Slam Dunk festival review – crowdsurfing in a dinghy to pop-punk paradise

Various venues, Leeds
Thousands of devotees descended on the alt-rock festival, lapping up everything from Chapel’s synthpop to Brutality Will Prevail’s anvil-heavy riffing

Slam Dunk has come a long way from its origins as a club night in Leeds’ now defunct Cockpit. A staple fixture in the alternative rock calendar, the festival runs over three days at three sites – Leeds, Birmingham and Hatfield in Hertfordshire – with a travelling bill of more than 50 bands across eight stages. Leeds’ unsuspecting Saturday-afternoon shoppers must have thought the heat was making them see things as the city centre was invaded by 17,000 fans in various forms of punkish apparel, sporting everything from green hair to banana costumes, with a bright yellow “Bollocks to Brexit” sticker proving particularly popular. Sunshine, music and circle pits gave proceedings a carnival atmosphere, although two revellers took this too far and were arrested for climbing up a crane to get a better view of Scot rockers Twin Atlantic.

Slam Dunk’s USP is officially “pop-punk, ska punk, hardcore and metalcore” but this year’s bill was a broad church that stretched from Chapel’s radio-friendly synthpop to the anvil-heavy riffing of Brutality Will Prevail, whose moniker is in full compliance with the Trade Descriptions Act. Queues, time clashes, the distance between stages and security searches on entry to each one meant that seeing a hit list of bands involved military planning, but there was a lot of music for a day ticket costing less than £50.

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