For the first time since the punk rock festival’s inception back in 2006, SLAM DUNK has moved away from the city centre. The news drew a fair bit of criticism when first announced, but those words are dim and distant noise once you step foot on to the new site.
In the green surroundings of Temple Newsam Estate, with the historic mansion serving as a majestic back drop to the one-day event, Slam Dunk has transformed into a bona fide festival event. It was ace.
With rumours sweeping through the festival of who the Key Club stage special guest – billed as Y3K – would be, I headed up to the Dickies stage for TINY MOVING PARTS. The trio drew a pretty decent crowd with their potent punk rock, all carefree call to arms and energy. Focusing on their last two albums, Tiny Moving Parts delivered a sure-fire set over half an hour, getting the day off to a cracking start.
Turns out that special guest was BUSTED, who played to a spilling tent away from the sunny start to the afternoon, and I’m a bit gutted I missed them, to be honest.
Over in the huge blue tent, which loomed over the site from the top of the hill, the Impericon stage (which flip-flopped with the Jagermeister stage at the other end of the tent) hosted New York outfit TURNSTILE.
Having missed their headline set at Outbreak Festival last year, it was a welcome return to Leeds for the four-piece, whose post-hardcore packs a prog-rock punch. Thunderous bass lines shook through the masses below, regularly visited by frontman Brendan Yates to scream in unison through a blistering set.
CANCER BATS continued the onslaught of brutal riffs with fierce metal-core greatness, joined at one point by PAGAN’s Nikki Brumen for Pneumonia Hawk. But before the Canadian noisemakers got to their punchy cover of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage, we had to duck out for THE GET UP KIDS.
Outside, the Missouri five piece fought bravely against the turning weather with their power-pop, kicking off with the storming Satellite – the opener to new album, Problems. The new tunes went down a treat, but it was the older hits from Something To Write Home About that got the biggest singalongs.
On the same stage, SAVES THE DAY also championed their heyday with Stay What You Are and Through Being Cool classics dominating their performance. Opening with their breakthrough tune At Your Funeral, Chris Conley and his New Jersey boys effortlessly delivered a solid set with an energetic crowd sing back every word as the weather worsened.
HELLOGOODBYE played the first-ever Slam Dunk back in 2006, and their sound has changed as much as their line-up. Rather than offering more nostalgia, Forrest Kline’s band shimmied their way through the pouring rain with a heady dose of soul funk, barely touching on their electro-fused golden era. Baby It’s Fact did get a delicious reworking as a gleeful Kline embraced the crappy weather and got down to grass level with his soaked fans.
On the main stage, NEW FOUND GLORY burst into life opening with a punchy cover of Eye Of The Tiger, singer Jordan Pundik sporting stars-n-stripes boxing robes. Where NFG go, festival fun dutifully follows and the huge crowd bounced along to their hits and choice covers, including Let It Go, This Is Me and The Power Of Love. Uplifting positivity from a band that clearly know their place as clown princes of pop punk.
Out of the rain, New York hardcore heroes GLASSJAW made a relatively rare and undeniably blistering return to the UK. Cool and constrained, frontman Daryl Palumbo appeared the antithesis of his band’s riotous sound, as wired riffs poured from guitarist Justin Beck amid a sprawling cacophony of twisted melodies and soaring vocals.
Old and new joined forces as Material Control and Worship And Tribute cuts thrashed out a triumphant headline set.
THE MENZINGERS brought the Dickies stage to a close with a blast of raw punk rock. Five albums into a 13-year career, the Pennsylvania four-piece know how to deliver a headline show. Effortless yet energetic, they opened with Tellin’ Lies, a visceral coming-of-age anthem (albeit about ‘growing up’ beyond their 20s), and the field bounced. Even the sun decided enough is enough and came out to cast a glow on the band and lively crowd in front of them.
On the main stage, while BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE drew a huge crowd under cover, ALL TIME LOW drew the day to an end, revelling in pop punk nostalgia as mid-noughties memories came flooding back for fans packed from the barrier back.