Tuesday 31 May 2011

A Pretty Slammin' Weekend - Slam Dunk Festival '11

Having just about recovered, here is our round up of Slam Dunk North 2011...
Slam Dunk celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year and if the mile long queue at the site is anything to go by then this year's festival is bigger than ever! 

First up Adelaide. These guys only formed a year ago and are already opening Slam Dunk 2011. Despite being so young, the quintet are confident and slick; their strong tribe of fans reiterate this sentiment here today.  Playing on the Kerrang Stage, tucked away, down in a psuedo boiler room, Adelaide certainly get Slam Dunk off to a hot start. Like bees to honey, the room is soon swarming with both Adelaide fans and those soon to be Adelaide fans! Combining heavy verses with melodic sing-a-long choruses the energy of the guys on stage is infectious. Genuinely happy to be here, Adelaide are a refreshing and  perfectly delicious blend of rock-pop; the perfect start to the festival.

Taking things up a notch and we move now to one of the larger stages. The Refectory, capacity of 2100, has been taken over by Jagermeister today. Steering clear of any jager shots (saving those for later!) next up we have Hellogoodbye. It's still early but the crowd is nearing the back of the room as the four Huntington Beach boys breeze on stage. Buddy Holly glasses, vintage brogues, Hellogoodbye are effortless as they blend old favourites alongside new hits, trying them out on the eager Leeds crowd. The anthem "Here (In Your Arms)" rounds up their set. It is a hard song to top but we are glad that the pop-synth five piece are back and looking forward to hearing even more of their new offerings.

Hellogoodbye may have captured the essence of 80s synth, but now we have the real deal! Formed in 1988 and now back, more outspoken then ever, Anti Flag. The Pittsburgh punk rockers are staking their claim; they are not here to warm up the crowd - they play as if they were headlining! 
Commanding the crowd, they soon formulate one of the largest circle pits of the entire festival. Anti Flag are high energy, full throttle punk and today here in Leeds they pull in fans of every generation. Playing a selection of hits from their entire discography, including a cheeky cover of The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go", Anti Flag dominate the brimming Refectory. 

"Everyone talks about the UK and London, Fuck London, it's all about Leeds" shouts John Feldman, lead singer of Goldfinger. Today it is all about Leeds! Goldfinger revitalised the ska scene in the mid-90s and bring that same raw passion to Slam Dunk today. One of the stand-out acts of the day, they engage the crowd, working to bridge the gap that stands between the stage and audience. Between anthems they chant and fool around, even getting the crowd to compete;  gryffindor (right side) VS slytherin (left side).
At one point Feldman exits the stage only to reappear swinging from the balcony. Still in true showman mode he continues singing whilst leaping the 18feet down to the bulging crowd below (this move was last witnessed at Slam Dunk 2009; four words- Danny Stevens, broken bones!). This time the leap is more successful and the crowd engulf Feldman, carefully carrying him back to the stage.
The 40 minute set is over far too quickly and, after asking how much time they have left, Goldfinger burst into crowd favourite "Superman".
 This was and still is the anthem to many people's youth and perfectly completes the amazing Slam Dunk mammouth set!

Francesqa are next on the bill playing over at the Atticus stage. After opening Slam Dunk last year they have developed quite a following and have a large crowd. They have a strong sound and appear focused and ready for their slot up the bill this year. 
Their set list works in harmony with the mid point of the festival; fusing more chilled out songs alongside more upbeat numbers, including newer tunes such as "October". The sound on the bigger stage in Stylus is slightly disappointing and lead singer Ashley Wilkie's gravely vocals are hard to make out at times. However, their performance still dazzles and frontman Ashelys stage presence, alongside a few cheeky dance moves, captivates the now swelling crowd. In terms of bands we recommend you keep an eye on...here they are! With just the right amount of gritty rock, interlocked with irresistably melodic choruses, this will be the band rocketing in 2011.

BEST of the REST:

...and its safe to say Slam Dunk is 10 years strong!
roll on 2012!

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