Slam Dunk Festival at Leeds

The annual Slam Dunk Festival arrived in Leeds on Saturday for the Northern date of the travelling festival. Most came away happy and content with the day’s proceedings, however some sound problems on the main stage and long queues did create a few issues for those attending.

By Jane Howkins 

With such a multitude of musicians and stages at the festival, it would be impossible to see all the bands playing, however York Calling managed to see eight acts – a very respectable number! First up were British band [spunge], on the Desperados Stage (so named after the alcoholic drink). Whilst [spunge] have been around for a long time and are quite well known on the small band circuit, they were on first due to the fact that they were touring at the same time, and were playing a gig further down South that evening. Despite being the first band of the day, they were full of energy, with frontman Alex Copeland running around like a madman and cracking some rather rude jokes.

Next up were The JB Conspiracy, a ska band featuring two trombones, a trumpet and a saxophone and the usual punk elements. They were a bit more along the lines of a traditional ska band than [spunge]. Even so, they got the growing crowd dancing along, and the band were spotted throughout the day watching other acts and thoroughly enjoying themselves, which was nice to see.

From there, it was time to run to the main stage to catch Mayday Parade, following a quick detour to meet the New Found Glory lads in the Kerrang! signing tent. Despite being relatively early on in the day, the standing area around the main stage was almost full, with many enthusiastic fans singing along to songs such as Black Cat, and Jamie All Over.

Yellowcard were next on stage, but were 40 minutes late due to sound issues on stage. Vocalist Ryan Key apologised profusely for this (it was an issue with the sound on stage and not with the band themselves), and unfortunately they were only able to play a very short set (instead of the whole of acclaimed album Ocean Avenue). Despite this, the band still played a very good show, leaving the crowd elated, if slightly disappointed as well.

After Yellowcard finished, we headed over to the Key Club Stage to catch Four Year Strong, but the queues were too big to get into the academy, so instead we popped back to the Desperados stage to see ska-punkers Capdown. The stage area was now full, with a huge crowd dancing along to the music, and numerous crowd-surfers descending over the barrier. The crowd surfing continued into Zebrahead’s set, with the band causing mayhem by encouraging such behaviour, much to security’s bemusement. They played one of the best sets of the day, with anthems like Hello Tomorrow and Call Your Friends prompting mass sing-a-longs.

Next it was time to head back to the main stage to see the penultimate band of the day, New Found Glory. This band are a staple of the pop-punk genre, and to be playing second on the main stage of such a festival is a testament to their staying power. One issue however, was that the sound problems that had been present during Yellowcard’s set were still present, with the guitars and vocals seeming to be non-existent at certain points. Near the end of the set, they got three girls from the crowd up on stage to sing and dance with them (doing a rather good job of it too), with rarity 47 being performed, alongside a range of hits from their full history. There was also one hilarious point in which Chad Gilbert (who plays lead guitar with the band) decided to talk to the crowd near the end of the set, which the crowd responded with by chanting the word ‘Yorkshire!’ over and over again (something that seems to happen a lot at gigs in Leeds, but never in York).

Last but not least it was time for Panic! At The Disco to hit the stage, with Brendan Urie and his backing band pulling out all the stops to prove just how worthy they were of headlining the festival. Urie has a reputation for being a bit bonkers, and this was highlighted during the performance, with him running around and dancing across the stage manically throughout. The set was based mainly around songs from the band’s past two albums (Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!, and Death Of A Bachelor), but this wasn’t an issue, with the crowd singing along to every word. Particular favourites included The Ballad Of Mona Lisa, Golden Days, Nine In The Afternoon, I Write Sins Not Tragedies, and an excellent cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

Despite the sound and queuing issues that persisted throughout the day, Slam Dunk Festival in Leeds was largely a success, and definitely worth attending.



Slam Dunk Festival was at Leeds on Saturday 28 May 2016