Zebrahead – Slam Dunk Festival, The Forum, Hatfield
Date: 30th May 2016
Slam Dunk – for those of you who haven’t attended or heard of it – is a day long music festival celebrating ska, rock, metal and pop-punk that takes place in three different parts of the country over three consecutive days so that nobody misses out on seeing their favourite artists. This year, the festival was celebrating its 10th birthday, so naturally, the festival had decided to bring back some crowd favourites. One of those favourites happened to be a band called Zebrahead. This is normally the part where I’d define what genre the band is, but in all honesty, there’s no way in hell I can narrow it down to one specific type of music. Rap rock, ska punk, punk rock – you name it, they’ve been there, they’ve done that and they’ve got the motherfucking t-shirt.
One of my best mates is a giant Zebrahead fan, so after hearing all about their mad shows and after briefly remembering their performance at Slam Dunk the previous year, I decided to check them out properly. The first thing I noticed was the crowd. There wasn’t one type of fan like most bands have; there were young, there were old, there were people in Slipknot shirts, there were people sporting TSSF merch, there were guys, there were girls, and most importantly, they had a HUMONGOUS turnout for such a small stage! It was so astounding to see such a diverse crowd all gather together to become one punk rock unit. It’s clear that this band created a family. The dedication of the fans didn’t fail to impress either – people had their lyrics tattooed on them, they were wearing merch from tours that took place years ago and one dude even had his head shaved, dyed and styled so that he quite literally had a zebra head. There was even someone moshing with a bloody go-pro on his head so that he could watch the show afterwards! Now that is dedication.
It was evident from the beginning that they were not a band that wanted to be taken seriously. From their “special guests” in the back dressed in bunny and Pikachu onesies to dad jokes that were verging on Blink-182 style humour (immature and dirty, yet loveable), this band’s aim clearly was to make the audience laugh and to have a good, drunken time. I’ve noticed a pattern in Slam Dunk Zebrahead shows – last year they made someone dressed in a Santa costume down a pint on stage whilst the audience chanted “CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!” at them, and this year, the men in onesies did the same. It’s insanely random, but weirdly enough, it fits the band’s jokey persona so well, I don’t think anyone questioned it. The most entertaining part of the show by far, however, was when Tom, their merch guy, chucked a rubber dingy onto the crowd during ‘Hello Tomorrow’, grabbed an oar, flung himself upon the inflatable boat and rowed his way around on a sea of people. If you want a definition of crowd surfing, I think an image of him doing that should be placed next to it in the dictionary, because it doesn’t get any realer than that.
Atmosphere and antics aside, the band themselves were phenomenal. The level of professionalism was unreal – they had the crowd in the palms of their hands and they knew it. Never once did their energy levels drop, the vocals and level of skill were amazing and all in all, it was extremely evident that this band had a few years of experience under their belts. I only knew a small amount of songs, but the band were so enticing that my mind never strayed and I found myself feeling disappointed when they pranced off to the stage to the tune of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’. They were easily the best band of the day, so if you missed them, you definitely lucked out. There’s no doubt about it, that without hesitation, I will be attending their next UK tour, and you should too.