Slam Dunk Festival

Slam Dunk Festival is one of the earliest festivals of the summer, and York Calling decided to check out the Leeds event on the 28th May.

Review by Jane Howkins.

Photography by Chris Mackins.

The Slam Dunk Festival has now become a staple in the British alternative scene, and in our opinion, acts as a perfect opener for the Summer, easing us slowly into the festival season now that Summer appears to have officially begun. We headed over to the North date in Leeds on a sunny day, and thankfully didn’t come away disappointed.

The first band we saw were a group called Puppy on the Signature Stage, who are relatively new to the British music scene. They play a form of alternative rock that seems to have some grunge stylings to it, and surprisingly for such a new band opening the festival, they had drawn a relatively large crowd. Some of their tracks were a little samey, however they had some stand outs (Entombed being one of them), and they also won the award for having the most stoned bassist of the day.

Next up were Crossfaith on the Jagermeister Stage (the main stage), and we certainly weren’t prepared for what was about to go down. They are one of the most intense acts we’ve ever seen perform, with their music being a crossover between modern electronic music, and metalcore/hardcore. It sounds like a strange mix on paper, but it worked, and an onstage collaboration with Beartooth (who played later on), and a remixed version of The Prodigy’s Omen went down extremely well.

After that, we decided to head across to the Fireball stage, set this year in Leeds First Direct Arena. Due to increased security checks, we missed half of Zebrahead’s set, but the bit we did see showed a very energetic band, and one that were very good at getting the crowd going, with a ridiculous amount of stage divers crashing over the barrier at one point. The band’s rhythm section was a little too loud and some sound issues persisted, which meant that the vocals and lead guitar couldn’t be heard too well, but thankfully this was fixed for the next band we saw there, which was Goldfinger. They were one of our favourite acts of the day, with frontman John Feldmann being accompanied on stage by pop punk royalty in Mike Herrera (MxPx), Cyrus Balooki (New Found Glory), and Phil Sneed (Story Of The Year). They were absolutely fantastic, with Superman and 99 Red Balloons being received very well by the crowd.

Next, it was time to head back across to the main festival area, with a trip to see Deaf Havana. Sound problems persisted on the main stage as well, and the band seemed a little hungover when playing, but they still made an impassioned effort to play well, which succeeded most of the time. After the end of their set, we headed back up to the Signature Stage, where we spent the rest of the evening.

When we arrived, Frank Iero & the Patience were on stage, performing in a manner that was quite different to the way in which Frank’s most famous band, My Chemical Romance, used to perform. The band’s music is more akin to hardcore punk, and the ferocity with which they played also hinted at this. The intensity didn’t stop there either, with The Bronx being the penultimate band we saw. Frontman Matt Caughthran seemed suitably impressed by the mosh pits going on in the crowd, with a massive grin plastered across his face for the entire set. He even joined in himself, jumping straight into the crowd for a few songs, microphone still in hand.

Last (but certainly not least, as they were one of our favourite acts of the day), it was time for Against Me! to take to the stage. A lot of people went to see the main stage headliners Enter Shikari, meaning that there weren’t as many people there to see Against Me! as there really should have been, however those that were there sang along with great passion for every song of their long set. The band were on top form, with frontwoman Laura Jane Grace unable to stop smiling, either when performing, or when giving an inspirational speech about non conformity.

Slam Dunk Festival 2017 was absolutely fantastic, and despite a couple of niggles, we can’t wait to find out who will be playing next year!

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