Slam Dunk Festival 2012 @ Leeds University

Posted by vibrations on 27-06-12

Returning for its seventh incarnation, it seems a lifetime ago since I attended the first ever Slam Dunk Festival way back in 2006. How things have changed.

It’s nice to see that from a single stage out on Millennium Square this annual celebration of all things Pop Punk has now matured into a fully fledged takeover of the numerous venues contained within Leeds University. With temperatures soaring into the 20s, there’s one thing the day promises to deliver: Sweat. Buckets of it.

First up, on the Vans ‘Off The Wall’ stage (whatever that means) Marmozets seemed to thrive in the mid afternoon heat. Their blend of noise was a welcome distraction from the fact the band appeared barely old enough to leave the house without an accompanying adult. Nevertheless, an impressive show that combined both technical prowess and raw force.

Moving into the Refectory, there was just time to catch Lower Than Atlantis give their best Foo Fighters impersonation with a medley of ‘Everlong’, ‘The Pretender’ and ‘All My Life’. An unexpected treat, but one you couldn’t help but feel surpassed, and consequently undermined, the rest of the Watford based quartet’s set of melodic hardcore.

Say Anything followed, and on a rare visit to the UK delivered a well balanced mix of material from their recent effort Anarchy, My Dear, as well as fan favourites such as ‘Woe’, ‘Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too’ and closer ‘Alive With The Glory Of Love’. Frontman Max Bemis was in noticeable high spirits, barely pausing for breath throughout their 45 minute outing. The only disappointment? That they only played 45 minutes.

It came as no surprise that Motion City Soundtrack followed up with a hit filled set, perfectly timed to re-energise those starting to feel the strain. A sample of new material from their forthcoming fifth album Go, was a welcome addition, although the biggest cheers were saved for the likes of ‘Her Words Destroyed My Planet’, ‘The Future Freaks Me Out’ and the inevitable climax of ‘Everything Is Alright’.

A trip down through a labyrinth of corridors saw The Story So Far play an utterly rammed Mine. The San Francisco quintet; who are on the verge of a major breakthrough following the success of last year’s effort Under Soil And Dirt and recent tours with The Wonder Years, gave security a run for their money inspiring plenty of stagediving and crowdsurfing antics in and amongst the chaos. Next time they’re back at Slam Dunk you can guarantee they’ll be on a much, much bigger stage.

Before the headliners, there was time to nip across to the Punktastic Acoustic stage to catch Into It. Over It., offering up some much needed respite. While acoustic sets are certainly nothing new, it was a pleasure to see singer Evan Weiss put his own spin on the format, introducing each song with a short and often hilarious anecdote.

Back to the Refectory and, despite a thirty minute delay, there was no denying that Taking Back Sunday have earned their headline slot, consistently delivering for well over a decade. A career-spanning set saw the band draw heavily from their much loved debut Tell All Your Friends  with ‘You Know How I Do’ and ‘You’re So Last Summer’  met with rapturous applause, alongside material from more recent efforts including ‘El Paso’ and ‘Faith (When I Let You Down)’. While it was by no means a perfect set – technical issues causing Adam Lazzara’s mic to frequently cut out, and questions about the frontman’s ability to perform after sustaining a shattered leg back in March – Taking Back Sunday gave a thrilling and frantic outing. It may not have been quite as polished as some may have been expecting, but it provided a fitting end to a hot, sweaty, but above all fun day. I’m already looking forward to Slam Dunk 2018.

Tom Bailey

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