Slam Dunk 2018 went a long way to restoring faith in pop punk music with some of the best upcoming bands and old favourites tearing it up all day in Leeds.
The festival took a chance this year, doing what so many others struggle with, and handed big slots out to bands on the up and in doing so, secured the long term success of the festival as the place for the hottest talent to get a deserved spot on the biggest stages.
It was The Dangerous Summer opening the Main Stage in Millennium Square as Knuckle Puck brought to life their astounding sophomore album ‘Shapeshifter’ over on the Jagermeister Stage. Scottish hotshots Woes kicked off a day pop-punk fun on the Signature Stage which included other rising stars like Can’t Swim, Homesafe, ROAM and Trash Boat who improvised an acoustic performance of ‘Wonderwall’ after a power outage.
The Jagermeister Stage, confusingly found up at the Arena, was packed out for a set delivered at breakneck speed from Four Year Strong with the most ferocious tracks being callbacks to their ‘Rise Or Dying Trying’ album.
As the afternoon took shape, the return of The Audition and the pop fun off Say Anything brought the sunshine out on the Monster Energy Stage while back at the arena both Creeper and State Champs looked right at home on the huge stage.
When the early evening arrived, it was the best of British all over Leeds with ROAM showing what its like to go from punters to owning their stage in just a matter of years at the same time the very dapper looking Twin Atlantic and Lower Than Atlantis tore it up in the main square. But, the king of British rockstars could be found over in the arena with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes serving up a devastating display of hardcore brilliance.
The main support slots across all the top 6 stages were full of huge clashes with the triumphant return of Me vs Hero, Aussie heavyweights Northlane and L.A. punk kings Goldfinger, emo beauties Taking Back Sunday and heralded electro-rockers PVRIS. For those who did find TBS in on the Monster Energy Stage, they were treated to the effortlessly cool Adam Lazzara and all his microphone twirling glory busting out some newer hits before rounding off their set with ‘Cute Without The E’ and ‘MakeDamnSure’.
As the ska stage wrapped up with Reel Big Fish and the hardcore stage closed with Every Time I Die, it seemed like a more tame end to the day on the bigger stages with a set waiting for ‘The Middle’ from Jimmy Eat World and a solid performance from Good Charlotte where all the hits came glistening with nostalgia.
In the blink of an eye, that was it for another year at Slam Dunk. With a line-up piled with insane great new bands, the headliners felt a little less blockbuster than what was expected. But still, the festival continues to grow and so does the collection of out of this world talent underpinning those names that top the bill.