The last Bank Holiday in May means just thing, Slam Dunk has arrived. Taking a new location in Leeds this year, we saw the festival move from the city centre to one location in Temple Newsam. With 9 stages and over 60 bands playing in one day, it is always going to be a massive day of the greatest in music.
Starting with the Key Club stage, where fans were crammed inside the tent all day, we saw the likes of Hot Milk who put on a show to be seen but it was special guests Y3K that saw the tent crowd spill outside. With rumours swirling that it may be Busted in a reference to the single “Year 3000”, everyone seemed to want to know who it was. Well, the rumours were true and what a special guest spot it was as the crowd went mental for them. Continuing the excitement saw Press to Meco take over the left stage next while the right was prepared for more music greatness. As the afternoon continued on and the weather took a drastic turn for the worse, fans camped out in the dry tent to catch the likes of SHVPES, Employed To Serve and Microwave. Closing the right stage was the captivating Lights while IDKHOW closed the tent for the night.
Up the hill and out in the air were the Marshall and Dickies stages with another line up of alternating Pop Punk bands. Opening the Marshall stage was special guest William Ryan Key from Yellowcard who certainly brought the excitement. From these two stages, fans were treated to sets from the likes of Milk Teeth and Trophy Eyes. However, Seaway’s set was certainly a highlight as the band enjoyed themselves as much as the crowd. For a little nostalgia for many fans, Hellogoodbye and Plain White T’s were also to been seen on these stages with The Mezingers closing the night up here. Despite the downpours fans were still ready to go out in the open to support the bands.
Between catching their favourite bands, fans could be seen milling around the open space and enjoying the weather on the grassy hills. With the stages all being in one location, there was no need to rush around to get through the doors at the next venue. This left a great laid back feel to the day and if there was a space between the bands you wanted to see you could take some time out and relax at the acoustic stage. Here you could grab sets from the likes of Lizzy Farrall while relaxing on the grass. Between acts on the main stage, fans could be heard softly singing along to the backing tracks even in the rain “In The End” and “All Star” kept spirits high. Proving once again the new location was still a hit.
Now if you’re after something a little heavier to get you going then it’s the Impericon and Jagermeister stages you want to be at. With the likes of Knocked Loose and Silverstein taking over the two opposite facing stages in the dark tent. Fans were crammed inside with a line up that also covered the likes of Cancer Bats, Gallows and Atreyu. However, there was a surge in fans fighting to get beneath tent for one of our three headlining acts – Bullet For My Valentine. And they certainly did not disappoint with an array of hits being played and the likes of confetti cannons going off, they closed off the night on style. For those not ready to depart just yet from the site, Mel Clarke gave fans one last set.
Down the hill on the other side of the venue was the epic Punk In Drublic stage. Kicking the day off was The Bombpops with there female power, it was clear this was going to be one hell of a stage. With another round of extremely high energy, Anti-flag whose feet barely touched the ground between jumps. While Busted pulled in the crowd for the Key Club stage, Mad Caddies had quite the crowd themselves. And the fans didn’t seem to leave the area while Lagwagon and Millencolin were up either. For a dose of chaos and bedlam however, Less Than Jake’s set was not to be missed. As the Ska band took over, pints flew through the air and even the odd shoe as crowd surfers bravely made their way over the barrier. Ending the night was Bad Religion and the infamous NOFX. Headliners NOFX brought their A game as expected with Fat Mike making his appearance in his dress. It was a set not to be missed by fans as they appeared to love every second of the closing act.
The Monster main stage was here for the elite in Pop Punk royalty. First up was the always excitable WSTR who brought the fire and energy. Fans were already ready to surf above the crowd and enjoy themselves. With their ski masks on, Boston Manor took to the stage next and for those lucky few fans, a selection of white ski masks was thrown into the crowd as souvenirs. In a brave move, the band left the stage and put themselves in the middle of a large circle pit which was certainly something to be seen.
Continuing on the energy high were As It Is and Waterparks with two more outstanding setlists. As the rain began to pour down, fans eagerly awaited for Simple Plan to make their debut appearance at the festival. And boy were they worth the wait, as the crowd took a trip down memory lane with one of the biggest sing-a-longs to those memorable tracks such as “Shut Up” and “Just A Kid”. They were certainly a highlight of the day. As the rain continued to pour, the crowd kept their energy up ready for Neck Deep. With another sing-a-long which was louder than Ben Barlow on his mic. With a cover of “Torn” and a selection of their greatest tracks, the crowd’s spirits were kept high.
Ready for another round of Pop Punk greatness, the crowd grew larger around the main stage for New Found Glory’s set. Bounding onto the stage dressed as Rocky, the band started their set with one of their latest covers of “Eye Of The Tiger”. The rain continued to pour down but the crowd kept on going as they continued to surf above the crowd to get closer to the band. With another outstanding setlist that kept the fans singing and even their rendition of “Let It Go” which was a crowd favourite by the sound of voices heard. The band pulled it out the bag once again.
As the rain let up it was time for our third headline act. All Time Low took to the stage to the sounds of cheers and screams. With a blend of tracks old and recent and some absolute favourites with the likes of “Stella” and “Damned If I Do You (Damned If I Don’t”. Awsten Knight (WaterParks) made a guest appearance with his matching green hair to Alex Gaskarth’s. With lots of flair with CO2 cannons and pyro to add to the already impressive show the band put on. Closing the night with the classic “Dear Maria Count Me In”, it was a great way to end another fantastic day.
Slam Dunk is a festival that proves that one day is enough to put on a host of incredible acts and bring an environment that feels like home. It’s a festival that is always well looked forward to throughout the year as being the ultimate in Pop Punk music. The new location has proven to be a hit and all I can say is bring on next year!
Review: Emmie Ellis
Photography: Mark Ellis
Shoot The Groove Photography