LIVE: Slam Dunk Festival @ City Centre, Leeds (23/05/2015)

Date: May 23rd, 2015
Venue: City Centre, Leeds
Website: www.slamdunkmusic.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/slamdunkltd
Twitter: www.twitter.com/slamdunkmusic

When it first began a decade ago, no many would’ve thought at the time that Slam Dunk Festival would be still going stronger than ever for it’s 10 year anniversary. Yet, here we are, in the new location and layout of it original home in Leeds, and a headline slot from British pop-rock favourites You Me At Six to boot. To celebrate in all of the festivities, we headed down there and got involved with all of the Slam Dunk fun.


MAIN STAGE:

SET IT OFF – 8/10
Kicking off the main stage and one of the first bands to perform at this year’s Slam Dunk Festival are soaring pop-rock favourites Set It Off who, despite very recently going through a bit of turbulence with their now former bassist Austin Kerr, seem more together than a lot of bands who’ve struggled with far less. The likes of ‘Bleak December’ and their cover of Ariana Grande’s hit ‘Problem’ get the crowds voices warmed up and the tone well and truly set for the rest of the day.

PVRIS – 9/10
A band who have truly grabbed the attention of the scene far and wide in the past 12 months since signing with Rise Records are PVRIS, and with sets like today’s it’s obvious to see just why this is. Lynn Gunn is a minimalist but captivating frontwoman, combination which is more than rare to come by, but she manages it. Her along with her bandmates Alex Babinski and Brian MacDonald along with tour drummer Justin Nace have the crowd in the palm of their hands through the likes of ‘St. Patrick’ and ‘My House’, and make their debut appearance at a UK festival one to remember.

WE ARE THE OCEAN – 7/10
With album number four now under their belts, We Are The Ocean have finally severed themselves from their far more angsty post-hardcore past. Liam Cromby is now a fully fledged frontman, his voice is at is peak, and the position suits him well. ‘Holy Fire’ and ‘Machine’ sounds grand up on the big stage and, though there’s certainly still room for improvement here, it finally seems like We Are The Ocean are beginning to work on climbing the ladder of ranks aside their peers. Expect these boys a few spots higher this time next year.

NECK DEEP – 7/10
The rise towards the peaks of pop-punk stardom seems to be a climb that Wrexham’s Neck Deep have been rapidly climbing for the past couple of years, often claimed to be championing the genre in the UK as of late. Though they hype never seems to cease with these boys, news of a new album on the way has pulled a more than sizeable crowd to their main stage set. The likes of ‘Zoltar Speaks’ and ‘A Part Of Me’ sees almost every word sung back to the Welsh boys, and cements a fanbase that is far from its potential.

LOWER THAN ATLANTIS – 6/10
The ups and downs with Watford’s Lower Than Atlantis over the past few years won’t be breaking news to most people in the Slam Dunk audience today. Still, with their more alt rock/pop-rock approach of late locked down, the band seem far more comfortable and confident. Sadly, their set still comes across a little lifeless, and maybe it’s the size of the stage that’s partly to blame for that. It’s good to see LTA climbing back to the forefront again, even if there’s still some work to be done.

DON BROCO – 7/10
With just one album to their name and a second to go under their belts in a few months time, regular airtime on BBC Radio 1 and appearances on Made In Chelsea, Don Broco have gone from nowhere to everywhere. Tunes like ‘Priorities’ and their splicing of laddish fun with Spandau Ballet electro-pop with their rock see massive crowds attend sets like today, and with signature dances like “The Walk” and new tracks like ‘Automatic’ embedding some of the sharpest hooks on the scene today, the only way is up for these boys right now.

TAKING BACK SUNDAY – 8/10
Kings of melodic rock Taking Back Sunday have been at this game for a good few years now, and are basically veterans in the genre. They may not be the young pups that they once were, but the cut of their jib is far from lost, and hits like ‘MakeDamnSure’ and ‘A Decade Under The Influence’ are as vibrant as they’ve ever been. Frontman Adam Lazzara seems like he may be a little bit drunk, and his excitement from seeing himself on the big stage screens is entertainment enough if TBS aren’t quite your bag.

YOU ME AT SIX – 9/10
Slam Dunk is a special festival for the boys in You Me At Six. Back when the British pop-rock superstars were just getting on their feet into this dream they’ve now pushed into a career and a reality of living, Slam Dunk signed them to release their debut album ‘Take Off Your Colours’, which really catapulted them onto the covers of magazines across the UK and beyond, set them onto Vans Warped Tour, and shaped the sound and wave of bands who followed in their footsteps.

Now, 8 years down the line with a further 3 albums under their belt (their latest ‘Cavalier Youth’ topping the UK charts) and a sold out show at Wembley Arena just a couple of years prior, You Me At Six seem the only right choice to close down Slam Dunk, especially in its home town of Leeds.

The band hark back to their early years that really garnered them their first taste of true attention in the scene, spinning off cuts like ‘The Rumour’, ‘Save It For The Bedroom’, ‘Always Attract’, and even ‘Jealous Minds Think Alike’. It’s these oldies that really make tonight a special performance, but a look into the You Me At Six of today, with ‘Fresh Start Fever’, ‘Bite My Tongue’, and ‘Lived A Lie’ being particular highlights, is a testament to how far a band can evolve with a platform such as Slam Dunk. A future headliner may have opened one of the smaller stages today, so keep your eyes and ears open.


MONSTER ENERGY STAGE:

SHVPES
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THE COLOR MORALE
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BEARTOOTH
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THY ART IS MURDER – 8/10
Easily one of the most (if not THE most) manically brutal acts on this year’s bill, Thy Art Is Murder’s art is most definitely that, murdering all of their competition in the death metal genre. Frontman CJ McMahon pulls off vocals that sounds like nothing from this world, and cycling through favourites like ‘Dead Sun’ and older number ‘Whore To A Chainsaw’ sees bodies throwing themselves across the floor as per the sentence being delivered by the Australian powerhouse onstage. Simply put, Thy Art Is Murder are modern death metal’s prime cut act.

BURY TOMORROW – 8/10
Love ’em or hate ’em, Southampton metalcore upstarts Bury Tomorrow are certainly no strangers to the road with a seemingly never ending tour schedule on the go, and when they’re not filling out clubs and academies on their own tour or on a support run, they’re playing festivals like Slam Dunk. Dani Winter-Bates becomes more and more of a formidable frontman as time goes on, and it’s far from an overstatement to say that ‘Lionheart’ could be one of the best live British metalcore tracks released by any band since Bury Tomorrow formed almost ten years ago.

CROSSFAITH – 8/10
Japan’s strongest export when it comes to metal easily falls on the shoulders of Crossfaith, who today at Slam Dunk are the embodiment of metal’s all too infamous party side. Set opener ‘Monolith’ sounds absolutely monstrous live, and ‘Jagerbomb’ is accompanied by keyboardist Tamano Terufumi downing Jager straight from the bottle whilst maintaining a mission to never ever stay still. Koie Kenta’s vocals are on top form, and it seems that language barriers mean very little in the world of heavy music. Crossfaith, we salute you!

FINCH – 7/10
Probably the longest serving act on the Monster Energy stage this year, Finch aren’t regular visitors to UK shores, and have easily been one of the more unstable names on the post-hardcore circuit. Their debut full-length ‘What It Is To Burn’, however, is a notable classic, and stocking most of their set with cuts from the 2002 full-length is testament of not only how it has stood the test of time, but also that the band know exactly how to cater to the Slam Dunk crowd. But, you can’t help to think that the crowd should be getting a bit more riled up for their fresher offerings.

WHILE SHE SLEEPS
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ARCHITECTS
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SKA & PUNK STAGE:

SURVAY SAYS
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PATENT PENDING
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BIG D & THE KIDS TABLE
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LIGHTYEAR
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MARIACHI EL BRONX
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ZEBRAHEAD
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GOLDFINGER
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MILLENCOLIN
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REEL BIG FISH
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MACBETH STAGE:

AS IT IS
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KNUCKLE PUCK
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ROAM
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CARTEL
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A LOSS FOR WORDS
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BAYSIDE
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SUCH GOLD
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TRANSIT
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FIREWORKS
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THE WONDER YEARS
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IMPERICON STAGE:

DEAD HARTS
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BEING AS AN OCEAN – 7/10
Despite the fairly early set, the room is absolutely packed out for Californian melodic rockers Being As An Ocean and, although every inch of the place more than 2 foot away from the stage is draped in nearly complete darkness, the harmony dense numbers of ‘L’exquisite Douleur’ and ‘Melodic Shakespeare’ gets the room singing from start-to-finish. Joel Quartuccio gets involved with the action too, jumping into the sea of fans, giving them the chance to scream the words right back into his face.

TRASH TALK
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DEEZ NUTS
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STICK TO YOUR GUNS
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BANE
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COMEBACK KID
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H20
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GALLOWS
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THE BRONX
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FRESH BLOOD STAGE:

TRASH BOAT – 6/10
Officially the first band to play a note for Slam Dunk Festival 2015, fresh faced punk rockers Trash Boat are opting for the more modern a la The Story So Far style of pop-punk and, though not as invigorating, they’ve been finding their feet more with latest EP, ‘Brainwork’. They showcase to a lot of new people today, and that’s only going to work in their favour. Let’s see where they go from here.

WIND SAILS
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AARON WEST & THE ROARING TWENTIES
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ONLY RIVALS
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FORT HOPE
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ROB LYNCH
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THIS WILD LIFE
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SEAWAY
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BABY GODZILLA
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MOOSE BLOOD – 8/10
A headline slot on the Fresh Blood stage, a full room with a packed crowd eager to get in and sweaty bodies flying across the barrier onto the stage every few moments is just a small indicator of how far emotional rockers Moose Blood have come in the past year or so. Songs like ‘Bukowski’, ‘Gum’, and ‘I Hope You’re Miserable’ bring in sing alongs across the whole length of the room, often overpowering frontman Eddy Brewerton, and within just a few minutes of their set sweat is dripping from the walls and the ceiling like it would in a sauna. Expect Moose Blood to headline stages twice this size in another year or two.


Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)

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