Knuckle Puck had the task of opening up the main stage, which in itself is a daunting task. With Leeds’ main stage set inside an arena, they also had quite a big room to fill. Despite that, the Chicago pop punkers dominated the stage and helped the crowd start the day off right. In the packed arena, roaring singalongs accompanied tracks such as ‘Disdain’ and ‘Double Helix’. It just came to show the potential growth of the band, where playing rooms of this size doesn’t seem like something too far in the distance. Their energy was infectious as they delivered their performance with such confidence. The first pits of the day emerged, and it seemed like the perfect warm up for the long day ahead.
Four Year Strong
Four Year Strong have been going for some time now and have quite the following, so it was unusual to see them playing so early in the day at Slam Dunk South. Hitting the Jägermeister Stage in the early afternoon, they still managed to draw quite a considerable audience as they hammered through a selection of hits from four of their full-length releases as well as EP, Go Down In History. They shone during the performances of their most well-known songs, inciting quite the reaction from the crowd – particularly during the final two songs on the set, ‘It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now’ and ‘Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)’. Some would argue that Four Year Strong are past their prime now that they’ve been around for seventeen years, but their early on performance at Slam Dunk South certainly proved otherwise.
It seems bemusing to think that Creeper are only one full length record into their career as a band, especially when you take a second to absorb yourself in the atmosphere of the main room as they make their way on stage.
‘Black Rain’ kicks things immediately into gear with its titan-sized sing along chorus before ‘Hiding With Boys’ and ‘Astral Projection’ add a flavour of bounce to proceedings. There’s a certain swagger surrounding the band which is both understandable and endearing – Eternity, In Your Arms is the lock stock and barrel the band needed to propel them towards mainstream attention; and they seem to be getting a fair bit of that.
Keyboardist/backing vocalist Hannah Greenwood’s bellowing vocals of ‘Crickets’ is an emotionally gripping moment to the say the least, and the very idea of her not being bought into the band in 2015 doesn’t bare thinking about at this point. ‘Misery’ ends an emphatic set on a beautiful high note – Will Gould barely has to sing a note in the chorus which, for a band that only have one full length record to their name so far tells you everything you need to know about Creeper.
State Champs deliver the most energetic, charming, and hook filled (of course) set of the day. They’re a band that have forced their way to prominence within pop punk over the last five years, and rightfully so. You’ll struggle to find a band in the genre who have mastered the sing along chorus quite as strongly as State Champs have over the last half decade.
Featuring a well balanced blend of tracks between debut record The Finer Things, sophomore record Around The World And Back and upcoming album Living Proof; this 35 minute set is a relentless barrage of classic pop punk tropes. There’s little room for conversing with the crowd here as the quintet plough through tracks like ‘History, ‘Simple Existence’ and ‘Easy Enough’.
The crowd becomes un-glued and the party really starts for ‘Elevated’ and ‘Secrets’ though, and State Champs strike as a band that just continue to grow them strength to strength. With the singles thus far released from Living Proof seemingly setting us up for the pop punk album of the year; State Champs seem to refuse to put a foot wrong.
Sleeping With Sirens
In what was likely a flashback to a few years ago for many onlookers, Sleeping With Sirens took to the Jägermeister Stage to deliver an explosive set. Lead singer Kellin Quinn didn’t seem to have changed a bit since his band began making it big in the UK, and it was quite the trip down memory lane as Sleeping With Sirens treated fans to older cuts like ‘Congratulations’ and ‘If You Can’t Hang’. The set seemed to zip by remarkably quickly, but this was simply down to the fact that the band played so brilliantly it was hard to keep track of time. Quinn had the audience before him spellbound, even when singing the two tracks they played from latest album Gossip – a record that didn’t perform as well as some of their older releases, sadly. Despite the shortfalls of their most recent record, Sleeping With Sirens showed Slam Dunk South that they are quite capable of entertaining a crowd.