REVIEW: SLAMDUNK FESTIVAL – NORTH, LEEDS (23/5/15)

This year’s SlamDunk was definitely going to be unforgettable, marking the 10th anniversary of the festival, SlamDunk was determined to make this the biggest and best festival yet. I headed over to Leeds to get involved.

Last year SlamDunk North was held in Leeds University, this year it upgraded to being spread out across the centre of Leeds, main stage was located in Millennium Square with a capacity of 8000 whilst other stages were found in the O2, Leeds Beckett University, carparks and backrooms of bars.

The first thing I headed to was the Neck Deep signing at the Kerrang! tent, I was the first in the queue but I was just the start of a line of hundreds of people. It was the only signing I was able to attend as all the other clashed with different sets I wanted to go to..

Signing

The first band on the main stage was Set It Off and they certainly weren’t short of energy. After recently kicking Austin (Bassist) out of the band I felt like SIO were really trying to prove their success to the crowd, although the crowd was small and quiet it didn’t stop Cody (vocals) from getting them moving. They did an unusual cover of Ariana Grande’s ‘Problem’ and their single Why Worry seemed to be the most well-known song within the crowd.

Set It Off

Cody jumped off the stage a couple of times to come right up to the barrier, he even managed to walk on top of the crowd for a while (until he fell). Overall it was a nice start to the day and showed how much potential the rest of the day could have.

Set It Off 2

After SIO, I made my way to the MacBeth stage where Knuckle Puck were playing, a considerable smaller stage but there was definitely a lot more fans crammed into a small carpark. A lot more people singing back to Knuckle Puck and it felt like SlamDunk was actually kicking off now. Personally No Good made the entire set for me, the way the crowd reacted to this song was different to all the rest and it really got me excited for the rest of the day. Even people at the back started moshing around to it. Neck Deep are close friends of Knuckle Puck and Ben Barlow did guest vocals on Your Back Porch.

Knucklepuck

Beartooth started not long after Knuckle Puck ended so I headed over to the o2 Academy, but with a fairly long queue to get in I didn’t think I’d be able to see all their set. Luckily I got in just as they started, after I saw Beartooth on Thursday night in Carlisle (Check out my review of it here) they were definitely one of the bands I most looking forward to seeing- and they didn’t disappoint. With the biggest crowd I’d seen so far and mosh pits starting all over the room they were certainly entertaining the crowd.

Beartooth

Neck Deep were next on the main stage and I first saw them live at SlamDunk 2014 so I knew I had to see them play the main stage this year. Following the release of their newest single ‘Can’t Kick Up The Roots’ it seemed that many people were hoping to see this live. Neck Deep had the biggest crowd by far and people were singing back louder than ever. When they began playing A Part Of Me the atmosphere changed from being one of the most brutal crowds I’ve experienced to the most relaxed (and even emotional) crowd, people were singing back louder than ever and it was a song that everyone just experiences and appreciates for its simplicity. Laura Whiteside even made an appearance. They never fail to impress a crowd.

Neck Deep

I hung around at the main stage for Lower Than Atlantis. They undoubtedly had a huge following there for them and their set was exciting and really enjoyable to watch. Mike (vocals) took the time out to say that the band really appreciated the amount of support they received after they released their self-titled album as it was a make-or-break point for the future of LTA. The most moving part of the set was when the band left Mike to do Another Sad Song, this was a highlight for me as it is a personal favourite of theirs.

LTA

Moose Blood was held at the smallest stage but it was completely packed out, and totally worth standing around in a room that felt about 100 degrees (not even exaggerating). Moose Blood was guaranteed to be one of the roughest, craziest shows of the day. The set felt more intimate than the others from the day and was definitely one of the most enjoyable. There was no barrier at the stage and it added to the intimacy and Eddy (vocals) even sustained a nose injury after a fan crowdsurfed straight into the mic. Overall Moose Blood are a must-see band and I’m glad I got to see them at SD.

Moose Blood

The last set I went to was The Wonder Years who headlined the MacBeth stage, and it was the best end to one of the best days. The most ‘tame’ crowd by far but by far the best band I saw. Soupy (vocals) was inspiring the crowd throughout the set and they played 15 songs from various albums. They ended the set by announcing they were working on new material and they’d be back soon, I’ll definitely try and head to the next show they do in the UK.

SlamDunk festival is one of the best day-festivals in the UK, the lineup never disappoints and bands from all over the world are attracted. Many of the acts are even friends from touring or writing together so it feels really- connected. I’m already excited for SDF16!

REVIEW: Beartooth – The Brickyard, Carlisle (21/05/15)

In the run up to this year’s Slam Dunk festival, Beartooth headed out across the UK to do a few warmup shows. It’s unusual for a band with any sort of recognition to come to Carlisle so when I found out Beartooth would be headlining it was essential for me to go. Supported by Dead Harts and The Color Morale (both of which are also playing Slam Dunk) it was definitely going to be one of The Brickyard’s most memorable nights.

Kicking off the night was Dead Harts from Sheffield. Although the room was almost empty it didn’t stop them trying their best to get the people who were there going, even if the crowd did seem less than enthusiastic about their set. They took an interesting approach to entertaining the room, Bax (vocals) actually walked into the crowd to sing a few songs in an attempt to encourage mosh pits and circle pits throughout every song. Overall the crowd made it difficult for Dead Harts to put on a proper show but they brought a lot of energy to the stage nonetheless.

As the night progressed the room began to slowly full up, but it was still only about half full by the time The Color Morale hit the stage. There was a much more positive response to their set and it finally seemed like the crowd were getting warmed up. Garret (vocals) made a special effort in between songs to interact with the crowd in an almost inspirational way, demonstrating how music pulls people together and creates communities by asking the people who have been influenced by music to raise their hand – this obviously sparked a positive reaction from the crowd. People seemed to be a lot more engaged to The Color Morale’s set and there seemed to be considerable more people who were singing along. It was definitely a good job they were there to warm the crowd up.

Finally it was Beartooth’s time on the stage, although it was a rather short set and they didn’t include an encore they certainly made the most of the time they had. The gig didn’t sell out but the turnout was still impressive for a metalcore band at The Brickyard. The majority of the songs were off their debut album Disgusting and they started off with ‘Relapsing’ and made their way through some of the most popular songs like ‘The Lines’ and ‘Beaten in Lips’– the energy was electric and the room was taken over by mosh pits- there was even a couple of crowd surfers. What seemed to be the crowd’s favourite song was ‘Body Bag’ which they played last. Crowd participation was also really important to Beartooth and they thanked the crowd for allowing them to do a tour across the UK. It was nice to see a band being appreciated in such a small city in (what seems like) an unknown part of England but it’s also nice being appreciated by the band themselves. There are enough good bands that play at Carlisle and if we’re lucky, other bands might follow in Beartooth’s footsteps. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of Beartooth and they’ll head back this way soon.