By Olivia Woollam
Leeds, the founding city of Slam Dunk, hosted the festival for its 11th year as the Northern member of the three-day tour. The festival hosted a number of incredible bands such as headliners Enter Shikari, who are celebrating 10 years since the release of their debut album Take to the Skies, Neck Deep and Bowling For Soup. With plenty of bands across different multiple genres from pop punk to heavy rock, fans were guaranteed to endure an amazing day of music.
The festival had an immediate great vibe with most of the stages in close proximity to Millennium Square, oozing an electric atmosphere of excitement and energy throughout the day. The sunny weather guaranteed good moods throughout and the city-centre location contrasted many British expectations of wet, muddy festivals. We could enjoy the music without the need for wellies! To keep your energy up, there was an array of food available with something for everyone, whether you were after pizza or even vegan falafel. Surprisingly, the drinks were not outrageously priced either, which helped anyone at the festival with a student budget.
Trying to cram each band in was tricky because there were so many amazing artists to see but we managed to see almost every band on your list, so a tip for anyone thinking of going to the festival, it helps to stay organised!
Hailing all the way from Japan, heavy metal 5-piece Crossfaith started our day, waking us up with heavy riffs and strong vocals from lead vocalist, Kenta Koie. The band were really energetic and put on a great performance. Their cover of The Prodigy’s Omen seemed to be a crowd pleaser and got everyone moving, finishing their set on a high. We also managed to catch their DJ set at the after party in Stylus (LUU) later on, which bled the same energy. During a quick chat with the band, they told us Leeds was one of their favourite cities – with the success of this year’s Slam Dunk Festival, we can’t say we are surprised.
Boston Manor –
Boston Manor- Photo Credit: Katie McMillan & Olli Appleyard
The Key Club stage at the O2 Academy worked as a great performance space, with the pit and balcony to make sure everyone got a piece of the action. We caught the end of Blackpool punk rockers Boston Manor’s set who seemed a hit with the audience when closing their set with our favourite song, Laika.
With Confidence came next and kept the energy levels high with the most enthusiastic guitar-playing we have ever witnessed. The Australian band worked well with the crowd opening with their song Voldermort. Keeper also got the crowd singing back, and was the best song of their set. The band are back in Leeds in September so we would definitely recommend catching them then after their awesome Slam Dunk performance!
Don Broco –
Don Broco played one of the best sets of the day. The stage looked great with coloured lights adding to the fun energetic atmosphere of the crowd. Audience members wore creepy masks of lead singer Rob Damiani’s face, that had been handed out throughout day, with the word ‘pretty’ carved bloodily into the forehead, promoting the bands new release. For us, the highlight was Whole Truth, a throwback to their 2012 album Priorities, where the crowd sang along with us at the top of their lungs.
Photo Credit: Katie McMillan & Olli Appleyard
Enter Shikari headlined the Jägermeister stage this year, the festival’s largest stage situated in Millenium Square. There was clear pre-set energy with a massive push to the stage after Don Broco finished, while chanting “and still we will be here, standing like statues,” a line from the opening track, Enter Shikari from their 2007 album Take to the Skies. The energy kept building throughout their one-and-a-half-hour long set, reaching a peak during their song Sorry You’re Not a Winner, and created one of the best mosh pits we’ve ever taken part in. Frontman Rou Reynolds encouraged everyone to look out for each other as a marshal warned him things were getting wild in the crowd, although it seemed everyone had each other’s back. Reynolds said Millennium Square was one of the most beautiful venues the they had ever played, followed with some trademark political remarks such as discouraging the privatization of the NHS. Not to mention, the band played their cover of Oasis’s Half The World Away, as an ode to the victims of the tragic Manchester attacks only a week previous. The crowd responded with chanting Oh, Jeremy Corbyn, creating a unity between the crowd and the band. They certainly didn’t disappoint.
Neck Deep –
Photo Credit: Katie McMillan & Olli Appleyard
To finish off our Slam Dunk 2017 experience, we caught the end of Neck Deep’s headlining set on the Monster stage. The low light levels of the evening in combination with powerful stage lighting created impressive band shaped silhouettes. Crowd favourites December and Can’t Kick Up the Roots ended the day on a high and definitely ruined our vocal cords for the next few days.
On a whole, the festival was an awesome music-packed day that certainly lived up to the hype. We would encourage any music fan to go next year, even if it’s not your type of genre, the incredible atmosphere will ensure you have an unforgettable time!
Words: Olivia Woollam and guest writer Henry Taylor.
Photos: Olivia Woollam & Henry Taylor, Katie McMillan & Olli Appleyard