Glorious weather, pop punk bands… no we’re not talking about Warped Tour in the US but Slam Dunk in Leeds! After a successful few years in their new home, Slam Dunk are back in 2022 at Temple Newsam to bring a day of alternative music for those of us who like the heavier side of life.
The first band of the day we managed to catch were Manchester natives Hot Milk, who are leading the charge of incredible up and coming UK bands in the rock/pop punk scene. The two-piece are full of energy and bring the fire to the Rock Scene stage rather early in the day. The band pull a great crowd and it is packed full of their adoring fans. Track Bad Influence goes down a real treat with the fans. “Can you lot jump or what?” bellows vocalist Hannah Mee before dropping into newer track Teenage Runaways. But it’s closer Split Personality that gets the crowd matching the energy of the band. There is a real promising future for this young band, they’re doing a few festivals this summer, a must see at these!
Punk Rock Factory have blown up in the last few years thanks to TikTok and their popularity on the platform, they drew a great crowd on the Rock Sound stage and everyone was bouncing from the first note played. A few technical issues aside, the band absolutely killed their half hour of covers, which included the theme from the Power Rangers and a pop punk cover of the massive Frozen hit Let It Go. “How do you get Pikachu on a train? You Pokemon!” the theme to the popular game/tv show made the crowd absolutely lose their shit and the energy is matched when the band throw two inflatable lilos out for the crowd to surf on. A great time was had by both band and audience, PRF were a really great choice for the festival, a great booking by Slam Dunk!
Moving onto the heavier side of things and the Jagermeister stage, Cancer Bats brought their unique brand of Canadian sludgey-grunge back to the UK for the first time in years. Hail Destroyer and Bricks and Mortar are big fan favourites and it doesn’t take long for crowd surfers to appear and circle pits to spin. “We’re more of a Leeds band than we are a Canadian band” screamed front man Liam Cormier which got a rapturous applause from the northern mob. During Harem of Scorpions, guitarist Stephen Harrison (who some might recognise from the band Fever 333) descends into the crowd and demands a circle pit around him, to which they obviously oblige- utter carnage! As always their cover of the Beastie Boys track Sabotage goes down well and everyone will leave this set with a considerable “bangover”.
Staying on the Jagermeister stage because the lineup was simply too good. Next up are Australian hardcore act The Amity Affliction. It has been a few years (obviously Covid DUH) since the band have been able to return to UK soil and both crowd and band alike are eager to be in each others company once more. The ten song set that they managed to cram into 40 minute was full of killer tracks, each one getting an incredible reaction. Huge hit for the band Pittsburgh obviously got the crowd screaming along but it was the lesser played Death’s Hand that got the crowd losing their shit. The musical intensity dropped for the acoustic-heavy All Fucked Up but the energy in the crowd never dipped. Frontman Joel Birch visibly emotional at the return to the UK stage, getting to perform in front of adoring British fans who sing every word back. Closing the blistering set with All My Friends Are Dead and Soak Me In Bleach, Amity have proven yet again that they’re one of the top hardcore bands around. The band have just announced some UK dates for October, do not pass up the chance to see this incredible band live.
How do you top an Amity Affliction set? You try and match their energy and intensity and that’s exactly what US kings of rock Beartooth did. Playing a set that spanned their 9 years of existence as a band so far, fans of both older and newer tracks were suitably satisfied. The Lines, Aggressive and Hated all getting the manic reaction expected from huge tracks but Bodybag from their first album Disgusting that really got the crowd excited. Every track a singalong but it’s classic In Between that almost made the crowd lose their voices by singing along to the “Woah Oh’s”. The production, the songs and the general good vibes that Beartooth brought to the Jagermeister stage made for a perfect subheadling set. Future festival headliners? I think so!
The beauty of Slam Dunk is that even though it’s mainly for pop punk/rock fans, there’s still a space for a little bit of cheese and thats exactly what 3OH!3 brought to the Rock Sound stage in the early evening. Opening with Starstrukk (minus Katy Perry unfortunately), the two-piece state that their equipment was literally on fire just before their set so we’re lucky to have seen them play tonight. A quick mention to the stewards looking after the Rock Sound stage today, whilst keeping the crowd safe, they were bopping along to the tracks and generally creating a real fun environment for the fans at this stage, good work all involved. An impromptu rendition of Haddaway’s What Is Love entertained the crowd before they dropped into Colorado Sunrise. Whilst they didn’t draw the biggest crowd of the day, they’ve certainly managed to get the liveliest. My First Kiss and Streets Of Gold are classics and excite the Leeds crowd but it’s the classic Don’t Trust Me that gets the best reaction of the set. A great 40 minute set that fans of the band have waited almost 10 years for them to return to the festival.. please don’t leave it that long next time!
Closing the whole festival on the Dickies stage were legends Sum41. Deryck Whibley, frontman and guitarist for the band has more energy than the majority of the artists half his age as they open with the classic Motivation. “Lets stick with the heavy shit” screams Whibley as they drop into Over My Head from their classic album Does This Look Infected whips the crowd into a frenzy. They’d been booked to play the festival for 3 years and they don’t disappoint as the light and temperature drop as the set goes on. Underclass Hero and Walking Disaster get a great reaction but the crowd goes wild when they hear the first riff of In Too Deep. Whibley informs the crowd that the band are in the process of making a new double album under the theme “Heaven and Hell”- one side old school sounding Sum41 tunes and the other self described “heavy shit”. We’re treated to a fiery cover of the Queen classic We Will Rock You and then a double whammy of tunes to end their set; Fat Lip and Still Waiting. Whilst they’re not the biggest band in the world, Sum41 have proved themselves to be truly worthy festival headliners, they have the stage presence, draw the crowds and ultimately have the tunes to back it up. A great way to end a full day of music.
As another Slam Dunk closes, we already can’t wait for who the festival in 2023, lets hope for similar weather! Consistently, this festival churns out strong line-ups and with it getting bigger each year, who knows who they will manage to book for next year. We just know that here at Backseat Mafia, we’ll have our fingers crossed that we get invited back for another year!
Words by Erin Moore
Photography supplied by Slam Dunk Festival. Header photo by Apertunes | @apertunes TWITTER: @nath_rxbinson FB: Apertunes Photography
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