Well its finally come to the point where I feel human again after the weekend… Starbucks might be partly responsible on that front though!
This weekend saw it being what I always see as my favourite weekend of the year – Slam Dunk Festival! Traditionally for me its been the time when the old group from uni get back together, see bands drink beers and have a great day. This year was no exception. The numbers were not quite the same but the day was still primed and ready to go.
So this year I was more excited than most… smaller numbers make decisions easier, rounds more sensible, generally a good vibe.
First up, transit (first for us anyway). Now normally the pop punk bands were on a little stage, which was pretty cool but obviously you have to fight to see anything, and if you’re away from the main floor the sound quality is awful. Not so this year. On the stylus stage at Leeds University where bands like alkaline trio and everytime i die have slayed it in recent years, the bands I love pulled in some serious crowds. Anyway transit impressed me, and maybe converted me a little. Don’t get me wrong I liked a few songs before and I’d seen them support Man Overboard years ago (and play in some dudes living room). However I had recently given New Young England a few plays and I have to say as a band they have definitely grown (in general and on me) they held the crowd well and played a pretty sweet set.
I’ve seen The Story So Far a few times in the past year and usually in smaller environments. I have to say they owned the stage, and crowd lapped it up. They played a tight set with the energy that I’ve come to associate with them, and there was a genuine connection with the crowd. We could barely get into the main bit of the crowd for these guys at first, which surprised me (in a good way), but a great set full of energy and singalongs was exactly the thing I needed to get me going! I can’t even pick a high point because the set was littered with classics!
Next up was Man Overboard. Now I love these guys don’t get me wrong, but I have to say I was left a little cold (love your friends die laughing & rare aside). Maybe it was because we decided to chill on the sidelines above the main crowd but I just get the feeling this band works much better in a smaller room. Though maybe this is because the other two had left so much to live upto.
Fireworks were next on the list for us, and this was something I was genuinely buzzing about. I haven’t see these guys in three years as that’s how long they’d been away, and they didn’t disappoint! Weirdly the crowds thinned out for this… I honestly wasn’t disappointed, we got right under Dave MacKinder and it was electric. It was the first time I had heard any of gospel live and I wasn’t disappointed! The wild bunch is one of my personal favourites, and was amazing live. hey put on such a tight performance and seem like genuinely likeable people. Thoroughly impressed!
We factored in a little time for Polar bear club after fireworks, as per usual they didn’t disappoint – although personally the songs I saw when I caught them save a couple weren’t ones I knew well or particularly like, but I guess that’s my fault not theirs! They played screams in caves and burned out in a jar, which always sound brilliant live!
And then there was the wonder years… I’m sure if you’ve read anything I’ve written anywhere, seen my last fm charts or my twitter you’ll know my thoughts on these guys. So this was the first time they’d played new stuff here. I have to say its only been a year or so since I last saw them, but wow these guys seem to just get tighter and grow as a live band. Kicking off with passing through a screen door and just ripping through everything they did, the crowd was absolutely loving it, and so was I! Personal high points for me have to be the Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves and All My Friends are in bar bands – I mean who can’t get a shiver down their spine when the wonder years are on stage with the Dave Mckinder, Nik from man overboard, matty from a loss for words all getting on the I’m not sad anymore bit? AMAZING!
In between this and our headliner, we had some down time, no one really jumped out that we were keen to see. We caught some of senses fail, which I have to say I used to really like (the albums still searching and life is not a waiting room I really enjoyed). However not sure whether it was because they followed on from the wonder years, or whether it was in the small room i mentioned before, but it didn’t really do anything for me, the sound was pretty off and by this point I was ready fro a burger a beer and quick breather!
Then came headline time (after the essential items mentioned before). I picked Andrew McMahon, because I’ve always been a huge fan of him, gutted I never saw him in something corporate but in his Jack’s Mannequin days I was a fan and caught him a couple of times. So picture the scene, tiny room, a dude and a piano. Personally I was in my absolute element! It may have been tightly packed and sweaty but it was the most amazing thing I have seen in a long while. He kicked off with the mixed tape and alternated between something corporate and jacks mannequin songs, with one of his own new ones for good measure. I cannot recommend catching this guy live enough. Oh and he played Konstantine… I had seen this on set lists but I wasn’t going to have belief in hearing it until he did… that was a pretty special moment for me if I’m honest.
Overall, I’m a slam dunk veteran and i think this was my favourite one of all time… good luck topping that next year!