Slam Dunk Festival celebrated its tenth year across Leeds city centre.
With more than 60 acts on the line-up spread across a mix of indoor and outdoor stages across town, Slam Dunk turned the centre of Leeds into a pop-punk haven.
The crowd this year seemed to have increased upon previous years, with longer winding queues outside the O2 Academy and Leeds Beckett Union, causing some of those who hadn’t made their way early enough to miss a few acts.
Opening the festival Moose Blood drew the biggest crowd we’ve ever seen for a Slam Dunk opener. Jumping from last year’s Fresh Blood Stage, there was high anticipation for the band who will release their new studio album in August. Songs including ‘Bukowski’ and ‘Gum’ drew the biggest crowd reaction as the set proved the guys were the perfect choice to kickstart the festival. They could return next year to a much later slot in the day with ease.
Sticking with the main stage Young Guns maintained the high energy starting their summer festival run in Leeds. With frontman Gustav Wood’s cracking vocals and a clear band bond, the guys had the crowd rocking into the afternoon.
Pop-punk favourites Mayday Parade are no strangers to a festival stage and looked completely at ease with the Slam Dunk crowd. The band glided their way through the set packed with classics including ‘Jamie All Over’ and ‘Jersey’ as the sun was in full force.
Heading over to the Atlas Stage, We Came As Romans showcased their rock blend to an appreciative crowd outside the O2 Academy. The perfect setting for a high energy headbang, the band stormed the stage for their debut appearance at Slam Dunk leaving their mark on the Leeds crowd.
Stepping out from the sunshine and into the O2 Academy for the Key Club stage, Real Friends arrived at Slam Dunk fresh from the release of ‘The Home Inside My Head’. Treating fans to tracks from their new release, the crowd were singing and dancing along with highlights ‘Colder Quicker’ and ‘I’ve Given Up On You’ with fans clambering onto each others shoulders for a singalong.
Baa Bar this year was home to the acoustic stage which was packed to the doors throughout the festival. We headed by for awaydays acoustic set with the band’s frontman Jono Yates. His down-to-earth attitude was easily winning over the crowd as he showcased tracks from the band’s recent self-titled EP release.
Back for some main stage action, Mallory Knox had mosh pits aplenty making the stage their own. The bass, however, was rather loud during their set, overpowering many of the songs from the back of the crowd. Highlights included ‘Dare You’ and ‘Beggars’.
For those who wanted a break from the live mayhem, this year Uprawr had taken over an underground car park for their dance party. From guest DJ sets to Uprawr’s finest throughout the day, entering the car park transported you to straight into a club with tunes blasting and drinks flowing beneath the main action at the festival .
Taking it old school, New Found Glory provided plenty of singalong moments in the sunshine. No mean feat considering the band have been doing this for 20 years and still manage to attract huge crowds who are yelling every lyric back. From ‘My Friends Over You’ to ‘Ready & Willing’, the band showcased exactly how to put on a pop-punk show.
A huge crowd gathered to catch Issues as they packed the road outside the O2 Academy with their high energy set. The crowd was singing along within the first track as the band made themselves at home with a fuller production despite the smaller stage. Highlights in the set included ‘Never Lose Your Flames’ and ‘Mad At Myself’.
As night descended it was time for headliners Panic! At The Disco to takeover the main stage. Turning it into a theatrical spectacle, the band were the perfect headliners for Slam Dunk’s tenth anniversary. The sound however did have a few issues with the crowd overpowering the band from the back of the crowd.
Taking the time to showcase newer material from their 2016 ‘Death of a Bachelor’ album release alongside old favourites from their first album 2005’s ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’, which drew the biggest crowd reactions, the band’s set blended together with ease thanks to frontman Brendon Urie.
It was hard not to fall in love with P!ATD. As Brendon’s flawless vocals guided you through the night as he leapt around the stage, with added backflips and jumps, showcasing his strong vocal range from poppier tracks through to metalcore snippet ‘Positive Hardcore Thursday’.
With their hits including ‘Time To Dance’ and ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ squeezed into the set, pints and hands were in the air as the crowd’s singing almost overpowered the band, particularly during the band’s unique cover of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
As they rocked through the night providing the perfect festival headline set with blasts of fire and a sprinkling of glitter, for those who hadn’t managed to see the band live over the last 11 years it was well worth the wait.
Slam Dunk was the perfect festival to kickstart summer. With a fantastic mix of bands on the line-up providing something for all music tastes, the festival continues to secure its slot as one of our favourites year-upon-year. The tenth anniversary proved there is no stopping Slam Dunk and who knows what the next ten years will hold!
// Take a look at our full coverage of Slam Dunk Festival! //