW)

The Bronx – Knifeman
From the Impericon’s opening act to its headliners, and there are few bands who slot better into Slam Dunk’s modus operandi than The Bronx. The California punk troupe are beginning to approach veteran status thanks to anthems such as ‘Knifeman’, and have taken on a long overdue Slam Dunk booking that will close out many festival-goers’ days in explosive fashion. Few names could draw as much attention in a clash with You Me At Six, Architects and Reel Big Fish, but when the stage times finally emerge this week, you can bank on The Bronx doing just that, and the moment ‘Knifeman’ kicks in has a serious shot at being one of the highlights of the day. (AL)

Beartooth – The Lines
Columbus, Ohio’s Beartooth are back in the UK with their brand of frantic and raw hybrid of metal, hardcore and punk. Last year’s ‘Disgusting’ debut LP fulfilled the “hype” with tracks like ‘The Lines’ showcasing the bands razorsharp guitars, favourable hooks and relentless energetic style. (SR)

Being As An Ocean – L’exquisite Douleur
California’s Being As An Ocean on many over with last years ‘How We Both Wondrously Perish’ LP. Their brand of engaging and creative melodic hardcore is layered, vast and ambitious. With a self-titled effort set to be released in early July, ‘L’exquisite Douleur’ from ‘How We Both Wondrously Perish’ is an ideal introduction the BAAO. (SR)

We Are The Ocean – Holy Fire
Having appeared at Slam Dunk 5 times before, you could consider We Are The Ocean as festival veterans. Nevertheless with their fourth album ‘Ark’ now in the open and taking a more rock-orientated route, WATO still have a lot to prove but we’re sure ‘Holy Fire’ will leave the Slam Dunk crowd stunned. (SR)

Fort Hope – Sick
A gargantuan chorus and spine-tingling vocal from Jon Gaskin will make anyone who hears ‘Sick’ instantly want to see one of Britain’s brightest new bands live at Slam Dunk. (DW)

Zebrahead – Jag Off
No band bring the party quite like La Harbra CA’s Zebrahead, and no track in the band’s back catalogue brings the party vibes quite like ‘Jag Off’. Grab a beer, turn this track up loud and prepare for the debauchery and pop punk mayhem that next weekend has in store. (DW)

Patent Pending – Shut It Down
Patent Pending’s unique blend of pop-punk infused with slices of do-wop, big summery pop and the odd big rock riff is perfectly encapsulated by this track from debut album ‘Brighter’.(DW)

Bayside – Pigsty
Having built a devoted following over the years, Bayside’s appearance coincides with their first ever UK headline tour, something which is long overdue. Their latest album, ‘Cult’ recently released the deluxe treatment and contains some of the bands tastiest riffs and catchest hooks to date. Just take a listen to Pigsty to see what we mean. Then go and see them on the Macbeth stage this weekend. (SR)

Dead Harts – Suicide Cocktail
Currently on tour with Monster Stage act Beartooth, Dead Harts have found their stock rise deservedly since tearing the Barfly a new one at last year’s Camden Rocks. Opening the Impericon Stage is likely to be the first of many Slam Dunk visits that the band will tear into, and after last July’s ‘Cult for the Haggard Youth’ release, the outfit have a whole lot to build upon in this festival season. 2015 is certainly a busy one for the Sheffield quartet and May is a massive month. There aren’t many better bands than Dead Harts to open a stage shared by the likes of Comeback Kid, Gallows and Bane, and you can bet they’ll be diving on the chance to let loose tracks like ‘Suicide Cocktail’ to open Slam Dunk with a bang. (AL)

Cartel – Save Us
How could we not pick a track from ‘Chroma’, the glittering gem of an album in the Cartel arsenal. Given the band have been on an anniversary tour of the album of late its safe to say plenty of tracks from it should get an airing. It will be one unashamedly big and glorious emo singalong if ‘Save Us’ is one of them. We certainly hope so. (DW)

This Wild Life – Puppy Love
‘Clouded’ may have won acoustic duo This Wild Life legions of new fans around the world, but it’s older song ‘Puppy Love’ that Already Heard expects to get a sickly sweet, but infectiously unforgettable singalong going next weekend. (DW)

Rob Lynch – Whiskey
A set closing rendition of ‘My Friends and I’ equally drenched in beer and bonhomie and roared word perfectly back at the stage was one of the most memorable moments of SDF14 for AH. We fully expect more of the same this year. (DW)

Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties – Divorce and the American South
Whilst we all can’t wait to get our fix of headbanging and moshing, we’re also suckers for the occasional sweet, sentimental acoustic number. This is where Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties comes in. Serving as the side-project for The Wonder Years’ Dan “Soupy” Campbell, tracks like ‘Divorce and the American South’ showcase his soft, sensitive side that may or may not bring us close to tears. (SR)

Slam Dunk Festival links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

23rd Slam Dunk Festival North, Leeds (Millennium Square, O2 Academy, Leeds Beckett Uni, Ba Bar and 2 other outdoor stages.)
24th Slam Dunk Festival South, Hatfield (The Forum – University of Herts) – SOLD OUT
25th Slam Dunk Festival Midlands, Wolverhampton (Wulfrun Hall, Civic Hall & Bar, Green Room and 3 outdoor stages)

Tickets are £39 (STBF) or £44 (STBF) with infamous Slam Dunk afterparty entrance included.

View Already Heard’s content from past Slam Dunk Festival’s:

Words by Sean Reid (SR), Dane Wright (DW) and Antony Lusmore (AL)

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