Slamdunk Festival 2014
Leeds University – May 24th
First of all, I’d like to talk about the things that, according to me, were not cool on that day and the reason why all the bands I was originally thrilled to see aren’t on this review. So you will understand how I went through the festival, starting with the rain, but, most stages being inside or closed, this would have been ok if they were bigger! Honestly, I’ve never seen a festival with so many people hosted in such a small area. I missed so many bands because of that. Why ? Because all the stages were too small for the amount of people wanting to get in, so you had to choose between either missing loads of band while waiting in line to get to one stage to see that band you love, or missing anyone that would play right after because by the time the band finished their set and you reached the next stage, it was full, and there was no way you could get in – trust me I tried. So basically your best chance was to stick to one and only one stage and hoping no one else you wanted to see played somewhere else. Which was not my case, you can guess, because they were so many cool bands playing everywhere !!
Now that being said, let’s move to the interesting part : the bands !!
The first band I got to see was, ironically, The First. I had never heard or seen them before and I have to say that I was really impressed. They have a really good stage presence and their songs are definitely made to be played on stage ! Most people seemed to be there to discover who they were though (pretty much like me) but they had a bunch of fans really enjoying themselves in the middle of the crowd and the whole thing was definitely something you had to see ! They are the kind of band you expect to be seen with the entire crowd singing along and dancing around, no one standing in the back watching ! Hopefully that’s what i’ll get to see next time I see them, because they are definitely worth it !
After a little struggle to find my way into the different areas of the festival (in other words, I got lost), I finally reached the monster stage where I Killed The Prom Queen was about to play. I was really looking forward to see them because they blow my mind everytime. They really are impressive. This show was no exception, they were as good and entertaining as usual, with, to my surprise, more communication from Jamie, their singer, with the crowd (but that might be because this was my first time seeing them in a english-speaking country, who knows). Don’t get me wrong, i’m not saying he never talks to the crowd, but I had the impression that he had more things to say that day ! The crowd was really responding to it as well, even managing to put on a few circle pits, despite the impressive amount of people in such a small closed tent. The lights were really bad though, which made me sad, even tho I wasn’t there to shoot the show this time. If you want to make a band look good on stage (and yes you want that) this goes by the lightning as well !! But this didn’t seem to bother anyone else but me, regarding how loud the crowd was singing and how into the show everyone was ! But hey, when you are watching such a good hardcore band, you have to get into it ! This is what I love about hardcore music : you don’t need to know the band or the lyrics to enjoy yourself to the fullest (and no, i’m not saying this because sometimes, you can’t understand the lyrics, but because hardcore delivers such a powerful energy that makes all of your body move no matter what. Especially a band like I Killed The Prom Queen.)
I then went and saw A Loss For Words, who definitely have a fanbase entirely made of crowd-surfers ! Basically you had half the crowd watching the show, and the other half on top of them crowd-surfing, during the entire set (needless to say their very last song was a huge mess in the crowd). They are really entertaining to watch though, and even though their music is usually not what I like, I actually really did enjoy myself. They put on a real good show, they have a really good stage presence and their singer definitely loves talking to the crowd !
After another struggle, I found my way to the main stage to see We The Kings, a cool band I used to like a few years ago, so I could sing along to Secret Valentine with my friends, which is always a cool thing to do ! They were really ok, although I didn’t get to see the entire set. I heard what I wanted anyway, so I guess it’s fine ! Travis is a really cool frontman and knows how to play with the crowd !
I then decided to stick to the main stage and enjoy Motion City Soundtrack, who used to be, actually, the soundtrack of my early high school years… Way to make me feel really old, and yet 16 years old all over again at the same time ! It was a pleasure to finally see them, and, let me tell you, they didn’t let me down ! They were really impressive stage-wise, and it was a pleasure for my eyes to finally enjoy a show with a good lightning ! (which kind of makes sense, they were playing the main stage).
Also big up to them for ending their beautiful set with Everything is Alright, my favorite song of them !!
After this little pop-punk break, I rushed back to the monster stage to see one of my all-time favorite bands, The Ghost Inside. This band is probably one of my favorite bands to see, and shoot, and enjoy in the pit, and basically just everything you do when at a show, so you can guess how excited I was to see them one more time. And obviously I wasn’t disappointed ! (even though I have to admit that I am not sure I can be ever disappointed by TGI). Their set was perfect, as usual, and you could tell how happy they were to be there. They seem to be always so genuinely stoked to be on stage, i’m pretty sure just Jonathan Vigil’s smile can make you enjoy this band on stage ! I also had the surprise to notice that their set was a little different than the one they played at Groezrock Festival a few weeks before, which was nice. I like bands who play different songs on the same tour, I think it’s a cool thing to do, and it’s also a proof (if ever needed) that they can be really good on stage, especially for a band like The Ghost Inside, who usually has a crowd full of moshers mostly there to kick and two-step (and who can blame them? The band definitely knows how to make your feet move). And today was no different, the crowd was huge and really moving, moshing and dancing, from the front row to the back of the tent, which was entirely full. They played a good mix of they last two albums, including the beautiful Thirty Three, classics like Unspoken or The Great Unknown, and they beautifully ended that perfect set with Dark Horse, which was amazing. Now all i’m left with is stars before my eyes and hope for another shows in our good old Europe soon again !
A little rest and a couple Monsters later, I went back to the Cheer Up stage, so I could see The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, after trying and failing to see Letlive. back at the Monster Stage due to the huge amount of people already in there. But that’s ok, the Red Jumpsuit Appartus is still a pretty nice band to see ! Luckily for me, they played a lot of old songs such as Don’t You Fake It, Damn Regret, or the classic and now famous Face Down, and I still did remember the lyrics ! That was quite a surprise for me because I am usually really bad with lyrics, especially when I haven’t heard a song in years. So yeah, they were really entertaining, their guitarist is a real God with a guitar, although sadly the singer wasn’t always on tune, but literally no one seemed to care, people were just singing and screaming along, until pretty much the middle of the set, when a whole lot of people started leaving already, probably to go and see the main band playing this year’s Slamdunk, The All-American Rejects, who where playing about 10 minutes later. That’s too bad, because they missed something incredible : the beautiful Your Guardian Angel being sang by the singer and his very girlfriend, all cute and beautiful, with an incredible voice and they really were the cutest thing ever, introducing the song with a small Beatles cover and ending it with a cute kiss.
After that nice moment, I stayed on the Cheer Up stage, impatiently waiting to see Chiodos. The fact that they were playing such a small stage really surprised me, but it was a good thing because i’m pretty sure no one that was there this day will ever get another chance to be that close to this famous icon that is Craig Owens. And as he actually said, small shows are always better because they get to be closer from the crowd ! So I got up to the third row (which is something I very rarely do) and let the inner 20 year old in me screaming during the whole show. They played a bunch of new songs, that were a first for me to hear since I yet never got to listen to their new record, that came out a few months before, but also old and awesome songs like the obvious The Undertaker’s Thirst For Revenge is Unquenchable (The Final Battle) (Thumbs up to anyone who remember that whole song’s name without any mistake : please tell me I’m not the only one) or There’s No Penguin In Alaska, and they greeted us with a beautiful A Letter From Janelle, absolutely wonderfully played, and Thermacare, also known as The Only Thing You Talk About, performed by D.R.U.G.S, Owens’ last band before he got back with Chiodos, who was originally the band he wrote the song for. So, that was my second time seeing them and first in such a small venue, and that really was a delight. They were hands down my favorite band I saw that day, and i’m glad I got to see them last, so nothing could break this awesome feeling afterward !
Words : Morgan L.