After the initial batch of artists had been and gone, Slam Dunk was very much hotting up. It was an appropriate time then for one of the most exciting heavy bands around to take to the Impericon stage: Oldham County, Kentucky outfit Knocked Loose. They've ridden the high of Laugh Tracks for a good couple of years now as they have risen to the top of modern hardcore, but with the release of new singles ...And Still I Wander South and Mistakes Like Fractures they are forging a new resurgence. The tracks went down a treat, but as could be expected, the older fan favourites like Counting Worms and Deadringer were where the main energy of the set was felt rippling through the crowd. Big things are in the works for the band, and this set just cemented them as one of the top talents to keep an eye on in the near future.
Hot Milk have managed to spring up as a "rising talent" name incredibly quickly, snagging some sizeable festival slots and even a few Foo Fighters support dates which begs the question: how and why have they reached prominence so quickly. Within seconds of them walking out on stage, they answered with some huge choruses and surprisingly heavy riffs. They market themselves as "emo power-pop" but they come across as much more than that. Festival acoustics can be tricky to navigate, but the powerful octave chords and dual-fronting created a giant, melodic sound for the giant crowd. They benefitted hugely from being followed by a certain special guest on the adjoining stage, but crowd movement after the conclusion of set closer Awful Ever After was testament to the numbers they had brought in themselves. A hugely promising upcoming talent who put on a mean live show.
One of the best-kept secrets in Slam Dunk history was the performance of a special guest artist, revealed a week before the festival as "Y3K", quickly deciphered to be from Year 3000; Busted were about to make their debut at the festival. The crowds were therefore giant and overflowed the large tent massively, pulling huge portions of the crowd away from the bigger tents in an unfortunate clash. They played through in an old/new alternating song pattern to permeate the new material into the crowd while ensuring everyone got to hear the old favourites. Fortunately, the new material was known by a large portion of the crowd already and the entire set was as full of explosive energy as it was nostalgic memories. Air Hostess, Crashed The Wedding and Year 3000 were obvious set highlights, but the experienced trio (accompanied by Lower Than Atlantis drummer Eddy Thrower) played through all of the material seamlessly and immaculately. What a treat, and possibly the most intimate show fans of the band will be able to see for quite some time to come.
As It Is are no strangers to the Slam Dunk gig, having played the festival four times before taking to the stage this year. Their touring has always been heavily based on the album cycle of the era with a setlist packed full of recent tunes and this was no different. Opening with The Reaper, the band brought Underoath's Aaron Gillespie to play with them unannounced which gained less of a reaction than it possibly should have. This did not detract from the feeling at all though, as they played through another chunk of the new album, only pausing for breath when frontman Patty Walters brought out an acoustic guitar to play through The Question, The Answer. He announced they would play the original version at Slam Dunk South, stating at North that he knew they liked to party. Conversely, on the second day he stated he wanted to give individual experiences for each audience but quickly scrapped that as he trashed the guitar and began playing the hardcore-styled Reimagined version, much to the delight of onlookers. The versatility of the band is unparalleled, with Walters having had a wide variety of musical experience through his YouTube career and with multiple bands at present. The set highlight was not one of music however, but a clear demonstration of their social awareness; they know their fanbase are very strong as a collective and want merchandise from them, so Walters and guitarist Ben Langford-Biss announced the trashed guitar would be signed and auctioned off for charity. Truly lovely individuals, great songwriters and fantastic performers - As It Is are one of the best bands in alternative music right now.