NORTH
Leeds, Saturday 25th May 2019

WORDS: ADAM HOPKIN

12:00 – After getting Nothern Rails pop punk express to Leeds, we decided to ride in style by hitching a buggy ride from production to the press area, the smell of pizza and the wind in our hair, this was a slam dunk in festival commuting.

1:00pm Knocked Loose (8) – kicking things off to a rabid crowd, Kentucky’s finest, Knocked Loose welcomed Slam Dunk into the Dog House, with vocalist Bryan Garris’ signature barks giving a visceral edge to the outfit’s brutal hardcore, showing these guys have a bite to match.

1.45 Busted (7) – At this point I still wasn’t 100% sure who was playing the secret set over the weekend, that was until an avalanche of a flannel shirts went by screaming “ITS BUSTED”, after disembarking the hype train It might not have been the year 3000 but this set provided all the nostalgia of the early noughtie’s to an overflowing Key Club stage.

2:10 – Turnstile (9) – Maximum energy hardcore outfit Turnstile went all out, sweating through each of their high octane tracks with an enthusiastic stage presence somewhere between Freddie mercury and an 80’s Gene Simmons exercise VHS tape.

5:15- Employed To Serve (8) – In complete contrast to the queues for the festival bars and ATM, Employed to Serve’s brutal, energetic brand of metal core got people moving at a teeth gritting pace. Running through the recently released full length, Eternal Forward motion the only harsh truth here was that the set was all too short.

5:45 – Microwave (7) – Somewhat trapped at the key club stage thanks to the torrential rain, all our worries are soon washed away by our very own lazy day emo rock soundtrack. Sure it’s nowhere near as much as a sweat fest as the other acts but Nathan Hardy’s melancholy musings delivered a wholesome highlight of the day.

6:40 – Touche Amore (8) – Melodic hardcore piece Touche Amore provide a serious dose of instrumentally distorted emotions to a dedicated crowd at the Dickies stage. Despite the weather the melodic hardcore legends pulled a sizable audience. No that’s not tears running down my poncho, it’s the rain, no shut up you’re crying.

SOUTH
Hatfield, Sunday 26th May 2019

WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON

Picture this. It’s 12pm at Slam Dunk. Weather is warm with a pleasant cooling breeze. And there’s already a very drunk and slightly overweight middle aged bloke openly pissing in the pit at the Dickies Stage. It’s gonna be one of those kinda days.

A couple of minutes later, MILK TEETH (7) hit the stage. It’s a tough early set for the trio but some of the crowd are already warmed up. “Is anyone drunk yet?” Becky asks, to numerous cheers and shouts in response. What follows is an upbeat, punky set relying mostly on their livelier numbers, with relatively new guitarist Em Foster (of Nervus) showing how well she’s slotted into the group. The three of them gel together perfectly.

It’s just a shame the pit wasn’t as lively as it could be, unlike the crowd for ANTI-FLAG (8) who seemed a bit more awake. Opening up with a singalong chant for ‘Die For Your Government’ people were eagerly weaving through the crowd immediately to try and get to the front, which soon opened up into a circle pit, people going crazy throughout the slick, well delivered set.

“I feel so emo right now,” someone said in the crowd while waiting for AS IT IS (7) to come on. Same, bro, same. Taking us all back to 2005 with his son of Gerard Way look, Patty Walters roused up the crowd with some old school classics as well as some newer numbers, including a reimagined version of ‘The Question The Answer’ in a hardcore style (pretty well done too).

Hundreds packed the tent at the Impericon Stage to watch THE BRONX (9) frontman Matt Caughthran put himself in the centre of a wall of death and generally cause some “English chaos” as he put it. The New York four piece played a solid no nonsense set, killing it as they always do. An amazing live band delivering what they do best.

Relative newcomer GRANDSON (8) was the surprise hit of the day. The Canadian rocker has been bubbling under the surface of the radar for a while but his hardcore fanbase was out in full force today and going absolutely crazy for him. He and his band commanded the stage with ease, bouncing around the place like he was born to do it. Watch out for this guy cause he’s only gonna get bigger, and his music’s pretty good too.

ALL TIME LOW (7) of course had the longest set of the day and at times it felt almost too long, but they delivered on all the old favourites and caused some serious nostalgia amongst the crowd, a few people literally crying. They also played a brand new song and demanded everyone dance to it like it was their “favourite song in the world”. Alex Gaskarth seemed incredibly relaxed and at ease on stage, cracking jokes and having fun with the jubilant crowd. The rain had been on and off all day although the weather had stayed relatively good, and by the time these guys came on, there was an incredible rainbow in the sky. A beautiful end to a beautiful day.

See you all next year!

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