Slam Dunk Festival has been a highlight of the year for moshers across the UK for over a decade now. Having started in 2005, just taking place at Leeds’ Millenium Square, the festival is now a city takeover with its main stage still being Millenium Square, whilst there are other stages in venues across the city, as well as having the festival take place in Birmingham and Hatfield on other days. The festival has always represented pop-punk, hardcore, metal and any kind of alternative music. We hit where the festival started and see some damn fine bands.
Kicking off the day is Puppy with tasty riff after tasty riff. Whether they’re playing it doomy and crushing or alt and sweet, Puppy’s tunes always kick some A because they just know their way around a solid groove, that won’t leave your head, at all times.
Next, things get sad but rad with Sorority Noise who’s bare, honest and often miserable lyrics give something anyone can relate to and see themselves in, whilst the breezy guitars give something anyone can dance to and unsurprisingly so, they have quite the turnout of people singing every word.
We go back to the 90’s with Milk Teeth, who’s sound has a lot of grunge, alt rock and even some shoegaze to it. They’re always a lively bunch and today’s no different with the members bouncing around and the crowd following suit to mucky, fun riffs.
It’s a thrillingly chaotic time for Bury Tomorrow, who’s punchy, crunchy riffs hit hard and ignite much moshing and crowdsurfing. Their songs are also very hook laden, so it’s not all violence with plenty of sing alongs.
Beartooth deliver a similarly mad set. It’s not quite the ‘craziest show you’ll ever see’ they claim it will be at the start, it’s not even the craziest show of the day, but it’s a great time none the less. Beartooth are a lot more raw and scrappy than many of their metalcore contemporaries, but they still manage to fit in some huge choruses. The likes of ‘The Lines’ and ‘In Between’ will have people slamming together, one second then all singing along the next.
Time for a change of pace with Don Broco who, in the nicest way possible, could be a boyband with how fun, catchy and carefree a lot of their songs are, but their firm rock bounce keeps that from being the case. Naturally their boyish charm has everyone jumping in jolly fashion. When they drop the old favourite, ‘Thug Workout’, it sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of their set with its mathcore stylings and sparking some of the bloodiest pits of the day.
Now on to today’s main event, Enter Shikari, and this isn’t just any Enter Shikari show. Tonight, one of Britain’s most beloved bands are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of their game-changing debut ‘Take To The Skies’, giving each track off the album an airing. This album fused dance music and hardcore so fluidly and to devastating effect, that it inspired countless bands to do the same, however none ever matched Shikari because of their sincere passion for the genres they were blending as well as their unmatched energy and memorable songwriting. Ten years later, these songs still feel like they’re heading to the future.
From the opening ‘SH*T!!!’, dazzling synths and chugging riffs of ‘Enter Shikari’ the whole of Millennium Square instantly becomes a warzone of crowdsurfing and slamming bodies. People have a lot of nostalgia over these songs and a lot of energy is served up from people’s attachments to these songs. Pretty much everyone, if not everyone was yelling ‘I just fell from the mothership’ from ‘Mothership’ and ‘The curtain goes down on him again’ from ‘Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour.’ For ‘Return To Energiser’ people are doing rave moves one moment and then throwing down the next.
You’d think the band would be sick to death of playing some of these songs, but they’re still massively into it, especially frontman Rou Reynolds, who’s constantly dancing and climbing scaffolding and such.
‘Johnny Sniper’ can still put anyone in the best mood with its uplifting keys and ‘this is all I need to feel alive’ refrain and of course, everyone still knows the iconic clap to ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner.’ As well as songs, they also get the crowd to hell a thank you to the NHS, and then the crowd start chanting ‘vote Jeremy Corbyn’ to the tune of Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. Whichever side of the political spectrum your beliefs fall on, you can’t deny that this was inspiring and beautiful. A band with a message and a belief, and their years of standing firmly by it, resulting in so many people, being united with them over it.
Slam Dunk 2017 was another winner. This festival just goes from strength the strength and continues to be a great time year after year. Bring on next year!
Watch Enter Shikari cover Half The World Away at Slam Dunk 2017:
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