Subscribe to Upset
Get Upset delivered direct to your door anywhere on the planet, every month. Get more info here.
In the mag...
Featuring Employed To Serve, Thrice, State Champs, Twin Atlantic and more
Order a copy
October 2021
Festival

Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021

The pop-punk two-dayer is back with a bill packed full of top bands.
Published: 12:09 pm, September 09, 2021Words: Alex Bradley. Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021

Good things come to those who wait. As Slam Dunk returns at Temple Newsam in Leeds and Hatfield Park, those words have never been more true.

US bands like NOFX, Alkaline Trio, State Champs and Mayday Parade all manage to make it safely over, much to the credit of the festival and the bands themselves. Waterparks, who have been in the UK an extra week for Reading & Leeds, make it for Slam Dunk North but miss the southern leg due to a positive test in their ranks.

Of course, the line-up is much changed from the original list that featured Sum 41 as headliners. Still, there's a core that remains with a slew of homegrown talent and the opportunity for While She Sleeps and Boston Manor to headline their respective stages, Funeral for a Friend to make a long-awaited return and McFly to make a special guest appearance.

But before the music starts, the unescapable COVID measures are, thankfully, easy enough to navigate with vaccine passports for the double jabbed and proof of negative tests for everyone else coming at the expense of the festival wristband, which has been ditched for hygiene reasons and to speed up entry.

In the end, the only thing fans on the Sunday in Hatfield are longing for (apart from sun cream) is a Bank Holiday Monday, which normally helps when the festival takes place in May.

So, here are some of the notable mentions from Slam Dunk's return.

Blood Youth

"After this weekend, I might not be in the band, but Blood Youth continues forever," promises Kaya Tarsus as the frontman makes his final appearances in the band. As if to prove their plans for the future, Blood Youth rifle through new singles' Cell' and 'Iron Lung' as they build towards the release of their third album before the end of the year.

Loathe

Loathe are in complete command as they further state their claim as the most exciting metalcore band around. Whether it's the crushing weight of 'Aggressive Evolution' or the hypnotic and melodic 'Two-Way Mirror', all eyes are on Kadeem France as he stalks the stage in a completely mesmerising performance.

ROAM

It doesn't take long for bouncy pop-punk to take over on the Main Stage, and ROAM bring it in spades. With the crowd more than ready to have a bop, tunes like 'Alive', 'Flatline' and 'Playing Fiction' are the perfect excuse to let loose.

Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Creeper

Despite theories, Creeper don't burst into flames in the afternoon sunshine but instead command the Main Stage without any of their usual lights and fireworks. Will Gould holds the crowd in the palm of his hand as he conducts them through the theatrical and campy 'Cyanide' and leaves them hanging on his every word during 'Misery'. Undoubtedly they're a special band, but still able take it up another level when Will shares the spotlight with keyboardist Hannah Hermione for their duet of the blockbuster new single 'Midnight'.

Trash Boat

"Slam Dunk show me something," demands Tobi Duncan as Trash Boat show off their new album 'Don't You Feel Amazing?'. While the harder edge of their new tracks 'Silence is Golden' and 'Bad Entertainment' (which features an appearance from As Everything Unfolds' Charlie Rolfe) have pockets of fans, it's more poppy numbers 'Tring Quarry' and 'Strangers' where the crowd really get into gear.

Wargasm

Hotly-tipped and fresh off their Heavy Music Awards nip-slip bullshit, Wargasm continue their streak of winning over every crowd they play to. Their set kicks off bulging with chaotic energy as Sam Matlock and Milkie Way tear around the stage, but as they settle into the groove with new tune 'Salma Hayek' and a cover of N.E.R.D's 'Lapdance', it becomes apparent that Wargasm's bite matches their bark.

Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Funeral for a Friend

Funeral for a Friend roll back the years as they make their return at Slam Dunk. There's nothing synthetic or dated as the Welsh legends rip through half an hour that ticks off all their biggest hits. 'Roses for the Dead' hits with the same vigour as a band playing it for the very first time, much to the delight of the sweaty tent, and all the revellers spilling out around the sides.

Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Mayday Parade

The sunshine in Leeds appears for 20 minutes during the whole day as Mayday Parade introduce 'It's Hard to be Religious…', and leaves again as they finish their set with 'Oh Well, Oh Well', which feels completely befitting of such a wholesome offering.

Old favourites like 'Jamie All Over' were made for the sun-kissed Slam Dunk Main Stage and provide a standout moment for the festival, while fresher cuts like 'First Train' and 'It Is What It Is' get their debut and show Mayday Parade still have what it takes to make anthems for sad kids.

Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Vukovi

Vukovi delight with one of the most energetic sets of the day. "Let's bring this to the next fucking level," orders singer Janine Shilstone before sighing "I'm fucked," as she yo-yos in and out of the crowd as if to hand-deliver the energy that was onstage. With their festival set a well-oiled machine of hits, Vukovi smash out 'SLO', 'Animal' and round off with 'La Di Da', which includes some high kicks from Wargasm's Milkie Way for good measure.

State Champs

Despite having not played a show in two years, State Champs show no sign of losing their championship title as they show off all their best party tunes.

Their bright but bruising pop-punk blasts of 'All You Are Is History' and 'Criminal' are met with the same enthusiasm as new single 'Just Sound' and brand new track 'Outta My Head', which is greeted with a circle pit of approval from the energetic crowd.

Waterparks

Clashing with festival stalwarts Alkaline Trio in Leeds, and then a positive test in their camp so cancelling for Day 2, means it's a tough weekend for Waterparks. Those who do get to see them are not left disappointed as they put on a vibrant set. With a light show to match their hair dye, the trio make a statement on the here and now of rock music with 'I Miss Having Sex But at Least I Don't Want to Die Anymore' really capturing that moment in the middle of their set.

Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Alkaline Trio

Alkaline Trio welcome a huge crowd to the Punk in Drublic Stage as they dust off some old favourites with the late afternoon sunshine in their eyes. Overcoming some early bass problems to play the hits, the trio come across too cool to enjoy themselves. "Congratulations for surviving COVID," Matt Skiba jokes, dryly, as they kick into 'Armageddon' and nobody laughs.

While She Sleeps

Walking out to headline the Jagermeister Stage to cries of "Yorkshire! Yorkshire!" from the baying crowd, it only takes the cry of "SLEEPS SOCIETY" to send them into an absolute frenzy.

While She Sleeps' hour-long set is destined for bigger headline slots as Loz and co finally bring their latest album to their home county. With many of his friends and family in the sweat-soaked crowd, the singer doesn't let them off the hook once as he constantly demands more from the audience willing to oblige him to the very end.

Holding Absence

The nicest rock band around have no reason why they won't be headlining festivals in the next few years. Only a few months on from their second album, the plaudits have not stopped for Holding Absence, and as the evening descends, they seize the opportunity to show off the best of 'The Greatest Mistake of My Life'.

Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Good things come to those who wait - here's the best of what we saw at Slam Dunk 2021
Boston Manor

They promise "no breathers" and duly deliver as they headline The Key Club Stage. New single 'Carbon Mono' comfortably stands shoulder to shoulder with 'Brand New Kids' and 'You, Me & the Class War' as tracks doused in white-hot anger. Rounding off with 'Halo', the Blackpool band are going from strength to strength and show no signs of slowing down.

CONTACT PRIVACY ADVERTISE

© 2018 The Bunker Publishing