An Unforgettable Sun-Soaked Saturday At Slam Dunk Festival – Part One

What a fantastic sunny Saturday it was at my first festival, Slam Dunk. Known as the UK’s biggest independent rock festival, this is a one-day event that takes place in Hatfield Park and Leeds. This festival is a perfect blend of small up-and-coming bands and larger ones, making for a memorable day full of incredible music and vibrant energy.

Slam Dunk Festival – South

Hatfield Park, Hatfield House – 25 May 2024

Words: Carol Giannattasio

Photography: Antonio Giannattasio

This was an incredible day at Slam Dunk Festival South, racing between stages to soak up as much fun as possible. The sun shone brightly over the park, setting the perfect backdrop for a day filled with music and excitement.

The gates opened at 11 AM, and the crowd, a mix of all ages, including children accompanied by their parents, eagerly poured in, ready to immerse themselves in a world beyond reality.

As Everything Unfolds
As Everything Unfolds - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
As Everything Unfolds – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

My first stop was the Go Pro Stage, where As Everything Unfolds kicked off the day with their song Slow Down. Lead singer Charlie Rolfe is more than happy to be at the festival, as evidenced by her jumping all over the stage with a huge smile on her face and thanking the audience for being there.

The crowd is clearly enjoying the performance. According to Rolfe, this is their first time performing at Slam Dunk, and it’s heartwarming to see many people there specifically to support As Everything Unfolds rather than just friends who tagged along to enjoy the day, as often happens at festivals.

As Everything Unfolds - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
As Everything Unfolds – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Known for her dynamic stage style, Rolfe led from the front. As Everything Unfolds delivered a captivating experience for the crowd. They wrapped up their set, delivering an energetic mix of both old and new tracks, including Twilight, Felt Like Home and On The Inside.

As Everything Unfolds - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
As Everything Unfolds – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

This left the audience eagerly awaiting the next act, Caskets, to take the stage.

Caskets

Before performing the following day in their hometown of Leeds, Caskets needed to give their best at Slam Dunk South, and they certainly exceeded expectations.

Caskets - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
Caskets – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Being their second year at the festival, Caskets kicked off their set with a banger from their 2021 album Lost Souls, Drowned In Emotions, which I personally find astonishing. They continued with fan favourites Believe and Hold Me Now.

Caskets - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
Caskets – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Having heard these guys a few times before, they did not disappoint live. Matt, their vocalist, was amazing on stage, engaging the crowd and getting everyone to wave or clap in time.

Caskets delivered another stunning festival performance, even as their set came to a quick end. They closed with Lost In Echoes and Glass Heart, during which Matt joined the fans, singing the last verses of the song together.

Caskets - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
Caskets – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk
Slam Dunk – A safe haven

Walking through the park to reach the Slam Dunk Stage after Caskets electrifying performance, I couldn’t help but appreciate the atmosphere of the festival. As someone attending their first festival, Slam Dunk felt like a safe haven, a place where the vibe and mood were just right.

It was the perfect spot to be with friends, especially if you shared a love for a particular kind of music.

Slam Dunk provided a much-needed break from the chaos of the city. Surrounded by good music, good people, and good food, it created an environment where you could truly unwind and enjoy yourself. 

Head Automatica

Heading back to the main stage, we found ourselves in the midst of Head Automatica’s electrifying performance. Hailing from New York, this American rock band brought a fresh energy to the festival with their diverse range of genres.

Head Automatica - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
Head Automatica – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

At The Speed Of A Yellow Bullet had Head Automatica setting the stage on fire, captivating the audience from the get-go. They continued to delight fans with older hits like Brooklyn Is Burning, Solid Gold Telephone, and Graduation Day, taking us on a nostalgic journey through their discography.

But they didn’t stop there; they also treated us to newer tracks, including the recent release, Bear The Cross, which was unveiled on 17 May 2024.

Head Automatica - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
Head Automatica – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Not everyone may be aware that Head Automatica has been around since 2003, with a hiatus in 2012 due to internal issues, which led vocalist Daryl Palumbo and bassist Rick Penzone to form the band Color Film. However, their return to the scene was eagerly anticipated after announcements of their presence at two festivals in 2022-2023.

Head Automatica - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
Head Automatica – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Today, witnessing their performance firsthand, I can confirm that Head Automatica is more than ready to reclaim their place in the music scene. Their new single and their stage presence exude energy and grit, showing that they’re back and ready to give us their best shows yet.

We The Kings

Despite facing technical issues and starting their set late by 15 minutes, We The Kings still managed to deliver a memorable performance.

We The Kings - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
We The Kings – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Known for their energetic pop-punk music, they treated the audience to a nostalgic trip back to the 2000s, reminding us of the greatness and authenticity of the music from that era.

Lead singer Travis Clark added a personal touch to their performance by involving the crowd in a special moment during I Feel Alive. He encouraged everyone to jump up and down, waving their arms fast during the chorus, mimicking his daughter’s dance move. This was a truly heartwarming moment that added to the connection between the band and the audience.

We The Kings - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
We The Kings – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Introducing their newest song, Alien, We The Kings, had a creative idea to involve the crowd even further. They distributed alien balloons among the audience and encouraged them to let the balloons crowd surf to capture footage for the song’s music video. It made everyone feel like aliens for a few minutes, adding an extra layer of fun to the performance.

We The Kings - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
We The Kings – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Today’s shorter set meant we missed out on a cover of Oasis’ Wonderwall, Mr Brightside [The Killers] and Sad Song all three which made the Leeds setlist.

Closing their set with the crowd’s favourite Check Yes Juliet, We The Kings ended on a high note, engaging the audience in an acapella chorus that echoed throughout the festival grounds.

We The Kings - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
We The Kings – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

Despite having only a short time to perform due to technical issues, they truly stole the scene and left a lasting impression on everyone present.

We The Kings - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
We The Kings – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk
We The Kings - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
We The Kings – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk
Caskets - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
Caskets – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk
As Everything Unfolds - Slam Dunk Festival South - Hatfield Park - 25 May 2024
As Everything Unfolds – Slam Dunk Festival South – Hatfield Park – 25 May 2024. Photo: Antonio Giannattasio/MetalTalk

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