Waterparks have developed a big, loyal fanbase that grows with every album cycle, but taking to Slam Dunk after the release of new track Turbulent has changed the festival game entirely. Giving away 100 shirts at North and South and only selling 100 longsleeves at both dates was a good way to get everybody talking about the band, but huge adverts around the site had queues of people all day both days to get photos of/with it. Needless to say, this transferred into pure energy at the start of their set. Breaking into the soaring vocal riffs of Blonde, frontman Awsten Knight has a persona to match his vocal abilities and he clearly demonstrated that from the off. Running around the front of the stage, pirouetting and jumping, he is as capable with a guitar in his hands as without. Backed up by the ever-silent Geoff Wigington and Otto Wood, they have a sound far bigger than the three-piece would be expected to provide. A set highlight was a performance of the above new single, with audiences singing along word for word which surprised even the confident band. An outstanding set that proves Waterparks will become one of the biggest, most exciting alternative acts - they have the songs, stage presence and social media identity in perfect weights.
As one of the heaviest bands of the weekend, Employed To Serve seemed to stick out as a bold booking for Slam Dunk at first glance. Admittedly the crowd was not anything like as full as earlier bands in the day, but that cannot be used against the band. The heavy riffs rang out in an all-encompassing block throughout the large tent. Justine Jones' visceral, abrasive vocal style rang out above the sludgy chugging rhythms to deliver Harsh Truth and Force Fed with crushing ferocity. The upside of being a super heavy band at such a varied festival is that it brings in such a varied crowd - there was a phenomenal sense of community within the thrilled crowd with pit etiquette in brilliant application. A record-perfect rendition of some tracks, delivered with a expertise and clinical brutality.
As the biggest band that still seems to be growing, it would have been somewhat unsurprising if Neck Deep had a large crowd for their set. On the other hand, the reality was something else entirely. As the Wrexham quartet bounced out on stage, The Boys Are Back In Town began blaring through the PA and it seemed as if the entire festival site had drained from the tents to join the ridiculous expanse stretched out before them. Without any kind of introduction, they hit with Motion Sickness and Gold Steps in unrelenting waves. Frontman Ben Barlow was visibly touched by the turnout and expressed his gratitude for the support of Slam Dunk and friends sharing the stage for how they have grown their career to this point. In Bloom provided possibly the biggest singalong of the entire festival with the huge chorus bouncing around the huge arena, with such huge energy. They are consistently a phenomenal live band, and the latest showing proved no different; there is a reason Neck Deep are so big.