Let’s think about how the final moments of Slam Dunk will hit harder because of the songs you’ve enjoyed during the earlier parts of the day!

  • MUSIC FOCUS: Maggie Lindemann, Spanish Love Songs, Boston Manor, Trash Boat, VUKOVI, Holding Absence, Charlotte Sands, Enter Shikari, Sincere Engineer, PVRIS.
  • ACTIVITY FOCUS: Answer 4 questions about structure – questions that you can apply to any text.

Too many bands. Not enough time. Some tough choices are going to have to be made. But follow our suggested schedule for the day at Slam Dunk and – as well as having the time of your life – you’ll learn something important about structure. Woo hoo.

We’ve picked ten songs and considered them in the order they’ll be performed (no clashes!) on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th May.


Okay, LET’S GO!

10. Sincere Engineer, ‘Trust Me’

“This is my grand introduction;
I’m lyin’ face down in the street.
For the second time this week
All of my plans failed”

Deanna Belos knows what hopeless feels like. The lyrics above suggest she’s as low as it’s possible to get without some kind of actual digging implement. Only by understanding how down Belos – and the rest of us – can get, will we be able to get a true sense of Slam Dunk’s supercharging power. We need to appreciate how dark life has become if, by the end of the day, we’re truly going to appreciate (spoiler alert) the significance of the coming light!

9. VUKOVI, ‘I Exist’

Cementing that feeling of darkness – and confirming the fact that Deanna Belos isn’t the only who understands how bad things can get – VUKOVI singer Janine Shilstone asks:

“If I exist another day, would anybody even fucking care?”

The rhetorical question underlines the feeling so many of us are carrying with us as we enter the Slam Dunk gates.

Not that the situation is utterly bleak. Already, we actually feel reassured by simply listening to these singers detailing their pain. It makes us feel less alone! And, anyway, it’s important that the Slam Dunk artists establish their own understanding of life’s murkier qualities so that we believe them when they tell us:

“Stand up, you’ve gotta fight… Better days will come to light.”

The promise of that “light” feels more meaningful – more believable – because it’s being delivered by someone who understands the depth of the blackness we’re trying to escape. We needed to hear about VUKOVI’s hard times in order to feel like we can trust Shilstone when she gives us advice about coping with our own. If VUKOVI can stand up to their demons – and the repetition of ‘I am Nula’ is clear evidence of how hard they are prepared to fight to remain true to themselves – then surely we can too:

“Nula (the character) is a captured extra-terrestrial that’s now the property of a nefarious capitalist. The album picks up 25 years after her capture.”

8. Trash Boat, ‘He’s So Good’

And so we start to feel less isolated and more hopeful simply because we’re hearing – again and again during our day at Slam Dunk – that there are people out there who feel like we do. They recognise society’s biases and prejudices. Tobi Duncan sings:

“It makes me wanna scream.”

7. Spanish Love Songs, ‘Optimism (As A Radical Life Choice)’

And they recognise the anxiety that underpins so much of our daily existence. Dylan Slocum sings:

“Can’t even have my coffee without exploiting someone.”

6. Holding Absence, ‘A Crooked Melody’ & ‘Celebration Song’

And they recognise the self-doubt that sometimes threatens to swallow us up. Lucas Woodland sings:

“I know someday the jury will call
And they will say
That I am a fraud, an imposter, a liar.”

Which might all make Slam Dunk sound like the most depressing place in the universe. But, of course, it’s not. Because then comes the message that…

“I’m alive.”

In spite of the “existential dread”, here we are.

At Slam Dunk.


And that feeling of community feels so much more important now that we’ve spent a few hours exploring how everyone feels when they’re living life without that sense of connection. Of course, the opening line to Holding Absence’s ‘Celebration Song’ would sound uplifting no matter when or where you heard it, but it absolutely has more impact when put in context of the individual struggles each person has faced on their way to this point. And doesn’t the reminder that IT’S ALL WORTH IT mean more because it comes via the microphone of someone (i.e. Lucas Woodland) who really appreciates the cost of living?

5. Charlotte Sands, ‘Tantrum’

Which brings us to the tantrum we’re about to throw.

“I’m throwin’ a tantrum
Comin’ in so chaotic”

It’s a tantrum that’s justified by the feelings that have brought us to this furious point – those feelings investigated by Sincere Engineer, VUKOVI, Trash Boat, Spanish Love Songs and Holding Absence. We are SO entitled to rage!

4. Boston Manor feat. John Floreani, ‘Liquid’

And you can bet that the sizzling feeling of catharsis is mega. Just as watching Deanna Belos up on stage is all the more inspiring because of the time that she spent lying face down in the street, so the feeling of being liberated from the daily grind is all the more intense because of how intensely we’ve struggled with that grind. To be amidst the Slam Dunk community is to get that actually there are more people like you than you realised – and to realise that that you’re not so weird or crazy after all! Being you is FINE. Even if being you means – as it likely does – being a hundred different things at once!

Boston Manor and Trophy Eyes’ John Floreani put it best:

“I’m different when I’m with you
Different when I’m with you
I thought I was done
I’ve only begun
To get to the person I was.”

Henry Cox told Kerrang! Magazine:

“(Liquid) is about not really knowing who you are. There’s a theory that there’s no true one version of any person. Because reality exists in billions of different consciousnesses, there are a million billion different versions of the world. With that idea in mind, we can kind of be whoever we want to be, but we can never truly know who we are.”

At Slam Dunk, we change because the people around us make us feel that its okay to live the version of life that we want to – that our version of reality is as valid as anyone else’s.

3. Maggie Lindemann, ‘Cages’

Suddenly, we feel bigger and stronger. And, yes, we’re still screaming (as we were when listening to Trash Boat), but no longer just because of the frustration we feel. Having aligned ourselves with the Slam Dunk community, we’re yelling just as much because we’ve found new belief in ourselves.

Which is why we get right behind Maggie Lindemann’s idea that:

“I live for me
Can’t shut me up, you’ll hear me scream.”

2. PVRIS, ‘My House’

And the fact that we’re making this decision to be who we want to be – to hold onto our own version of life – can only feel like the significant moment it is because it’s been preluded by an investigation into the hard times we’ve already faced in trying to hold onto our real selves. Right now, we’re making a decision to overpower the problems that resulted in us ending up face down in the street. We’re telling all the negative influences in our life to pack up and leave.

“It’s my house.
And I think it’s time to get out.
It’s my soul.
It isn’t yours anymore.
It’s my house.”

1. Enter Shikari, ‘A Kiss for the Whole World’

Not that all our problems will suddenly vanish. But, by Slam Dunk’s end, with Enter Shikari tearing around the stage, we will notice a renewed sense of resilience – of RIGHTNESS – brewing in us like a storm. As much as a musical experience, Slam Dunk serves as a reminder that the things we believe in are worth believing in, that the things we prioritise absolutely should be prioritised, that we are NOT alone.

And, so, as Shikari draw their set to a close, we are united.

“We’re true believers
The last of the dreamers.”

It’s a kaleidoscopic truth, one that – against the backdrop of dark days and tough times (as described by Sincere Engineer et al) – flares as brightly and beautifully as a billion fireworks detonating all at once.

From “face down in the street” to…

“Cloud nine.”

Not a bad day’s work.


Answer each of the questions below and then apply the same type of thinking to the structure tasks you’re being tested on in class.

You might want to refer to the vocabulary list below the questions. Using that vocabulary might help you to articulate your thoughts.

  • Q1: Why is it important that the Slam Dunk bands focus on how challenging their lives are before giving us advice about dealing with our own challenges? Why is it significant that so many of the bands (including Trash Boat, Spanish Love Songs and Holding Absence) zoom in on so many different problems?
  • Q2: Why is the positioning of ‘Tantrum’ and ‘Liquid’ halfway through this list significant? Why do those songs make more impact at this point than they might, for example, if they were the first songs to be played?
  • Q3: Why are we more impressed by Maggie Lindemann and PVRIS when we think about their lyrics in context of the earlier songs, such as those by the likes of Sincere Engineer and VUKOVI?
  • Q4: Why is it important to note the juxtaposition between Sincere Engineer’s depressed, lonely state and Enter Shikari’s more positive frame of mind? The fact that these two lyrics ‘bookend’ the festival suggest what about Slam Dunk and the effect of being there from start to finish? Why does Enter Shikari’s hopefulness make more impact for being positioned at the end of the day?
  • time markers
  • chronological
  • non-chronological
  • flashforward
  • flashback
  • hinting at something that happens later
  • focus on
  • zoom in
  • zoom out
  • viewpoint
  • perspective
  • hiding information
  • dialogue
  • inner thoughts
  • development
  • repetition
  • tension
  • juxtaposition
  • climax
  • cliffhanger
  • shift
  • foreshadowing
  • cyclical structure
  • sentence length
  • paragraph length
  • punctuation
  • exposition
  • positioning

Please do just ask if you want to see our answers to the above questions, or send your own answers in. We want to publish the most exciting writing and offer advice.

In the mood for another class inspired by the bands performing at Slam Dunk 2023?