Live Review: Slam Dunk North

Post-covid.. we’re getting there. Live music is back in everyone’s lives and what a way to kick off mass gatherings than an absolute riot at the UK’s best rock/pop-punk festival, Slam Dunk.

After changing locations a couple of times in the last decade, the festival now boasts 6 stages of good vibes and great bands and is set in the stunning backdrop of Temple Newsam in Leeds.

The first band us at Backseat Mafia went to see was Buster Shuffle 6/10, the cheeky cockney’s opened up the Punk in Drublic stage which was brilliantly MC’ed by DJ Matt Stocks. Their effortless ska bops perfectly opened up a great day of music, one of the highlights was track Brothers and Sisters which vocalist Jet Baker told the crowd was about divorce… cheery!!

British pop-punk legends Roam 8/10 graced the main stage early afternoon and as an audience member you could feel how ecstatic the band were to be back on a stage playing a show. Smiles were plastered on the faces of both crowd and band alike as they gifted the loyal fans some classic tunes, as well as teasing them with new material. “Thanks for listening even if you think we’re shit” roared Alex Costello as he fired some free t-shirts into the crowd. This set felt exactly like how live music should be; surrounded by likeminded people just having a fucking good time.

Weatherstate 6/10 didn’t let technical difficulties stop them from showing the Key Club stage their infectious brand of pop punk. Newest single Current Dose is an absolute banger and it sounded as good live as it does on record. Keep an eye out soon for the interview we did with the band in the next few days!!

At Slam Dunk they try and keep the fans on their toes and when whispers of a secret set appeared online everyone ran to the Key Club stage mid afternoon to see which band would appear. Standing in the crowd, bets were being made as to which band would emerge but nobody could’ve guessed it was the absolute legends that are MCFLY!!! 10/10. Treating the crowd to classics such as One For The Radio and Star Girl nobody was too cool to not dance to the pop classics. Ending their set with the legendary Five Colours in her Hair, this was the perfect surprise band for the general age range of the festival to re-live their youth, a great booking!

In contrast to the poppy and colourful Mcfly were the macabre Creeper 9/10 who graced the main stage with their haunting melodies. Their aesthetically pleasing brand of goth rock fit perfectly on the bill as they show real elements of grungy punk crossed with beautiful harmonies. Hiding with Boys into VCR was a real treat for the cluster of die-hard fans collated in the front of the crowd but it was the always stunning track Misery that will forever be a highlight of any Creeper live show. “It’s so fucking good to be together again” Will Gould bellowed to the audience, here here, Will.

A staple to any festival lineup, Frank Turner 7/10 brought his rock/folk vibes to the Punk in Drublic stage and here we found ourselves the first “Yorkshire” chant of the day. “A guitar can be used for both good and evil, and today, I’m choosing evil”… evil works for us, Frank. Classic tracks like If Ever I Stray and Photosynthesis soared around the field, much to the delight of the festival revellers, well, something had to make them smile and distract them from the £6 pints of lukewarm cider!

Most of the bands playing the festival hailed from the UK due to Coronavirus restrictions, however, some artists made the trip over the pond to play for their adoring fans who have missed them over the past 18 months. One of these acts was the fantastic Mayday Parade 7/10. They bring a slightly more emo tone to the afternoon as not all their songs require you to go crazy, but more to get lost within the music and more importantly, the lyrics. The band state that they haven’t played a show since November 2019 so it was important for them to have a great first show back and it was a real honour to be the first show! Hopefully they don’t leave it another 2 years to grace the UK shores again.

Welsh kings of rock Skindred 10/10 absolutely tore the roof off the 2nd stage in the early evening. They have a back catalogue full of songs to absolutely lose your shit to and that’s exactly what the Leeds crowd did. Rat Race, Pressure, Ninja and Nobody are certified bangers and there was never a point where frontman Benji Webbe didn’t have the entire tent in the palm of his hand. His banter with the crowd is superb, but he also showed a serious side telling the audience that a Skindred show is a safe place no matter your colour, gender or sexuality- a true legend. It’s become somewhat of a staple at a Skindred show to do the famous ‘Newport Helicopter’, which if you aren’t aware, is the act of removing a piece of clothing and waving it around (like a helicopter) above your head during their anthem Warning. This show was no different and as the band dropped into the final chorus, the entire crowd was moving as one, lost in the craziness of the show, a real joy to be a part of. Skindred are true future festival headliners and in th next couple of years should be topping the bill at all the major events in the UK, a class act.

Bury Tomorrow 8/10 are true legends in the metal scene in the UK and seem to go from strength to strength each album cycle. Their fiery tunes never disappoint in a live setting and frontman Dani Winter-Bates shows off his perfect growls and screams. Dropping in classic tune Lionheart was a highlight of the set with Winter-Bates stating that it “might be almost as old as some of you in the crowd”. The singalong chorus is unforgettable and is a real hardcore classic. Another highlight of the set was Black Flame from the album of the same name, even though it was late in the day, the energy from the crowd never dropped and you could tell they were just losing their shit to these tracks they haven’t heard live in almost 2 years.

Headliners Don Broco 8/10 risked their show by playing the track ‘Manchester Super Reds No1 Fan’ in Leeds. The track has links to their beloved Manchester United and playing anything to do with the city over the Pennines in Yorkshire is a very risky thing to do, so well done lads! Classic tracks like Automatic, Greatness and the oldie Priorities went down a treat with the northern crowd and the band hyped up the audience even more by bringing out Awsten from Waterparks and Loz from While She Sleeps for the track Action. This was a real treat for the audience who were buzzing from the special guests. Closing their set with the anthemic Everybody and T-Shirt Song, Don Broco proved why over the years they’ve become one of the UK’s best exports of rock music and were incredibly deserving of the headline festival slot, which will undoubtedly won’t be their last.

It was a real pleasure to attend this years Slam Dunk festival and get back to watching live music, a great setup and a great first gig back. 10/10.

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