When it rains, it pours… and that was definitely the case at Slam Dunk North this year!
Weather forecasts and the fact that the day began with the skies clear and bright may have led us to believe that it would prove to be perfect festival conditions but unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the heavens well and truly opened. Regardless, that didn’t stop us from taking on the UK’s favorite alternative all-dayer.
We checked out Tiny Moving Parts first on the Dickies Stage, which formed a split-stage arrangement with the Marshall Stage allowing for bands to play one after the other with next to no turnover time. The emo revival band have been going since the mid-’00s so it was no surprise that their performance ran like a well-oiled machine. Hits like ‘Sundress’ and ‘Always Focused’ seemed to successfully perk up the crowd, despite the early set time.
Trophy Eyes played directly afterwards on the Marshall Stage, seemingly encouraging the good weather with their unique brand of sunny Australian pop-punk. For them, it was almost like a warm-up at Slam Dunk before they played a headlining show in London on the Monday following, but that isn’t to say that they didn’t bring their absolute A-game to the stage in Leeds. There was nothing quite like hearing fans chanting back the lyrics to ‘You Can Count On Me’, and we’re sure Trophy Eyes felt the exact same way.
The Key Club Stage was also split into ‘Left Key’ and ‘Right Key’, and next we caught French Canadians Story Untold over on the Right Key. A true highlight of the entire day, the five-piece have been making waves around the world during various support slots and their performance at Slam Dunk really let their talent shine through. Lead singer Janick Thibault is a formidably brilliant frontman, and engaged the crowd regularly throughout the band’s short set. Knowing that they may not have been a familiar name to many of their audience, they pulled a medley of famous pop-punk songs out of the bag that got the crowd singing along. All you really want when you’re playing a festival for the first time, right?
Seaway are a staple in the scene these days, and so it was expected that they drew a sizeable audience to their Marshall Stage performance in the late afternoon. The band now have a handful of albums under their belt, including Fresh Produce which offers up alternate versions of classic tracks and a few new gems too, so it was touching that they managed to perform a set that found the balance between each of their records. New and old fans alike seemed to be impressed with what they saw and heard, but it was hardly a shock that the biggest reactions came when they played songs off of arguably their most famous record, Vacation.
The aforementioned rain started right about when Simple Plan took to the Monster Energy Stage, but that didn’t stop music fans flocking there to party like it was 2005. All manner of things were used to shelter from the rain; pizza boxes seemed to be the most unusual, though it seemed to be a necessary step to take in order to appreciate the seeing such a classically brilliant band. It wasn’t a particularly long set but provided all the greats: ‘Addicted’, ‘I’m Just a Kid’ and ‘I’d Do Anything’, just to name a few. They might not be one of the biggest bands in the world anymore, but Simple Plan certainly know how to wow their crowds and then some.
By the time Saves The Day hit the Dickies Stage, there was no stopping the onslaught of rain – but that didn’t seem to matter to those who gathered to catch a glimpse of emo royalty. The majority of their set was made up of tracks from 2001’s Stay What You Are, which has become somewhat of a cult classic album in more recent years. Through Being Cool from 1999 also provided key parts of the band’s setlist, and naturally, the crowd that gathered seemed to be suitably won over by this. It just goes to show, no matter what is going on in the scene these days, some of the older bands and their years of finely-tuning their talent will always prevail.
In the shelter of the Key Club Stages’ tent, grandson brought something a little bit different to the table. The Canadian-American Fueled By Ramen signee has been going from strength to strength with his unusual but dazzling mix of emo, hip-hop and EDM. A number of his tracks offer critiques on the current political climate, mostly in the United States, making him so blindingly different from most of his peers that he’s inevitably become an artist capable of exponential growth. ‘Blood // Water’ is one of his most well-known tracks, and by the way that the crowd went absolutely insane when it was played just proves it — but it was grandson’s own energy, which was off the charts, that really stole the show.
The ethereal Lights performed immediately after, on the Right Key, a vision with a shock of bright red hair and a back catalogue of fantastic tried and tested tunes. It’s hard to have not heard of the singer before, if not for her own music or the fact she legally changed her name to “Lights”, then because of her long list of collaborations with everyone from Bring Me The Horizon to Owl City, and The Secret Handshake. She was a welcome change from the rest of what was going on at Slam Dunk; a change of pace that allowed fans to keep out of the rain and enjoy an artist who was a lot more chill. Lights’ cover of ‘Believe’ by Cher went down a treat, as she put her very own spin on the classic and had the whole tent singing along.
Back to the Left Key and the sun was beginning to go down, but the rain didn’t seem to want to let up as I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME hit the stage. Dallon Weekes (formerly of Panic! At The Disco) and Ryan Seaman (Falling In Reverse, I Am Ghost, etc.) are seemingly a match made in heaven and have managed to cultivate quite the fanbase in their short time playing together. Because of this, the Key Club tent was packed wall to wall with excited fans who wanted nothing more than to scream back the lyrics to ‘Do It All The Time’ and ‘Choke’. This newer project is much different from the members’ previous ventures, an expertly pulled off blend of indie pop and new wave that isn’t necessarily the kind of thing that their crossover fans listen to on the regular. It works though, and by the time the duo finished, it was to the sound of applause and fanfare.
All Time Low joked on stage about how they asked as one of their production requests for the bad weather to go away… how true that is, we can’t be certain, but everyone seemed to be revelling in the opportunity to dry off once the spitting came to an end.
All Time Low are much like Marmite in the way that they’re either dearly loved or bitterly hated, with the latter sometimes due to the fact that they haven’t changed a thing about their stage presence (or “banter”) in all the years they’ve been together despite the fact that they’re now grown men. This aside, it was intriguing to hear that they would be performing more tracks from their album Nothing Personal, in celebration of its 10th anniversary.
Awsten Knight of Waterparks fame appeared during ‘Break Your Little Heart’, prompting the mostly teenage crowd to go wild with excitement. It was the performance of the new track, ‘Getaway Green’, that really seemed to spur them on, however. It wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking, but we can appreciate that seeing your favorite band debut new music is always going to put a smile on your face.
As their set came to an end and fans began to file out, another Slam Dunk North was done and dusted. The site move was both praised and condemned, it really just depended on the particular person’s opinion, but it was definitely a struggle trying to get on one of the shuttle buses heading back towards Leeds for either an early night, a train back home or, like in our case, a visit to the legendary afterparty for some overpriced pints and emo bangers. Oh, the hangover…