Festival Review: Slam Dunk 2019

Slam Dunk North moved into its new home at Temple Newsam this weekend with the leafy surroundings and grand manor as its backdrop the festival felt it had finally grown-up.

Having lost the Midlands leg of Slam Dunk and moving away from the city centre in Leeds had felt like an risky punt to take by the organisers but, after first seeing the site, it felt like a dream had been fully realised.

The new site is compact but brilliantly efficient with stages side by side (yeah, I know!) so that as one band finishes the other can start straight away. The Dickies Stage stood next to the Marshall Stage so fans could scuttle sideways between Tiny Moving Parts to Trophy Eyes and then back again for Tigers Jaw. Or on the Impericon Stage, when the final barbed wire soaked scream of The Bronx rang out, the first note of Story of the Year took flight on the Jagermeister Stage directly behind. It was the product of some seamless planning, ingenuity and a bit of good luck that it all worked out.

That said, it being quite so seamless meant there was little time to breathe between bands on a line-up bursting with huge names. Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

With so much to fit in, Slam Dunk made sure to not to forget where it came from as William Ryan Key kicking off proceedings with a set made up entirely of acoustic Yellowcard hits which were swiftly polarised by Milk Teeth’s grungy punk fire on the stage next door.

The Punk in Drublic Stage kept up Slam Dunk’s appeal for the punk and ska lovers but took it to new heights with its own designated festival within a festival. And, that, is what Slam Dunk’s new home was all about: Slam Dunk but bigger and better than ever.

Surprise guests (kinda) Busted were a curveball of throwback pop hits from a band looking to be credible in the rock scene sandwiched between real rising stars in Hot Milk, Wallflower and Press To Meco on The Key Club Stage.

The rising stars weren’t just confided to the smaller stages either with WSTR and the balaclava-wearing Boston Manor grasping their chance by the throat on the Main Stage.

Sad songs were complimented perfectly as rain fell for Tigers Jaw and Real Friends but the storm was brewing over on the Impericon Stage with the triple threat chaos of Cancer Bats, The Bronx and Gallows capped off by the swaggering, technical, post-hardcore craftsmanship of Glassjaw.

NOFX wrapped up the Punk in Drublic Stage, Bullet For My Valentine brought the Jagermeister Stage to its knees and The Menzingers’s had the last word on Dickies Stage but the bulk of the Slam Dunk crowd could be found at the bottom of the hill (no one mentioned that scope of that hill beforehand by the way) with All Time Low closing out the festival.

Those headliners alone are a sign of the ambition Slam Dunk has for its future. Pepper in Main Stage acts like New Found Glory, Waterparks and Neck Deep and there are future line-up toppers in the making.

The move to Temple Newsam was an ambitious one and the line-up was equally aspiring but they managed to pull it off without a hitch. It was intense but it was worth it with the bands on offer the most varied but well established they have ever offered. Slam Dunk is here to stay. I guess this is growing up.

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