This year Slam Dunk Festival pulled together a line-up packed to the rafters with talent and prestige and boasting as much in the way of variation as the stereotypically unpredicatable British weather Leeds had in store for the festival. The day began shrouded in picture perfect sunshine and promise, and proceeded with a wander over to the Impericon stage to catch the end of an impressive Angel Du$t set which served as a great way to kick things off.
After a stroll to gain bearings and explore more of the expansive set up at Temple Newsam it was back to the Impericon stage promptly to enjoy the ever tremendously horrid racket of hardcore boys Knocked Loose, who despite a couple of technical difficulties prosper in inciting plenty of spirited audience movement, and yes of course mosh pits aplenty. Having recently announced their upcoming sophomore project, the group were in good form and surely just built anticipation for the record higher.
Not resting on any laurels, a brisk stroll straight down the hill to the Monster Stage was well timed to find Boston Manor beginning their set. Coming out wearing white balaclavas emanating the portrait on their backdrop, Boston Manor did not come to simply go through the motions: Vocalist Henry Cox made no attempt to hide his disdain for an initially static crowd, who quickly gave into his strongly worded demands and soon the place was jumping and rife with crowdsurfers. Boston Manor more than justified their place on such a prime stage and explosively brought latest album Welcome to the Neighbourhood to life.
After covering more ground and nipping to the press tent to interview Shvpes, a hurried dash back to the Impericon stage once again would reward with a portion of a typically energetic and raw Turnstile performance. Unfortunately it was only a portion, as they finished ten minutes before schedule for some reason – still worth it!
As much as the Impericon stage was busy throughout the day, only stage headliners Bullet For My Valentine could rival the turn out amassed by Cancer Bats which made for a fantastic atmosphere and it was great to see the Bats getting the love they deserve. By this point in the afternoon however, the once beautifully blue sky had turned A Different Shade of Blue, and was dominated with an array of non-too promising grey clouds.
In high contrast, the mix of guttural screams complimented with soaring melodies punctuated with some fabulous break-down laden metalcore courtesy of Our Hollow Our Home was a great way to take your mind off the weather and eyes from the sky. Venturing across the festival in quest of some belly nourishment meant meeting with the first drops of rainfall that while persisted for a good few hours, could not dampen the spirits of festivalgoers who like Waterparks on the Monster stage, had a lot of fun.
Pagan did their thing wickedly, as per on the Left Key Club stage leaving many enchanted, before Shvpes set up camp on the Right Key Club stage. Bursting with energy, the dynamic group strolled emphatically through multiple numbers from their Greater Than project which were received with many pits of approval and cemented them further as one of the UK’s brightest prospects.
Now it was the turn of Woking metallers Employed To Serve on the Left Key who certainly brought their A game. Led by the ferocious roars of female vocalist Justine Jones, the band poured in commendable aggression and reaped the rewards of a great reception, just as is the tale of their latest album Eternal Forward Motion. All of these Key Club stagers are surely destined for much bigger billings next time round, and are fantastic answers to anyone who tries to talk down the current UK scene.
After patchy spells the rain had resumed but did not deter as fans were out in full force immediately beginning with the singalongs for Simple Plan, and Neck Deep enjoyed a similar story as both enjoyed life on the Monster stage.
One of the more diverse fixtures of the days schedule and in the Slam Dunk lineup saw Canadian alternative artist grandson bring his expansive brand of genre fusing socially conscious hype tracks to the Left Key Club Stage, and with a live band it was quite an electrifying performance. Hit Blood // Water brought about some surprisingly large pits and it was clear grandson didn’t need to win anyone over here – he fits the bill perfectly.
Seeking further refuge from the unrelenting rainfall, the Impericon stage provides just that and more as Glassjaw take to the stage. Their set is riffing, passionate and full of soaring vocals that almost convince you it might somehow be sunny outside again, furthermore it’s a performance appreciated massively by the packed out tent.
At this point it’s a mixture of wondering where the hell the day went so quickly, and really feeling for your poor tortured feet who cry out for a rest – but are emphatically drowned out by huge screams of excitement as All Time Low appear on the Monster stage. For a band who apparently haven’t played in six months, they are sharp and with a mixture of pop-punk classics and their comedic interactions in between songs, it’s clear they’re a great headlining choice. Treating the crowd to an unreleased song and inviting some fans on stage to help them dance, this performance will live long in the minds of fans.
At the same time, with a few notches more intensity Bullet For My Valentine are kicking into gear on the Jagermeister stage, rendering time spent rushing to and from the two stages trying to catch a good portion of both. Bullet’s set caters for all; some newer cuts go down well but nothing matches the roars of approval old-school gems like Your Betrayal gain. These two represent the opposite corners of musical territory thrown together by this Slam Dunk lineup, and do a great job of rounding out the day and as it is time to depart to the soundtrack of a resounding Dear Maria, Count Me In there are smiles to be seen all round Slam Dunk festival.