SLAM DUNK FESTIVAL – LEEDS: Live Review

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SLAM DUNK finally went ahead – fourth time lucky – last weekend and oh, was it successful, much to the relief and joy of the organisers, artists and fans alike. The notorious UK alt/pop/punk festival was at risk of never going ahead again due to the pandemic, but thankfully the event was saved due to the lighter restrictions and COVID-19 vaccines.

Numerous international bands and artists unfortunately had to drop from the original line-up but the event was still victorious; international bands such as Waterparks, State Champs, We Are The In Crowd and Mayday Parade were still able to attend and put on the best show for the thousands of fans that turned up to Temple Newsam Park. For some, this was their first show in a year and a half and you could really see how happy they were to be back on stage.

Pop-rockers McFly surprised all attendees with a secret set in the afternoon, while British-American band As It Is took on the Rock Scene Stage. McFly wowed the crowd with some of their biggest hits such as “Five Colours In Her Hair”, “One For The Radio” and “All About You” which really brought a crowd in, some even surfing the sea of heads.

Typical northern weather brought dark skies in the late morning and afternoon, but that didn’t stop the fans and artists from unloading all their pent up energy during massive sets from Creeper, Alkaline Trio and While She Sleeps who really brought their A game last weekend.

State Champs welcomed new and old fans back to their first set since COVID, treating them with one unheard song and new single “Just Sound” which we were all more than happy to hear. They also announced they’ll be coming back to Europe next May to tour!

Penultimate band, Waterparks, created the biggest hype all day so far – connecting with the eager crowd and creating circle pit madness during their super energetic songs “Turbulent” and “Magnetic”. The usual hyper stage presence from frontman Awsten was truly magnetic, matching well with their bright sporadic lights. They made a throwback to “Stupid For You” and the atmosphere was unimaginable; the trio evidently growing more popular as time goes by. Awsten asked who had seen them at the festival before way back in 2016 when their popularity first started to grow, and compared how different the current crowd size was to back in their earlier days.

Last but by no mean’s least – Don Broco started their headline slot on the main stage, frontman Rob Damiani admitting that all they’ve wanted to do for the past 18 months is get back on stage, but when the time came to practice together as a band, they somehow didn’t leave much time to practice – though you wouldn’t think it from their flawless performance, and natural energetic stage presence. 

They even made the first live UK debut of their single “Action” and brought out special guests and friends of the band, Waterparks’ Awsten Knight and While She Sleeps’ Loz Taylor, creating a special and vibrant performance of the single. 

“One True Prince” from their new upcoming album, Amazing Things, also got its first time live debut anywhere. After that, they belted out hits such as “You Wanna Know” and “Come Out To LA”. 

You could visibly see how grateful they were to be back, and to headline such a big festival that they’ve had the pleasure of performing at over the years, to finally get that headline slot really suited them. They had an exciting production of lasers and pyro that added to the ecstatic atmosphere.

Overall, Slam Dunk North was incredible and we were glad to see it back. We look forward to seeing it thrive again next year!

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