Slam Dunk Festival 2021 Review

So Slam Dunk Festival got moved around a handful of times and nearly didn’t happen but our prayers were answered and everything got to happen as scheduled!

They came out on top but they ultimately had to lose a number of bands due to covid restrictions but…. do we really need to complain? The show went on at both dates in Leeds and Hatfield as scheduled!

The day was in a nutshell, inspiring, exhilarating and emotional to say the least where in fact for some bands for the first time since the pandemic began to a fully live audience!

Okay so firstly just getting there, everything ran without a hitch. With the coach service to the festival running more smoothly everything was off to a good start.

When the floodgates opened shall we say…. there was just an absolute collective rush of energy which had been building for the last eighteen months. People running off to get their spot for their favourite bands, such. sight!

So after the little work of figuring out who to go see, first up on the day was The Key Club stage with For You The Moon. The newcomers to the scene did get people going, even if they were on the softer side of things for the day but it made me all the more hungry to want more from them. Speeding over to the Jägermeister stage for the the end of Blood Youth, you could feel the energy in the pits as well as the emotion for what was would be what was frontman Kaya Tarsus’s last show with the band. Who can blame them for a YOKRSHIRE chant? What I was quite surprised by was how full that crowd was because I don’t think the tent was less than half full for a single band on the day! Way to show your support people!

Shifting across back to The Key Club Stage for the The Hara, this was a band full of energy and genuine craziness.They’re one band on the day which just gave me everything I wanted and more which fed in well over to Doll Skin, with some powerful tracks at their disposal and one performance that is simple but it works so well, with a few acrobatics on it as well. Leading into the special guests which were… (drumroll please) MCFLY! Quite a few people were surprised to say the least but I found myself quite shocked at how heavy they sounded considering they’re quite a more pop orientated band. But realistically, they have to book McBusted for next year right?? It’s the only logical option.

After a little food and watching As It Is from the grass on the Rock Scene Stage I did manage to catch Creeper where they prove just how far they’ve come over the years. Last time they set the festival alight and they’re carrying on that trajectory and I give it maybe five years or so and they could be potential headliners to the whole thing.

Moving back over for The Key Club stage in Static Dress, I do have to say they were a little disappointing not really hitting the mark because of technical difficulties plaguing their set where they compensated with the amount of energy from frontman Olli Appleyard.

It was from this point, I ran into a few problems. The first was being for Funeral For A Friend as well as Trash Boat because I honestly couldn’t get into the Jägermeister Stage! Now it’s amazing to see that there was so many people off to watch them but I don’t think the festival organisers were anticipated the crowd. Nevertheless, I managed to hear a few tracks while I was talking to one or two people and honestly, it was exquisite.

Heading across for the highlight of the festival over to the Rock Scene Stage (even though they were plagued by twenty minutes of technical difficulties) and making their first appearance of a band for six years were We Are The In Crowd. Now I’m not going to lie, thirty seconds into their set, I was nearly in tears, mainly because it felt so good to have this band back, and also because they opened with The Best Thing (That Never Happened) and that song is just so great to listen to.

Now, moving back quickly for the last of Wargasm as well as Lizzy Farrall over on The Key Club stage, there was plenty of energy about again where the terrible twosome of vocals for Wargasm were nothing short of amusing yet amazing. There’s something always so atmospherically charged when they take to the stage and oh so amazing to watch where I’m pretty sure there was a music-gasm during their set but we’ll let the audience decide on that one..

Now onto Lizzy Farrall, one of the festival veterans having played multiple times where previously the artist has only played acoustically here but with her full band debut it’s always so utterly fantastic to watch her play. It feels as if the release of her record ‘Bruise’ really stepped up her game where her sass and banter just come out in full force.

Moving across back to the Rock Scene Stage for State Champs, I wasn’t sure what to expect really but for them the performance was just effortless. They got into the swing of things so quickly and had people up and down as if it was too easy for them. with he added tracks to their catalogue of ‘Just Sound’ and ‘Outta My Head’, these only helped strengthen the emotion of their set just in time for some crowdsurfing.

Rushing back across to The Key Club Stage for the last few tracks in Normandie’s set, the Sweedish band show you they show you why they deserve your attention. Fans will know their music is a lot of build and not just rise and fall where the vocals of Phillip Strand just add to the experience of what you’re witnessing.

Last up on The Key Club Stage were Holding Absence, the Welsh protégées who’ve refined their sound into what Post-hardcore is and when ‘Celebration Song’ hit all I heard was people going absolutely crazy for them and possibly a few pits, I’m fifty-fifty on what I saw there. Nevertheless, their performance showcased the melodic genius of their latest record, ‘The Greatest Mistake Of My Life’ which is uplifted byhow much love they’re getting from the crowd that’s come to watch.

Don Broco were the last band of mine to watch on the day and honestly, one I was looking forward to the most where it’s safe to say that I didn’t leave disappointed with the band putting out some variety across their now lengthy catalogue of tracks. With the production of their set, no expense was too little with laser displays as well as pyro sparking up, and even the inclusion of Waterparks’ Awsten Knight and While She Sleeps’ Loz Taylor joining the band on stage for the UK live debut of Action. Some tracks you just wish you could see live again because as you hear it in another way it stays with you and that’s exactly what the band did with Automatic, Technology and more.

Despite the technical difficulties through the day, it felt so good to be back at Temple Newsman and now next year, hopefully some of the bands which had to pull out can make it back and we can watch in full force with more madness!

Don’t forget check out the pics I took from the crowds below!

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