Review: Slam Dunk Festival 2017

Rou Reynolds, frontman of Enter Shikari asks, “Are you all feeling suitably nostalgic?”. While the Main Stage crowd roars back, the affirmation feels something like a simple answer because actually, no, as they rattle through their decade-old debut album ‘Take To The Skies’ it actually feels more relevant than ever before.

With the lights and lasers, a markedly improved sound system and the comfort of playing in front arena sized crowds on a daily basis, it felt like ‘Take To The Skies’ was being given the live airing it deserved and came a far cry from its original touring in dingy academies back in 2007.

But then, the headline slot at Slam Dunk Festival was always going to be a fitting tribute to Enter Shikari’s seminal electronicore album but it also acted as the climatic ending to a monumental day of bands across all 8 stages.

The Signature Brew Stage, at least for the early part of the day, was where it was at. The melodic – metal fun of Puppy and grungy power of Milk Teeth were great introductions to the festival with each band effortlessly proving why they are regarded as amongst the most exciting upcoming bands on the UK rock scene.

For those looking to escape the humid Leeds weather, The Key Club Stage offered both air-con and Decade who showed off their latest album ‘Pleasantries’.

The gorgeous site out on Millennium Square, home to the Main Stage, hosted Crossfaith who cover The Prodigy before We Are The Ocean continued their farewell with a Greatest Hits performance. At the same time, over on the Uprawr Stage (don’t let the name fool you), acoustic sets from Brandon Reilly and Vinnie Caruana were both charming and hungover in equal measure.

With the afternoon cantering towards the evening, Turnover were as sun kissed as their guitar tones over the Signature Brew Stage. Counteract that with Counterfeit who were hidden away in the depths of the Impericon Stage with all the distortion and high kicks you could stomach.

While many built their own ska adventure with Zebrahead, Goldfinger, Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake on the Fireball Stage, back over on the Jagermeister Stage (these stages have a theme it seems) both Beartooth and Don Broco proved they could easily headline the in the near future aided by guest appearances from Crossfaith and Bury Tomorrow respectively.

Deaf Havana didn’t seem to draw much of a crowd and, in turn, the band only seemed enthusiastic about songs from their latest album; the lift that came with their new single ‘Sing’ was painfully obvious.

Back to the action, Citizen flipped between dreamy and aggressive equally before a punchy performance from Frank Iero and The Patience. Old school punk kings The Movielife kindly explained who they were to the eager fans waiting for Neck Deep over on The Monster Energy Stage while tearing through some of their old punk hits. At the same time, The Bronx smashed it over Signature Brew Stage. Frontman Matt Caughtran spent much of the time kicking it in the crowd during a set which previewed some music from their upcoming new album.

As the day reached its close, many found themselves living it up with Bowling For Soup and Neck Deep but there was no place better to be than with Enter Shikari at the Main Stage.

Opening at a blistering pace with ‘Enter Shikari’ and ‘Mothership’, it felt like slipping into an old pair of shoes; not just for the frenzied crowd but for the band too who seemed to be having just as much fun. The band only deviated slightly from ‘Take To The Skies’ with some inspired inclusions with ‘The Last Garrison’, ‘Juggernauts’ and ‘Anaethetist’ intersecting the set list.

A brief segue into politics didn’t feel too contrived but did result in Jeremy Corbyn’s name being chanted. Another poignant moment came with Rou’s heartfelt tribute to the victims of Manchester attack in which Shikari lead into ‘Adieu’ with a cover of Oasis’s ‘Half A World Away’.

Wrapping up the show with ‘Redshift’ back to back with ‘Okay, Time For Plan B’, Enter Shikari brought Slam Dunk Festival to fitting close.

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