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SLAM DUNK ITALY REVIEW Pre And Post-Show: An Unforgettable Display Of Music And Energy

Slam Dunk Festival, first established in 2006, has taken many forms over the years. Tonight’s show however, marks a new landmark as the first ever European Slam Dunk – on the sunny coast of Rimini, Italy we’re headed into night one of three.

The UK dates this year received some criticism of its organisational and logistical pitfalls, so you could be forgiven for thinking that their first abroad venture might have some difficulties. However, last night was a triumph for artists and organisers alike.


Stand Atlantic:

It’s been a busy few years for Stand Atlantic, 2 albums in 2 years and now they’re back on the road again in 2023. This band seem to never stop and their hard work, is paying off. With thousands gathered to watch, singing along to Pity Party, Hate Me (Sometimes) and deathwish. This band have come along way. Their dynamic live show coupled with vocalist Bonnie brushing off their high school Italian made for a perfect start to the evening.


It’s comforting to know that some things are universal. Standing with your friends, screaming your lungs out with a cider in hand, is great no matter what country you do it in. And Zebrahead are an incredible addition to any festival. After 25 years together, their show still sets them apart from everyone else. From skeleton onesie wearing crew members crows surfing on an inflatable watermelon, yes you read that correctly. To hearing fan favourites, Rescue Me, Hello Tomorrow, Falling Apart and festival anthem Drink Drink.. tonight’s set will be one that’s hard to beat. The joy radiating from the band and crowd was utterly contagious.


Italy’s own NASKA takes to the stage next, keeping up the energy from the previous Zebrahead set, not an easy act to follow. The forty minute set consisted of original material and some epic punk covers including No Future (Sex Pistols) made for an entertaining set. NASKA controlled the crowd with a captivating stage presence

Sum 41:

Off the back of their recent announcement that they are going to disband after one more album and world tour, I don’t think anyone is sure what to expect tonight. What we get, is easily the best Sum 41 set I’ve had the pleasure to witness. Welcomed by the crowd with open arms, circle pits and singalongs it’s a wonderful way to close the evening. Epic pyrotechnics and showman-ship from front man Deryck aside, the sheer volume of the crowd felt like Sum 41 had gained an extra member tonight. I think the band had just a good a time as we did, minutes after the last song was played, the arena was starting to rapidly empty, the house lights were on, they burst back on stage for what seemed to be a spontaneous encore of Machine Gun. Their reappearance creating a cloud of dust as a few thousand fans ran back on themselves.

As you leave the mainstage in Rimini and walk along the sea front to the emo sucks after-party, you can’t help but think that this is the perfect set up for a festival, but this is just the beginning.

After a glorious opening night with a headline set from Sum 41, the weekend is off to an amazing start. Sunshine, two stages, one of which is on the actual beach, no clashes and thousands of festival goers? Slam Dunk, Italy edition is ready to go.


Charlotte Sands:

Charlotte Sands can do it all, an energetic captivating show, with a consistently brilliant vocal performance. You can feel how sincere she is about her music, song writing and the gratitude she has for being in the position to play shows, which make all of her performances a special one to be at. Whilst a lot of the pop-punk, emo revival is nostalgia fueled, Charlotte Sands is the injection of new life in the genre that you want to see.

Less Than Jake:

Saxophone, trombone playing, toilet paper throwing, water gun squirting, Less Than Jake are festival favourites for a reason. For a band I’ve always thought sound like summer, this is the perfect setting to see them live. After recently doing some Hello Rockview full album shows, this afternoon is a more condensed affair, with a sea of festival goers dancing to classics; The Science of Selling Yourself Short, History Of A Boring Town, Gainesville Rock City and All My Best Friends Are Metalheads, ska is sounding alive and well.


Some bands just don’t get enough credit, and I’m guilty of forgetting just how great Anti-Flag are live until they’ve been on stage for approximately 10 seconds. The energy, passion and sense of community that you can feel in the crowd is tangible. Bursting on with Die For The Government, the tempo is set and Anti-Flag never let up.

Punk Rock Factory:

Festival season, is arguably the most fun season of them all and Punk Rock Factory embody all things fun. Cover bands, aren’t for everyone, but how could hearing punk rock covers of tracks from Frozen, Kate Bush, Moana and the Pokémon and Powerangers theme with a drink in hand looking over at the sea in the sunshine not be an excellent addition to your day?

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls:

Initially, the crowd seems a little smaller for Frank Turner than it has been for most of the day, but with the bands boundless energy, masterful showman-ship and the highest number of circle pits for the weekend – this quickly changes. Frank joking with the crowd, not to panic when he produced an acoustic guitar, their set definitely gave a nod to being on the same bill as punk legends Rancid. Fast numbers Punches, Non Serviam and Out Of Breath made for circle pits with healthy dose of singalongs to Get Better and Recovery, Frank has this crowd in the palm of his hand. Closing the set with the crowd slow dancing under a cloud of sand and dust to Four Simple Words. If there was any set this weekend that won people over, it was this one.

Bowling For Soup:

For a band that have been around as Bowling For Soup have, it comes as a surprise when they announce this is their first real Italy show, the band visually and verbally stunned at the packed out crowd that awaits them on the beach this evening. Their festival set is crammed with fan favourites, 1985, Almost, High School Never Ends, Girl All The Bad Guys Want, Punk Rock 101 which the crowd sing every word along with them, at one point singing a whole chorus and verse whilst the guys went and grabbed a beer. One of the things BFS have always done well is interact with their fans, sing alongs, inflatable bananas being released and their Bowling For Soup Official Photo Opportunity tonight is a non-stop, energy packed, joy filled set.


The word ‘legends’ is easy to throw around, but I think in Rancid’s case, it’s deserved. 30 years, 10 albums and countless shows later and their headline set tonight is the perfect display of why this band is loved so deeply, respected widely and why their career has lasted as long as it has. Opening with the title track from their brand new album Tomorrow Never Comes, their impressive 27 song set spans their career, playing special attention to albums Let’s Go and …And Out Come The Wolves. A headline slot at a festival is usually the time to involve crazy pyrotechnics and do something a little bit more extravagant, Rancid opted keep it simple and it really worked. Their set tonight, still felt like a Rancid show, just on a huge scale. Playing to that many people and being able to create the sense of intimacy that they did is something not many people can pull off but this performance was a really authentic reflection of who Rancid are and the audience responded to that. I’m pretty sure the echos of Roots Radicals, Ruby Soho, Fall Back Down and Old Friend could be heard for miles along the coast as day one of Slam Dunk came to a close.

Read our reviews about Slam Dunk UK North here and here.

What are your experiences with Slam Dunk this year? Let us know!

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Katie Dove