Slam Dunk North 2014

Slam Dunk North 2014

Slam Dunk North 2013 was so amazing that we decided right there and then that we would go back to the 2014 edition, regardless of the line-up. As it turns out we were lucky and Slam Dunk provided us with yet another one of their great line-ups. 2013’s blazing sunshine had been traded in for rain (and lots of it) but seeing as the Northern edition of the festival is held indoors, for the better part at least, this didn’t really bother anyone too much.

We were only able to catch the last few songs of Fandangle, but what a great start of the festival that was! The band brought its catchy ska-punk with a fun-loving attitude, especially when the vocalist jumped off the stage to join the fans’ party on the floor. Good times were had by all and Fandangle is definitely a tip for fans of Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, etc.

After Fandangle we wanted to see a bit of Canterbury, but when passing the MacBeth stage where Jesse James were playing their reunion show we just had to stop for a song or two because it sounded so good. The atmosphere was great and even though we, as non-natives, were not that familiar with the band it was clear that there were a lot of fans who were very much enjoying themselves.

On to Hampshire four-piece Canterbury then. The band is known for their solid and energetic live performance, and their set at Slam Dunk was no different. Playing to a fairly crowded main stage, the band delivered their songs with lots of enthusiasm.

The same can be said for Decade. The band is relatively new but has already received a lot of praise for their album Good Luck and their good live shows, which is why I wanted to see them. A lot of enthusiasm, sweat, and stage presence (especially from vocalist Alex Sears) made sure Decade lived up to the hype and delivered a strong set filled with sing-alongs and crowd-surfing. We’ll be hearing from these boys!

We then moved back to the main stage to catch a bit of ska/reggae band The Skints. The band announce that this is their first UK show of 2014 and a large part of the crowd seems to be loving it. The band seem to be enjoying themselves as much as their fans, bringing at least a little bit of summer feeling to Leeds on this rainy day, but it isn’t our cup of tea so we move on to the Macbeth stage where I Am The Avalanche will be playing next.

We were excited to see how the English crowd would be after all the attention I Am the Avalanche has been getting over in the UK lately. Unfortunately though, the crowd did let us down a bit. The band was, however, by no means to blame for this as they delivered a pretty killer set that started off furiously passionate with song like ‘Holy Fuck’, ‘I Took A Beating’ and my personal favourite ‘Amsterdam’. Of course they ended their set with ‘Brooklyn Dodgers’ which was, as always, pretty awesome. I Am the Avalanche is and will probably always be a great live band.

We then head back to the main stage to see Motion City Soundtrack’s highly anticipated performance. It had been a long time since the band played a show in the UK but judging by the pretty packed room their popularity hasn’t waned. The Minnesota five-piece played a great set and managed to keep the audience engaged. For a lot of the fans “Let’s Get Fucked Up And Die” was a definite highlight, as that song in particular saw a lot of crowd participation with nearly everyone singing along with vocalist Justin Pierre.

Following Motion City Soundtrack we wanted to see Neck Deep and Real Friends, but after seeing the unbelievably long queue to get in we opted for Rob Lynch instead, as one of our friends has been raving about him for months. As it turns out, he was right all along and we owe him our thanks because Rob Lynch absolutely blew us away. It was a set filled with great music, great lyrics, and great sing-alongs. Especially the crowd chanting “Robbie Lynch, Robbie, Robbie Lynch, nananana” (this went on for a bit) was a fantastic moment as I for one cannot think of any artist that deserved it more that day. Rob Lynch is a truly talented performer but doesn’t seem to realise it yet, as he seemed genuinely touched, surprised and grateful. He was definitely living the good life. And so were we, obviously!

We then moved back to the Macbeth stage for the remaining part of the festival and to see the last bit of Capdown. The UK ska-punks know how to get the party going and we saw a little bit of mosh mayhem ensue. They may draw a bit of an older crowd, but that was not a bad thing because their fans have obviously had a lot of skanking practice and were not afraid to show it!

Next up were The Ataris, who were added to the bill fairly last-minute to replace ska legends Goldfinger after they had to pull out. Following Rob Lynch’s acoustic set and Capdown’s ska we were ready for some poppunk songs. The Ataris came out guns blazing, kicking off their set with ‘In This Diary’, immediately followed by ‘So Long, Astoria’. Wow, just wow. This was without a doubt one of the best performances I have seen by The Ataris and arguably one of the best performances of the day as well. ‘The Boys Of Summer’ got the crowd to belt out every single word and the set as a whole was just simply amazing and made everyone happy up to the point that we could literally spot some ‘happy tears’. Fantastic.

It was up to Less Than Jake to close the night and they are always more than capable of bringing down the house. We were obviously not the only ones who knew this, as people were no longer allowed in due to the room being too packed already. Those of us who were lucky enough to be there got to see another great Less Than Jake show though. Fan favourites like ‘All My Best Friends Are Metalheads’ sent the pit into mayhem and there was probably not a single person in the room that wasn’t at least swaying or singing along. Another great show and another great party. We didn’t expect anything less from them and we knew beforehand that they would be worthy of a Slam Dunk headline slot.


See you next year, Slam Dunk!


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