Boys Like Girls – Leeds University

By paul

This is Paul’s review of Slam Dunk 2008 – for Spud’s review of the same event go HERE

The Slam Dunk Festival can rightly now proclaim itself to be the premier festival of it’s type in the UK. What started off as an outdoors event in Millenium Square, downgraded itself last year to one room and one stage. But this years four-stage, 3,500-capacity musical bonanza has really found it’s feet. While there were a few organisational issues (the merch area wasn’t big enough and too many people congregated outside the Atticus tent, blocking the entrance and stairs to other stages) the day as a whole was a brilliant success. Kudos for picking a solid line-up with themed stages meaning there was something for everyone, and kudos for picking a lot of UK bands. It was a combination which worked as two UK bands were among my top 3 of the day.

Spud and I kind of split ourselves to try and cover as many bands as we could. It just so happened that I covered the refectory bands, so here are my reviews of the Glamour Kills and UK Now! Stages:


WE THE KINGS opened up the main stage in the main room and while I think they’re a bit generic on record, they do what they do very well in a live setting. A lot of kids like this band, and I mean a lot, and that really surprised me (and the band when I spoke to them later in the day). They get a lot of kids singing and jumping and they’re really, really tight. ‘Check Yes Juliet’ gets the best reaction of the set, but truth be told they were really enjoyable and I’ve gone back to give the album another listen. (7.5)

I’ve waited a long time to see VALENCIA and they didn’t disappoint at all. Afterwards some people said they were disappointed as they thought they were boring, but I couldn’t disagree more. They raced through a set which featured newie ‘Holiday’ and ‘Que Sera Sera’ and again a lot of people sang along. Shane’s throat was clearly suffering from a few birthday bevvies the night before, but that made the live performance even edgier for me. ‘The Space Between’ was a cracker and it was all worth the wait for me. (9)

I missed THE RED JUMPSUIT APPARATUS to interview Story of the Year. I’ve seen YOU ME AT 6 a fair few times now and found them hit and miss. They’re really good guys and I know they get a lot of shit – the last time I saw them, supporting New Found Glory, they were really off the mark. But today they hit the spot. The crowd loves them as they run through the set they’ve been playing for a while now. Ending on ‘The Rumour’ they have a very large crowd eating out of the palm of their hand. They desperately need to release that album, but today was very much more ‘hit’ than ‘miss’. (8)

Best crowd reaction of the day goes to KIDS IN GLASS HOUSES who were phenomenal live. On record they’re hit and miss for me, but live they managed to get the crowd whipped up into a frenzy and, with a The Movielife cover thrown in for good measure, literally had the venue bouncing. The singles go down like a hooker with a fistful of dollars – the future’s very bright for the Kids if the crowd reaction alone is anything to go by. (9)

I missed the majority of CUTE IS WHAT WE AIM FOR but what I heard sounded utterly dreadful – and judging by the fact half the crowd left halfway through it seemed many agreed. BOYS LIKE GIRLS stepped in to headline and their choreographed ‘rock show’-lite performance is very enjoyable but without much substance. They remind me of a weaker All American Rejects; there’s a lot of front and a lot of ‘f-words’ thrown around for effect. When the band are good, like on ‘Dancehall Drug’ and ‘Hero/Heroine’ they are good. When they slowed it down in the middle they weren’t so hot. Ending on ‘The Great Escape’ they again left the crowd battered and bruised and ended the main stage on a very positive note. (7)


The whole event was opened up by ALL FORGOTTEN who were very, very tight with a powerful vocalist. They reminded me of early Thrice and Spud of early Funeral For A Friend and while it’s probably heavier than stuff I’d normally listen to, it’s done very, very well. (7)

ME vs HERO suffered from horrendous feedback problems and while the big crowd which swarmed the stage went off for them, it really did cramp their style a little. As a relatively young band there’s room for improvement, and I’m being extra harsh so people don’t accuse me of any bias, but their performance wasn’t as good as some of the others. Still, ‘Hand Me The Keys To Massey’ saw an enormous pit and the boys can be proud of getting so many singing along. (6)

I only caught one ALL OR NOTHING song but their Daggermouth-esque sound impressed many I spoke to and, if their newest recordings are anything to go by, they’re getting better all the time.

Welsh boys ATTACK! ATTACK! were the surprise of the day. I liked what I’d heard on their myspace but live they blew me away. Infact everyone I spoke to who saw them was blown away. With a Jimmy Eat World-esque sound they raced through a set which had the small number of people who watched singing along. Ones to watch for sure. (8)

I’ve always thought FURTHEST DRIVE HOME were over-rated and they were the worst band I saw at the fest by some distance. The new material sounds like Maroon 5 and the singer was massively out of tune and unable to hit any high notes at all. They’re tight musically, granted, but it’s so wishy washy and generic I just couldn’t get into it at all. I know a lot of people like them, so fair play, but I don’t think they cut it live at all. (4)

Unlike TONIGHT IS GOODBYE that is, who not only piss on FDH from a great height, they pretty much pissed on every band who played all day. Truth be told I liked the first EP but didn’t love it, ‘Black Dress’ aside, but live they totally come into their own. They are energetic, aggressive and singer Ant West owns the relatively small stage. ‘Brain’ is better live than on record as TIG remind me a lot of The Academy Is. But better. I was intrigued to see them as I hadn’t before, but they totally exceeded my expectations – and for me were probably band of the day. Just. (9.5)

So that’s it. Bring on next year, that’s all I can say – great atmosphere, pretty good band selection and a good time had by all. Thumbs up all round.