By Claire Hodgkins
At a slightly later date than previous years, Slam Dunk Festival was back and made its return to the grounds of Temple Newsam. What was meant to be an overcast day, turned out to be a scorcher in Leeds – much to the delight of alternative music lovers.
Amongst the acts, we managed to see throughout the day was the phenomenal Cassyette, who opened the Jäegermeister stage. Having played last year’s Download Pilot Festival and supporting the likes of Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes and more recently, My Chemical Romance, the ‘Sad Girl Summer’ singer is no stranger to owning a huge stage. Opening her set with hit ‘Dear Goth’, Cassyette wasted no time in getting the crowd all warmed up and ready for a monstrous day of music ahead. This year’s Heavy Music Awards saw a big first win for Cassyette, who was presented with the award for “Best UK Breakthrough Artist” which was handed over by last year’s winners and pals in Sam Matlock and Milkie Way – otherwise known as Wargasm UK. The singer has also recently announced a headline UK tour for October. Her last tour saw multiple venue sell outs, so don’t hang about for tickets – you definitely do not want to miss out!
Next up on our agenda were Aussie favourites on the Rock Sound stage, Yours Truly. Fresh from supporting Against The Current on their recent UK run, and hopping last minute onto the lineup for You Me At Six’ Sinners Never Sleep 10 year anniversary show; also at Temple Newsam, the band are always welcomed to the UK with open arms, and it’s not hard to see why. Vocalist Mikaila Delgado is a pro at commanding the stage with her killer voice and energetic dance moves, including some impressive hairography. Although, guitarist Lachlan Cronin definitely gave Delgado a run for her money. Their new EP ‘is this what I look like?’ is out July 15th, the follow up to their latest single ‘Hallucinate’ which features You Me At Six vocalist, Josh Francheschi. The band will also be playing two standalone UK headline shows later this month in Manchester and London supported by the incredible Delaire the Liar.
As the afternoon progressed, we paid a visit to the Rock Scene tent to see duo Hot Milk cause a riot, trekked down the hill to the Jägermeister stage to catch explosive sets from Counterparts and Electric Callboy and also managed to catch The Summer Set’ first festival performance since their hiatus in 2016, where we were suddenly transported back to 2013.
Speaking of first performances, Australian favourites The Amity Affliction were able to make their first trip back over to the UK since their last stint of shows with friends Beartooth, before Lockdown in 2020. An emotional Joel Birch exclaimed on stage just how good it felt to be back in the UK again. So much so, the band have also released ‘Everyone Loves You Once You Leave Them’ tour dates for October, playing intimate club sized venues across the UK in celebration of their 2020 release. This tour is well overdue, so don’t hang about in grabbing tickets! Their 40 minute set on the Jägermeister stage was stacked with hits spanning back to their 2014 release ‘Let The Ocean Take Me’, including: ‘Don’t Lean On Me’ and ‘Pittsburgh’. It was actually the track ‘Death’s Hand’ that got the crowd revved up, usually the song that closes an Amity set but instead made an earlier appearance. The track was greeted by loud roars along with fist bumps and all manner of moshing. It’s clear to see why the band like to close with this number. Whilst their set didn’t include any numbers before 2014, completely overlooking 2012’s offering ‘Chasing Ghosts’, the band played a solid set – a very nice first performance back overseas.
Just like their 2020 tour, Ohio based Beartooth followed Amity’s performance. The set saw the band play through killer tracks from their latest release ‘Below’, including ‘Devastation’ and ‘The Past Is Dead’. Frontman Caleb Shomo bought the heat, and that’s without mentioning the onstage pyro! Slam Dunk Festival over the years has been known to be a place where several bands and artists announce tours and shows, ahead of being formally announced across social media. Beartooth decided to take part in this tradition, by announcing an added Leeds date to their March 2023 dates with Motionless in White and Stray From The Path. Having been rescheduled previously due to COVID, the tour is set to be some of the biggest shows Beartooth have played in the UK.
As the sun began to set over Temple Newsam, crowds were treated to sets from As December Falls – making their Slam Dunk debut as well as, Stand Atlantic, The Interrupters, Set It Off and The Dropkick Murphys.
And now, it was finally upon us. The main event. First playing the festival back in 2013 as competition winners, Neck Deep closed the Rock Scene stage with an action packed set. Opening with new single ‘STFU’, the guys from Wrexham were on top form, with no signs of slowing down. This comes after the sad departure of Drummer and original member of the band Dani Abasi, who left to pursue new projects. Still, the band’s sheer passion for performing was evident throughout and for sure made them worthy headliners.
All in all, the great weather and mammoth lineup (despite several dropouts), made this year’s Slam Dunk Festival a hit! We can only hope that we’ll be lucky enough to make it back next year and celebrate more of the talent the alternative music scene has to offer.