Ok. It wasn’t Glastonbury. It wasn’t V Festival. But the streets around Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall were transformed into a sea of music lovers riding on the waves of rock as the Slam Dunk Festival hit the city.
Ripped tights, black lipstick and tattoos aplenty this was the ‘alternative’ crowd at its best. But, despite the thousands, there appeared to be not one bad word said throughout the day.
Heavy metal, rock, whatever your bag, a more friendly crowd of music lovers you’ll never come across.
The headliners The All-American Rejects put on a storming set, opening with Dirty Little Secret (for non-rock fans, I bet you’ve played it on Guitar Hero), as well as other singles such as Move Along, Beekeeper’s Daughter and Gives You Hell. The crowds filtered in and out to the various stalls and food vendors outside before running back in to dance away to some high octane tunes.
In the scheme of festivals, this may be the ‘alco-pop’ of the lot – there’s no camping out or three-day benders. But, if rock’s your thing, this is surely as good as it gets.
The line-up also included Capdown, I Killed The Prom Queen, Less Than Jake, Mallory Knox, We The Kings and Zebrahead.
And, this year in particular, the festival means more than ever.
Our fundraising hero Stephen Sutton fulfilled one of his ‘bucket list’ wishes when he crowd surfed in a dinghy at last year’s Slam Dunk. So this one was for him.
Ben Ray, organiser of Slam Dunk, said: “We don’t know just yet how much we have raised but we’ve been told that we have had more donations in the last two days, but it hasn’t all been counted up yet.
“It all came about when one of the band managers last year asked if we could smuggle a rubber dinghy into the festival and he explained the situation to me.
“Because of health and safety, all I could do was turn a blind eye to it. I put him in touch with the stage manager of where he wanted to do it.
“There were a few pictures floating about online and a video at the time, but I didn’t really look into it properly. I wish I had now. When it all exploded earlier this year, I posted on social media that he had ticked something off his list at Slam Dunk last year, and lots of people were saying to us they had been there but didn’t know it was him.
“I was going to put out a tribute to Stephen after I heard he had died, but then I thought it would be better to raise some money.
“We had worked with Teenage Cancer Trust before, so we have been collecting for them across all three dates.
“We are such a small part of his story but we are all very pleased to have been able to help him tick something off his bucket list.”
Slam Dunk also took place at Leeds University and The Forum in Hertfordshire over the weekend.
By Victoria Nash