Over the past 10 years, the Slam Dunk Festival has played host to a whole load of bands that stretch across rock, pop punk, ska, hardcore, metalcore and beyond. During that time, the festival has again and again made memories for both bands and fans alike. The festival has helped a plethora of bands as “must see” acts as well as introduce now established names to a wide audience.

As they prepare to celebrate their 10th anniversary later this month, the Already Heard team has decided to take a retrospective look at some of the stand out moments, with a run down of 12 of the most memorable Slam Dunk Festival sets.

The Wonder Years (Leeds 2013)

Although some questioned their lower-than-expected place on Macbeth stage, The Wonder Years brought their a-game in 2013. Fresh off from releasing their best album to date, ‘The Greatest Generation,’ Philadelphia pop punk legends The Wonder Years lived up to expectations delivering a stand out set with highlights coming in the form of ‘Passing Through a Screen Door,’ ‘Local Man Ruins Everything,’ and ‘Don’t Let MeCave In’ all being sung in unison my the packed crowd before ‘All My Friends Are in Bar Bands’ closed this classic Slam Dunk moment. (SR)

Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard.

Taking Back Sunday (Leeds 2015)

Having headlined the festival three years earlier, 2015 saw Taking Back Sunday play second fiddle to You Me At Six. Nevertheless that didn’t stop them from producing a stand out set. With a backbone of stellar emo rock songs, the Long Island, New York group delved into their catalogue of classics to deliver a very satisfying display. You name a famous TBS song and they probably played it; ‘Liar (It Takes One to Know One),’ ‘A Decade Under the Influence,’ ‘Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team),’ and ‘MakeDamnSure’. It was a festival set that solidify TBS as a must-see festival band. (SR)

New Found Glory (Leeds 2010)

For a festival where pop punk is one of its core elements, it’s no surprise New Found Glory looked at home back when they packed out the Refectory hall back in 2010. Delivering hit after hit after hit, New Found Glory were back to their best as they went above and beyond with a crowd pleasing set that left many faces with an unremovable smile. (SR)

The Blackout (Leeds 2009)

A festival isn’t a festival without at least one great collaboration, right? In 2009 The Blackout took it to the next level, by having not one but two guest vocal spots in the forms of Josh Franceschi (You Me At Six) and Aled Phillips (Kids In Glass Houses) At what can arguably be considered the height of popularity for all three bands (or at least when their sparks burnt the brightest) this was a must see for any pop-rock fan. (CA)

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

Say Anything (Hatfield 2012)

UK appearances from Say Anything are few and far between, so when Max Bemis and company dropped by in 2012, we had to embrace it as much as possible. They made up for lost time with a set full of fan favourites. Led by the charasmatic Bemis, ‘Hate Everyone’ and ‘Alive With the Glory of Love’ were beltered out by nearly everyone in attendance basking in the Hatfield sun. Say Anything’s return was well worth the wait yet still has us wanting more. (SR)

Farse (Leeds 2009)

Along with collaborations, Slam Dunk has had it’s fair share of reunions or one off shows over the past ten years, and although they definitely weren’t the most well known band to do it, Farse are easily up there as one of the most enjoyable and energetic. After five years apart they took to the stage to play a stomping show. The crowd a nice mix of die hard fans, lost wanderers drawn in by the infectious ska grooves and, like us, people who just wanted to hear ‘Hopskotch’ live. Every minute was fun, fast and well worth the wait.

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

The Story So Far (Hatfield 2012)

Riding on a wave of momentum from debut album ’Under Soil and Dirt,’ The Story So Far’s debut year at Slam Dunk served to be one of the most effective sets in the festivals history. With various other bands crammed on to the side stage, it’s clear we were set for something special, and special it was! From the opening chords of ‘States and Minds,’ a sea of bodies come flying from all directions. TSSF’s set was chaotic, energetic, fun and certainly memorable, leaving a firm mark on Slam Dunk’ history. (SR)

Every Time I Die (Leeds 2012)

Now, lets be honest, most sets Every Time I Die play are pretty memorable, but their at Leeds in 2012 set was insane. The claustrophobic, sticky room was packed to the brim, while the band entertained us all with a near perfect setlist, showcasing everything their back catalog had to offer. ‘Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space,’ ‘Wanderlust,’ ‘Kill The Music,’ ‘We’rewolf’ and the list goes on and on. Each song exploded the room into a frenzy, until closer ‘Ebolarama’ where half of the crowd joined the band with a humongous stage invasion. The security weren’t happy, be we sure were! (CAP)

Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard.

Kids In Glass Houses (Wolverhampton 2014)

Who doesn’t love a nostalgic sing a long? 2014 saw Kids In Glass Houses wrap the day up with an epic headline set compromising of debut album ‘Smart Casual’ in it’s entirety complimented with a perfect selection of fan favourites off second album ‘Dirt’. Played as a farewell to the fans after announcing their break up earlier that year, it was a bittersweet affair, but a perfect way to say goodbye, and also a rare opportunity to hear the album live for the first time from start to finish. (CAP)

Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard.

Baby Godzilla (Leeds 2015)

For those of you who weren’t there (and that’s a lot, the room was tiny!) Baby Godzilla (now Heck) played one heck (see what we did there?) of a show last year. The tiny, narrow, no barrier nook they played in was the perfect venue for these Nottingham nutters. As with all Heck shows, they split their time accordingly, playing on the stage, on the floor, and on top of the crowd. The whole set was frantic and sweaty. For anyone who enjoys a show with their live music, Heck are a must, and should be right at the top of your list at any festival. (CAP)

Heart of a Coward (Hatfield 2014)

At a time when mosh pits are getting seemingly more violent in terms of acceptable/credible behaviour from wind-milling, spin kicks and throw downs amongst others, Heart of a Coward embraced a new tactic at Slam Dunk 2014 in Hatfield. They memorably went against the grain of their aggressive metalcore roots, and encouraged the crowd to put their arms around the person to their left and right for a synchronised headbanging session led by vocalist Jamie Graham. The move was so successful it has been seen it at other HOAC shows since. (HF)

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

Transit (Leeds 2013)

As the sun began to make an appearance, In 2013, emo-infused indie rockers Transit opened the infamous “pop-punk stage” with one of the most memorable, enchanting sets of the festival’s history with their uplifting, riff-laden sing-it-in-your-sleep tunes. With a set list dominated by tracks from the most notable album, ‘Listen & Forgive’ and enlaced with favourites from ‘Young New England’. Frontman Joe Boynton’s medal-worthy stage presence, and a live sound almost undecipherable from studio recordings, made for a faultless performance from the Massachusetts group. Now they’ve said farewell, Transit’s commonplace presence at Slam Dunk will be sorely missed. (LJ)

View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Slam Dunk Festival 2016 here.

Words by Sêan Reid (SR), Carrie-Anne Pollard (CAP), Lucy Jones (LJ) and Heather Fitsell (HF).

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