Friday 31 May 2013


All the tickets have long since sold out, the bands are ready to go and the beer is flowing from the bar, and for once the sun is beating down on Leeds which can only mean one thing; welcome to Slam Dunk North 2013.
We had a feeling that with the line-up on offer it was set to be the best year yet, and what a day it was…

MC Lars- Vans Off The Wall Stage [Riley Smith Hall]
The thing about Slam Dunk is that from the get go, as soon as the doors open, the quality of the acts on offer is second to none. This could explain why even though Californian rapper MC Lars is relatively early on the bill, the Vans Off The Wall stage is packed out, full to capacity, with a hoard of eager fans queuing at the door hoping to get in. The self-proclaimed originator of "post-punk laptop rap” is a breath of fresh air on the rap scene. You won’t find him rapping about the usual suspects of girls and money, instead literature and culture acts as his main topics. He may only have a laptop and a projector screen but Lars’ shows are quirky, engaging and fun as he shows off his impressively fast rapping skills in songs such as “Download This Song”. He even gets a crowd member up on stage to join him in the famous “Mr. Raven” based on the Edgar Allen Poe poem. No better way to get the festival going. 9/10

The Story So Far- Macbeth Footwear Stage [Stylus]
Slam Dunk 2013 has only really just begun but the crowd is well and truly warmed up and is going in to The Story So Far’s set at full force. The venue is fit to burst and the busiest it would be all day as the Walnut Creek quintet tear through songs “Roam” and “All Wrong”. Their live shows, in a relatively short period, have gained a reputation for being incredibly energetic and unforgiving; and the crowd today wouldn’t want it any other way as they crowd surf non-stop in the unrelenting heat of the crammed room. As they round things off with “What You Don’t See” the entire venue is singing back every word at front-man Parker Cannon. This appearance rounds up a sold out UK headline tour and it couldn’t have gone much better; expect to see them jumping further up the line-up very soon indeed. 9.5/10
We Are The Ocean main stage at Slam Dunk
We Are The Ocean- Kerrang! & Jagermeister Main Stage [Refectory]
The Essex four-piece have had a phenomenal past year and new album “Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow” has seen them gain even more commercial success meaning their set today on the main stage gathers quite a crowd. We Are The Ocean don’t mess round as they get stuck in to flying and aggressive opener “Trouble Is Temporary, Time Is Tonic”. Liam Cromby’s distinctive raspy vocals ease through singles such as “Bleed” and the anthemic “To Be Loved”. They are determined and aggressive and command the main stage, spurring the audience on as they sing along, note perfect. “Young Heart” concludes the set all too soon. It’s performances like this that have got them an invite to play at Radio1’s Big Weekend in Ireland, meaning that they had to unfortunately pull out of Slam Dunk South. We Are The Ocean have become synonymous with gritty live performances, musically on point and Slam Dunk North firmly cemented that reputation. 9/10

Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!- Tiger Stage [Mine]
The name alone may be intriguing enough to get you along to catch their set but the dynamic Parisians have the music and the on-stage presence to back it up. This may be their first UK show in two years, but the packed out venue on one of the smaller stages only serves to confirm this. Non stop infectious chaos ensues and it is hard not to be sucked in and it all fits into the festival feel. Urging the crowd to “open up this f*****g pit and show me what you got”, they jump straight in to the heavier and thrashy “Captain Blood”. Mixing melodic soaring choruses and deep screaming vocals Chunk! No, Captain Chunk have a raw energy and if you didn’t know who they were on entering then by the end you were completely won over. Playing mostly hits from new album “Pardon My French” they even find time to throw in a cover of Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” Why not? Anything goes apparently and the Slam Dunk crowd love it. 8/10
CLICK HERE to read our interview with Chunk! No, Captain Chunk at Slam Dunk North

Blitz Kids- Tiger Stage [Mine]
Perhaps there could be no better appropriate song to enter the stage at Slam Dunk Festival than boyband 5ive’s infamous anthem “Slam Dunk Da Funk”, and that’s just what Blitz Kids do. Good work boys and it firmly puts the crowd in an upbeat mood even before their set begins. Typical of Blitz Kids who are jokers and love a bit of banter, but importantly also have the musicianship. Opening with the infectious “You’re Dead To Me” (taken from latest EP “Never Die”) the quartet are on form this evening. Frontman Joey James thanks the crowd for coming, pointing out that they clash with Sleeping With Sirens, and as the set continues so too do the numbers in the room and deservedly so. And by the anthemic EP title track “Never Die”, mid-point in the set, the crowd are giving it their all as front man Joey goes down to greet them. As the set progresses “The Comedian” sees the entire crowd singing along in enjoyment, before ending on the soaring “On My Own”. One thing is for sure, it’s hard not to enjoy a Blitz Kid show. 7.5/10

Bury Tomorrow- Monster Energy Stage [Marquee]
The Southampton quintet takes to the stage in a packed out Monster Energy Marquee, proving that all their hard work is very much paying off. From beginning to end, the crowd is captivated and just as energetic as the five-piece on stage. Feeding off the audience and vice-versa Bury Tomorrow are passionate and aggressive from opening track “Lionheart”. Playing mostly from latest album “The Union Of Crowns” songs such as “An Honourable Reign” ignite total anarchy. With huge hooks and heavy breakdowns it isn’t hard to see why the tent is packed out. Singer Dani Winter-Bates is the perfect front-man and their fast paced high-energy set is a sign of things to come. This year is going to be a big year for the five-piece. Slam Dunk kicks off the start of a huge summer for Bury Tomorrow as they go on to play Download and then main stage Reading and Leeds. They just keep on getting better and better. 8/10
CLICK HERE to read our interview with Bury Tomorrow at Slam Dunk North

William Beckett- Keep A Breast Stage [Pulse]
He may be most well known as the front-man of the now defunct The Academy Is…but William Beckett is back and on his own and couldn’t be happier about it. He doesn’t look out of place up there without the rest of a band. Tucked away in the basement, the Keep A Breast acoustic stage is a hidden gem and his set certainly brings in the crowds. Endearing and undeniably likeable, William Beckett delivers upbeat guitar based pop songs. The crowd hang on his every command to join in or clap, as he treats fans to a mix of solo songs such as quirky “Oh, Love!” or The Academy Is classic “After The Last Midtown Show” and even throws in a slice of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak”. Slick but spontaneous, William just knows how to do it and effortlessly switches on the charm as soon as he walks on stage. He is joined by his “band in a box” (a pre-recorded selection of digital beats) that he had teased us about in the interview before the show. He also promised us a new song and he delivers. “Benny & Joon” is an upbeat stirring anthem and even though brand new it attracts the same response as more well known tracks. With his debut album out this summer there is a lot more to come from this front-man. 8.5/10
CLICK HERE to read our interview with William Beckett at Slam Dunk North
Kids In Glass Houses' Aled Phillips
Kids In Glass Houses- Kerrang! & Jagermeister Main Stage [Refectory]
Welsh rockers Kids In Glass Houses recently gave fans some new material in the form of single “Drive” and the great response it received, alongside the band’s own belief in new tracks, sees them come back to Slam Dunk with a new fighting spirit. Their set is non-stop as they tear the main stage down with tracks such as the soaring “Sunshine” and the appropriate “Saturday” which sees the entire audience clapping along. Even new single “Drive” with its retro rock sound has the audience singing back every word at front-man Aled Phillips. Kids In Glass Houses’ set marks a new era for the band and proves that they still know how to put on a show. Ending with the anthemic hit “Matters At All” it is clear to see that everyone present succumbed and undoubtedly had fun; and throwing out some giant beach balls into the crowd also helped raise the fun factor too. 8/10

Deaf Havana- Kerrang! & Jagermeister Main Stage [Refectory]
Opening with a cover of the Robbie Williams’ classic “Let Me Entertain You”, Deaf Havana start as they mean to go on and to the last note of the final song they put on an impressive show. Deaf Havana are currently riding a huge wave of success off the back of last album “Fools and Worthless Liars”. And if brand new song “Boston Square” is anything to go by they have turned things up another notch on the follow up. The classic rock feel that the new single harnesses captivates the crowd just as much as Deaf Havana classics “Leeches” and “The Past Six Years”. Joined on stage by soul singer Grace Barrett, Deaf Havana are truly set for festival season and her voice adds a new dynamic to the live show. Back and better than ever, 2013 is set to be a phenomenal year. 9/10

Memphis May Fire- Monster Energy Stage [Marquee]
Taking to the stage ahead of Monster Energy Marquee headliners Pierce The Veil, Memphis May Fire the Texas metalcore five piece come on with a fighting spirt and they certainly do not disappoint. Short, powerful opener “Without Walls” begins slow and builds and builds before sending the packed tent into a frenzy. Playing from “The Hollow” and current album “Challenger”, Memphis May Fire’s set is filled with huge hooks and intricate riffs. Songs such as “The Victim” and “Legacy” work to get the crowd moving, not that they need any encouragement. A loyal turn out proves just why Memphis May Fire feature so high up on the line-up. “Prove Me Right” packs a punch, equal in melodic and screaming elements it is a soaring closing song. Having already stated that the new tracks they’re working on are set to rival if not beat those on “Challenger” we can’t wait to hear what’s to come. 9/10
CLICK HERE to read our interview with Memphis May Fire at Slam Dunk North
All Time Love, the perfect Slam Dunk headliners
All Time Low- Kerrang! & Jagermeister Main Stage [Refectory]

They may come on stage a tad later than expected and whilst some of the crowd grow angsty for the majority it only builds the anticipation even more. And when the Maryland four-piece do make it to stage they more than make up for it.  It’s All Time Low’s first time headlining a UK festival and after tonight’s performance the first of many no doubt. Their live shows are renowned for being upbeat and energetic, and overflowing with the famous banter between Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat, and it wasn’t in short supply tonight either. “Coffee Shop Soundtrack”, “Stella” and “Lost In Stereo”, hit after hit All Time Low are on point and we wouldn’t expect anything less. The main stage is packed to bursting and every song a favourite. The roar from the crowd is deafening as they sing along and try to drown out Alex. For the few people who are seeing the band for the first time it is hard not to fall for their infectious pop-punk anthems, “For Baltimore” and “Somewhere In Neverland”. New single “Backseat Serenade” proves as much a hit as old classics. And as the quartet are called back for an encore, and Jack and Alex dive down into the crowd on finale “Dear Maria, Count Me In”, it is fair to say that All Time Low well and truly brought the house down; a perfect way to close out another successful year at the festival. Slam Dunk 2013, job well done. 10/10
CLICK HERE to read our interview with All Time Low at Slam Dunk North

Photo credit: Danny Peart Photography