This year, Slam Dunk North was moved from the stuffy Leeds University campus and instead was positioned right bang in the centre of the city. Spread across seven stages, Slam Dunk had something to please everyone from the pop punk kids to the hardcore headbangers. There wasn’t more than five minutes from one end of the festival site to the other, making it incredibly easy to navigate through. As 1 o’clock hit, the sun was shining, and the air was thick with fevered excitement as the crowds start spilling through the gates and taking their places in front of the outdoor stages.
Second band up on the Main Stage, and the first act we caught was Pvris. They filled up the space despite how early in the day it was and got the crowd up and moving. Frontlady Lynn Gunn was electrifying on stage. The whole band radiated an encapsulating charisma and got everyone in the crowd involved as they belted out fan favourites such as “St. Patrick” and “My House“. Unfortunately we missed You Me At Six’s Josh joining them on stage at Slam Dunk Midlands! Oh well… From here we wandered over to the Macbeth stage to catch Eastbourne pop punkers ROAM, who definitely win the award for highest jumps of the day. Their whole set was shrouded in infectious energy which kept the crowd pumped.
Only Rivals were up next. They tore up the Fresh Blood stage and despite some minor (ok, major) hiccups, they kept it together and delivered an engaging and memorable performance. They played some new tracks which were well received, with tunes like “Surgery” being big crowd pleasers. Looking forward to seeing what these guys bring next!
Back on the Main Stage, Neck Deep stormed the place, commanding the stage and the space in front of them with tunes old and new. From Rain In July‘s “Part Of Me” to Wishful Thinking‘s “Zoltar Speaks” (a personal favourite) to their new track “Can’t Kick Up The Roots” from the upcoming Life’s Not Out To Get You, Neck Deep have something for everyone. To think these lads played their first Slam Dunk Festival only last year, and after their fantastic year touring, they rocked the Main Stage to a highly anticipating crowd, proving that they deserve their title of best current pop-punk band.
As the sun set, You Me At Six graced the Main Stage, playing a set full of throwbacks including songs they haven’t played in years, such as “Jealous Minds Think Alike” and “The Rumour“. The crowd went wild for “Take Off Your Colours” with a complete blinder of a light-show to go with it, as well as their newer track “Lived A Lie“. As always, the YMAS boys offer a great show.
The Wonder Years over at the Macbeth Stage was a great way to finish off the day. Hailing from Philadelphia, they really are the kings of their genre and when it comes to playing live, they are one of the tightest bands playing at the moment. They kept the crowd engaged with a bit of back and forth banter, and both Dan and the crowd screamed the words from the top of their lungs with all the conviction they could muster. With amazing tunes like “Passing Through A Screen Door“, their deep lyrics and upbeat sound justify their loyal fan base. If you haven’t checked them out yet, do it!
All in all Slam Dunk Festival is a great day out to see what the world of pop-punk/post hardcore has to offer. Good value for money, a great new layout and an amazing atmosphere, it’s a fantastic starter for the upcoming festival season. Til next year Slam-dunkers! See you at the mosh pit.
Photos by Giles Smith