Sydney's own Hellions  kicked off the Kerrang fresh blood stage with there hardcore punk style, playing songs such as ‘Creasy’ and ‘Nottingham’ off of their previous and extremely successful release ‘Indian Summer". The bands newest track 'The Quality Of Life’ also goes down very well. These guys brought an abundance of energy so early in the day and they crowd went wild for it. Definitely a band to watch out for in the future!
Young Guns  gained a surprisingly packed out main stage crowd for so early in the day at Slam Dunk, even lead singer Gus Wood seemed surprised at the busy Genting Arena. Opening with a throwback of ‘Daughter of the Sea’, was a real treat and added some nostalgia to Young Guns’ set. This went straight into ‘Speaking in Tongues’ which is a stand-out anthemic track from their most recent album ‘Ones and Zeroes’. It is clear that after around a decade of persistent touring of the UK, Young Guns still possess a raw talent which draws them both a familiar and newer crowd of fans. ‘Winter Kiss’ and ‘Bones’ both saw massive singalongs from the crowd, and showed off the tightness of the band live (even with the departure of drummer, Ben Joliffe, days before). Young Guns even took the opportunity to debut a new track, ‘Bulletproof’, off of their upcoming unreleased album. This glimpse into Young Guns future was both promising and exciting and shows that the future is very bright for the band.
Blood Youth’s  set at Slam Dunk Midlands proved a real stand out of the day. Showcasing new material from their new EP ‘Closure’ and debut EP ‘Inside My Head’, Blood Youth played a highly energetic packed out set, proving how much they have progressed live over the past year. ‘Cold Sweat’ proved massive with the crowd, and had every head banging along to the stand-out riffs. ‘Moodswing’ and ’24/7’ also went down very well with and showed a real glimpse into the promising future that the band has. Relentless touring, and support slots have really paid off for Blood Youth, and their Slam Dunk Midlands set was testament to this. Ending with ‘Failure’, Blood Youth had the entire crowd singing back the words and capsulated a real buzz of energy. If you haven’t seen these guys live, you need to get on the hype.
Australian djent giants Northlane  were next to take the stage and having seen these guys several times throughout there career this occasion was definitely a memorable one. This band have gone from strength to strength from when I saw them several years ago supporting Parkway Drive. The live show had a much darker appearance all in black and guitarist Jon Deily supporting a black face mask (very creepy). Opening with a classic “Dispossession” they were soon to test the water with new track “Hologram” off new split EP Equinox with In Hearts Wake which was met with open arms. They then kicked into heavy tunes such as “Rot” which showed there heavy side and opened up the pits for complete chaos. They continued to unleash an arsenal of tracks such as “Leech” and “Quantum Flux” which was met with raw energy and crowd surfing. Highlights of the performance were tracks “Rot” and “Masquerade” as they show off their heavier side, great musicianship and the phenomenal vocals of Marcus Bridge . These guys get better and better every time I see them, definitely a band worth keeping an eye on!!
Slam Dunk this year has some of the finest bands from Australia on the bill and at the top of their game has to be the Amity Affliction . After the release of ‘Let The Ocean Take Me’ in 2014 these guys have a had phenomenal couple of years from reaching number 1 in the ARIA charts, to releasing a DVD and touring across the US, Europe and Australia. These guys kicked off their set with new single ‘I Bring The Weather With Me” from forthcoming album “This Could Be Heartbreak" with it being the second time being played in the UK you could sense the excitement in the crowd and they did not disappoint with soaring clean vocals and a killer guitar solo. They went on to play crowd pleasers ‘Open Letter', ‘Pittsburgh’, ‘Deaths Hand’ which had everyone singing along with bassist Ahren Stringer. To everyone's excitement The Amity Affliction played another one of their latest releases “Shine On” which again got the crowd testing there vocal chords with a big sing-along. You could sense the emotion portrayed by frontman Joel Birch in each song clearly coming from a very personal place. The atmosphere in the building was phenomenal and a true testament to the dedicated following they have in the UK.
A stand out band of the entire festival had to be Four Year Strong . The pop-punkers with harsh riffs really brought their A-game and scored a very big slam dunk. 'Wasting Time' and 'It Must Really Suck...' go down much as you would imagine, greeted with moshing, moshing and more moshing. The newer songs seem to go down extremely well too. This was the only show of the night where I had the opportunity to stand bang in the middle of the crowd and it was nice to experience it from the thick of it. With arms flailing around me, bags hitting me in the face, feet slamming down on my Vans and shoulders shaking my body I felt oddly at home and FYS aided in the entire process. From the moment FYS stepped out on stage they brought it giving 110% from start to finish. I went in with a huge expectation of a band I had on my bucket list and they surpassed all predictions and hopes I had. The dudes even pulled out a personal favourite in 'Stuck In The Middle'. Cheers lads...
Time to catch heavy stage headliners Of Mice & Men  and my god do they bring it. It's that moment where smoke shoots up into the air and the band break into a collection of hits off their latest release 'Restoring Force' that fans are hit with riffs, riffs and more riffs. The band stand their ground as solid headliners for this stage and prove they have the material and experience to carry it off to a large group of fans. OM&M drop plenty of singles and hits such as 'Another You', 'Bones Exposed', 'Would You Still Be There' and heavy favourite 'The Depths'. It was refreshing to see the band revisit an old friend in 'Second & Sebring' bringing a classic to a crowd that were so game to hear it.
Of Mice & Men didn't seem uncomfortable for a second on stage. This performance combined with recent successes are sure to give them serious points towards bigger and better things!
Also, smoke cannons are the absolute best thing I have ever seen especially when placed tactically on the drops of drops in Of Mice & Men songs. I also love fire.
Panic! At The Disco’s  headline slot at Slam Dunk’s ten-year anniversary was nothing short of ‘Victorious’. The band packed out the Genting Arena to full capacity and gave the crowd pyro, backflips and a lightshow even Rush would be enviable of. Opening with ‘Don't Threaten Me With a Good Time’, Panic! at the Disco set the ball rolling with an impressive nineteen song setlist which primarily showcased Panic!’s more recent material from ‘Death of a Bachelor’ and ‘Too Weird to Live.. Too Rare to Die!’. Songs such as ‘LA Devotee’, ‘Golden Days’ and ‘Victorious’ were particular highlights, demonstrating Brendon Urie’s true potential as a showman with one of the most enviable vocal ranges in rock music at present. For the fans who have followed the band since its early beginnings in 2005, Panic! treated them to the timeless classics ‘I write Sins not Tragedies’ and ‘Time to Dance’ which were a perfect addition to a nostalgic Slam Dunk ten-year anniversary set. A nod was even given to Pretty.Odd. with ‘Nine in the Afternoon’ featuring as a real fan favourite on the setlist. A real genius moment came when Brendon Urie claimed “we wrote this song backstage” and began to perform the Queen classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ from behind a piano. This was quite the risky move considering the reputation of the song…. nonetheless Panic! pulled this off impeccably and the crowd’s reception to the cover was nothing short of madness. Closing the set with ‘This is Gospel’ and ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’, Panic! at the Disco demonstrated their ability to win over both older, and newer fans alike. There is no denying that 2016 is the biggest year of Panic! at the Disco’s career, and their Slam Dunk set showed their true potential as a sell-out arena band.