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Live Review: Slam Dunk Birmingham - The HMV Institute, Birmingham - 30/05/2011‏

Being a spin-off show from the two main Slam Dunk events, the queue for Birmingham date of Slam Dunk lead round the corner to the other end of the road; perhaps the largest queue that the HMV Institute has had since its recent opening late last year and this not even being a sell out show. Despite not announcing stage times at all prior to the show, people were very clear with the intention of who they wanted to see at this all-star event.

Having only just arrived to catch the last song of Failsafe's set, the main room is packed considering how unknown they are. Set Your Goals charm the audience into the first circle pit of the night with 'Fallen' from their second album 'This Will Be the Death Of Us', their newest effort 'Exit Summer' from their upcoming album translates well despite the sudden change of pace for the night. For the close of their set 'Mutiny', they bring an injured kid up on stage who squanders across the stage, ensuing hilarity and turning him into a legend for the night. Meanwhile, in the temple, All or Nothing are benefiting from the huge crowd that left Set Your Goals, they play personal favourite 'A Day at the Stadium' alongside newer efforts from their upcoming debut album. Since my last review of All or Nothing, their sound is a lot more refined and the band are a lot more charming, throwing cans of Carlsberg to anyone in the crowd that fancied one, I'd like to meet the person who has a complaint with that.

Anti-Flag tear open their set with 'The Press Corpse' from their 'For Blood and Empire' album and take home the award for loudest band of the night. With Chris #2's screams cutting through Justin Sane's clean vocals, despite songs from their recent album not getting as much appraisal as they'd hoped. Their true anthem during their set is 'Die For Your Government' where Chris #2 jumped into the crowd, clearly ignoring the "No Crowdsurfing" signs. The highlight of night is the cover of The Clash's 'Should I Stay or Should I Go' which absolutely ensues chaos from even the parents in the back.

We Are The Ocean draw a huge crowd. This crowd however detiriorates slowly over the course of the set but the massive amount of energy remains, halfway through 'Confessions'. Sadly the crowd missed the bands biggest songs 'Nothing Good Can Stay' and 'The Waiting Room' which are both feature Dan Brown's screaming contrasting Liam Cromby's clean vocals.

My personal highlight was The Starting Line, with every passing minute the crowd grows in anticipation waiting for the return from the 5 year void they left when they exited the UK last. There's no bias on a particular album and they perform an equal amount of songs from each album too appease the fans. It's encouraging that despite the fact that Kenny and the boys wrote those songs almost 10 years ago, the same amount of passion is sung in them as if they were written recently. Of course as most expected 'The Best of Me' drew a huge singalong in comparrison with the rest of their set and ended on such a high note, don't leave it that long again guys.

Headlining the Temple stage is MC Lars who has a small cult fanbase of a crowd that you could count on two hands, he is joined by Weerd Science and even performs a few Weerd Science songs, Lars' set is one of the most entertaining of the night but incredibly underappreciated.

Less Than Jake's set in comparrison has people spilling out of the doors just wanting to hear them play their combination of fast ska songs blended with the same pop-punk formula that hasn't been very far tonight. The band play three songs back to back from their recent "TV/EP" which are even received well by the security guards. For one of their very many staple songs, 'All My Best Friends are Metal Heads', the band bring up onto the stage two fat people who begin to waltz for the entire song. At the end of the song Vinnie turned around and said "Well that's a Less Than Jake first and hopefully a Less Than Jake last".

Words by George Gadd

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