Now in its 12th year, Slam Dunk Festival attracts rock, emo, punk, metal, ska and fans of everything in-between to the centre of Leeds on a bank holiday weekend to watch 8 stages worth of fantastic music.
First up on the gloriously sunny Saturday was Australian rock band The Faim who by the size of the crowd already has a huge following with a lot of the audience singing the songs back to them. An impressive set that certainly left the festival goes wanting more.
Walking around the site you could see such a mix of bands and there was never a dull moment with nothing to see. I quickly popped into the O2 Academy to see Brutality Will Prevail and I could hear singing but there was no singer on the stage… finally I found him in the middle of the venue with a circle pit in fill force around him. After making his way back onto the stage, he was very quickly off again and into the crowd where he crowd surfed all the way to the back of the room and around to the front again. So much energy and passion, they were great to watch.
One of the highlights of the day was getting to see Save Ferris on stage again in the UK after nearly 7 years away and I can honestly say they were worth the wait. Monique Powell is an incredible performer and had every single person hanging on her every word, she was funny, talented and put on one of the best shows of the day with music that just makes you want to dance!
Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes have never ever disappointed as a performer and are always an amazing addition to the Slam Dunk line-up. Filling the O2 Arena he strutted onto the stage with a confidence that comes from experience and although some parts of his performance are well known now, it makes it exciting for the audience. He always gets into the crowd through song 3 and song 4 is always the female-only crowd surfing song which is always popular! So many women take the opportunity to crowd-surf in a safe space, something that Frank is very passionate about since having a daughter and always speaks out about the treatment of women at gigs.
I decided to go and watch the smaller stage where Californian Ska punks Reel Big Fish were headlining and I’m so glad I did; the ska party band were on form and lit the stage on fire. Opening with “Everyone else is an asshole” they got the whole crowd singing, dancing and sure that they had made the right decision to come and see RBF. With a fantastic 16 song setlist they showed that despite the fact they have been around forever and that they have often changed band members, they will always hit the stage with high energy and enthusiasm that comes with loving what they do. In between their own original songs, they threw in a few great covers and finished on a spectacular cover of A-ha’s “Take on Me”. I don’t think they could have ended this brilliant festival any better and everyone left that stage on a real high, although possibly a little hoarse from singing along!