Neil and I came across the SlamDunk festival as it was advertising the Blackout, Neil Starr and the Sharks, we wanted to check them all out again having enjoyed their performances when we saw them a little while back. Tickets got sorted and on the day we made our way to Hatfield, having checked their website beforehand we were pleased to see that we could park at the station as they were running a free bus service to and from the site all day.
“Bus: NOTE: There will be a completely free of charge shuttle bus operating throughout the day between Hatfield Station and the festival site”.

We arrived at the station at about 4pm, parked the car, put enough money in for the day and wondered over to bus stop. A handful of people were waiting, I ask a group of boys if we were at the right place which they confirmed, so now we wait, and we wait, and we wait…..more people arrived, but no sign of a bus yet :-(, still, it is nice to sit in the sun, as it is the hottest day of the year so far!
When a normal bus arrived the boys I had ask earlier check with the driver that there are more free buses on their way, I can see from watching them that it wasn’t a positive outcome. People are now walking around unsure what to do, wait longer? pay loads of money for a taxi, walk 40 minutes or so…..aarrrggghhhh! So much for a free bus service!!
Some people decide to grab a taxi, including the group of boys, but before they drive off one of them came running over telling us there will be no more buses. What a lovely young man, see not all young people are hooligans, far from it!!
I have to say we are not impressed, really not impressed! We have no choice but get in the car and hope we can park nearby the University as we somehow missed buying a parking ticket and when we tried to get one they were sold out.
As we drove off we realised that we could have actually given a couple of people a lift, Neil turned round and we offered a couple of girls to jump in, a young man came over and ask if he could squeeze in too, the girls didn’t mind, so yeah, hop in. The girls had come on the train from Cambridge, and the boy from London….god know’s how they’ll get back! 😦
We managed to park alongside the road with only about a 10 minutes’ walk, finally we got there, tickets checked and through the gates. One of the guys from the entrance came running after us to ask if we were drinking..???, Of Course, it’s a University….if we had we would need a separate wristband, it’s an age thing!! However we didn’t get a timetable, or forget to pick one up.
It was mayhem at the campus, loads of people stalls squeezed into a small space…wow, were do you start?

We went along some of the stalls and Merch stands, I was looking for the Blackout stand, and a timetable to find out who is playing when. Both didn’t prove to be easy……eventually we found out when the Sharks were playing, and yes, we missed them, dithering around at the bus stop didn’t help!
But Neil Starr was about to play an acoustic set, so we decided to catch him….in what I can only describe as a Greenhouse!  Needless to say we didn’t stay long, packed with people and the sun reflecting on the large windows making it perfect condition to grow herbal weeds…poor Neil, it must have been hard performing!
We managed to find the Merch stand for the Blackout, looks like we are just about in time for the signing……or not as the case may be, the queue was insane and we gave up after about half hour not moving. Shame would have been nice to get my Blackout trainers signed, but you know what, I will live without it.
All this and the unpleasant vibes around us does not help improving my mood which is going downhill fast! We make our way to the main stage, we get near the barrier, quite a crowd has already gathered! I sat down by the fence, as I was actually able to see more then standing up!
Motion City Soundtrack was on next, a new band to me, but they managed to lift my mood! I really enjoyed them, I would describe them as alternative rock, and they show a lot of commitment and energy. It’s funny watching them from this angle, I’m getting a totally different view of the frontrow…lol!
Thank you Motion City Soundtrack for lifting my mood! 🙂

Next up are Funeral for a Friend, I have heard of them but not really listened closely to their material. We are also lucky, as the people from the frontrow moved away and we could claim enough room for both of us! Result! We will now stay here until the Blackout’s are on. I guess standing right in front at the barriers makes you oblivious of what is going on behind you, in this case it’s a good thing, we felt it was so badly planned and organised, obliviousness is bliss! We are getting a bit hungry though, Neil decides to go and get some chips or something similar! Well, he came back with two chocolate muffins, that was the only place where there was hardly any queue…..I’m not even going to attempt to go to the toilet, as I said badly organised!

Funeral for a Friend are now on stage, they are good, again it’s a shame I don’t know their songs better, I feel a little out of place as the rest of the crowd is joining in the singing and know when to punch the air. There is a lot of crowd surfing going on too, girls and boys! Front man Matt comes off the stage, goes to the barrier and decides to do a bit of crowd surfing himself, that does go down well with the fans…..this band has a brilliant stage presence, playing to each other and the audience. The only annoying thing was the photographer who decided to stand on his box most of the time and spoiling my view nicely. 😦 ! Still I managed to get my hands on a set list and I actually think it was the same photographer that went to get it for me, so he redeemed himself a little bit!

Yes, now it is time for The Blackout, the band we have been waiting for! It doesn’t take long for the stage to be ready, the boys come onto the stage and start straight away with “I’m a riot?”, and the crowd is ready and happy to be involved, no need to work hard for the fans to join in, they were ready! Gavin and Sean are in top form, taking turns as usual to be the lead singer, these two guys have a perfect relationship, they are very much tuned to each other, knowing exactly when to cut in and take over….it could of course be just extremely well rehearsed! I do have a feeling that is not all, they smiling a lot, loving the performance! Sean is as usual the joker, riding one of the speakers, messing around with the mic. Gavin on the other hand comes off the stage to go to the barriers; the security guards have a struggle to keep him safe, as many hands trying to grab him. I’m still amazed by the difference of Gavin’s performance with The Blackout and the acoustic set I was lucky to see a while back at the Barfly. A truly talented man, well, not just him, their performance is fantastic and I’m sure this is not the last time I’ll be seeing them.

We really enjoyed your set, you made it worthwhile putting up with the badly organised event and the not so pleasant vibe that I felt all day!
No chance for a set list though :-(… time!!!

Time now for the last Band on the main stage, Taking back Sunday, I guess they are the headlining band being on last! I have absolutely no knowledge about them, so no idea what to expect! The two girls we gave a lift from the station were here mainly for them, oh, and talk of the devil, they appeared behind us!
They are from New York and the genre they describe themselves is rock, Adam Lazzara certainly looks the part, shaggy hair and a beard! Actually I have noticed this a lot lately, many band members are now bearded, I must say I still prefer the clean shaven look unless of course your name is Dave Grohl…..hehehehhe!  Taking Back Sunday are ready to go, I’m not sure what to think, so far I’m not keen. They are musically skilled, there is no doubt, and a lot of people in the audience love them, but it just isn’t happening for me. We decide to leave and give our space on the barriers to a couple of girls, it’s only fair!

Well, it certainly has been an experience; if I want to do it again I’m not to sure…….
I’m sad to have missed the Sharks, happy to have seen The Blackout, happy to have discovered Motion City Soundtrack… all was not lost!


About FrontRowStef

Following months of putting in the necessary hours of research, I have been bullied into writing a blog about my gig experiences! I can’t claim in-depth technical musical knowledge, or a massive CD collection, but, I know what I like and what doesn’t sound good in a live setting. I’m not intending to write great reviews about bands, but more of stuff that happen to me while out and about. Like when a dear friend of mine pointed out that it looks like I’m putting my towel down when I hit the barriers at the front and claim my spot with my jacket draped over the railings. What does he mean? Is it because I’m German? Enough introductions, you will get to know me sooner or later! Oh and apparently I’m going to be referred to as Front Row Stef, simply because that is my rightful place!

One response »

  1. Martina Weidmann says:

    Well the bus is crap but the rests sounds nice!

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