Slam Dunk Festival 2016 got underway in Leeds on Saturday, celebrating it’s 10th anniversary with an impressive line up that included the likes of The Story So Far, Mallory Knox and Young Guns as well as main stage headliner Panic! At The Disco.
Boasting a history of headliners that includes Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, and You Me At Six, Slam Dunk Festival enjoyed a tenth straight year in Leeds with a typically brilliant line up.
Originally only taking place in Leeds, the festival added it’s southern counterpart in 2010 and in 2013 it became the three-day event it is today with an added event in the Midlands.
Saturday in Yorkshire was the opening day of the festival, which later takes its line-up to Birmingham and Hatfield over the remainder Bank Holiday weekend.
On a personal level, it was my first visit to Slam Dunk and I was hugely excited to kick off festival season in style.
And there was to be no slow start to the days music as Moose Blood and Young Guns kicked off the action on the main stage in Millenium Square.
Attracting a large and boisterous crowd for their 1:30pm set, Canterbury-based Moose Blood proved ideal openers as they got the crowd going with tracks that included ‘Honey’ from their upcoming album.
Young Guns followed with their first show in many months, rocking a setlist that spanned their entire career – from debut album track ‘Winter Kiss’ to brand-new song ‘Bulletproof’, before concluding with fan-favourites ‘Bones’ and ‘I Want Out’.
Providing the main stage with its first taste of America was Mayday Parade who, fronted by Derek Sanders, performed an entertaining set that included ‘When You See My Friends’, ‘Three Cheers For Five Years’ and ‘Black Cat’.
A total of eight stages across the city centre offered something for everyone, and it was at the intimate acoustic stage that I watched my next act of the day.
Irish duo Greywind showed signs of big potential with a set that included the songs ‘Afterthought’ and ‘Forest Ablaze’ as Steph O’Sullivan’s powerful vocals filled up the Baa Bar venue.
Returning to the main stage in anticipation of Mallory Knox, I expected to first see Florida band Yellowcard concluding their set.
As one of the most anticipated parts of the day for many, the rock band were supposed to be performing their album ‘Ocean Avenue’ in full. However, some unknown technical issues meant they arrived on stage around half an hour late, leaving them only with enough time left to play a ‘best of’ the album. For fans of the band it was a big disappointment, but to their credit Yellowcard made the best of a difficult situation and did their upmost to entertain the crowd with the limited time they had left.
Up next was Cambridge alternative band Mallory Knox, who were my final main stage band of the day.
Arriving on stage, appropriately on the day of the final, to the Champions League theme song, the band performed the likes of ‘Shout At The Moon’, ‘Death Rattle’ and the more sombre ‘Getaway’ before closing one of the best sets of the day with fan-favourite ‘Lighthouse’.
I now ventured up to the ‘Fresh Blood Stage’, located in the Leeds Beckett University Student Union bar, expecting to see the band New Year’s Day. However, in an apparent change to the times listed, I instead ended up seeing Creeper, a band who describe themselves as ‘horror punk’, and they were an entertaining alternative with their heavy sound and crowdsurfing contests!
My final journey of the day was to the O2 Academy ready to watch their headliners The Story So Far – the expected festival clashes leaving me with a difficult choice between them and fellow stage headliners Of Mice and Men or Panic! At The Disco.
Before ‘TSSF’ hit the stage however, California melodic-hardcore group Set Your Goals warmed up the crowd in tremendous fashion, closing their powerful performance with ‘To Be Continued…’ and ‘Mutiny!’
Finally, a memorable first Slam Dunk Festival for myself was brought to a superb end by fellow California band The Story So Far – the pop-punk group, fronted by Parker Cannon, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with songs including ‘Empty Space’, ‘Things I Can’t Change’ and ‘Roam’ before being roared back for an encore of ‘High Regard’.