Tuesday 31st May 2011 – Slam Dunk By The Sea (Less Than Jake, Goldfinger, Anti-Flag, Set Your Goals) at Southampton Guildhall

As the Slam Dunk brand continued to grow from the late 2000’s to the early 2010’s, the organisers behind the festival trialed having regional fringe shows around the weekend of the main event. In 2011, one of these dates took place in Southampton.

Meanwhile, Stateside, my friend (and the drummer of our former band) George, was working for a company called SJC Drums. The kit he owned and played here until emigrating was made available to rent. This would involve some chaperoning of the instrument, a task that my other friend (and partner in crime on Saint November Records) Tom, would frequently assist with.

You might know the drum kit. It was more successful that our band. The peak of it’s stardom was appearing on an episode of Channel 4’s The Inbetweeners.

For this run of Slam Dunk shows, Goldfinger were ‘borrowing’ the kit. We actually went to Slam Dunk at Hatfield University (the worst festival site, ever) and saw our acquaintance gracing the main stage.

What George hadn’t known is that not only were Goldfinger using it, and setting it alight (though technically only the cymbals, which belonged to them), but so were Anti-Flag. Not only were they using it, they were taking it apart during their last song, passing it out into the crowd, then resembling it there for drummer Pat Thetic to play amongst the people.

Now, none of us wanted be a total grass on one of the best political punk bands of our generation, word did get back to George though, who was surprised to say the least. We didn’t expect they’d repeat the same routine with the kit when they played in Southampton two days later. I’ll let the photo below do the talking on that one.

I got in as close as I could to hear the sound, one more time, of a drum kit that is probably the reason I still have tinnitus, 12 years after the last time playing alongside George.

The real beauty of having a connection at this show was the opportunity to get to watch Less Than Jake’s headline set from the side of the stage. This was a few years before I got to work with Roger on Greenhorn, Rehasher and later the LTJ live album, so it was a huge deal to be up there in the wings (it still is, but I felt an even greater sense of imposter syndrome on this occasion).

That didn’t stop me making a nervous joke during the brief window between the main show and the encore, attempting to bribe Roger to play a niche request of Sleep It Off from B Is For B-Sides (it didn’t work). Other than this I chose to play it cool and not bother the band, observing things as if I was someone who was supposed to be there. Except for this photo.

In my defence, I really didn’t think I’d get the opportunity again.

The sound isn’t great on this video clip, but take a look at the front row and see if you recognise anyone. I’ll give you a clue, they’ve each got A LOT of LTJ gigs under their belts. This was show number 18 for me. You can browse my full list here.

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