We took the coach from Derby into Leeds on Saturday on 26/05/12, and ate some incredibly awesome rocky road cake on the way. We sat there rocking back and forth slightly with excitement, for we were on our way to the Slam Dunk Festival! It must have been weeks, but it only seemed like a few days ago that we had decided to buy our tickets (it was a split-second decision in any case); it was like a mini-adventure, embodied in coach form, and with rocky road cake to stuff our faces with, it was the beginning of an awesome weekend…
Lyndsay’s rocky road cake. Happiness personified.
My good friend Lyndsay and I arrived at the hotel- a Premier Inn, and like all mature graduates, jumped on the bed for a few minutes and then salivated over the thought of an all-you-can-eat breakfast for the day after. We got ready, had a couple of shots of Jager, and then took a taxi to the University of Leeds. We arrived and joined the queue, and under the threat of having our bags searched and our alcohol confiscated- and nothing to do with the fact that we are probably alcoholics- Lyndsay downed the JD and I had the pleasure of the raspberry Sambuca. A few minutes worth of watery eyes and burning mouths later, we were admitted into the grounds. The security guards looked into our eyes and deemed us fit for entry but took my Oasis bottles away from me. But of course they were only a distraction- I didn’t want them to find the several bags of cocaine I’d shoved into my anus at the hotel, obviously.
Bottles of death and glory
When we arrived we were both a bit surprised to find that the festival itself was actually indoors. There were a few merch stands and such outside, but mostly all the action was going on inside. Before we explored, Lyndsay met with the Cancer Bats at their signing tent and then we had a few minutes of flailing with joy before we continued. The bars and most of the merch stands were all inside, as were the stages. We got horribly lost after about five minutes and by the time we got back outside, I was sweating like a weightwatcher in a cake shop. Time for a drink.
After that we spent most of our time lazing around in the shade, drinking alcohol and watching people. We saw one guy vomit behind a sign and his friends patted him on the back a little bit. It was hilarious and disgusting, so we found a new place to sit.
The view from our shady spot at the University
The unnecessary poncho
A few hours and a few beverages later it was time for Cancer Bats on the Honour Over Glory stage. We managed to find an excellent spot on the stairs, and loaded with alcohol and cooling mist spray, we were ready. Oh, we were fucking ready. And they were amazing– I only know a few Cancer Bats songs, but their set was powerfully aggressive. Wade from Gallows (formerly of Alexisonfire) even came on during one of the songs for a bit of a thrash. I turned round to look at Lyndsay and her face had almost exploded with elation. It was so worth the hours wait!
Every Time I Die were next on stage (which I have to applaud the organisers for- no need for choosing!) and I could hardly stand still. The tension was incredible. We held our positions on the stairs and the place gradually filled up. Then all of a sudden… ‘I want to be dead with my friends!’. Holy fucking shit. They exploded onto the stage and my heart pushed my blood from my heart right into my fists. It was staggering. Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space is the first song from their most recent album Ex-Lives, and from this they descended right into Holy Book of Dilemma– ‘animal art or animal shit?’. We went insane- I fell off the stairs about a hundred times. I fell into a very polite Chinese man a few times and he was very nice about it, although the other people around us started to move away slowly. If you’re reading this, Chinese Man whose ribs I might have crushed, thank you for letting me land on you. You’re awesome.
It doesn’t get any better than this, so run like Hell*
Highlights of the set included Bored Stiff, No Son of Mine and all the classics, like Kill the Music and The New Black. Keith Buckley is a lyrical genius; he writes some of the most gripping lyrics I have ever heard, and he screams them with such insane passion. He’s screaming about Shakespeare, morality, the Ludovico technique, philosophy (Turtles All the Way Down, anyone?). But next to all of this is the perfectly mad band ethos of sheer drunkeness and throwing up in bus stations. Because of this I’m pretty convinced Keith is the perfect man. He has mastered the art of screaming, and I’ve also never heard anyone slip Romeo’s ‘Either you or I or both must go’ into a song that ends with the line ‘I know the stripper’s real name, stop me if I’m wrong’.
After refusing to drink ‘some fishbowl shit’ that had crowd surfed its way to the front, the crowd started to shout ‘Down it!’- peer pressure is a wonderful thing. He got most of it over his face and then thanked us for making him a ‘better person’. Diving straight into We’rewolf– unarguably the party anthem of the century, ‘but I smell a drop of beer in a ten gallon tank, and I’m moving in for the kill’– it showed just how suitably elegant and ridiculously drunk the entire set was. I was having the greatest, sweatiest time of my life. I was about ready to pass out, but the sheer adrenaline pouring in my ears allowed me to continue thrashing around like I was being electrocuted. Painful awesomeness.
Lyndsay and I screamed every word until we simply couldn’t talk anymore. It was the best set of theirs I’d seen- it was so raw and the addition of the new songs was exhilarating. But never ones to forget the songs that made us fall in love with them in the first place, they ended with Ebolarama and a classic stage invasion which was incredible to watch.
The stage invasion*
‘When in Rome we shall do as the Romans, when in Hell we’ll do shots at the bar’.
Sweating and gasping for air by the end of it, our necks weak from head banging far too much, we made our way to the bar and nearly drowned in the amount of water we ordered. Then, not quite recovered, we went to see the Gallows. Taking Back Sunday were headlining, but we were more intrigued to see Gallows instead who were headlining on a different stage. Recently Gallows’s lead singer Frank had left, and Wade from the recently split Alexisonfire had joined. As Wade so eloquently put it, ‘No one said this would work with a Canadian singer… but do we look fucking dead to you?’. It was actually amazing and the moshpit was so destructive that we actually had to move to the edges, our bodies not quite recovered from the Every Time I Die onslaught. The set was exquisitely intense and I also got a lot of enjoyment from watching the security guard shake his head every time a ‘fuck’ or a ‘shit’ came through the speakers. Lyndsay is a huge Gallows fan and by her own admission, they had exceeded expectations, and we walked away exhausted, dehydrated, and awesomely happy.
By morning that all-you-can-eat breakfast wasn’t looking quite so appetising. We got placed at the nosiest table (which we’re pretty sure was intentional) and made a valiant effort. I was wearing socks and we were both wearing a face that blatantly was yelling HANGOVER. I even ended up helping some cretinous child get some apple juice because I was desperate for him to get out of the way so I could have some. Fuck you, apple juice child. Give me apple juice or I’mma vom in your face.
But alas, no vom was made and we eventually made our way back on the coach home. It had come and gone so very quickly, and we were so disappointed that it had ended, but we were still buzzing from the night before. But then on the coach home we made another split-decision plan… ETID are playing Manchester on Halloween. And we’re going to be there in zombie outfits.
Lyndsay and I. Goddamn kids have grown up to let down.
Note: all images marked with an asterisk taken by Lyndsay.